Tort is simply the legal word for wrongful act or action, or omission of an act required by the duty of care, that results in an injury or injuries to another. A mass tort is simply a single wrong that impacted a large number of people. Mass tort claims often arise due to a mass-marketed consumer product that causes injuries, a prescription drug or other pharmaceutical causes injuries, or other harms that are widespread among the population. Mass tort litigation is often an essential tool in providing injured Pennsylvanians and Americans with the ability to recover damages for wrongful actions or defective products.
Why did Mass Tort Actions Arise?
Mass personal injury litigation can trace its roots back to the 1980s where mass litigation emerged in matters including:
- Medical devices such as heart valves, Norplant, Dalkon Shield, and more.
- Mass causality events like the Hyatt Skywalk collapse, the MGM Grand and Dupont Plaza Hotel fire.
- Dangerous chemicals and substances like lead, DDT, Agent Orange, and asbestos.
- Pharmaceuticals litigation like in the case of Bendectin.
Potentially defective products, pharmaceuticals, and tragic events that produced harms to many individuals coupled with innovations and refinements in court procedures created the conditions necessary for mass tort litigation. Since the 1980s mass tort litigation has been applied to a vast array of contexts and injuries. Today’s mass tort litigation also often involves medical devices like hip replacements or other consumer products.
How are Mass Tort Actions and Class Actions Different?
While mass torts and class actions do share a number of similarities, they are distinct causes of actions. The similarities between class actions and mass torts include:
- Both actions involve harm caused by the same defendants.
- The alleged harm was inflicted upon a large number or individuals
However, the treatment that each member of the group of plaintiffs or class receives makes up the chief difference between these types of legal action. In a mass tort each plaintiff is treated as an individual. That it, they must independently establish the facts or legal requirements relevant to their particular case. For instance, they must establish the type and extent of the damage that they have suffered personally. This is in contrast to a class action where all class members’ interests are represented by one or more class representatives.
Depending on the particular facts and circumstances a mass tort may be more advantageous for plaintiffs or a class action suit may not be available.
Strategic Representation in Mass Tort Actions
Working with an experienced attorney like those of Reiff & Bily can help you understand your legal options and make informed decisions. While we are always prepared to take matter to trial, we always seek an outcome that is likely to be favorable to our client’s interest. In some cases this may mean that a settlement of your claims may protect your interest. However in other matters compromise may not be in your best interests. In matters like these we prepare strategically and present your case so that the jury can fully appreciate the harm you suffered and its impacts on your life.
The attorneys Reiff & Bily have represented injured Pennsylvanians and New Jerseyans for more than 3 decades. To schedule your confidential mass tort case consultation, call (215) 274-0072 or contact us online.