Simply put, a mass tort is a civil action involving many plaintiffs against a single (or small number) of defendants. They refer to mass exposure of a defendant for their product or actions. Mass torts typically involve pharmaceuticals, consumer products or environmental injuries.
Why Mass Torts?
The reason mass torts are so attractive is that typically, liability need only be proven once, and then it is just a matter of damages for all plaintiffs who have been impacted. In other words, if a drug has harmful side effects and is unsafe, it is harmful and unsafe for everyone who suffered the adverse consequences. If a company is responsible for an environmental catastrophe, they are liable to all those who suffered injury. Given the stakes involved in mass torts, the top plaintiffs’ lawyers in the country are involved in proving the underlying liability. Plaintiff lawyers who handle mass torts coordinate their legal strategy against the large corporate defendants.
Examples of Mass Torts
There have been many famous mass tort cases in the past which you undoubtedly heard of. The first mass tort case was in the 1970’s with Agent Orange. Asbestos exposure is another example of a mass tort. In the 1980’s, silicon breast implants, the Dalkon Shield, and Norplant were mass torts. Doubtless you have seen the movie “Erin Brockovich” or “A Civil Action” with John Travolta which detail environmental mass torts.
Current Mass Tort Cases
The mass tort cases currently being reviewed by McCready Law include the following:
hip implants (Styker, DuPey, Biomet)
knee replacements (OtisKnee, Zimmer)
vaginal & bladder mesh (Bard, Caldera, Tyco)
Referring Mass Tort Cases
The purpose of this column is to make you aware that there are potential cases when a client calls you inquiring about a possible prescription drug reaction or when they have a problem with a medical device or procedure. Additionally mass tort lawyers are very aggressive in advertising for potential clients. You have probably seen the advertisements for mass tort cases. While we are not a firm which handles thousands of mass tort cases or actively advertises for such cases and clients, we are available on a referral basis just as we are for personal injury, workers’ compensation and disability cases.
Why the surge in Mass Torts?
There are several reasons driving the increase in mass tort cases. First, these cases are very lucrative, especially if you can represent a large number of mass tort clients. Second, these type of cases are tailor made for mass market advertising. Most importantly, there are more examples of prescriptions drugs and medical devices being rushed onto the market because of the huge profits involved. The drug companies have lobbied Congress to steamline the FDA approval process to get drugs to the marketplace faster. While this can be helpful from a medical and profit perspective, it has lead to harmful side effects which only become apparent after a mass release. In fact, the FDA has recalled eleven drugs since 1997 including Accutane, Baycol, Bextra, Fen-Phen, Rezulin and Vioxx. These were drugs taken by thousands or millions of people which were deemed so unsafe as to have the FDA recall them from sale.
I realize this article may not be as informative or helpful as some of my past postings, but it is important to be aware that there are potential cases, and a source to refer them, for clients who call as the result something they saw or read regarding a mass tort. As always, keep McCready Law in mind for any referrals.