Common Mass Tort Types
According to the American Bar Association (ABA), mass torts can deal with various cases, ranging from airplane accidents to asbestos claims. However, some of the more common mass torts we see include:
Almost all of us rely on over-the-counter or prescription drugs, whether for a temporary or permanent health condition. Modern medications extend lives and can cure many potentially deadly diseases. However, if an unscrupulous drug manufacturer puts profits before the health and well-being of patients, individuals could face devastating and even life-threatening consequences. Since a defective drug can have detrimental effects on numerous individuals, harmful drugs often give rise to mass torts.
If your client suffered devastating side effects from a medication, leaving them hospitalized or even permanently injured, get in touch with us. There could be many other patients who took the drug and suffered from the same problems. Our mass tort case lawyers can help you understand your client’s rights and move forward with a lawsuit, if applicable.
Exposure to Toxic Substances
Exposure to toxic substances frequently leads to mass torts. If many individuals develop an illness or injury due to exposure to a toxic chemical or substance, such as asbestos, mass tort claims could arise.
Individuals can be exposed to harmful substances while at work or in their own homes. Dangerous drugs or defective products can also potentially expose consumers to dangerous toxic substances.
Defective products, such as medical devices and others, are common subjects of mass torts. Product manufacturers are responsible for making their products reasonably safe for consumers and provide adequate instructions and warnings. If a manufacturer neglects safety, injured consumers can potentially hold them to account for damages. Manufacturers and other parties could be responsible for:
- Defects occurring during manufacture
- The defective design of a product
- Failure to provide adequate instructions or warnings
Many mass torts arise from defective medical devices such as faulty hip joints, pacemakers, IUDs, knee replacements and others. Since some medical devices are implanted into the body, injured individuals can suffer great harm and high financial losses from a defective medical device.
Benefits of Mass Torts
A mass tort can be an efficient way to sue as all cases are heard in a single court rather than as individual lawsuits in different courts around the country. Other benefits for plaintiffs include:
- Plaintiffs’ attorneys can coordinate and pool their resources.
- Mass torts create publicity allowing more plaintiffs to come forward, strengthening the case.
- Strength in numbers with many plaintiffs suffering injury and harm from a single event, drug, or device.
- Even if the mass tort fails to settle, plaintiffs can use the evidence gathered to litigate their individual cases.
The cons of a mass tort mainly affect the defendants as they may have to contend with significant negative publicity from a high-profile mass tort. Moreover, a mass tort is generally faster than regular litigation, which works to the defendant’s disadvantage. Large corporations with unlimited resources often try to prolong lawsuits indefinitely, hoping that plaintiffs and their attorneys run out of money. However, with a mass tort, this is unlikely.
Compensation Available in Mass Torts
To recover compensation in a mass tort, plaintiffs must prove that they used the drug or device in question and show evidence for their resulting injuries and losses. Depending on your client’s damages, they could potentially pursue compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Your could also receive other damages depending on the nature and scope of injury, age, and other case facts.
Differences Between Mass Torts & Class-Action Lawsuits
Mass torts and class actions both involve a group of plaintiffs harmed similarly by one defendant. However, there are some profound differences between the two.
Class Action Lawsuits
In a class action lawsuit, the lead plaintiff and attorney usually handle the case on behalf of all other plaintiffs. Plaintiffs in a class action are considered as one collective entity, the “class”. Those within the class have been harmed in the same way and suffered similar injuries or losses.
Importantly, if a class action lawsuit is won, the responsible party typically pays a lump sum to the class. This settlement is then divided among the plaintiffs. Every person receives the same amount of compensation without considering their actual damages. Therefore, those who suffered bigger losses may not recover a fair settlement and could be disadvantaged in class action lawsuits.
Mass Tort Lawsuits
While mass tort plaintiffs also come together in a group to sue the defendant, each individual has a distinct claim. Members of the group are treated separately. Moreover, each plaintiff can make their own decision on whether to accept a settlement or refuse the offer. Since each claim is treated as an individual personal injury case with a mass tort, victims can pursue fair and adequate damages for their individual losses.
Multidistrict Mass Tort Litigation
Mass torts can be litigated with “multidistrict litigation” (MDL). MDLs tend to occur after individuals suffering similar damages due to a company’s wrongdoing have already filed multiple lawsuits in federal court.
The judge overseeing an MDL generally appoints a group of attorneys (the plaintiffs’ steering committee) to conduct discovery on behalf of all harmed individuals. Additionally, a group of plaintiffs (called “Bellwether plaintiffs”) is appointed to represent the entire group of plaintiffs. An MDL can prove lengthy, costly and labor-intensive.
We Can Determine Whether an Individual Lawsuit or Mass Tort Is Beneficial
Every individual’s circumstances are unique. Therefore, especially if your client suffered more extensive damages than the average plaintiff in the mass tort, your client could file a separate case from an ongoing mass tort. An individual lawsuit can have advantages as your client could seek specific damages.
However, individual action can also have drawbacks. While it is generally up to you to decide which method of legal action to pursue, an experienced mass tort lawyer from our firm can advise you comprehensively after assessing your client’s individual case and circumstances.
Some Leading Mass Torts:
Hair Relaxer Products
Some popular hair products could have dangerous health consequences. An NIH-funded study published in October 2022 found an association between women who regularly used chemical hair relaxer products and uterine cancer. The study also warned that negative health impacts associated with using relaxers had the potential to impact Black and/or African American women more than women who identify with other races and ethnicities. An earlier report from the same study found that frequent users of hair relaxers were more than 2x as likely to develop ovarian cancer.
Phillips CPAP And Sleep Apnea Machines
Philips recalled millions of CPAP and other sleep apnea machines because many users were breathing toxic foam caused by a serious issue with their machines. Breathing in this toxic foam can cause cancer and other major health problems. The foam was going directly into the tube that users were using to breathe correctly while they slept. Aside from causing cancer, which is obviously severe and completely unacceptable, many users also reported headaches, upper airway irritations, coughing, chest pressure, sinus infections, asthma, damage to their liver and kidneys, nausea, vomiting, and increased breathing problems.
Government officials had been aware of toxic water contamination at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for decades. Despite their knowledge, those in power ignored the issue and then denied victims their right to seek justice. Between August 1953 and December 1987, service members, their families and base employees at Camp Lejeune consumed and bathed in water that contained high levels of toxic chemicals.
Many of these individuals have gone on to experience severe health issues as a consequence of the exposure, including birth effects, female infertility, leukemia, miscarriages, multiple myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s Disease, soft tissue sarcoma and various including bladder cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer and pancreatic cancer.
Who Qualifies for a Claim
Attorney Sean King is accepting claims from any individuals who resided or worked at Camp Lejeune base for 30 days or longer between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, including:
- Service members
- Family members of service members, including in-utero
- Base camp employees
Social Media Harm
In recent years, multiple lawsuits have covered the underlying issues surrounding social media addiction and how mega-companies like Meta Platforms, the owners of Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat, and Tiktok have used their algorithms to target and prey on the insecurities of vulnerable kids and young adults, including self-harm and suicide as well as effects on body image and eating disorders.
Individuals meeting the below requirements may qualify for social media harm claim:
- Used one or more platform: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and/or TikTok daily or weekly (preferably 3+ hrs per day)
- Has suffered from (regardless of treatment, but preferably documented): anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, purging, body dysmorphia, other eating disorders, self harm, attempted suicide, suicide or death or injury suffered before the age of 26.
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