5 FAQs about Mass Torts in Florida

5 FAQs about Mass Torts in Florida

5 FAQs about Mass Torts in Florida

If you were injured by a defective product or negligent medical care, it might not take long to find out that you weren’t the only victim. If a defective product is mass-produced, for example, there will most likely be multiple injuries before the item is taken off the market or recalled.


It can be exhausting (and unnecessary) for courts around the country or world to hear the same case over and over again, so sometimes, personal injury cases are combined into a “mass tort.”


Understanding What Mass Torts Are and How They Work


What Makes a Personal Injury Case a “Mass Tort?”


Mass torts are defined by three characteristics:


  • A high number of participants making a claim against the same defective product/defendant
  • Claims brought up by participants are similar, but not exactly the same
  • Claims are interdependent from each other


What Is the Difference Between a “Mass Tort” and a “Class Action” Lawsuit?


These two lawsuits are very similar, but often confused. Here are the basics:


  • Both involve a large group of plaintiffs who want to file a claim against one defendant who has injured all of the plaintiffs.
  • Class action lawsuits contain claims that are more identical than mass tort lawsuits.
  • Victims are typically more spread out geographically in mass tort cases.
  • Each plaintiff is heard separately in a mass tort lawsuit, but class action lawsuits are usually settled with one case and for the most part, the same compensation is given to all plaintiffs.
  • The evidence of a mass tort lawsuit, including an investigation against the defendant and other preparation, can be transferred from lawsuit to lawsuit, so these cases go quicker than a normal personal injury trial.
  • In a mass tort lawsuit, every case is separate, so the compensation given to individual plaintiffs in a mass tort lawsuit is usually higher.


What are Examples of Mass Tort Lawsuits?


What are Examples of Mass Tort Lawsuits

There are a few different types of mass tort lawsuits that lawyers see frequently, including:


  • Product Liability Lawsuits: Sometimes, a product is produced and sold to consumers before it is deemed safe. Suddenly, reports of fires or injuries from the product are all over the news. Victims may have different injuries (for example, exploding batteries could cause serious burns or property damage), but a common cause and responsible party.
  • Pharmaceutical Claims: A defective product may be a prescription drug that is meant to relieve symptoms, not cause further illness or injury. If a drug that wasn’t properly tested for side effects, or if known side effects were not properly listed in a warning, and it negatively affects large groups of people, victims may come forward in a mass tort lawsuit.
  • Environmental Disasters: Not all environmental disasters are caused by nature. An oil spill and the release of toxic chemicals in the air are both examples of environmental disasters that may be caused by a corporation. Environmental disasters can have tragic effects on the health of employees or residents in the area where the disaster occurred. These victims may be able to file a mass tort.
  • Injuries after a Large Accident: These cases are similar to environmental disasters, but can involve anything from faulty technology to negligent drivers. A negligent pilot or train conductor, for example, may cause a public transportation accident that causes injuries to dozens of people.
  • Employee Discrimination: A pattern of discrimination practiced by a business or other type of entity may result in the loss of income of many different people. The victims may take this discrimination to court.


Here are some specific examples of recent mass tort lawsuits that you may have heard about:


  • Transvaginal mesh
  • Zofran
  • Xarelto
  • IVC Filters
  • Risperdal
  • Takata Airbags
  • Johnson & Johnson talcum powder


Boca Raton Mass Torts Lawyer

How Long Do You Have to File in a Mass Tort Lawsuit?


The rules of mass torts follow the rules of other personal injury lawsuits. The statute of limitations, or the time that you have after an accident to file a claim, is usually four years. There are exceptions, however, for specific types of injuries.


How Do You Join a Mass Tort Lawsuit?


So you’ve seen the news about a product or entity that has caused a large number of people to suffer. Big lawsuits are rolling in as your medical bills are racking up from an accident caused by that very same product/entity. You think that it’s time to also file a claim. So what’s next?


Reach out to a South Florida lawyer who has experience handling mass torts and class action litigation. Not every personal injury lawyer can hop onto a mass tort case. During your initial consultation, the lawyer can give you options for receiving compensation, and let you know if a mass tort lawsuit is already going on against the defendant in your case.


About the Author:


Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.

