In 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.
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.
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.