Mass Tort Lawyers in Louisiana
Most lawsuits involve one person, company, or other entity—the plaintiff—taking action against another person, company or entity, known as the defendant. However, some lawsuits are structured so that multiple plaintiffs take action against the same defendant as a group.
These are known as mass tort or class action lawsuits.
While the term class action might be familiar to you, mass tort is not as well-known. While these lawsuit types are similar and complex enough to need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side, they’re quite different in how they’re litigated and resolved.
What Is a Mass Tort Lawsuit?
A mass tort is a civil action involving multiple plaintiffs against one or more corporate defendants in a state or federal court. Tort is the legal term for a civil wrong causing loss or harm, such as a personal injury claim; a mass tort case is the same, but it has multiple parties.
Because mass tort involves multiple parties that have all been injured at the same job or by the same company, they’re usually brought together under one judge and courtroom. In addition, the injured victims can be individually represented by a single lawyer or group of lawyers. This allows the attorneys to investigate each case, while pooling evidence and resources to save time and money.
Common Mass Tort Case Types:
- Toxic Product Mass Torts can be brought when multiple people are exposed to a toxic chemical due to negligence in manufacturing, labeling, or another process by a corporation. The Roundup cancer lawsuit, asbestos causing Mesothelioma, Clean Harbors burn pit lawsuit, and the talcum powder lawsuits are all examples of this type of tort. Another is the damage caused by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Defective Drug Mass Torts are group actions brought by people harmed by a pharmaceutical drug against the seller, manufacturer, or distributor of that drug. A famous example of a defective drug tort includes the Zantac® lawsuit.
- Defective Product Mass Torts involve products that malfunctioned and harmed people as a result. Because these injuries tend to be caused by products sold to many people, they’re grouped into mass tort actions to streamline the legal process. The 3M ear plugs case is an example of this mass tort type.
Mass torts can also include large accidents that occur such as industrial accidents, chemical leaks, explosions, large shipwrecks, and more, all of which can result in a wrongful death. Reach out to an experienced mass tort attorney to answer all of your questions about mass tort and class action lawsuits.
How Is Mass Tort Different from Class Action?
The main difference between a mass tort lawsuit and class action lawsuit is in how the court treats the plaintiffs. Instead of being treated as one entity, the plaintiffs in mass tort cases are treated as individuals, and each plaintiff’s compensation reflects their damages.
Class Action Lawsuits
In a class-action lawsuit, a small group of people, representing the interests of a much larger group, bring a lawsuit against a defendant. This smaller group, known as class representatives, are named as plaintiffs in the suit, and the court treats all the plaintiffs as one entity as opposed to individuals.
In order to qualify as a class action, a lawsuit must meet the following criteria, defined by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure:
- the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
- there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
- the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and
- the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.
Everyone the class action applies to must have the choice to opt-out of the claim or seek their own counsel. The outcome of a class action suit extends to everyone the ruling applies to who didn’t opt out, even if they weren’t involved directly in filing the claim.
Class action suits exist to reduce the number of lawsuits for the same grievance, to prevent the court from being overwhelmed by cases.
As a result, the compensation for individual members of these suits can be small, since the settlement is divided between many plaintiffs.
Mass Tort Lawsuits
While mass tort lawsuits and class action lawsuits are similar, they are distinct in important ways, the main difference being how the group of plaintiffs is treated. Both of these litigation types involve multiple plaintiffs that were harmed by one defendant’s negligence, but they have completely different processes and outcomes. Mass tort claims involve multiple plaintiffs with similar grievances seeking damages from a negligent party, usually a large company.
Common mass tort lawsuits include:
- Those which seek damages for injuries from dangerous drugs
- Those seeking damages for injuries from defective medical devices
- Those which seek damages for injuries from defective products
- Those seeking damages for injuries from toxic conditions or disasters
Defective drug cases, defective product claims, and other cases where plaintiffs are all injured differently are common types of mass tort actions. An example of this is the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit against the government. A case is commonly established as mass tort when it doesn’t meet all of the above criteria for a class action suit.
For example, when each plaintiff has different injuries, it doesn’t make sense to seek the same damages for each plaintiff. Especially in cases such as defective drug injury, since drugs affect individuals in widely variable ways, the plaintiffs rarely fit into the single class necessary to qualify for a class action suit.
As a result, mass tort cases tend to be made of smaller groups of plaintiffs, that are generally limited to a smaller geographical area. These cases can also lead to higher compensation for plaintiffs, since they seek damages individually.
Do I Have a Mass Tort Claim?
Because mass tort claims can be so complex—they involve multiple plaintiffs against one or more defendants, all treated individually, and don’t always follow standard procedure—it can be hard to know if you have a mass tort claim.
The team at Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys has been trying mass tort claims for decades, and we know what it takes to successfully settle or win these cases. If you think you might have a mass tort complaint, give us a call at 888.501.7888 to discuss your legal options. We promise we won’t charge you a dime until we win or settle your case, that’s the G Guarantee.