What Purpose do Mass Torts Serve?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Lowell Finson with Phillips Law Group.
Mass torts are a type of litigation similar to class action lawsuits; both types of litigation involve a group of people seeking recovery after suffering in some way from the same event, individual, or company’s actions. Situations that qualify for mass torts or class actions typically involve too many people to make filing individual claims for each one realistically feasible. However, mass torts generally involve a smaller number of people than class action lawsuits, and mass torts require the individuals involved to present their own cases rather than relying on the class representation of one or a few lead plaintiffs.
Mass torts allow a group of people to seek individualized damages.
In class action lawsuits, the damages that the group or “class” can seek are limited to the damages they all have in common. This means if one or a few members of a class experienced certain damages different from the rest, those damages will not be included in the lawsuit.
Mass torts, however, allow each plaintiff to seek compensation for their individual damages, even if they are not shared between others involved in the tort. This is generally considered preferable, allowing each injured party to have their individual and specific needs examined and considered in court.
Mass torts generally allow plaintiffs to seek compensation in a greater amount than in a class action.
Due in large part to the sheer number of people involved in a class action, the monetary recovery in a class action verdict or settlement tends to shake out to a relatively small amount of money for each class member. However, each individual in a mass tort is able to have their case tried individually, which means the damages they can receive often far exceed the compensation they might have been awarded in a class action.
Mass torts allow plaintiffs to benefit from shared research, but still have their cases tried individually.
One of the biggest benefits of a mass tort is the ability to share research and plaintiff experiences. The process of “discovery” or collecting evidence to prove a plaintiff’s case can be costly and time-consuming; however, when a group of people all suffer from the same situation, one person’s evidence can often serve as another person’s evidence. This pooling of resources and coordination between separate but closely related lawsuits can be extremely effective in building a rock-solid case in relatively little time.
Mass torts may arise out of a variety of situations in which many people suffer from the same situation.
Many mass torts arise when one company’s negligence leads directly to a situation in which many individuals are harmed in individual ways. Issues that often qualify for mass torts can vary widely, but often include the following:
- Defective medical devices
- Defective pharmaceuticals
- Defective products
- Chemical spills
- Air, water, or ground pollution
- Negligent construction
- Large scale disasters (i.e. aviation accidents, train crashes, bridge collapse, etc.)
If you or a loved one have suffered harm and suspect that others have been harmed by the same situation, reach out to a mass tort attorney to discuss your options for physical and financial recovery.