Class actions and mass torts are two types of legal action involving several plaintiffs, or parties who file a lawsuit. During these claims, a lawsuit is filed on behalf of large groups of plaintiffs who were allegedly harmed by a common party, such as a drug manufacturing corporation. This party is referred to as the defendant in a lawsuit. Class actions and mass torts exist to streamline the legal process and simplify the resources, costs, and time involved by forming large groups of similar cases.
Class Action vs. Mass Tort
The main difference between class actions and mass torts is that plaintiffs in a mass tort are treated individually. Typically, the same evidence against the defendant is used to determine unique outcomes based on the specific details of each case. However, a class action results in one final judgment. This judgment is based on one plaintiff’s case. This plaintiff acts as a class representative for the other plaintiffs involved. As a result, all plaintiffs in a class action receive the same results.
A class action is a type of mass tort. After being consolidated, mass torts may be addressed through class action. However, a number of legal professionals advise against pursuing mass torts as class actions. This is primarily due to the fact that mass torts typically involve a wider variety of injuries, as well as questions of defenses and liability. These varying questions may affect plaintiffs in different ways that are not conducive to one representative judgment. To learn more about an increasing popular class action, visit Risperdal Lawsuit on Drug Dangers.
Class actions are typically filed on behalf of a group of plaintiffs who claim to suffer a common injury resulting from the fault of one of more defendants. This group is referred to as the “class.” Class actions are often pursued when sustained injuries are relatively minor and do not involve severe injury or death. The defendants of class actions are often large companies. Without a large group, these smaller-scale lawsuits may not result in a reasonable investment of resources, costs, and time.
In order to be “certified” as a class action, required criteria include that:
- The class must raise common factual and legal issues
- The class must be so large that it would be impractical to name and join each involved plaintiff
- The claims and defenses of the class representative(s) must be similar to the claims and defenses of the rest of the class
- The class representative(s) will serve as a fair and adequate protection of the interests of rest of the class
In a mass tort, the plaintiffs often experience unique cases of personal injury or death. Since these cases are not easily defined as “typical,” individual evidence for each case is often needed to reach an adequate verdict. In an ideal mass tort, the same evidence can be used to support each plaintiff’s case. Once liability is established on the part of the defendant, individual rulings can be made for each plaintiff.
Mass Tort Example
For example, a mass tort may apply to a stage collapse during a large concert which resulted in several types of injuries to various individuals. In this mass tort, all plaintiffs would need to provide sufficient evidence of the cause of the collapse and which parties were responsible for the collapse. With this evidence, each plaintiff would then receive his or her own verdict based on the injuries sustained during the incident.
Determining Which Action to Pursue
A number of factors must be considered before determining if a plaintiff should participate in a class action versus a mass tort. Mass torts are often pursued when a case does meet the full criteria to qualify for a class action. This can occur when each plaintiff has several uncommon and individual case circumstances that do not widely apply to the entire group. When individual cases vary greatly, the same legal facts and principles cannot be used to adequately resolve each case.
Orlando Class Action Lawyers
Individuals or families of individuals should speak to a qualified class action lawyers if they believe they may be eligible to participate in a class action or mass tort. A class action and mass tort lawyer can help answer the complex questions required to classify a lawsuit. The class action and mass tort attorney can also help to gather evidence and provide insight and instruction during the legal process.
“Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: Rule 23. Class Actions.”Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School. Web. 16 Sep 2013. <http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_23>.
Powell, Lewis F., III. “Class settlement of mass tort cases.” Sedona Conference Journal Fall 2006: 259+. Academic OneFile. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.
Wasserman, Rhonda. “Secret Class Action Settlements.” Review of Litigation 31.4 (2012): 889-942. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.