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In May of 2020, Lex Machina released its 2020 Product Liability Litigation Report, revealing that the volume of product liability cases continue to trend upward in federal courts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, pharmaceutical and medical devices continue to be the most common type of products involved in the lawsuits, followed by vehicle cases. The report also pinpointed a dramatic spike in case filings involving aircraft—clearly due to litigation related to the Boeing 737 MAX. All told, in 2019, the total number of product liability case filings spiked to 56,041, up considerably from the 43,457 recorded in 2018. Even when excluding MDL-associated cases, the uptick holds, from 4,943 in 2018 to 5,261 in 2019.
But why? The answer is complex and implies something of a chicken-and-egg scenario, explains Mark Koussa, LexisNexis’s Director of Product Management and a former product liability litigator.
“With billions of dollars at play in any given year, attorneys understand that there’s a lot at stake, which brings more and more people into the fray.”
The Need for Innovative Tools
To be sure, for product liability lawyers on both sides of the table, the numbers illustrate a clear upward trajectory. But they also mean competition—for clients, new business, and so on—which will continue to tighten among attorneys in the space. This creates a new need for tools that help practitioners level up their speed and efficiency, explains Koussa.
“Compared to other fields and other areas of the law, product liability is incredibly time consuming and one of the most expensive fields to litigate,” he says. “Attorneys need ways to reduce the time they spend preparing cases, but be sure that their assessments are correct.”
Enter Lexis Product Liability Navigator™, the second in the company’s Navigator franchise. Lexis Product Liability Navigator joins Lexis Medical Navigator® to help attorneys quickly understand a case’s potential risk, harness critical information and insights from across the company’s vast content suites, and formulate case strategies—all within a fraction of the time such tasks would have previously taken.
“The tool’s entire focus was to try and figure out how to deeply understand the work that a product liability attorney has to do,” says Koussa. “We wanted to model the product liability attorney’s workflow and take into account all of the actions they need to take. We asked ourselves how we could harness all the information these attorneys need and provide a tool that would allow them to assess the viability of a case within five minutes.”
The idea, says Koussa, is to not only help users level up their productivity and efficiency, but to provide a tool that increases competitiveness. By being able to accomplish in minutes what once took hours is a sea change in how these attorneys accomplish their work—without compromising quality.
“Attorneys often feel that speed is compromised for depth,” Koussa notes. “But the depth of our content is there, displayed via a dashboard that lets users quickly see the information they need.”
This means everything from product recall reports, information on expert witnesses and verdict summaries to up-to-date information on specific products is quickly visible with a single search, eliminating the need to conduct separate searches and thereby drastically reducing research hours. The Navigator can also help attorneys spot trends and identify emerging litigation before the market is saturated.
The tool utilizes a piece of technology LexisNexis calls “No-Fail Searching,” in which the dashboard will automatically drop the lowest-scoring search term across content types and re-run the search until results are found—or until zero is the best result. This automates what attorneys or their support staff previously did manually, says Koussa.
“We are running multiple searches with a single click,” he explains. “That represents a tangible time savings. We’re trying to free up attorneys to allow them to live less frequently in tasks and more in work that allows their expertise to shine.”
Save Time with Lexis Product Liability Navigator
Why This Matters Most Now
As Koussa notes, this has perhaps never before been more important than in the age of COVID-19, which abruptly ushered in the work-from-home era for attorneys, many of whom were accustomed to conducting—or receiving—research a certain way. “There’s no ability to walk down the hallway and talk to someone, to get their take, to discuss research in the same way,” Koussa says. “The evolution of these tools and their uses will only continue to accelerate.”
Try Lexis Product Liability Navigator for yourself
Learn more about how Lexis Product Liability Navigator can impact your research at LexisNexis.com/ProductLiabilityNavigator