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

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2016 | Class Actions, Mass Torts |

Different options designed to help victims of dangerous products

To begin with, it can be useful to start out by discussing similarities between class action lawsuits and mass tort lawsuits. In common, both are lawsuits involving a number of victims that have typically been harmed by a defective product, a defective drug or defective medical device. Class action lawsuits and mass tort lawsuits provide different legal procedural options for victims to seek compensation for the damages and harm they have suffered. Now it might be helpful to look at each type of legal resource available to victims separately and then discuss how both can help victims of dangerous and defective drugs or products.

Class action lawsuits have certain important legal requirements that mass tort actions do not share. In general, a class action lawsuit is a lawsuit brought by a representative (called the class representative) of a group of victims who have all suffered similar harm caused by the same dangerous or defective drug or product. It is important to note that a court must certify the class for it to be able to bring the legal claim. To be certified, the class must be numerous and it must be impractical to join all members of the class; there must be common questions of law or fact shared by the class; there must be common claims and common defenses among the class; and the class representative must be able to fairly represent the interests of the class.

In addition to important certification requirements, and that the victims joining the class action lawsuit are all similarly situated, class action lawsuits have important notice requirements because they can significantly impact the rights of victims. Notice requirements can sometimes be challenging and costly to fulfill. Victims can opt out of being members of the class that is part of a class action lawsuit but if they do not, they are bound by the outcome of the class action lawsuit. To ensure fairness, and that victims are properly protected, the court must also approve any class action settlement. Class action lawsuits have their upsides, however, including an overall less costly and more efficient method of ensuring victims who have been harmed by a dangerous or defective drug or product are protected. They can also protect victims when there may be limited resources available such as in circumstances when a company has gone bankrupt or in other circumstances.

Alternately, another option to help victims of dangerous or defective drugs or products is a mass tort lawsuit which is a multi-party lawsuit that usually follows a circumstance when a number of victims have suffered injuries or harm because of a defective drug or product. In some ways, mass tort litigation may be viewed as procedurally simpler as a class action lawsuit. Overall, it is important to keep in mind that the legal system provides different options to help ensure injured victims and their loved ones are properly compensated for harm and injuries they may suffer.

Class action and mass tort lawsuits can seem complex at times but it is useful to be aware of the resources available to protect victims. Experienced personal injury and products liability attorneys can help when harm has been suffered because of a dangerous or defective drug or product. The New Jersey product liability attorneys at Lomurro Law provide knowledgeable legal representation for injured victims. They can be reached at their New Jersey New Jersey office at 732-482-9285 or online today.