Explanation of Class Action and Mass Tort
A class action lawsuit is a case where a group of people share similar damages caused by a company. Although a class action represents numerous people, it can be initiated by one person. In some cases, there may be a minimum number of people required before the case can be considered a class action. The purpose of a class action suit is to minimize the number of court cases that occur when people are harmed by the same individual, which can also be a company.
Most action cases are filed for compensatory damages. If the plaintiff is successful in proving their case, all members will receive their portion of the compensation that is issued from the recovery. Unfortunately, in some cases, the company at fault for causing damages is unable to afford compensation. Class actions also resolve disputes as to how the funds will be distributed. However, an action case may not only be about the money.
Another form of resolution in an action case is injunctive relief. This prohibits an act which was requested or sometimes granted. Relief is typically granted in a hearing, but it can be a part of a lawsuit or contract performance. For example, the plaintiff can request an order for government authorities to discontinue an unconstitutional practice that was initially approved. Injunctive relief allows something to be gained by removing an act or condition. An action case can end in numerous ways, depending on what the court finds suitable for the damages caused by the defendant. There can be a few to thousands of people involved in a class action, so how does someone join the plaintiffs?
Before the court can certify a class action, it must believe that are there are too many plaintiffs involved to be named as parties in a lawsuit. Most action cases are “opt-out,” meaning that a person who does not wish to be involved in litigation must take the initiative to be removed as a class member. In some rare situations an action case is “opt-in,” which requires a completed form for joining the case. If one class member wants to participate in the suit as a named party, he or she must hire a lawyer independently from the group and seek to participate in the lawsuit.
While a class action is specifically designed to reduce the number of similar cases, a mass tort tends to cover a broader range of losses among the plaintiffs. Mass tort lawsuits are in fact a form of class action suit. Since most tort cases involve defective products or toxins, the class members rarely share the same harmful side effects or injuries. In other words, damages vary.
A tort is when the plaintiff is injured by a defective product, hazardous substance, or disaster due to misconduct from a company. In order for a case to be classified as a tort, the defendant must be under a legal duty to act in a certain way, and fail to perform the act because of personal behavior (wrongdoing). It must be proven that the plaintiffs suffered injury or loss from the defendant’s breach of legal responsibilities.
Torts deal with wrongs done to each individual in a class action group, whereas class actions deal with crimes against society – one crime that affected everyone in the same way. Due to the complex nature of the various charges from a class tort, usually several lawyers are involved in the case. One lawyer in a tort case could conduct the investigation that can be shared by all other related cases. Compensation and settlements are more difficult to acquire from a tort due to the multitude of claims.
If you believe you have a case for an individual claim or a mass tort action, you should contact our personal injury law firm for information and legal advice.