Class Action and Mass Tort Lawsuits
Everyone has seen the “lawyer ads” that urge you to contact a toll-free number if you have been injured by using some particular product or medical device. But did you know that many of the lawsuits filed in such cases are classified as either class action or mass tort lawsuits rather than as individual personal injury lawsuits?
In today’s post the class action/mass tort lawyer at The Doan Law Firm will explain the similarities and key differences regarding these lawsuits. He will then discuss why a mass tort lawsuit is usually your best course of action if you were injured by a defective product such as a prescription medication or by the sudden failure of an automobile component.
What are class action and mass tort lawsuits?
Both class action and mass tort lawsuits involve more than one plaintiff (the person filing a lawsuit) suing the same defendant or defendants. Thus, these lawsuits share several characteristics:
- Both types of lawsuits involve more than one plaintiff;
- All the plaintiffs are suing the same defendants; and
- The individua plaintiff’s lawsuits are consolidated into single case to reduce the number of similar lawsuits the courts have to hear.
Although each state has its own laws governing class action lawsuits, these lawsuits typically involve:
- Multiple plaintiffs who would have been filing individual lawsuits alleging the same facts;
- The alleged injury or injuries sustained are the same or virtually similar; and
- The plaintiffs are suing the same defendants.
On the other hand, a mass tort lawsuit usually involves:
- Multiple plaintiffs, or people, who have been injured;
- The plaintiffs were injured by the same defendant or defendants, although the injuries sustained need not be the same or substantially the same; and
- Even though the individual lawsuits are filed in different jurisdictions, the facts are so similar that both parties will usually agree that the verdict of the first court to hear a lawsuit will be binding on other lawsuits alleging the same facts and injuries.
In general, most personal injury lawyers prefer to handle multi-plaintiff lawsuits as mass tort cases because courts tend to be more generous with the types and amount of damages awarded to an individual plaintiff than would be these case with a successful class action lawsuit.
- Class action lawsuits
In a class action lawsuit, one plaintiff “stands in” or represents a large number of potential plaintiffs (the “class”). If the lawsuit is decided in that plaintiff’s favor, the entire class shares in the damages awarded. On the other hand, if the court rules against the “lead” plaintiff the class is not responsible for legal fees and/or court costs associated with a losing lawsuit.
The major drawback to becoming a party in a class action lawsuit is that any settlement you may receive will usually be relatively small since any damages awarded by the court will be divided among hundreds (if not thousands) of plaintiffs and, further, may not be a cash settlement. As an example, if your cable television provider was found to have overcharged you, and thousands of other customers, the settlement could be a one-time reduction in your cable bill that would reflect your “share” of the class action settlement.
- Mass tort lawsuits
In contrast to class action lawsuits, in a mass tort lawsuit the plaintiffs’ injuries need not be identical or substantially similar. All that is required is that 1) the plaintiff suffered an injury and 2) the injury was due to the defendant’s negligence. By way of another example, two people who took the same prescription drug might have different reactions to the same drug. Regardless of how dissimilar the reactions may have been, if it can be shown that both were injured by the same drug each would be able to file a lawsuit against the drug’s manufacturer.
Contacting a class action/mass tort lawyer
The decision regarding the type of lawsuit to be filed (class action vs mass tort vs “routine” personal injury lawsuit) must be made by you and your lawyer since he or she will have the training and experience necessary to act in your best interest. Furthermore, since class action and mass tort lawsuits typically involve multiple plaintiffs from one geographic location who are suing a defendant from another location, you will need the services of a lawyer who is familiar with the law and civil rules of each state’s courts. One such lawyer is the class action/mass tort lawyer at The Doan Law Firm, a national personal injury law practice with offices located throughout the country.
At The Doan Law Firm, there are never any charges for our staff to review the facts of your case or for your first consultation with our class action/mass tort lawyer. Should you later decide to file a lawsuit, and that you would like for our firm to represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we are prepared to win for you.