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What is the Difference Between Mass Tort and Class Action Lawsuits?

class actionIn discussions of lawsuits that affect larger numbers of people, the terms mass tort and class action get thrown around a lot. However, for the average person, the distinction can be confusing. In fact, many may be under the impression that the two types of legal cases are one in the same. While the two share many similarities, they are two separate types of large cases.

To understand the difference between the two, it can be helpful to first understand their similarities. Both cases affect a large number of plaintiffs that are alleging they have suffered damages of some type. Additionally, both involve the same common defendant or defendants that caused the damages. Also, in both, the lawsuit has been consolidated rather than multiple people filing lawsuits due to suffering the same or similar damages by the same entity.

But what makes the two different? The key factor that differentiates one from the other is how the group of plaintiffs is treated and what legal criteria has been met, or not met.

Mass Torts

In a mass tort, there is often injuries to a particular group of people that usually live in the same geographic vicinity. Most often, this is a smaller group compared to a class action, such as a neighborhood compared to a long list of customers for a corporation. In a mass tort, the group may be moving forward together, but each plaintiff is treated as an individual. This means each plaintiff must establish their own case using their own facts, including their own unique experience and how they have individually been damaged.

Most often, a mass tort happens when a group decides to pull their legal resources together because they have been victimized by the same defendant, during the same incident. Despite the factors being the same, each person is filing their own lawsuit and not one lawsuit together.

Class Action

In a class action lawsuit, there are no individuals. Instead, the lawsuit proceeds as one very large plaintiff against the defendant. In a class action lawsuit, one representative goes to court and it is tried one time. In some cases, there are too many individual factors or uncommon circumstances despite it being one defendant, which is why mass tort can be the best action. Further, individuals may decide to go after their own lawsuit because they are signing away the right to pursue legal action on their own by joining the class action group.

Typically, a class action is created when the class is so large that naming and joining each person would be impractical, laws and facts are common among the members, and a class representative can adequately represent the interests of the class with the furthering of their own interests benefiting the class. At Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers, we represent class action lawsuits with the interests of all plaintiffs in mind. Contact us today to learn more.

Class Action or Group Lawsuits in a Small Claims Court

legal hammerIn a small claims court, class action lawsuits technically do not exist. However, there is a group lawsuit that can be created and operates similarly to a class action lawsuit. In these cases, a large number of people have the same grievance and will sue the same defendant at the same time. This has been discovered by communities and advocacy groups when it comes to issues such as regular noise complaints and drug sales in a community among other claims.

Group lawsuits were first “invented,” so to speak, back in the 1980’s in San Francisco when homeowners won more than 100 small claims court judgments against the City for excessive noise. The group worked together with their resources to get expert witnesses, conduct research, paid for training workshops, and pulled together for legal advice as needed. The group banded together to create a coordinated effort, leading to over 100 successful cases.

The City tried to fight off the claims by saying this was a class action lawsuit, which is not permitted in a small claims court. However, a California court of appeals ruled, “numerous ‘mass’ actions against the City alleging that noise from the City airport constituted a continuing nuisance were neither too ‘complex’ nor had such ‘broad social policy import’ that they were outside the jurisdiction of Small Claims Court…” (City and County of San Francisco v. Small Claims Div., San Mateo Co., 190 Cal.Rptr. 340 (1983).)

This led to a new approach to small claims for communities. Since the judgment, communities have been successful in shutting down drug houses, suing landlords that rent to drug-selling tenants, and other community claims that have had a positive effect on areas. In these cases, each individual will sue for the maximum amount. Since these smaller court claims can add up quickly, issues that previously dragged on for months or years were resolved much quicker. These suits can be successful if the following is true:

  • It brings credibility and weight to a neighborhood problem that would have otherwise clogged up the higher courts. It should also bring the neighborhood together and bring together better resources.
  • Selecting a small committee can make coordination much easier and lead to success. A large group can only be successful if there are clear leaders that are committed to fulfilling their place in the larger group. This committee should be in charge of finding expert witnesses, legal advice, and other information and training sessions.

