Bellwether Trials: Evolving Trends in Class Action and Complex Litigation

Strategic Use of Bellwethers by Plaintiffs and Defendants

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Thursday, March 25, 2010

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will examine recent trends in the use of bellwether trials and provide the plaintiff and defense counsel perspective on litigation strategies for using bellwethers.


Bellwether trials are used in a variety of contexts in complex litigation. They can be used in class action cases before the certification hearing to help the court determine whether common issues predominate.

They are more commonly used in mass tort litigation and multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings where a large number of plaintiffs are proceeding on the same legal theory or claim and there is no feasible way to handle the large caseload.

Bellwether trials are valuable for settlement purposes and can help both parties assess the strengths and weaknesses of their cases. Selecting cases for bellwether trials and formulating litigation strategies require thoughtful consideration by both plaintiffs and defendants.

Listen as our panel of litigators discusses current trends in the use of bellwether trials in class action and complex litigation and offers litigation strategies from both the plaintiff and defense perspectives.



  1. Overview of application of bellwether trials and trends in use
    1. Illustrative
    2. Dispositive
    3. Preclusive
    4. Uses in class action litigation
    5. Uses in mass tort and MDL litigation
  2. Strategic considerations — plaintiff and defense perspectives
    1. Defining the common claims of all plaintiffs
    2. Identification of the variables that affect the claims
    3. Selecting the groups of bellwether plaintiffs
    4. When to use
    5. When to advocate
    6. Replenishment
    7. Impact of results
    8. Due process concerns


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • Who selects the bellwether plaintiffs and what are the best ways to divide plaintiffs into representative classes?
  • What factors should the parties consider when identifying the variables that affect the claims?
  • How do judges use bellwether trials in putative class action cases?


John Randall Whaley
John Randall Whaley

Neblett Beard & Arsenault

His practice focuses on class actions, complex litigation, consumer protection, wrongful death, and serious personal...  |  Read More

Carol R. Prygrosky
Carol R. Prygrosky

Schiff Hardin

She is a litigation attorney who concentrates her practice primarily in the areas of product liability, personal...  |  Read More

Brent R. Austin
Brent R. Austin

Wildman Harrold

He concentrates his practice on complex and class action litigation with an emphasis on consumer fraud and consumer...  |  Read More

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