Difference Between Mass Tort and Class Action Lawsuits?
February 22, 2022 | Commercial Litigation & Class Actions
These two kinds of civil actions are similar in many ways. They both address wrongs which affect many people at once.
So, they are both consumer protection lawsuits. Regulatory watchdogs have the power to monitor this area.
But they frequently do not fulfill that responsibility. However, the FDA gets a significant portion of its funding from the drug makers and other companies that it is supposed to regulate.
Additionally, agencies like the FDA can stop the bleeding and keep things from getting worse. But they can do little or nothing to assist victims.
When government bureaucrats fail or refuse to protect people, a New York personal injury attorney steps in and shields people from danger.
The court orders attorneys obtain prevent companies from knowingly selling hazardous products.
These hazards could be tangible or intangible.
Additionally, attorneys obtain compensation for victims’ economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are often available in these cases as well.
Most civil actions are individual injury actions, like car crashes and falls.
The aforementioned compensation is available if victim/plaintiffs prove negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
In New York and most other states, individuals and property owners generally have a duty of reasonable care.
Motorists must drive defensively, and property owners must ensure their lands, and any structures on them, are reasonably safe.
A higher duty of care applies in some cases. For example, doctors and other such professionals usually have a fiduciary duty. They must take affirmative steps to ensure that their clients and patients are safe, healthy, and secure.
A preponderance of the evidence is one of the lowest burdens of proof in the law.
Proof in a negligence claim usually includes the police accident report, medical bills, and witness statements. Electronic evidence, like a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder (a gadget similar to a passenger jet’s black box) and surveillance video footage, is also admissible in most cases.
In many ways, a class action is basically a collective personal injury lawsuit. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, multiple individual actions may be consolidated into a single class action if:
- Numerosity: The claims must be so numerous that “joinder of all members is impracticable” and hearing individual claims would not be an efficient use of judicial resources. As a rule of thumb, there must be at least fifteen or twenty victims.
- Commonality: This prong, common questions of fact and law among all parties, disqualifies many would-be class action claims. Frequently, the facts in each case are different and/or different legal doctrines may apply.
- Advocacy: All class action claims, and all mass tort claims, have a lead or name plaintiff who speaks for all other victims. The New York personal injury attorneys who represent this person or entity must represent the other victims with equal zeal.
Frequently, class actions involve financial matters, such as illegal paycheck deductions or interest charges.
These matters affect all victims in the same way, regardless of the facts in a case.
Most environmental poisoning claims are also class action matters. Some dangerous drug or defective product claims are also class actions.
Collective legal actions, including class actions, usually benefit victims. These platforms allow victims to pool their resources, so they are better able to take on large multinational manufacturers and other firms.
Mass Tort Actions
Typically, dangerous drug and medical device claims do not meet the commonality requirement. Different people use these items under different circumstances.
However, these matters usually affect a huge number of victims.
Some recent defective product claims, like Roundup lawsuits and 3M earplug lawsuits, have harmed tens or hundreds of thousands of people from across the country. Obviously, such cases are far too large to be individual matters.
Multidistrict litigation offers a legal home for such claims. Class actions are consolidated for all purposes.
MDL claims are only consolidated for pretrial purposes. A special master oversees the pretrial process, including things like discovery and settlement negotiations.
MDL matters usually also feature a series of bellwether trials which allow plaintiffs and defendants to test their claims and defenses.
For the most part, if an MDL claim does not settle, the judge refers it back to its home jurisdiction for trial. However, over 90 percent of these claims settle out of court.
Multiple legal platforms are available for injury victims. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We handle these claims on a nationwide basis.
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