Understanding the Different Types of Mass Torts

Understanding the Different Types of Mass Torts

Understanding the Different Types of Mass Torts

When problems arise due to shoddy products or harmful practices, why should different people have to make the same claim over and over again for the same result?


We’ve written previous posts about defective products: hoverboards that explode into flames, Keurigs that cause severe burns, etc. These injuries happen all over the country, and hundreds of lawsuits seeking compensation from one company or product sounds exhausting and unnecessary.


Well, it turns out that they are. Our legal system has a way to cut down on the number of lawsuits and award fair compensation to those that were affected, and it’s called a “mass tort.”


What Exactly Is a Mass Tort?


Let’s first define the word “tort.” A tort is simply a civil wrong that causes harm or loss to another. The injured party can file a lawsuit against the tortfeaser, the party responsible for committing the tort. The injured party may then be entitled to compensation for the damages that came as a result of the tort.


A mass tort brings together multiple plaintiffs who have a similar claim against one product, company, disaster, policy, drug, and so on. These plaintiffs do not have to physically meet throughout a mass tort claim. In fact, the plaintiffs do not have to file at the same time and may not all be named during the lawsuit.


If a lawsuit is successful and it is determined that the plaintiffs are entitled to compensation, more plaintiffs have a certain amount of time to file a claim and receive their compensation.


Class Action vs. Mass Tort


If you think a mass tort sounds a lot like a class action lawsuit, you are correct (for the most part). Class action lawsuits and mass tort lawsuits are very similar in that they both involve multiple plaintiffs coming together against one company or policy.


However, there are minute differences between the two lawsuits.


The biggest difference between class action suits and mass tort suits is how the plaintiffs are defined and treated. With a class action lawsuit, the group of plaintiffs must be certified and has to have experienced very similar damages.


Examples of class action plaintiffs include employees who have faced similar discrimination, customers who were overcharged for merchandise, or victims who experienced credit card fraud at a certain retail store.

Rules with mass torts are a little looser, since each individual has experienced different damages or injuries. Each individual plaintiff’s case is looked at more closely.


Examples of Mass Torts

You may be familiar with mass torts concerning medication or medical treatments that have resulted in disastrous side effects. Different victims experienced different side effects (or, in the case of Syngenta GMO Corn, different economic losses). These unique differences make this kind of lawsuit a mass tort.


But mass torts are not just related to medication. Below are the most common types of mass torts.


Class Action vs. Mass Tort

Mass Disaster Torts. Natural disasters (such as Hurricane Katrina) or man-made disasters (think BP oil spill) can cause a broad range of damages and injuries, resulting in a mass disaster tort.


Mass Toxic Torts. When a group of plaintiffs is exposed to a harmful chemical or substance, they can come together and file mass toxic tort. In this kind of claim, the plaintiffs must prove that they were exposed to the substance, and that the substance in question resulted in harm or damage.


These cases are tricky. Causation must be proven to win a toxic tort, but the damages from harmful substances are not always apparent until many years down the line.


The most common toxic torts include:


  • Workplace exposure
  • Home exposure
  • Environmental exposure
  • Pharmaceutical drugs
  • Consumer products


The most common substances at the center of toxic torts include:


  • Lead-based paint
  • Pesticides
  • Industrial chemicals
  • Asbestos


Product Liability Torts. Product liability torts can be filed for many different reasons.


In certain product liability claims, the plaintiffs only need to prove that the product was defective – direct negligence by the manufacturer or seller does not need to be proven. Product recalls often spark this type of product liability tort.


Plaintiffs can also claim that damages were caused by defective communication (poor instructions, misleading information, and so on). This claim is often referred to as tortious misrepresentation. Issues regarding a product’s warranty may also result in a product liability tort.

These cases can take a long time, since the defense has the opportunity to file a counter-claim. In the counter-claim, the defense must prove that the injury was actually caused by the plaintiffs’ negligence or misuse of the product.


Mass Torts Lawyer South Florida

If you have suffered damage due to a defective product or natural disaster, you may not be alone. A mass tort lawsuit may have already entitled you to compensation for your injuries. Contact an experienced personal injury and product liability attorney today for a free case review.


About the Author:

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.