Class Action vs. Mass Tort-What’s the Difference?

Posted On August 16th, 2010 By CSSFIRM.COM

Most people have heard of Class Action lawsuits but are less familiar with the term Mass Tort. Class Action is a type of legal action where a lawsuit is filed on behalf of an entire group of people who share a set of unfortunate circumstances, damages and injuries. These proceedings are designed to cut down on the number of court cases that arise when many are harmed by the same problem.

For instance, if a large company is accused of overbilling all of its customers, a class action lawsuit allows the courts to decide all claims through a single claim. While these actions are useful tools for initiation corporate change, they often leave claimants with a pittance in exchange for their damages.

A class action lawsuit has several characteristics and must meet certain criteria. The people in the class must be notified of the suit and given the choice to opt out or find their own private counsel. Before filing a class action lawsuit, a motion is filed in court for the Plaintiff to act on behalf of the group or class.

The individual compensation for the injury or circumstance must not be worth the time and money of hiring an attorney on an individual basis. The plaintiff must also show that his or her experience with the company or product is typical of the experiences of the others involved in the lawsuit, that this type of lawsuit is the most ideal for holding the defendants accountable, that the evidence against the defendants must be similar across the board, and that individual lawsuits against the defendant would be neither prudent nor cost-effective.

Mass Tort lawsuits are different. Although mass tort claims also attempt to reduce the number of court cases in the system, they must be handled differently, covering a much broader range of claim types. Class Action suits are a type of Mass Tort claims.

In most cases, Mass Tort claims are brought when consumers are injured on a large scale by defective drugs or defective products. Drugs and product defects can cause a wide range of problems for different individuals, so all cases rarely fit into a single class.

Mass tort litigation lets one attorney or groups of attorneys represent several injured parties in individual cases. The investigation conducted by one attorney can be shared among all cases. A nationwide network of lawyers can pool resources, information and ideas to ensure all individuals receive fair settlements for their injuries.

Mass Tort lawsuits are typically more complicated than class action lawsuits because the way they are structured does not necessarily follow standard predictable legal procedure. Because of the multitude of claims that are brought during the suit, it can be difficult to determine settlements and compensation.

If you believe you have a case that may fall under Mass Tort litigation, contact our office for a free consultation. We will help you determine the best course of action for your situation.

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