The Lone Pine Order Surfaces in Product Liability MDLs

The term “Lone Pine Order” has its origin in a 1989 New Jersey Superior Court toxic tort case, Lore v. Lone Pine Corp. In that action, involving 464 defendants, the court issued a case management order requiring the plaintiffs to provide basic information in support of their personal injury and property damage allegations, such as reports of treating physicians and real estate experts.

Since that order, judges in large, complex environmental litigations have primarily utilized Lone Pine orders as a pre-discovery tool. However, in June that changed when U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer issued a Lone Pine order in the mass tort context, in In re: Zimmer NexGen Knee Implant Liability Litigation.

In what was characterized as a rare move, Judge Pallmeyer determined that such an order was necessary in the MDL to ensure that certain cases had merit to proceed to trial. Under the order, the plaintiffs were required to submit expert declarations to show each case met certain requirements, like implantation of the knee replacement product and evidence of loosening of the device components.

While many sources attribute Judge Pallmeyer’s aggressive case management decision to difficulties associated with selecting cases for bellwether trials, the order could end up being more — the beginning of a trend in mass tort litigations to manage dockets.

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