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What’s the Difference Between Mass Torts and Class Action Litigation?

Gordon, Wolf & Carney Aug. 7, 2020

What is a tort?

A tort is a legal or official word meaning “wrongful action” that results in an injury. There are torts that are intentional while some are accidental. Negligence is one example of a tort claim that may be raised in a lawsuit; so are claims for intentional wrongful actions, like fraud.

Regardless of whether a tort is intentional or accidental, a victim of a tort can file a lawsuit to recover their damages.

What is a mass tort?

A mass tort is a wrongful action, or a type of wrongful action, that leads to injury – often personal injury – of many people. The injured victims can team up and hire a mass torts attorney to sue the person or person who committed the injuries.

Here are some examples of actions that have led to mass torts lawsuits:

  • The production or sale of pharmaceutical drugs or devices that wrongfully fail to warn of injuries that the drug or device causes;

  • Crashes of airplanes, buses or trains that lead to the injury of passengers or others;

  • Widespread sexual abuse within large organizations;

  • The production or sale of products that cause injury.

Mass tort lawsuits are advantageous because they allow many victims to prosecute often highly complex cases, and share costs that could otherwise make such lawsuits very expensive.

What is class action litigation?

A class action is a lawsuit filed by a group of people harmed or injured by the same action or product against a single defendant or group of people. Class actions can also arise from torts.

The purpose of class action lawsuits

A class-action lawsuit is normally used when several people are injured or affected by a similar wrongful action or product, all in the same way. Often, class actions result from a business procedure that violates the law.

Here are some examples of wrongful acts that may lead to class action litigation:

  • A business calling or texting cellphones without prior express consent to call or text those phones;

  • A bank or finance company charging illegal fees or interest;

  • An employer failing to pay overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours a week;

  • A car dealer selling vehicles with a prior rental history without appropriate disclosure;

  • A landlord imposing charges that are not allowed under a lease, or are prohibited by law;

  • A debt collector operating without a required license.

Class actions are designed to allow people to challenge these types of wrongful actions as a group, even when their injuries may be too small for an individual lawsuit to make sense. Class actions allow people to “team up” against a business that has wronged them, to give them more power to challenge those wrongful actions as a group. They can do this with the help of Maryland class action lawyers.

What is the difference between mass tort and class-action litigation?

The major difference between class action litigation and mass torts is that each individual which is part of a mass tort lawsuit must file an individual lawsuit; but in a class action, many times class members do not need to do anything to get involved in the case. Instead, in a class action, the court appoints one person, a “named plaintiff” or “class representative,” to represent the whole class, and unnamed class members do not need to file their own lawsuits to be part of the class action.

If you believe that you have a mass tort or class action case, call or text the lawyers at Gordon, Wolf & Carney.