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What is a Mass Tort?

ASK LLP and its attorneys are highly experienced at representing individuals who have been injured, a case known as a “tort.” Occasionally, a large corporation or other entity engages in courses of action that harm hundreds or thousands of individuals. This type of case is often referred to as a “mass tort.” As explained by the Federal Judicial Center at 342-344), a mass tort emerges “when an event or series of related events injure a large number of people or damage their property.” Mass torts may arise after a faulty product causes a large number of injuries. They may be the result of corporate negligence resulting in undisclosed pharmaceutical side effects, defective medical devices, wildfires, toxic pollution, widespread child abuse, or foodborne illness.

Mass torts often result in high-stakes litigation. Millions or even billions of dollars may be at stake. Large, well-funded corporations often hire teams of expensive lawyers to defend dangerous products, even when they have harmed numerous people. Their highly aggressive legal teams oftentime spend millions of dollars and significant hours defending companies’ bad behaviors even though have been tied to significant injuries, property damage, or even deaths. ASK LLP has the expertise to fight back, seek justice for you, and level the playing field.

In a mass tort litigation, the people injured are referred to as “plaintiffs” in these cases. The entities that plaintiffs claim have caused their injuries are referred to as “defendants.” A mass tort may also be referred to in many other ways. For example, a case could be referred to by the allegedly faulty product (In re: Takata Airbag Products Liability Litigation or In re: Stryker LFIT V40 Femoral Head Products Liability Litigation or In re: Actos (Pioglitazone) Products Liability Litigation). Or a mass tort may be referred to as an “M.D.L.,” multi-district litigation, toxic tort, consolidated proceeding.

You may have also heard the term “class action lawsuit.” Mass torts are somewhat similar, but different from a class action. The main difference is that, in a mass tort situation, the judge is overseeing hundreds or thousands of cases, each typically involving an injured party. The judge in a mass tort litigation manages the cases collectively. The attorneys who represent one or more plaintiffs–the injured individuals – work together, fighting against the defendant companies and their lawyers.

In a class action, often one law firm represents a few plaintiffs who represent the interests of many other individuals. These few plaintiffs represent the interests of others throughout the life of the case–all the way through trial. They often have a single law firm that litigates by itself against a defendant company and its attorneys. Class actions typically involve damages to many people that are very similar and common, and are able to be proven even without having each individual who was harmed appear for trial.

Alternatively, mass torts often involve injured people who may have the same type of injury, but not necessarily the same degree of injury. Mass tort cases usually require some amount of individual proof from each injured individual involved. Nevertheless, because they involve similar injuries and similar defendants, Courts group mass tort cases together at first for the litigation of common issues of law and fact. Often years later, as trial approaches, Courts may order individual trials to proceed if the parties have not reached a global settlement of the cases involved.

In short, a mass tort is a useful tool for aggregating and resolving many injury claims against one or few defendants. While it may take many years to resolve a mass tort, without the ability to form a mass tort, it could take decades for the Courts to resolve thousands of cases.

At ASK LLP, we handle a wide variety of mass tort cases, listed below. Our goal is to get you the compensation you need as quickly and efficiently as possible without sacrificing the value of your eventual award or settlement.

If you feel that your injury may qualify you to join a mass tort, get in touch with our skilled attorneys today so we can start building the best possible claim for the compensation you deserve.