Mass Torts

LEARN ABOUT MASS TORTS

What is Mass Tort Litigation?

Before answering this question, there are a few important terms to know.  A Plaintiff is a person who files a lawsuit claiming an injury. A Defendant is the person or company being sued. Discovery is the process of the Plaintiff and Defendant exchanging information that the Plaintiff may use to prove a claim and the Defendant may use to defend against the claim.

A mass tort case is a case that involves multiple individual Plaintiffs who have claims against a single Defendant or a group of Defendants.

There may be hundreds or even thousands of Plaintiffs in a mass tort suing the same Defendant. Each individual Plaintiff in a mass tort can maintain their own individual claim. This means each Plaintiff will complete discovery. Any settlement offer made in a mass tort may be rejected by a Plaintiff and the Plaintiff could have a trial against the Defendant or Defendants.  This is what makes mass tort cases different from class actions.

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In class actions, the entire plaintiff group is represented by a single Plaintiff called a class representative.  The class representative stands in the place for all of the class members and the entire class is treated as one Plaintiff. There are rules established for what is required for a class action.  In part the Plaintiffs’ claims and the Defendant’s defenses are typical, or the same across the entire class. Also, the representatives can fairly and adequately protect the interests of the entire class.

The mass tort process is used when one of the criteria for a class action is not met. Mass torts are typically used in three different areas. One area is lawsuits involving medical devices implanted in Plaintiffs such as hip implants as hernia mesh, for example. Another area is when harmful side effects caused by a medication are not warned about by the company. The third area commonly used for mass torts is when Plaintiffs are exposed to harmful chemicals in drinking water or in the air.

One reason a mass tort is used in these areas rather than a class action is because the medical treatment for each individual Plaintiff can be very different from one Plaintiff to the next. The claims would to meet the criteria for a class action because the Plaintiff’s injuries will not be the same across the entire group.  A mass tort allows each individual Plaintiff to present the evidence of their individual injury.

A Wettermark & Keith we have the experience to evaluate whether you have a claim involving defective medical devices, defective drugs or exposure to a harmful chemical and pursue your claim against the Defendants responsible. You may contact us at no cost for a risk-free, no obligation, and confidential evaluation of your potential claim.