What is Mass Tort Liability? An Expert's Guide

Mass tort liability is a legal action that multiple plaintiffs can bring against one or more defendants in civil court. Learn more about this type of lawsuit from an expert's perspective.

What is Mass Tort Liability? An Expert's Guide

Mass tort liability is a legal action that multiple plaintiffs can bring against one or more defendants in civil court. It involves similar complaints, and people who have suffered physical or financial harm due to the negligence of a large company often file these types of claims. Examples of this type of activity include explosions, commercial aircraft accidents, groundwater pollution due to the disposal of toxic waste, or harmful pollution emanating from industrial factories. Individuals can file a mass tort lawsuit at both the state and federal levels. This type of civil action involves numerous plaintiffs against one or a few defendants in either state or federal court.

The lawsuits are due to the defendants causing numerous injuries as a result of the same or similar harmful event (for example, a prescription drug, a medical device, a defective product, a train accident, an airplane accident, pollution, or a construction disaster).Mass torts offer an economy of scale because the costs associated with proving causality are shared by all plaintiffs, as opposed to each plaintiff having to prove their case individually. You may have heard of class action lawsuits, but you may be less familiar with the concept of mass torts. Most mass torts are consolidated into federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), but some mass torts are included in consolidated state actions. A lawyer specializing in mass tort litigation is always available to talk to clients about their pending mass tort lawsuits. The advantages and disadvantages of these services illustrate how the unique nature of collective tort litigation interacts with reform proposals.

Each plaintiff's mass tort lawsuit will proceed independently, alleging claims that are the same or similar to those of other plaintiffs. The analysis suggests that proposals to improve the massive processing of grievances will not be successful unless they directly address the uncertainties that stem from the factual and legal complexity of cases; address generalized and inherent conflicts of interest between parties and lawyers; recognize how litigation is driven by the asymmetric risks faced by plaintiffs' lawyers and defendants; and offer clear solutions to issues related to future plaintiffs. It may be necessary to travel to file a statement; however, lawyers often travel to where the plaintiff lives and, since many proceedings are conducted virtually, you may never have to travel as part of your class action for tort. For example, medical devices, which until 1976 were not subject to FDA review, are well represented in mass tort litigation. Therefore, asymmetric and enormous scale risks can drive massive tort litigation, expanding their reach, to the limits of the defendant's available assets or the limits of exposed individuals willing to sue.

Mass tort cases are often confused with class actions; however, they are very different from one another. Because of these commonalities between issues and actors, the added value of all the lawsuits in the same mass tort increases and decreases depending on the results of individual cases or with other critical events.