A tort is commonly referred to as a civil wrong. Unlike a criminal case, where someone may be punished and can go to jail, a civil claim is something that might cause you to get sued.
If you run a red light or you are following too closely in traffic and run into somebody, because your actions caused an accident in which someone was injured or their car was damaged, you can be sued. That negligence is called a tort. The victim of the harm, if he or she sues, becomes a plaintiff.
A mass tort is nothing more than a tort that involves a mass of people. An automobile accident is a tort. A plane crash involving hundreds of people is a mass tort.
What are Some Examples of Mass Tort Cases?
Common mass torts are pharmaceutical and medical device cases which involve products that are often prescribed and sold to millions of people resulting in injury to hundreds or thousands of people.
An example of a mass tort involving a pharmaceutical drug would be where individuals across the U.S. were prescribed a medication to lower cholesterol, which in turn caused diabetes in hundreds or thousands of patients.
An example of a medical device mass tort is a case in which a contraceptive intrauterine device (IUD) was implanted in thousands of women, but caused complications that resulted in surgeries and death.
Mass tort lawsuits also involve a range of defective or flawed consumer products such as automobile design defects, or toxic substance exposure that produce harmful side effects to large numbers of people.
Don’t confuse mass torts with a class action.
In a mass tort case, each plaintiff has an individual claim for damages that is unique and specific to that plaintiff’s case. Each plaintiff receives his or her own separate trial.
In a class action, a case is brought by one or several people on behalf of a larger group of people similarly harmed. There is generally one trial in a class action. We have a separate video for you to watch regarding a class action which is somewhat different than a mass tort.
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