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What’s the Difference Between a Class Action & Mass Tort?

Class action lawsuits and mass torts are different in several key ways.

Many people have heard of a class action lawsuit, but few understand what a mass tort is. In fact, it’s common for people to confuse the two and sometimes use them interchangeably. While both types of cases can produce the same outcomes, it’s important to understand how the two are handled, because there are some distinct differences.

In both class action and mass tort cases, the plaintiffs are comprised of a large group of people who are suffering from the same injustice, injury, or illness against the same defendant. The similarity alone is what causes confusion between the two. Another similarity is that both lawsuits are filed through one action, rather than as separate lawsuits.

The main difference between the two is that thought plaintiffs are part of a large group in a mass tort, each member is treated as an individual, which means each individual must prove how they were injured by the defendant. In a class action, the group of plaintiffs is represented by one individual, or representative, who stands in for the rest of the class. All members are treated as one person.

Do Mass Torts & Class Actions Need to be Certified?

Mass torts do not need to be certified, but they do require judicial determination to proceed. Typically, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs asks the court for permission to file a mass tort action. The court takes several factors into consideration regarding mass torts, including the number of the individuals involved and their injuries, where they live, and whether their injuries were caused by the same act or product.

A class action, on the other hand, must become certified to move forward, which can be accomplished by meeting the following requirements:

  • Numerosity: The number of members is so high that filing a class action lawsuit is the most practical option
  • Typicality: The claims of the class representative truly represent those of the entire class
  • Adequacy: The class representative will protect the interests of the class
  • Commonality: There are questions of law that are common to the entire class

Common Types of Class Action Lawsuits

There are some class action lawsuits that are more common than others because of the fact that in certain industries, having a group of people file a lawsuit together is more effective than filing an individual lawsuit.

Common types of class action lawsuits include:

  • Finance: Often, financial fraud affects large groups of people such as customers and investors. Filing a class action lawsuit can convince financial companies to change their practices.
  • Employment: Having numerous employees file a joint action together can force an employer to change their policies and practices. Common types of employment lawsuits include discriminatory hiring or pay, sexual harassment, wage and hour laws, and hostile work environments.
  • Environment: Important environmental issues like pollution, oil spills, and clean water affect mass groups of people. Companies may change the way they handle pollution if they’re confronted by numbers.
  • Product defects: Typically, defective and dangerous products will affect thousands of consumers. Common cases involving products are filed against car companies like Toyota.
  • Civil rights: History has shown that class action lawsuits can be effective in advocating for civil rights issues. Brown v. Board of Education was a class action lawsuit that ended racial segregation in public schools.
  • Dangerous drugs: Drugs and medical devices can cause thousands of injuries across the country to patients who are using them per doctor’s orders. Often, a class action lawsuit is required to have pharmaceutical companies recall their products.

Successful in Protecting Consumer Rights

As a consumer, you deserve to feel like you can use medical devices safely without fear of getting injured or falling ill. Our class action attorneys have helped thousands of individuals who have been injured at the hands of a negligent drug manufacturer or medical device producer. We’ve shown through our achievements that we’re able to handle class action lawsuits and mass torts successfully as a law firm. We’ve secured a $4 billion verdict for a class action case brought against a large tobacco corporation and $10 million for clients who were affected by the BP oil spill incident. We’re undaunted by the possibility of going up against large corporations. If their actions harmed you, you deserve to be compensated.

To determine whether a class action lawsuit or mass tort will better serve your interests, call the professional attorneys at the Law Offices of David C. Rash at (954) 914-7116, or contact us online. We’ve helped thousands of clients over the past two decades and have experience in handling class actions, mass torts, and multi-district litigation.