A “mass tort” is a civil case that involves many different
plaintiffs who are all suing one or a few defendants for similar reasons.
These cases are given their namesake due to the high number of people
involved, as well as the common use of mass media to create awareness
of the issue and recruit more plaintiffs. Though they can be incredibly
complex, mass torts can lead to colossal settlements for negatively affected parties.
What Are Some Commonly Filed Mass Torts?
Typically, these cases are created in reaction to product liability issues,
man-made disasters, or toxic chemical exposures. A few examples of eligible
- Harmful prescription drugs or medical devices
- Defective or dangerous products
- Airplane crashes
- Poisonous building materials like asbestos
A real-life example of a mass tort case would be the famous case brought
against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in 1993, as dramatized
in the film
Erin Brockovich. After three years of litigation against the company for the contamination
of local drinking water which led to serious illnesses, the case was eventually
settled for $333 million in favor of the residents of Hinkley, California.
What are Class Action Lawsuits?
Class action lawsuits are a subset of mass torts, though not all mass torts
are class action lawsuits. In the case of a class action lawsuit, the
courts are allowed to decide all claims via a single decision, treating
the whole issue as one case. If a settlement is reached, the recovered
damages are split evenly between the plaintiffs. Class action lawsuits
are used if the plaintiffs have been affected by the actions of the defendant
in the same “class” or similar manner.
Since the types of effects that a toxic exposure or faulty drug can have
are vast, the lawsuits that are filed in reaction can span several different
classes. Therefore, these cases must be handled uniquely with the collaboration
of several different personal injury lawyers. An investigation conducted
by one attorney can be permitted to be shared between several different
cases, and a network of personal injury lawyers can pool resources to
advocate for fair settlements for each individual client. Depending on
the severity of the effects, some plaintiffs may be entitled to larger
settlements than others.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer in New York City
If you believe you have a case that may be considered part of a mass tort,
you need to retain the services of an experienced and dedicated New York City
personal injury attorney. Lurie, Ilchert, MacDonnell & Ryan LLP is ready to help you
hold negligent parties responsible and seek to recover damages on your behalf.
Call (646) 461-4009 to retain trusted and effective legal representation.