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Basics of a Mass Tort Lawsuit

Nobody wants to enter a lawsuit. The plaintiff will only initiate a lawsuit if something undesirable happened to them. And the defendants don’t want to be in a lawsuit for obvious reasons.

But sometimes it’s unavoidable. Some transgressions need to be met with legal repercussions. And any action that results in the injury of a large group of unsuspecting people is one such example.

Mass tort lawsuits aim to correct a wrong that impacted a great number of people through negligence, carelessness, or apathy on behalf of a person or company.

These lawsuits attempt to compensate the people who fell victim to this malfeasance. Mass tort lawsuits can be long-lasting and confusing for people that didn’t graduate from law school. But we believe that everybody deserves representation while also deserving to understand what is going on around them.

And for that reason, we’re going to look into the basics of a mass tort lawsuit and how a product injury attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.

What Is a Mass Tort Lawsuit?

At its very core, a "mass tort" is a decision or action that has negative results for a wide group of people. These people then have the option to band together and file a mass tort lawsuit.

A "tort" is a civil transgression and not a criminal wrong. The difference between these two distinctions is that a criminal case deals with a broken law, and a civil case deals with all other disputes.

The plaintiffs work in concert with each other and sue the defendant they feel to be responsible for their shared pain. These groups are often brought together through marketing campaigns such as this:

These campaigns provide an important service. How would people that experience the same injury as a result of a certain product without these marketing campaigns? The victims are rarely aware that other people experienced the same negative effects without them.

There are a couple different ways that mass tort lawsuits are filed. These differences mostly relate to the procedure of filing the lawsuit. However, these similarities remain:

  • Harm has been caused to a large group of people
  • The defendants are blamed for this harm
  • There is a singular lawsuit as opposed to numerous individual lawsuits

But from there, the mass tort lawsuit might be pursued as multidistrict litigation (MDL) or a class action lawsuit.

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Multidistrict Litigation

This version of a mass tort lawsuit first involves multiple individuals filing a lawsuit of their own against a company for similar injuries from a particular product.

These lawsuits are then joined together by a judge who appoints a group of attorneys to perform discovery in the interests of the plaintiffs.

This process can take years to play out. The ultimate goal is to secure a settlement with a payout to all of the affected individuals. These individuals can decide on whether or not to accept the settlement on their own.

Class Action Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit is filed by a select group of people. Other people who were affected by the product or action in a similar way are able to join the lawsuit — usually early in the process.

The group of people involved in the class action lawsuit — known as the "class" — is generally much larger than the groups involved in MDLs.

The findings of the jury and court will apply to every person involved in the class action lawsuit, as if all of the plaintiffs are a singular entity.

Common Mass Tort Claims

Mass tort claims can cover a wide range of subjects and circumstances. However, there are a few particular types of mass tort claims that account for the bulk of these lawsuits.

Consumer Products

Contaminated food, products that pose a danger to consumers, and car parts that malfunction and cause harm are all examples of potential mass tort lawsuits. This type of claim will have a large number of people suing for compensation for injuries from the company responsible for manufacturing the product.


Approved drugs on the market are supposed to go through a series of rigorous tests to ensure their efficacy and safety. However, some of these drugs have unintended side effects despite these protective measures. This will most likely lead to a recall and the potential for a mass tort lawsuit against the manufacturer.


Massive, preventable environmental disasters can have wide-ranging effects on the surrounding population. A well-known example of this is when an offshore oil rig — or even an oil tanker — spills massive amounts of oil into the ocean. This kills off local wildlife and can affect the personal health or the livelihood of people who live in the area.

Recent Examples

Bart Durham Injury Law frequently represents groups of individuals as a product injury attorney. Find examples of class action lawsuits and mass tort claims here.

Have you recently been injured by a consumer product that has been recalled? Call Bart Durham Injury Law for help today!

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