When one person’s reckless or careless conduct causes another person to get hurt, the injured party can generally file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault party and demand compensation from them for their losses. In theory, you can do the same thing when you suffer an injury due to the negligence of a large company or corporation—but in practice, getting a positive result as a single plaintiff against opposition this strong and well-funded can be next to impossible.
Fortunately, you may have an alternative available in the form of a mass tort claim, as well as custom-tailored assistance available from a seasoned Florida injury attorney at Distasio Law Firm. Whether you were hurt by a defective consumer product, a dangerous drug, or anything else that a big company is to blame for, you should contact a Florida mass torts lawyer for help.
What is a “Mass Tort”?
Before you can understand what a mass tort really is, you must understand what a civil tort is. Under the law, a tort is the name of a lawsuit brought in civil court to hold a wrongdoer accountable for negligent actions that cause damages. The purpose of the civil lawsuit is to provide compensation and restitution to victims. Compensation recoverable, also called damages, includes past and future medical expenses; lost wages; loss of future earning capacity; pain and suffering; and loss of enjoyment of life.
Civil torts are different from criminal cases because there is no jail time. The only penalty for the wrongful conduct is money damages. They are also different from criminal a case because the burden of proof is more likely than not instead of beyond a reasonable doubt.
What Makes Mass Tort Litigation Unique?
A typical personal injury claim is one injured person filing suit against one allegedly negligent person, or sometimes several people who were all individually negligent in different ways and to different degrees. A mass tort claim, on the other hand, is several injured people—and specifically, several people injured in the same or similar ways—filing suit against a single defendant that allegedly harmed them all with the same negligent act or unreasonably dangerous product or service.
This group of plaintiffs is often referred to as a “class,” with individual people within the group being referred to as “class members.” Any class member can formally start a mass tort lawsuit, but all class members work together during the claims process by sharing evidence and resources in pursuit of a case result that benefits them all, as an experienced Florida mass torts attorney could further explain.
In a traditional mass tort claim, all the class members work together as noted above but keep their individual claims separate from one another, meaning each of them will still have a unique verdict on their claim and may be awarded different amounts of compensation. Alternatively, class members sometimes combine their claims into one “class action” lawsuit where a positive final result would involve all class members splitting a single lump-sum settlement or court award.
What constitutes a “Mass Tort”?
Mass torts involve a wrongdoer causing harm to a very large number of people. They are commonly brought against corporate manufacturers by the people that are harmed by their products. Mass torts are different than class action lawsuits because a class action involves one lawsuit brought on behalf of all injured people. In a mass tort, each injured person brings their own lawsuit against the wrongdoer. Once a large enough group of lawsuits are filed, the courts condense the cases together for the purposes of gathering information, taking depositions, and having court hearings that effect all cases. However, the cases remain separate for jury trial purposes. This allows for the attorneys, and the judge hearing the case, to become experts on the matter and are able to find the best outcome for everyone in a fair manner. It also allows the cases to remain separate for the purposes of trying to resolve the case either by settlement or by jury trial.
Mass tort civil actions like these demonstrate how important it is for corporations to be held accountable when they manufacture dangerous products that cause injury or harm. Common examples of mass torts involve dangerous drugs and or defective medical devices. Oher examples of Mass Tort Civil Lawsuits include:
- Hair Relaxer causing cancer in women.
- Asbestos and Mesothelioma.
- Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers.
- Product liability over failed implanted inferior vena (IVC) filters.
- Cancer linked to Zantac and Ranitidine.
- Camp Lejeune water contamination.
- AFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam) Firefighting agent causing cancer.
- Hernia Mesh.
- Baby Formula (Similac/Enfamil).
- Philips CPAP.
- 3m Combat Earplugs.
- Talc (baby powder).
Possible Grounds for a Florida Mass Tort Claim
Since mass tort claims are almost always pursued against large companies and corporations out of necessity, the issue at the heart of such a claim is generally either:
- A dangerously defective consumer product manufactured and/or sold by the defendant company,
- A dangerously defective medication manufactured and/or sold by the defendant company,
- A deficient service provided by the defendant company to multiple class members
For example, when a single hospital has multiple negligent doctors on staff who harm multiple patients, those patients might combine their cases into a mass tort claim rather than all filing suit separately. A knowledgeable mass torts lawyer in Florida, such as Scott Distasio, could explain in more detail what situations may or not justify this sort of litigation during a private initial meeting.
The good that comes from a “Mass Tort”
Engaging in a legal battle can be hugely expensive. Larger corporate wrongdoers often have endless amounts of money to defend lawsuits against allegations of wrongdoing. Most individuals do not have the resources to compete. Quite frankly even one law firm would be at a huge disadvantage trying to hold a large multinational corporation accountable for the harm they have caused. To prove the company’s wrongdoing and that the wrongdoi8ng caused the harm alleged often costs hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Costs include things like hiring the best experts from around the world and paying for court reporters and private investigators. Mass torts level the playing field: plaintiffs come together through multi-district litigations, wherein their lawyers share research costs to prove causation. Instead of one injured persons lawyer trying to do it all themselves, costs are shouldered by all plaintiffs’ attorneys involved in the case.
Mass Tort Litigation
Manufacturers sell their products all over the United States. Individual lawsuits are often filed against one company in every federal court in every state across the country. If those lawsuits were allowed to move forward on their own, different judges would be deciding the same issues in every court. Not only is this an extreme waste of resources, but it also necessarily means that the legal rulings from the judges would be different for every case. Lastly, the litigation process would be very difficult for the parties involved trying to coordinate with all the different courts. The mass tort litigation process eliminates these problems. The cases are consolidated into a multi-district litigation in one federal court with one judge presiding over all of the cases. Because one judge makes all the decisions, the legal decisions are the same for all the cases. It is much easier for all the parties as well because they do not have to coordinate with so many courts systems across the country.
Seek Help from a Florida Mass Torts Attorney
Mass tort litigation can be exceptionally complicated, as they are often time-consuming, document-heavy, and expensive affairs under even the best of circumstances. Representation from an attorney with a track record of handling these sorts of cases effectively can make a massive difference in your odds of securing the restitution you want from your unique claim.
If you or a loved one has suffered from an injury from one of these large companies products or failures, then you may be entitled compensation, and if many other people have the same experience with caused harm, then you may join the claim process for the Mass Tort lawsuit against them.
Contact the Distasio Law Firm to discuss your potential claim with our legal professionals. We are partnered with amazing firms who handle these mass tort lawsuits to ensure your claim is heard fairly.