Mass Tort vs. Class Action Lawsuit |

Legal|Mass Tort

Mass Tort vs. Class Action Lawsuit

Most people have heard of or even been part of, a class-action lawsuit, but it is rarer to find people that are familiar with a mass tort. While each type of action can result in a similar judgment or outcome, they are not interchangeable and are handled differently in court.

It is not uncommon for lawsuits to be brought against a company or organization by multiple individuals seeking to recover compensation for damages. In the case of a mass tort and a class-action lawsuit, the plaintiff is a large group of people who all have the same complaint against the defendant.

This complaint alleges significant harm that was caused by the action or inaction of the defendant. In both scenarios, multiple suits are compiled into a single legal action instead of separate lawsuits for each defendant. The aim of both is to reduce the number of cases in the court system.

Primary Differences Between Mass Tort and Class Action Lawsuits

Mass Tort

They are also usually smaller in scale than class-action suits. Mass tort actions are often comprised of individuals from a similar region or geographic area, which is why they are frequently smaller than class-action suits. Despite plaintiffs in mass torts being grouped together, they are treated as individuals with regard to proof. The means each person must prove the facts of their case, such as injuries, damages, and so on.

Class-Action Lawsuits

In a class-action suit, the plaintiffs are consolidated into a “class”. They are represented by a single person known as the class representative. They will represent the entire class and are will be treated as one singular plaintiff.

How Do I Know Which Case Might Apply To Me?

Mass Tort

A mass tort is frequently used when one or more of the criteria needed to file a class-action suit is not able to be met. This can happen when the plaintiffs each have some degree of variance in their claim or injury. This variance may be too different and can offset the issues more central to the lawsuit.

Class Action Lawsuits

When a class-action lawsuit is initiated, all members of the class must be advised of their inclusion in the suit. They must also have the chance to either use their own attorney or to opt-out entirely. The first step to creating a class-action lawsuit is to find a representative for the class and file a motion declaring their intent to act as the plaintiff on behalf of the class. The following requirements must be met in order to qualify for a class-action:

  • The number of potential plaintiffs in the class makes a joinder or mass tort impractical or impossible.
  • The case contains questions of law that are common to the entire class.
  • The claims made in the lawsuit are the same or highly typical for the entire class.
  • The party designated as the representative will be able to adequately and fairly protect the class’s interests.