Legal Solutions

What is the role of a special master?

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2022 | Mass Tort Services

Judges have a role in adjudicating massive dockets of caseloads in our already overburdened court system. At least at the federal level, there are Magistrate Judges who can oversee discovery and other matters, as well as law clerks who assist with research, the review of evidence and the drafting of judicial opinions in complex litigation.

But at the state level, judges may only have a law secretary or clerk to assist them in managing an even more burdensome caseload. Texas judges who encounter a vast range of cases that are beyond their area of knowledge require the more specialized assistance of a Special Master.

From mass torts or multi-plaintiff cases to smaller matters, it is important to have the assistance of Special Master services in Beaumont that can provide trusted and professional oversight of complex litigation.

How does Rule 53 provide for the services of a special master?

Under Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, federal judges have great flexibility in the appointment of a Special Master to step in when needed for a faster resolution of a matter. In general, parties have an opportunity to review or suggest candidates, who must file an affidavit supporting their belief that there are no grounds for their disqualification.

Under the Rule, any recommendation or order that the Special Master makes is subject to judicial review.

Each state has its own version of Rule 53. Rule 171 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure allows an appointed Master of Chancery to:

  • Oversee production of evidence including books, papers and other documents.
  • Rule upon the admissibility of evidence.
  • Examine witnesses.
  • Call parties to the action for examination under oath.
  • Record the evidence.

How does a special master assist in complex cases?

A Special Master can help to streamline the process of resolving complex litigation as well as dispute resolution matters. Some areas where these specialized services can assist include:

  • Mass-tort litigation
  • Construction defect claims
  • Insurance claims

In cases that involve multiple parties, third-party litigants, multi-district litigation and cases involving vast amounts of discovery or time-consuming issues, the services of a Special Master are indispensable.