Class Action vs. Mass Tort. What’s the Difference?

Both class action and mass tort are types of litigations that provide a similar form of judicial relief. Due to many similarities, these two types of litigations are often confused. For example, both in class action and mass tort the plaintiffs are made up of a large group of people who are allegedly harmed. In both class action and mass torts, lawsuits are consolidated into one action rather than individual lawsuits. And finally, these two procedural actions are designed to optimize the number of similar court cases that arise when a lot of individuals are damaged by the same defendant.


The Difference Between Class Action and Mass Tort

The key difference between mass torts and class actions is the way the large group of plaintiffs is treated. In a class action legal procedure, a lawsuit is filed on behalf of an entire group of people who suffered similar harm as a result of defendant’s actions. This means that all the plaintiffs involved in a class action are treated as one plaintiff, and the lead plaintiff sues the defendant on behalf of the entire class. With mass torts each plaintiff in the group is treated as an individual, meaning that for each plaintiff certain facts need to be established including the ways that person was harmed by the defendant’s action.

The number of plaintiffs included in a mass tort is usually smaller than those of a class action. The reason is that mass torts involve injuries to a distinct group of people who reside in the same geographic area.

Mass torts are broader and may involve various types of injuries resulted in the action or inaction of a defendant or several corporate defendants. Common examples of mass torts include lawsuits against manufacturers of defective drugs or defective products.

In contrast to mass torts, class action lawsuits are more specific, and the plaintiffs of the class must share definite common characteristics. Each member of a class action lawsuit needs to be notified of his/her role and rights in the class.

The Type of Action Proper For a Particular Case

Mass torts are usually more complex types of litigation as they do not necessarily follow standard legal procedures. Mass torts are in place when one of the legal criteria for filing a class action lawsuit is not met. For example, the factual situations of the plaintiffs are very different and outweigh the common issue needed to proceed as a class action.

However, there are some other more complicated considerations that are made to determine if a case is to be processed as a class action or a mass tort lawsuit. If you need to understand how these two legal concepts work and which one is the most suitable for your particular case, the experienced personal injury lawyers at the Margarian Law firm are ready to help you choose the most proper type of lawsuit and get the desirable compensation for the harm you suffered.

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