Watch the TV every night after work as you’re getting ready to have dinner and you’ll see numerous adverts by law firms seeking clients that have been injured by a drug, product or chemical. These are typically what are called class action lawsuits, and they are prevalent in the public eye, and have been for decades. Class action lawsuits seek to hold defendants or wrongdoers accountable or liable for their negligent actions which caused similar injuries to thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of people. What a lot of people aren’t familiar with, however, are mass torts which we’ll take a look at in this post.
A tort is negligent or harmful act or omission that prompts a suit that is brought forward by an injured party in order to seek damages for injuries caused by the negligence of another individual, entity, or corporation. Mass torts, therefore, are used to bring forth legal claims against an entity or corporation by individuals that may have suffered varied injuries after using a product or service that was later found to be defective hence the injuries.
Mass torts are fast gaining traction in our court system due to the efficient manner with which they consolidate cases in order to seek justice and compensation for injured parties. Unlike class action lawsuits, many that join mass torts do not have similar injuries – some may have more severe injuries or health complications making them eligible for higher compensation. What’s great about mass torts is that the justice meted out is almost personalized and intimate, and you’re more likely to receive a larger payout in comparison to a class action lawsuit.
Mass tort litigation can be complex and involve various stages. This makes them a bit more time-consuming as well as costly to try, motivating attorneys to only bring forth claims that are valid, as well as have strict screening criteria. Mass torts will be heard in different stages up to district court level where judgment may be issued based on the progress of the case.
Perhaps the main difference between class action lawsuits and torts is how the courts treat you all. In class action lawsuits, you’re treated as a single entity, meaning that the settlement must be shared equally amongst all the plaintiffs, while individuals in mass torts are treated as individuals with different injuries and prospective damages, and compensation will surely reflect this.
Most of the time, mass tort claims are consolidated together into what’s called Multidistrict Litigation, or MDL. This is done in order to streamline the legal process to save on both money and time. State court officials hear the cases, or they are sent to federal court as an MDL, after which claims are sent back from whence they come so that judgment can be awarded.
There’s a certain timeline or series of events that typically trigger the development of mass tort claims. This typically begins with an FDA recall or black box warning regarding a certain drug or chemical. However, it’s not uncommon for an interview piece in the media (a show like 60 minutes) to stir up interest and awareness in a certain drug, compound, product or chemical, making people sit up and notice. Having a product taken off the market could also sound alarm bells and lead to investigations regarding the safety of said product. Having a significant verdict given out on a product may also trigger a series of events that lead to a mass tort claim, and last, but not least, lawsuits involving a product in the particular group of products may lead to a flurry of lawsuits involving a similar product, such as the different anticoagulants that have been the subject of similar mass tort claims in the past.
Mass tort litigation gained traction in the 1980s in tandem with the mass advertising and explosion of new products aimed at the average consumer. Back in the 80’s, federal regulation was lax, and every company, it seemed, had a shot to make millions regardless of whether or not their product was safe or effective. This led to the rise in complaints from consumers who bandied together to file legal claims, before the FDA woke up and took regulation seriously.
One thing that the public must understand is that mass tort claims aren’t as easy to resolve or even try as they are made out to be. This is due to a number of issues such as the availability of facts supporting claims of injury as well as whether or not outcomes are certain, which more likely leans towards the side of uncertainty. In addition, litigating mass tort claims is costly, and some law firms may believe that it just isn’t worth the time or money to invest their energy into mass torts.
In addition, establishing causation for a plaintiff’s injuries is perhaps what every mass tort attorney is aiming for, but is notoriously difficult to do. The scientific evidence is more often than not uncertain or unclear, and nobody knows how judges or the juries may respond to this scientific evidence. On top of that, you as the plaintiff with the help of your mass torts lawyer must show that your legal claims make financial sense.
Regardless of all these odds, mass torts are the natural course to follow when it comes to drug injury, product liability (unsafe consumer products) and toxic exposure or environmental pollution litigation. McCready Law is a nationally-recognized law firm that handles all manner of mass torts claims. We have a legal team that possesses consolidated legal experience that spans over 90 years, and we’re prompt, efficient and always accessible. If you’re interested in filing a bad drug, firefighting foam, unsafe product claim, please reach out to us at (773) 825-3605 and we’ll help you get started at NO COST to you. Thanks for choosing McCready Law.