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Mass Torts and Class Action Suits

Most of the things we purchase are safe. Unfortunately, however, sometimes a defective product, drug, or medical device causes consumers to suffer an injury. In the U.S., when many people are harmed by the same defendant (or group of defendants), depending on the circumstances, individual lawsuits may be grouped together.

Learn the Lingo


A tort is a civil wrong that results in injury to someone’s health or property. The person (or corporation) who commits the tort is liable for the harm suffered by the victim.

If a lawsuit is filed, the victim becomes a plaintiff and party sued is the defendant. The plaintiff typically sues the defendant to recover damages (monetary compensation for the plaintiff’s injury).

To begin preparing for trial, both sides engage in discovery – the formal exchange of information between parties about the witnesses and evidence they will present at trial.

Class Action

A Class Action is a type of legal action where a single lawsuit is filed on behalf of an entire group of plaintiffs who share a set of similar circumstances, damages and injuries. These proceedings are designed to cut down on the number of court cases, and occur when each person’s injury is not worth the time and money of hiring an attorney on an individual basis.

A class action lawsuit must meet certain criteria. Members of the class must be notified of the suit and given the change to “opt out” or find their own private counsel. Before filing a class action lawsuit, a motion is filed in court for the lead plaintiff to act on behalf of the group or class.

Mass Tort

In a Mass Tort action, sometimes referred to as Multi District Litigation (MDL), each plaintiff has an individual claim resulting from distinct damages. Although Mass Tort claims also seek to streamline the court schedule, they are handled differently than a Class Action.

In most cases, Mass Tort claims are brought when dangerous drugs or defective products injure a large number of consumers who reside in different states. Since drugs and product defects can cause a wide range of problems for different individuals, their cases rarely fit into a single class.

Mass Tort litigation allows one attorney (or groups of attorneys) to represent several injured parties in individual cases. To speed things along, pretrial investigations conducted by one attorney can be shared among all cases. This permits a nationwide network of lawyers to pool their resources, information and ideas to help secure fair settlements for all plaintiffs. Once the pretrial discovery phase is complete, each case returns to the local court where it was originally filed for trial.

If you have been injured by a defective product, drug, or medical device, you may be entitled to recover money damages. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.