Quoted from http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/31/us-trials-bellwethers-idUSTRE79U4WB20111031
Analysis: Corporate defendants rack up wins in "test" trials
By Moira Herbst
NEW YORK | Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:26pm EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A string of courtroom victories by drugmakers in key product-liability trials could be a signal that these and other companies can beat back claims in upcoming cases against them.
Bellwether cases are sample trials ordered by judges in situations where hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs have similar claims consolidated before a single state or federal court. Typically, a judge chooses a few individual lawsuits to proceed ahead of the rest. As their name suggests, the result of these battles can be predictive.
A win by the defendant might prompt settlements or spur plaintiffs to drop other cases.
Upcoming test trials include the first in federal court against Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE) for allegations that its Yaz/Yasmin birth-control pill caused heart attacks and other medical problems. An Illinois federal court set the trial for January.