Tort litigation, unlike criminal litigation, involves civil wrongs committed against a party or entity–such as a corporation. A plaintiff must demonstrate in court that the defendant is liable for plaintiff’s damages to be successful in a tort case. Mass tort litigation involves very much the same concepts except the number of plaintiffs and defendants is different. Specifically, mass tort litigation involves large numbers of plaintiffs who have suffered an injury at the hands of the same defendant, or group of defendants.
What Is Mass Tort Litigation?
Mass tort litigation involves a single wrongful act that results in harm to several victims. These types of cases involve many plaintiffs, who are all suing defendants for the wrongful act. Generally, mass tort litigation involves cases where a large group of plaintiffs are injured by defective drugs, or defective products. Cases dealing with defective drugs, or pharmaceutical claims, deal with medical products that have caused injury to consumers. These cases include both over-the-counter and doctor prescribed drugs. Alternatively, defective product cases involve consumer product claims where plaintiffs have sustained injuries, or even died, from defective products. Courts must grant permission for parties to proceed with mass tort litigation. Courts will look to see how many plaintiffs are involved, how far these consumers are located from one another, whether there are similar injuries among the plaintiffs, and whether the injuries come from a common cause or product. This last factor is necessary for a mass tort case. Otherwise, courts balance the other three factors to determine whether a case is properly deemed mass tort litigation.
What Is the Difference Between Class Action Lawsuits and Mass Tort Litigation?
Class action lawsuits must meet certain criteria to qualify for class action certification. For example, the plaintiff must provide notice of the lawsuit to all consumers who may have suffered the same injury. The plaintiff must also provide an “opt-out” option where injured parties can choose not to join the class action suit and pursue their individual legal remedies. To initiate a class action lawsuit, the plaintiff must file a motion with the court seeking class action certification. The court will then review the circumstances of the case and determine whether the case qualifies as a class action suit. Courts also have the discretion to review the attorney or attorneys assigned to the case to decide whether they are adequately prepared and skilled to handle such a large case. In class action suits, a single plaintiff represents the interests of the “class” of other harmed plaintiffs. Therefore, the injury the plaintiffs have suffered must be typical, with similar evidence against the defendants for accountability. Both class action suits and mass tort litigation aim to reduce the number of similar individual cases filed with the courts. Mass tort litigation is slightly different in that it involves more complicated types of cases and unique procedural requirements. In these cases, the focus is not on the injury to the plaintiffs, but rather on the defective product or drug that caused injury. Since faulty drugs and products can cause a wide range of injuries to different consumers, mass tort cases do not require that plaintiffs share in the same injuries.
At the Law Offices of Salar Atrizadeh, we provide clients with the guidance and legal expertise to handle cases involving various areas of mass tort litigation and class action suits. If you have a claim you would like to discuss, contact us to set up a free and confidential consultation.