Mass tort claims are lawsuits in which a large number of victims have been affected by one or two defendants. Examples of these are where a company has affected a group of the population due to toxic dumping. In such cases, the injuries can be very widespread, resulting in a significant amount of damages distributed to the plaintiffs.
Some mass tort claims are filed as class action suits. However, not all mass tort lawsuits involve class action lawsuits, and there are significant differences between the two types of filings.
Class action lawsuits involve a single lawsuit which lumps together many different plaintiffs into a single “class” that is filing against the defendant(s). This helps to reduce the potential number of lawsuits that would be all filed for the same issue and in connection with the same type of injuries.
Class action lawsuits are very specific and the members of the class need to share certain common characteristics. Also, each member of the class of plaintiffs needs to be notified of their role and legal rights in the case. This is not always the same procedure when it comes to mass torts in general.
Mass tort lawsuits are broader and can involve different types of injuries connected with the same defendant. For instance, in a toxic dumping case, some of the plaintiffs may be persons who drank contaminated water. Another set of plaintiffs may want to sue because they have lost profit due to poisoning of fish. Here, these two groups can’t be joined in the same class, and so separate lawsuits need to be filed for the two issues.
In other words, there can sometimes be more than one class action lawsuit connected with the same mass tort incident. This will of course vary with each individual situation. In some cases, states may have very specific procedures when it comes to filing class actions for mass tort claims. This is especially true for cases involving environmental damage and toxic torts, as these can vary by state.
Mass tort and class action lawsuits are distinct but related concepts. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you need help understanding how these and other legal concepts work. A qualified lawyer can inform you of your rights under the laws in your state. Also, your attorney will be able to represent you from the beginning of the process until the end.
Last Modified: 03-17-2014 03:12 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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