Losing defendants will still have the right to a new trial on appeal, unlike in many class action lawsuits. However, class action lawsuits have their place, as well. If you are an individual that is part of a larger group in a lawsuit that extends beyond the jurisdiction of small claims court, contact our team at Jonathan Perkins Personal Injury Lawyers today.

Fairfield Veteran’s Case May Upgrade Thousands of Army Discharges

In April 2017, a Connecticut veterans’ leader filed a federal class action lawsuit following a less than honorable discharge based on behaviors that were later attributed to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on behalf of himself and other veterans nationwide. The lead plaintiff is a decorated Army veteran and founded the state chapter of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

The lawsuit alleges the Army isn’t following a policy put in place by the Pentagon that helps veterans upgrade their discharge status when their behaviors stemmed from PTSD. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport. The lawsuit aims to have the court order to have the Army abide by the laws in place and formally apply the policy.

The policy in question was issued by former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Hagel’s policy outlines how the military review board should give consideration to veterans who are later diagnosed with PTSD when considering upgrading their discharge status. A second plaintiff has also been named.

The lawsuit has the potential to change the statuses for veterans who have been discharged under General Under Honorable and Other Than Honorable discharge status and includes veterans who have been discharged since April 2002. The lawsuit could affect thousands of veterans.

Benefits of Upgraded Status

An upgraded status could mean a lot for the affected veterans. In some cases, a general discharge being upgraded could mean those who have gone through therapy and wish to return to the Army could be re-entered. Even further, they could become eligible for benefits under the federal G.I. bill and receive other perks such as scholarships offered by veteran groups that only offer such scholarships to those with honorable discharges.

Federal and state veterans’ benefits such as health care and disability benefits could also become a much-needed possibility for these veterans, along with state property tax exemptions, which many are unable to get at this time. The plaintiff hopes to get the needed upgrade to his own and the statuses of other veterans in hopes to create a better future for himself and other veterans.

If you were diagnosed with PTSD, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Personal Injury Lawyers today to find out more.

Can I Seek Damages When a Product Doesn’t Have Proper Warnings or Instructions?

If you have been injured because of a product you used, you may be entitled to compensation. There are three categories that claims fall into where compensation may be available to the victim of the product: defectively manufactured, defectively designed, and failure to warn about proper use or the potential for harm.

Even products that have been created well and have no flaws in their design can cause harm when the consumer is not properly informed.

Duty of Care

When this happens, you may be entitled to compensation. Companies have a duty of care to let consumers know how to properly use their products and must warn how misuse can lead to injury. For instance, if a hair remover may cause burns if left on too long, the consumer must be properly warned about the risk. Failing to do so can put the company on the hook for damages that result from leaving the product on.

In these cases, the danger must be overt. In the case of the hair remover, a consumer may assume the product is safe since it is being used on the skin. If the company knows risks increase the longer a product stays on the body, they are required to give instructions on how to avoid the burns, along with information on how to handle a situation where the product begins to burn the skin.

Misuse of Product

While you may seek damages when the product does not have proper warnings, your case may be dismissed if you misused the product. In these cases, a product was used for something other than its intended use and the instructions were clear. For instance, a manufacturer is not liable if a consumer uses an outdoor grill indoors when it is marketed clearly for outdoor use.

Manufacturers should be able to warn against foreseeable misuse, but when there is adequate warning of misuse, they cannot be held liable. They also cannot be held accountable for not warning of unforeseeable uses. For instance, it is not reasonable for a microwave company to be expected to warn consumers not to microwave a laptop, but they should be able to foresee warning them against microwaving a plastic bowl.

