What is the difference between a class action case and a mass tort case?

A Lawyer Comparing Paperwork for Class Action and Mass Tort CasesMass tort and class action cases are not the same. While both types of legal cases involve many plaintiffs with similar injuries from the same product, class actions and mass tort cases work differently, and the potential outcome for plaintiffs in each case is different. If you are injured by a defective medical device or dangerous medication, then it is important to know which kind of case might bring you the financial recovery that you deserve.

How Class Action Cases Work

A class action case allows all of the people with similar injuries from the same product to work together as one plaintiff. Class action cases must be established by the court. According to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a class action may be established if the following four criteria are met:

  • There are so many potential plaintiffs that joining them is impractical
  • There are questions of law or fact that are common to all of the plaintiffs
  • The claims and defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims and defenses of the whole class
  • The representatives of the class will represent the interest of the class fairly

Individuals can opt-in or choose to be part of the class of plaintiffs. Acting together as one plaintiff, the individuals with injuries can share in the costs of discovering evidence, hiring legal counsel, hiring expert witnesses, and other litigation costs.

Since there are often many people in the class of plaintiffs, a representative plaintiff, also known as a lead plaintiff, may represent the group’s legal interests, but all plaintiffs will share in the damages awarded by the court or negotiated in settlement talks just as they share in litigation costs. A plan of distribution is typically developed and approved by the court to determine how much the plaintiffs will receive and the order in which they will be paid.

How Mass Tort Cases Work

Mass tort cases are different. In mass tort cases, like in class action cases, many injured people come together to sue a defendant for their injuries from the same product. However, in mass tort cases, the plaintiffs do not join together as one class.

Each plaintiff must file an individual lawsuit, and each plaintiff will obtain a personalized recovery.

Mass tort cases may be consolidated before one judge in a process known as multidistrict litigation (MDL). MDL allows one judge to preside over discovery and pretrial matters in cases that are alike. If a settlement is not reached, however, the case may go back to its original court for trial.

Benefits of Mass Tort Lawsuits

There are several benefits to joining a mass tort lawsuit rather than bringing your own case against a pharmaceutical company or another defendant. In a mass tort case, you:

  • Get an individualized recovery. Your potential damages will be based on your own losses.
  • Share in the costs of discovery and litigation. By sharing costs with others who have been hurt, you may have the financial resources to get the information you need from a large and well-funded defendant.
  • May get a quicker recovery. Mass tort cases often move through the courts faster than individual cases.
  • Can have your own attorney. You hire the lawyer whom you want to represent you and not the attorneys hired by other plaintiffs whom you’ve never met.

Contact a Mass Tort Lawyer If You Suffer a Pharmaceutical Injury

There are a lot of complicated legal decisions that need to be made to protect your recovery if you have been hurt by a medication, medical device, or another product.

Our dedicated legal team is here to help you if you have been hurt in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or New Hampshire. We will thoroughly review your claim and advise you of your rights—free of charge. In addition to providing free consultations, our mass tort attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you only owe legal fees if your claim is successful.

To learn more about your rights, your legal options, and your possible recovery, please fill out our online contact form or call us directly to schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation.

 

John L. Keefe
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