A mass tort lawsuit is a legal tool used by plaintiffs when numerous people suffer a harm caused by the wrongful actions of another person or business entity. In this type of case, many plaintiffs file individual lawsuits against the defendant(s) that acted negligently. For purposes of efficiency, the cases are consolidated for pretrial purposes and state case and federal cases are coordinated.
Mass tort claims are used most frequently to prosecute claims for defective consumer products and defective pharmaceutical drug. In addition, mass tort claims have been used effectively in matters such involving airline crashes, building collapse, and train accidents.
Plaintiffs must get permission from the court in order to bring a mass tort action. Some factors the court will use to determine if a mass tort action is proper include:
Mass tort actions give plaintiffs an opportunity to sue the defendant(s) as a large group, rather than as an individual claim. One major advantage of mass tort litigation is that it provides a cost-effective means of litigation because pretrial matters are consolidated. Thus, a large amount of duplicitous discovery is often avoided. Usually, attorneys do most of the “heavy lifting” in the discovery process and the plaintiffs play a passive role. Another advantage is that when numerous plaintiffs bring an action stemming from a similar harm, it applies pressure on the defendant(s) to make a fair settlement offer prior to trial.
The primary difference between a mass tort action and a class action lawsuit is that, in a mass tort action, each plaintiff has his or her own individual claim for distinct damages caused by the defendant’s misconduct. In comparison, in a class action lawsuit, all plaintiffs claims are consolidated into a single action and the named plaintiff(s) stand in for the entire class.
In a mass tort action, each plaintiff will have a separate trial or receive an individualized settlement. This is different from a class action where there is only one settlement (split between all class members) or a single trial.
For a free legal consultation, call the Wieand Law Firm at (215) 666-7777. We will handle your claim on a contingent fee basis, which means you never owe a fee or legal costs unless you recover money.
Disclosure: This website and is intended for information purposes only. This summary of mass tort actions does not create an attorney-client relationship nor does it constitute specific legal advice. You should consult with an attorney if you have questions regarding a mass tort action.