Most people have heard of Class Action lawsuits but are less familiar with the term “Mass Tort.” Class Action is a type of legal action where a lawsuit is filed on behalf of an entire group of people who share a set of common circumstances, damages and injuries that resulted from the defendant’s wrongful conduct.  In a class action the large group of plaintiffs, known collectively as the “class”, are represented by a class representative, who stands in for the rest of the class.  These proceedings are designed to cut down on the number of court cases that arise when many are harmed by the same problem.


A class action lawsuit has several characteristics and must meet certain criteria. Before filing a class action lawsuit, a motion is filed in court for the plaintiff to act on behalf of the group or class. The plaintiff must also show that his or her experience with the company or product is typical of the experiences of the others involved in the lawsuit, that this type of lawsuit is the most ideal for holding the defendants accountable, that the evidence against the defendants must be similar across the board, and that individual lawsuits against the defendant would be neither prudent nor cost-effective. The class representative must also show that he or she will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.  If all of these requirements are met, the class will be certified as a class action (meaning confirmed) by the court.


Mass Tort lawsuits are different. Although mass tort claims also attempt to reduce the number of court cases in the system, they must be handled differently, covering a much broader range of claim types. There are some similarities between a mass tort and class action.  For example, both types of actions typically involve a large group of plaintiffs that have been allegedly harmed by the same defective product and common defendants are alleged to have caused that harm. However, and contrary to the belief of most people, class actions rarely apply to personal injury claims.


In most cases, mass tort claims are brought when consumers are injured on a large scale by defective drugs or defective products. Drugs and product defects can cause a wide range of problems for different individuals, so all cases rarely fit into a single class that can be represented by a class representative. The negative effects of these drugs and products result in different injuries, making the cases unsuitable to fit into a single class.  With mass torts each plaintiff, even though they are part of a large group, is treated as an individual. That means, for instance, that for each plaintiff certain facts need to be established, including anything individual to that particular plaintiff, and how that person has been damaged by the actions of the defendant. Therefore, plaintiffs file their lawsuits separately rather than in a group.


Examples of current Mass Tort lawsuits include:


  • Essure Birth Control Devices

  • Talcum Powder

  • Xaretlo

  • Zofran

  • Actos

  • Taxotere

  • Invokana

  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (like Nexium, Prilosec, & Prevacid)

  • Depuy hip replacements

  • IVC filters

  • Trans-vaginal mesh

  • Zimmer hip replacements

  • Roundup Weed Killer


There are a lot of complex considerations that are made in determining whether a case should proceed as a class action or a mass tort.  Mass torts are typically more complicated than class actions because the way they are structured does not necessarily follow standard predictable legal procedure.  Mass tort lawsuits are bundled together for pre-trial proceedings in order to save time, money and judicial resources.  This is either done in state court by consolidating the cases or in federal court through Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) whereby a single court will hear all pre-trial matters. At the end of the pre-trial proceedings, the individual cases are sent back to the jurisdictions in which they were filed for trial.  Because of the multitude of claims that are brought during the litigation, it can be difficult to determine settlements and compensation. Consequently, plaintiff firms will join with other firms across the country to help organize, inform, and share ideas to ensure continuity thus providing individuals a fair settlement for their injury.


These are just some similarities and differences between class actions and mass torts.  Our firm has extensive experience in handling both types of litigation. If you or a loved one were injured due to the negligence of a company or manufacturer, our firm can help determine whether you have a case. We can help you understand the difference between class action and mass torts and can advise you of your legal options. Please contact us today by calling us toll-free at 1.888.213.0761 or fill our free case review form.  FrancoLaw is experienced in Mass Tort litigation and we welcome any questions you may have.


People taking this drug to treat DVT and later experience extreme bleeding, internal bleeding and more

People using proton pump inhibitors are experiencing kidney damage, bone fractures and other side effects

Women are reporting that this breast cancer treatment drug is causing permanent hair loss

ivc filter.jpg

People with this medical device are experiencing serious health complications and even death.

Women are using talcum powder and are later developing ovarian cancer

round up case banner 2_edited.jpg

People using this chemical have shown an increased risk in Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.