If you feel your injury is due to the negligence of a manufacturer, contact our Connecticut defect product lawyer at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Class-Action Lawsuit

Class-Action LawsuitA class-action lawsuit can have great benefits for those who aren’t even aware they have been affected by the poor intentions of a big company. However, there are also times when someone is better off opting out of a class-action lawsuit. When it comes to protecting your own rights, there are many considerations to make before signing any documents.

The Advantages

The most common advantages are related to the monetary savings and ability to have better legal counsel. Specifically, the advantages include:

  • Judicial efficiency. One judge will settle the entire case, meaning litigation will take up less of the courtroom’s time and involve fewer judges. This can make for easier and less complicated judgements.
  • Opportunity for small amounts of money. If you have only been somewhat affected, you can still be compensated when you would have otherwise let it go.
  • Lower costs. With costs divided amongst all members of the suit, less comes out of each person’s award.
  • Getting everyone on the same page and having a clear and concise defense can lead to better outcomes. This also helps legal cases by ensuring no one is left wondering how to proceed in their judgement based on someone else’s case.

The Disadvantages

With all good things comes the downside. A few of the disadvantages to joining a class-action lawsuit include:

  • Less control. These types of cases are representative in nature, meaning some of those affected most by the judgement don’t have as much of a voice. Plaintiffs may find a case will go in a direction they wouldn’t prefer.
  • Cases almost always settle for financial compensation. When a plaintiff is looking for compensation that extends beyond finances and rebates, it may not be the best choice.
  • If the case is unsuccessful, or the litigator doesn’t argue effectively on their behalf, they no longer have the right to bring an individual lawsuit later.

If you are unsure whether joining a class action case is the right choice for you, consult a Connecticut class action lawyer, today! At Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers, we have handled thousands of class-action suits and can clarify whether the class action suit addresses your legal needs.

Hidden Costs of a Class Action Lawsuit

Class Action Lawsuits In Connecticut From Jonathan Perkins Have you ever received a notice in the mail notifying you that may be eligible to participate in a class action lawsuit?  Class action lawsuits are a special type of lawsuit that combines the claims of a number of different people who have been harmed by the same defendant in the same way. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of the group rather than each of the individuals having to file what is essentially the same lawsuit, providing the same evidence, and going through the same proceedings. Class action lawsuits are designed to be more efficient than individual lawsuits: all of those who join the case are bound to the decisions made on behalf of the group, and those who do not wish to be part of the class action are able to opt out and pursue claims on their own.  There are a lot of benefits to participating in this way: those who have been harmed by a product do not have to appear in court, and many people end up getting the benefit of an award that they might not have thought to pursue on their own. But there are also hidden costs of a class action lawsuit that may mean that it is not in your best interests to join. At Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers, we believe that it is our job to provide our clients with the best legal counsel that we can provide so that they can make decisions that work for them. If you are considering joining a class action lawsuit for an injury that you’ve suffered, here are some things that are worth considering.

Though class action lawsuits provide the advantage of lower litigation costs out of pocket and less cumulative court time, there are distinct disadvantages too. One is the lack of control over any decisions that are being made for the group. Though class action lawsuits provide the opportunity for all plaintiffs to receive damages, they also mean that you can’t have your own say on whether you think that a deal that is being offered is good or not – or if you do get to vote, your vote is one among many, and has less power.

Another disadvantage is that class action lawsuits do not always provide compensation that is useful for you. Though most people would prefer to be paid in cash, there are many times that a defendant’s settlement will come in the form of a discount of credit to purchase something that the plaintiff would not have chosen to buy: in one notable case against Ford Motor Company, plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit each received $500 coupons towards the purchase of a new vehicle – this is something that very few ended up taking advantage of.

Making the decision as to whether to join a class action lawsuit is often a question of how significant the damages that you personally suffered are. This should be weighed carefully. For help understanding all of the legal issues and ramifications of your decision, contact the experienced attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers today.


Who is Responsible for Legal Fees in a Class Action Lawsuit?

