Mass Torts vs Class Action Lawsuits

Mass Torts vs Class Action Lawsuits

Mass torts and class action lawsuits have a lot of similarities. While people may use these terms interchangeably, these are different types of litigation. The general public often hears the term class action but may be unfamiliar with mass torts. Class action lawsuits and mass torts involve multiple plaintiffs with similar claims against one or a few defendants. However, the difference between the two lies in the processes and outcomes of handling these types of litigation. Continue reading to learn more about how class action lawsuits and mass torts vary. 

Class Action Lawsuits

Class action lawsuits occur when one or many individuals, who represent a larger group, file a claim against the same defendant(s). Class action lawsuits typically involve a massive company or corporation, government entity, or any group that has allegedly harmed the public. To begin a class action, attorneys file a civil lawsuit against one of these organizations and ask the court for class certification. If the court finds the motion establishes class action criteria, it will grant class action status. The court will consider the size of the class, the shared grievances, and the interests of the entire class in determining class action status. 

From there, the court will pass a motion to select certain plaintiffs as class representatives. These class representatives reflect the injured party of numerous people referred to as the class. The class representatives participate in the discovery process and act for the class itself. That means these individuals will testify, submit documents, and stand in for the entirety of the class. 

Mass Torts  

Mass torts also consist of several plaintiffs with similar injury claims against the same at-fault parties, like class action lawsuits. These injury claims, filed at a state or federal level, typically target dangerous drugs, defective products, and the negligence of large companies. Yet, mass torts are individual personal injury cases combined into shared court proceedings. Mass torts occur when people sustain injuries on a large scale from a specific product, substance, or corporation. Although these cases involve common questions of fact, the plaintiffs may have diverse experiences or varying injuries. 

Generally, attorneys file a motion with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate these claims into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). An MDL merges individual lawsuits with similar claims into a single federal court. This process intends to save money, resources, and time across lawsuits filed nationwide. 

How Class Action Lawsuits and Mass Torts Differ

Even though these two types of litigation appear alike, the treatment of plaintiffs and the results vary. For example, mass torts do not have specific plaintiffs to serve as class representatives. Therefore, in mass torts, no single plaintiff speaks or represents everyone else in the mass tort. The court treats those involved in a mass tort individually. Due to this differentiation, mass torts provide separate financial compensation to plaintiffs. The monetary sum depends on the individual experiences of each person. The extent of the injuries, medical expenses, recovery process, and other factors that vary case by case all influence the potential monetary sum. But, with a class action lawsuit, the court considers the plaintiffs as a single “being.” So, the amount is scaled to pay the class as a whole. 

Have Questions? Contact The Lake Law Firm

Navigating a lawsuit, whether class action or mass tort, is a tricky and complex process. These forms of litigation require experience and an understanding of legal procedures. If the negligent actions of another party injured you, don’t hesitate to speak with one of the trusted mass tort attorneys at The Lake Law Firm. We can help determine the best course of action for you if you are considering a lawsuit. 

The Lake Law Firm was founded by Edward J. Lake, Esq., a personal injury lawyer for over 25 years. Our dedicated team of attorneys is committed to seeking justice on behalf of those who have suffered injury or death due to the negligence of others. Our experienced attorneys handle many different types of pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, and other defective products. The lawyers in our firm have helped collect millions of dollars for their clients. The Lake Law Firm will advocate for you and your rights. Please contact us for a free confidential case evaluation at (888) 274-0139.