What is it and why does it matter?

The roles of Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel and Defendants’ Liaison Counsel have existed in the Massachusetts State Court Asbestos Litigation Docket for over 30 years. The Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel, sometimes called Lead Plaintiffs’ Counsel or Lead Counsel, helps determine what cases get trial dates, ensures the Judge has everything needed to get cases through the system, and liaises with defense counsel.

Roles and responsibilities

The attorneys appointed to serve as Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel by the Court are responsible for working with the Court and the Special Master on global docket management issues, including establishing and implementing pre-trial orders, setting cases on yearly trial lists, communicating the Court’s directions to the many litigants on the Plaintiff and Defense side, and managing the needs, expectations, and complaints of the lawyers who practice in the Asbestos Docket. In short, Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel is responsible—especially post-covid—for managing the backlog of cases and ensuring that things run smoothly.

Why it’s important

The Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel is crucial to the management of the Massachusetts Asbestos Litigation docket and is a central player in the organization and timeliness of the docket. They communicate on behalf of plaintiffs and coordinate all necessary discovery requests, motions, and subpoenas on a case. In a case such as a class action, this plays an important role in keeping the Plaintiffs and appropriate parties organized and on schedule. The Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel also manages the complexity of collaborating with the Defendants’ Liaison Counsel and works to find common ground to keep the docket on track.

How Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel is selected

The Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel can be court-appointed or selected by the plaintiffs. In many cases, each court or docket has appointed a Lead Counsel who should be available in the event of a case where they are needed. Typically, the attorney appointed is committed to their cases and the local and national court systems.

Benefits to our clients

Shepard O’Donnell team members have held the role of Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel for the Massachusetts Asbestos Litigation docket since 2017, positioning the firm as a leader in asbestos litigation in Massachusetts. Knowing that someone on your side will be there to represent the case within the court system should serve as peace-of-mind.

Mike Shepard – 2017-2022
Erika O’Donnell – 2022-present