The truth is that class actions and class actions actually have a lot in common.
As a lawyer specializing in mass homicide law, I am often asked at every turn what exactly is the difference between mass and class actions.
Over the years, popular films such as Erin Brockovich and Michael Clayton have helped establish the subject of class action litigation. Unfortunately, mass damages law has not yet achieved ten minutes of fame, so it is not surprising to laypeople to confuse these types of lawsuits. Even lawyers outside of my specialty may not be familiar with the actual differences between the two.
What is a class action lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit is a lawsuit that involves multiple plaintiffs, all of whom suffered similar injuries from the same defendant. Typically, a class action lawsuit involves multiple injured plaintiffs, significant injuries of a similar nature, and a joint defendant whose actions are deemed responsible.
Class actions tend to group claimants into groups, or “classes,” depending on how they were injured. A representative is then selected to ensure the welfare of the entire class. Each class is then treated as a plaintiff by its class representative.
A good example of how a class action lawsuit works is a defective medicine which, for example, accidentally causes internal bleeding and other complications in 2% of people using the medicine. The drug is made by only one company and causes exactly the same type of injury in 2% of people who experience complications. According to federal law, this group of people can band together if they so choose and file a class action lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company responsible for their injuries and damage.
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A class action lawsuit allows the entire class of injury victims to function essentially as a single plaintiff rather than filing individual lawsuits at a time. Class actions reduce the unnecessary burden on the courts by preventing thousands of lawsuits from being filed on the same matter.
There are usually strict guidelines on who and what violations are eligible for a class action lawsuit. Qualified victims are usually notified of the class action, their rights and their options to join by mail or television commercials.
What are mass torts?
Mass litigation is a group of lawsuits filed nationally by multiple attorneys representing hundreds, if not thousands, of victims injured by the same product. Mass damages lawsuits depict people suffering from a range of injuries and of varying degrees of severity caused by the product.
Individual plaintiffs involved in a mass homicide lawsuit will each advance their claims before they are combined into a single group. While each claim is treated individually, the group of pies, the bulk pies, if you will, are heard by a judge as a unit, although they are treated as unambiguous claims.
Bulky tests are usually damage caused by harmful drugs, defective products, or public health disasters such as plane crashes or toxic chemical explosions.
The difference between class actions and class actions
The main difference between mass litigation and class actions is how each group of plaintiffs is treated across the legal system.
In mass crimes, while plaintiffs are part of a large group, each individual plaintiff is still treated individually. In short, any plaintiff in a mass homicide must prove the injuries and losses caused by the defendant.
Victims represented in a class action lawsuit differ from class actions in that they are all viewed as a single plaintiff. Victims of a class action are represented by a class representative who represents every other plaintiff involved in the lawsuit. Simply put, all plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit are effectively a single plaintiff.
Mass Tort and Class Action Similarities
The truth is that class actions and class actions actually have a lot in common. They are both intended to represent large groups or classes of people who have been injured or have suffered similar damage. Both have common defendants who are responsible for this damage. And they are both combined into a single legal maneuver, rather than individual lawsuits, in order to relieve the judicial system and the plaintiffs and defendants involved.
If you think you might qualify to be represented in a class or class action lawsuit, it may be wise to contact a competent lawyer to review your legal options. Fortunately, many such lawyers can be easily found online, and most offer free advice. They can help you determine the right course of action based on your particular situation. Good luck out there.