Mass Tort Lawsuits: Understanding the Basics

Many plaintiffs are confused between the concepts of class action and mass tort lawsuits. Others insist they want to file their individual personal injury lawsuit. The experienced mass tort lawyers at Rueb Stoller Daniel are here to help you navigate the complicated legal system.

Contact us today for a free consultation about a mass tort or class action case.

What Is a Mass Tort?

These legal actions are based on the concept of tort law. This legal principle allows people who were injured and suffered economic damages due to the negligent or wrongful action of another person or business.

A mass tort occurs when a group of people suffers similar injuries due to the same negligent or wrongful action of the same person or business. Thus, the group of injured people sues the same defendant in a civil lawsuit.

Types of Mass Tort Actions

Now, what types of personal injury cases become mass tort actions? The most common instances handled by attorneys involve:

  • Defective products
  • Dangerous drugs
  • Toxic exposure
  • Defective medical devices.

Looking over the cases our law firm handles, here are a few examples of mass tort lawsuits being filled in 2023:

Mass Tort Lawsuits vs. Class Action Lawsuit

One of the most common points of confusion is the difference between a mass tort and a class action. This is because it involves the same situation: a group of people who suffered damages caused by the same defendant.

However, in a class action lawsuit, all the individual cases are merged together into a single legal action. A representative of the class of plaintiffs will go to court against the defendant (or defendants). The outcome of the lawsuit will be applied to the entire class of defendants.

In mass tort lawsuits, each individual plaintiff files a legal action against the defendants. However, these legal actions are grouped together. The verdict will specify each plaintiff, determining the amount of their award.

a mass tort occurs when many people are injured by the same product

What Is Multidistrict Litigation?

Mass tort lawyers also encounter cases when a potential plaintiff does not understand the difference between a mass tort and a multidistrict litigation (MDL). Again, there are similarities between the two types of legal actions.

MDL cases involve plaintiffs from various jurisdictions across the United States. Also, a few bellwether cases will be brought to court to gauge the way the defendants will respond and the type of defenses they will use.

Multidistrict litigation is a federal procedure to streamline several cases into a single large claim in order to reduce the caseload. In this sense, mass tort lawsuits are multidistrict litigations. However, MDLs cover other types of legal actions, as well.

The Phases of a Mass Tort Lawsuit

Now let us explain what happens from the moment a mass tort lawsuit begins until the final verdict. Here are the phases of this type of legal action.

JMPL Motion

Motion filed with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML):  the lawyers representing all the plaintiffs file a motion requesting the consolidation of all claims with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML).

In some cases, the JPML will do this without a motion being filed.

Filing the Lawsuit

The JPML issues an order, transferring all the cases from their individual federal courts to a single federal district court and a single judge.

The Pretrial Proceedings 

Both the plaintiffs’ and the defendants’ legal teams investigate the claims and collect evidence. The court will appoint steering committees for each side to oversee the discovery process, which also involves exchanging evidence and deposing witnesses.

The Bellwether Trials

The plaintiffs’ attorney will select a few cases to go to court. The judge will determine whether the plaintiffs should receive compensation and determine the amount. The bellwether trials will be used by both parties to adapt their legal strategies.

Negotiations and Trial

The mass tort lawyers representing the plaintiffs will try to settle the claim with the defendant. They may reach a global settlement, obtaining fair compensation for all injured people. Otherwise, the mass tort action will go to trial.

Schedule a Free Case Review Today

Are you eligible to join a mass tort action or do you have an individual personal injury case? The best way of finding out is by scheduling a free case review with an experienced mass tort lawyer at Rueb Stoller Daniel. Call us today at 1-866-CALL-RSD!