 When you are injured by the acts of a person or entity and the injury was a result of their negligence, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for the damages that you’ve suffered. But when you are one of many people who have suffered the same or similar injuries as a result of the same person or entity, you may be able to join in what is known as a class action lawsuit.  A class action lawsuit puts together the claims of a group. Sometimes these types of suits are filed because there are so many people who have suffered the same injury that it is simply easier for the courts to address a single case where all of the facts are roughly the same then it is to hear each case individually.  Class actions also provide individual plaintiffs who have suffered damages with a way to gain better leverage against big companies that have extensive resources. Some people who are considering joining a class action lawsuit are hesitant because they are afraid that they are not sure who is responsible for legal fees in a class action lawsuit, but that’s not the way things work. The attorneys who represent the case are paid out of the money that the defendant is required to pay in damages.

In a class action lawsuit, the award, whether settlement or jury award – is referred to as a “common fund”. The fees that the attorneys get for winning this money must be approved by the court, but it is usually a simple calculation of a percentage of the award.  The court will make the decision as to whether the award is reasonable or not, but one way or another the person who has suffered the injury never has to pay their attorney out of their pocket. There have been instances when attorneys representing a class action have been accused of earning an unreasonable amount of money for their representation, but this is often simply a matter of the total common fund being so large, or of the award or damages that the case succeeds in achieving is for a nontangible benefit rather than a cash benefit that can be divided between the different participants in the class action.

The members of class action lawsuits have several benefits over plaintiffs who file individual lawsuits. They generally only need to sign off on papers and then do not have to appear in court, or even provide testimony. Unfortunately, they also generally do not get the same kind of awards or settlements that result from individual suits. If you would like to speak to an experienced attorney about your involvement in a class action lawsuit, contact the firm of Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers today.

How are Awards from Class Action Suits Allocated?

A class action lawsuit is a specific type of lawsuit in which all of the people who claim to have been harmed as a result of the defendants’ actions are grouped together and represented by a small group of people or a single member of the group. The different individual parties that are represented in the suit do not need to be present in the courtroom: instead, all of the wrongs that have been suffered by each of the individuals is presented in one court case, thus avoiding having to proceed through numerous court actions and present the same evidence of the same wrongdoing over and over again. Notification of the lawsuit is generally sent out to the various members who have been harmed by the defendant’s actions, and they are given the opportunity to either join the suit or opt out so that they can pursue litigation on their own. Though they may be able to get a larger amount of compensation by filing a claim of their own, doing so will be time consuming, and can be costly. If you have been invited to join this type of lawsuit, you may wonder how awards from class action suits are allocated. The attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers are happy to explain.

Class action lawsuits have different settlement structures. These include:

  • Money being distributed automatically to all class members who do not opt out, without them having to fill out any claims forms
  • Money being distributed automatically to all class members who do not opt out and who did fill out claims forms showing that they are entitled to compensation
  • Fixed payment settlements where a specific amount is distributed from a fund to all class members who do not opt out. This may or may not require that a form is filled out, and any money that is left over is returned to the defendant
  • Coupons or discounts are offered to all class members for them to use against future purchases of the defendant’s products
  • Funds are given to a nonprofit organization instead of to class members
  • Relief is provided in a nonmonetary way, such as changing the offending business practices

There are advantages and disadvantages to being involved in a class action lawsuit. The advantages include that the cost of pursuing the lawsuit is lower because it is split between all of the members. It is also a good way to get compensated when the injury that you suffered is relatively inconsequential and would not lead to a large enough amount of money to pursue a lawsuit on your own. It is also a more efficient way for a lot of people to pursue the same wrongdoing at once. The biggest disadvantage of a class action lawsuit is that you lose control of the decisions that are made. If you would like to discuss whether you should participate in a class action lawsuit or whether it would make more sense to file a claim on your own, contact the personal injury attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers today to set up a convenient time to discuss your case.


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