A mass tort is an effective legal option for mulitple plaintiffs to seek remedy for the harm that has been caused. If you have been financially harmed or injured due to the acts of a large organization, significant damages may be at stake. Medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost wages are just a few of the situations you may be facing.
If you believe you have a case that qualifies for litigation, contact our mass tort lawyers in Buffalo at Morelli Law Firm. Our team has decades of combined experience and can help you represent your claim.
What Is a Mass Tort Case?
Mass tort lawsuits refer to suits filed by a large group against organizations causing harm to more than one individual by way of a single cause. It can be for one specific incident, such as a railroad accident, or a defective and dangerous product, like faulty electronics. Mass torts are also filed for discriminatory practices or environmental crimes like toxic dumping or oil spills.
Mass torts occur when multiple plaintiffs file a lawsuit with a common complaint against a negligent corporation or entity. This is a type of civil action that allows plaintiffs to collect compensation for their individual damages. A mass tort action is often used when one of the legal criteria for a class action suit is not met.
Mass tort claims typically involve defective or dangerous products or corporate actions. Unlike class-action lawsuits, where the court splits the settlement evenly between each plaintiff, mass tort plaintiffs retain the right to collect compensation for their individual damages. Working with a Buffalo mass torts attorney will help to identify your specific damages.
Is Mass Tort the Same as Class Action?
Both cases are similar, but they are definitely not the same. With both class action and mass torts, lawsuits are consolidated into one action rather than separate lawsuits.
These procedures are purposely designed in order to cut down on the number of court cases that must be heard when lots of people are harmed or affected by the same problem. However, the way these plaintiffs are treated under the law is very different depending on the procedure.
A class action lawsuit has a class representative to represent all the members of the class, and the class is essentially treated as one big plaintiff. The mass tort allows and requires each plaintiff to prove certain facts, including how the defendant caused the injury to the individual plaintiff.
So, a class action suit is usually much larger and includes more plaintiffs. The class has little involvement in the case and allows a representative to present their story in court. A mass tort treats every plaintiff in the suit individually. There are fewer plaintiffs and they all must prove their cases separately.
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What Constitutes a Mass Tort?
To be considered a valid mass tort, the complaints must involve multiple plaintiffs harmed by the same defendant, and their injuries must have been caused by the same harmful act. Mass torts you typically see involve large-scale destruction like an oil spill, or medical devices that are found to be defective.
Pharmaceuticals and consumer products that cause of injuries and financial damages are also frequently litigated in a mass tort action. Some examples of famous mass tort cases you may have heard of include:
- Agent Orange – Litigation against Dow Chemical resulted in one of the largest settlements of its kind at the time. This $180 million settlement was to compensate veterans of the Vietnam war who were exposed to extremely dangerous defoliants and chemicals in the product called Agent Orange.
- Silicone breast implants – In a landmark $3.7 billion settlement, the companies, the Dow Corning, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Baxter Healthcare, agreed to pay women specific amounts for injuries over the course of 30 years.
- Asbestos – Asbestos litigation also began in the 1970s naming numerous asbestos-containing products and companies as defendants. Asbestos exposure lawsuits are still being placed today since people exposed to the material are still developing health problems later in life.
ow Mass Torts Work
Most mass tort cases stem from an act of negligence or misconduct. While most mass tort actions target a corporation, these lawsuits could also name other organizations or people as defendants. Similar to personal injury cases, these complaints are specific in nature and detail the exact injuries suffered by a plaintiff.
When a number of individual lawsuits is recognized, the judges will sometimes combine these cases into a single mass tort suit in order to streamline the litigation process. In larger cases, the court can combine the cases of several different jurisdictions as long as all the claims share the same act of harm by the same entity. That is referred to as multidistrict litigation.
A mass tort will sometimes be borne from an action that didn’t meet the class-action qualification standards. For example, defective drug cases will often be consolidated into mass torts because the injuries caused by the same drug vary wildly from person to person.
Since each plaintiff experienced a different degree of harm, the case doesn’t qualify as a class action. When you work with a mass torts lawyer in Buffalo from our firm, we can identify your losses and calculate the total value of your damages to pursue in court.
How Long Does a Mass Tort Case Take?
As with class actions, mass tort cases can take years to resolve, but quite often result in financial settlements. In a mass tort case, your individual damages are assessed and awarded as opposed to a class action which provides equal amounts to each member of the class.
A mass tort action departs from the rules of a class action case that requires you to waive your rights to further litigation if you are unsatisfied with the result.
Call Today to Learn More About Your Mass Tort Litigation Options
The Buffalo, NY, mass torts attorneys at Morelli Law Firm are prepared to review your case and advise you of your rights in a potential mass tort or class action lawsuit. Our team is experienced with high profile cases and have won over $1 billion in damages for our clients.
When numerous individuals have been harmed by a dangerous drug or defective product, a mass tort lawsuit is a powerful means for achieving justice. Our attorneys have the specialized expertise and resources to battle these large companies. Contact us for a free, no-risk case evaluation to learn more.