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Mass Tort vs Class Action

You may have heard the term “class action lawsuit” before. But are you familiar with what is called a “mass tort?”

Both types of cases provide similar outcomes and are often confused, but each are handled very differently.


Differences Between Mass Tort & Class Action Cases 

Many lawsuits involve an individual seeking compensation for damages. But in both mass tort and class action cases, the plaintiffs are made up of a large group of people who share the same grievance. In both instances, the group of plaintiffs alleges harm caused by a common defendant.

With both class action and mass torts, lawsuits are consolidated into one action rather than separate lawsuits. These proceedings are designed to cut down on the number of court cases that arise when many are harmed by the same problem.

What’s the difference?

The main difference between mass torts and class actions is how the large group of plaintiffs is treated.

Mass torts often involve a group of distinct individuals sometimes from the same geographic area. Because of this, mass tort cases typically consist of a smaller group of injured plaintiffs than a class action suit.

Although plaintiffs in a mass tort are part of a large group, each member is still treated as an individual.  This means that each plaintiff must prove certain facts, including how each person was injured by the defendant.

Class action suits are handled a little differently. In this type of case, the large group of plaintiffs is considered a class and is represented by an individual called a class representative. The class representative stands in for the rest of the class and all members are treated as one plaintiff.

What type of action is used for each case?

Class Action Lawsuits

A class action lawsuit has specific characteristics and must meet certain criteria.

All individuals in the class must be notified of the suit and given the choice to either opt out or find their own counsel. Before a class action lawsuit is established, a motion must be filed in court for a representative to act as a plaintiff on behalf of the entire class.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have established the following criteria for class action lawsuits:

  1. The class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
  2. There are questions of law or fact common to the class;
  3. The claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and
  4. The representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

Mass Tort Lawsuits

Mass tort action is often used when one of the legal criteria for a class action suit is not met.

For instance, a mass tort action could occur when each plaintiff within the group has varying circumstances. A mass tort is established if the factual situations between the plaintiffs is too different and outweighs the common issues necessary for a class action.

In most cases, mass tort claims are filed when consumers are injured on a large scale by defective drugs or products. As reactions to defective drugs or products differ greatly from individual to individual, these cases rarely fit into a single class.

Do you know if you have a mass tort claim?

Mass tort lawsuits are generally more complicated than class action lawsuits as they do not necessarily follow standard legal procedure. If you think you have a mass tort claim, it can be hard to know where to begin.

That’s where we come in.

Our firm has established a reputation for successful claims involving defective drugsmedical devices, product liability and other mass tort claims. Our consultations are risk-free with no cost or obligation to you. If you believe you may have a mass tort claim, call the attorneys at Searcy Denney today at (800) 780-8607 to learn how we can help you recover.

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Posted By: Clinton Cimring