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Mass Tort Litigation: What’s it All About?

To understand what a mass is a tort, we must first understand what is a tort. A tort is commonly referred to as a civil wrong that will be litigate in a civil case.

Criminal cases vs Civil Cases

Unlike a criminal case, where a defendant can be punished and sentenced to jail for doing wrong, a civil case is one that may result in the defendant having to compensate the victim for physical injuries and/or economic losses he or she caused them to suffer.

If because of your negligent or reckless driving, you cause an accident in which a person is injured and their car is destroyed, you have committed a tort and can be sued for damages.

A mass tort is nothing more than a tort that involves a multitude of injured people.

A two-car collision may give rise to a single tort. However, a train wreck caused by faulty maintenance in which hundreds of people are injured in a mass tort.

Arguably the most common type of mass tort cases are those that involve pharmaceutical products and medical devices that were prescribed to or used by hundreds and sometimes millions of people and caused injuries to hundreds or thousands of people.

Mass Tort Litigation

In an effort to save time, money and legal resources, mass torts are often consolidated and assigned to a single judge for pretrial discovery purposes, where lawyers can share information and reduce the burden on the justice system. Once the cases are ready for trial, they are each assigned to a particular judge and tried individually.

What the mass tort system is all about is judges and lawyers working together to get claimants justice in a speedy and economical way. This means getting them to trial or settlement as soon as possible and with as little cost to each family as possible.

Mass Tort vs Class Action

Mass tort litigation should not be confused with class-action litigation, which refers to a case being brought by one or a few individuals on behalf of a large number of people who have been injured by the same defendant under the same or similar circumstances.

The primary difference between a mass tort and class action litigation case is that with a mass tort, each case will eventually be tried on its own merits, with judgment and settlements varying depending on the facts and circumstance of that individual case.

Mass tort litigation is generally more suitable for cases that involve personal injury or wrongful death because, in order to maximize compensation in these types of cases, each person’s harm will need to be tried on its own merit and before a judge or jury that is appropriate for the case.

On the other hand, a class action litigation involves one case, one judgment or settlement for which all members of the class of plaintiff will be subject to. For example, if a utility company is alleged to have overcharged all of its customers a couple dollars per month for a particular calendar year, everyone who was overcharged by the utility company may receive the same amount of damages as compensation for being overcharged.

If you have been injured by a faulty or defective product, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to find out if you are eligible to participate in any mass tort litigation against the manufacturer of the product that caused your injuries.

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