Traditionally, when we think of torts, we consider specific wrongs that someone has done to another. However, mass torts usually involve multiple injured parties and one, or very few, defendants. Numerous problems that could be detrimental to you, such as defective products and poisonous drugs, cause thousands of people to die and many more to suffer harm every year in the United States.

A mass tort is a civil lawsuit that usually involves multiple injured parties. Unlike a class-action lawsuit, the plaintiffs in a mass tort are treated individually regarding their lawsuit and compensation rather than being grouped into a "class." Mass torts generally involve manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or products that are found to be dangerous and cause adverse side effects, injury, or even wrongful death in individuals who are exposed to or have used the product.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is a mass tort the same as a class action lawsuit?

A: The main difference between them is how the large group of plaintiffs is treated. In class action suits, a large number of plaintiffs are all given the same judgment, while in mass tort, each individual case is valued.

Q: What is a Mass Tort lawsuit? 

A: Multiple complaints may be made against the same defendant(s) in a mass tort case, which frequently involves injuries caused by harmful medications and healthcare items. For instance, patients may file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of a faulty medical device if they suffer various injuries. In a mass tort case, they would file individual claims that are only combined for pretrial hearings, and they might then be tried later in the state where they were filed.

Q: How long does it take for a mass tort lawsuit to be resolved?

A: Because there may be several claimants, mass tort claims may take longer to resolve than usual personal injury cases. Generally, mass tort cases take years before resolution.

Q: Why should I hire a Mass Tort attorney? 

A: Mass torts are a complex and a unique area of the law. It is important to retain lawyers with expertise in mass torts who can guide you clearly through the process and who can zealously advocate for your interests.

Q: Why are Mass Torts filed?

A: Mass Torts are filed to expedite the lawsuit process. Lawsuits can cost millions of dollars and go on for several years. A mass tort lawsuit helps alleviate these obstacles by moving all similar cases against a corporation to the same court to be litigated. 

Difference Between A Mass Torts Lawsuit And A Class Action Lawsuit 

You might be thinking that mass torts and class actions are one and the same; if so, you are not alone. The terms' class action lawsuits' and 'mass torts' are often confused and interchanged; however, they are actually quite different. Tort refers simply to an injury claim. Mass torts are exactly what they sound like – a lot of injuries at the same time. Mass tort actions are when an attorney brings multiple lawsuits against the same defendant (or group of defendants) simultaneously.

Class actions, on the other hand, are multiple injury victims or plaintiffs grouped together in one lawsuit. The main difference is the level of control of the injured party in the case. All members of the class must be informed of the lawsuit and given the option to either opt-out or hire their own counsel in class action lawsuits. A motion to act as a plaintiff on behalf of the entire class must be submitted to the court before a class action lawsuit may be launched.

Additionally, a mass tort is often used when one of the legal criteria for a class action suit is not met. For instance, when each plaintiff in the group has different circumstances, a mass tort lawsuit can happen. If the plaintiffs' factual circumstances are too dissimilar and outweigh the common problems required for a class action, a mass tort is formed.

Common Types Of Mass Torts

Mass tort claims give each plaintiff the opportunity to pursue compensation for their particular injuries, unlike class action cases that share a settlement equally among all plaintiffs. Many negligent acts can result in mass tort litigation, usually involving hazardous products or harmful business practices. We have listed below some common types of Mass Torts.

  1. Dangerous products - Products that are dangerous or defective are some of the most typical targets of mass tort lawsuits. Injured consumers have the right to hold manufacturers accountable if they consistently fail to assure the safety of their products and offer sufficient information to their customers.
  2. Exposure to toxic substances - A specific category of mass tort claim known as mass toxic torts involves harm or sickness brought on by exposure to chemicals or toxins. This exposure can affect people in a variety of ways, such as coming into contact with a hazardous chemical at work, unintentionally breathing in asbestos or poisonous mold at home, or experiencing issues as a result of toxins in prescription medications.
  3. Large-scale catastrophes - Countless people may be hurt by man-made disasters like fires within multi-family buildings or explosions at manufacturing facilities. Even if the injuries sustained by each victim may vary, the disaster is usually caused by the same factor. Victims in these situations have the option of organizing a mass tort to obtain compensation for their specific needs without bringing individual, time-consuming claims.
  4. Defective drugs and medical devices - Dangerous and substandard pharmaceuticals and medical equipment fall under the product liability category and account for a sizable portion of mass tort claims. Medical equipment may have flaws that prevent them from serving its intended purpose and endanger patients, and drugs may have unforeseen, harmful side effects that the manufacturer neglected to disclose to patients or doctors.
  5. Natural disasters - This kind of mass tort lawsuit involves natural disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes that produce major damages and injuries, similar to large-scale catastrophes. Since no one party are primarily accountable for the disaster, these claims may be complicated.

Litigating mass tort claims requires an extensive amount of knowledge about complex litigation. To ensure that your lawyers have the amount of knowledge and understanding necessary to handle a mass tort claim, you should choose a firm with the right experience. The Cochran Firm has the knowledge and experience in handling mass torts claims you deserve. With over 30 years of experience in representing mass tort clients from almost every state in the country, ranging from defective products, environmental/toxic exposure, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices, and natural disasters, we are the firm for you. 

How To Determine If I Have A Mass Torts Case

When you suffer harm due to the negligence of another person or entity, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. There are multiple types of complaints you can file to claim this compensation, including personal injury lawsuits, class action claims, and mass tort cases. Mass tort claims are highly complex, but a lawyer can strengthen your case and conduct the research necessary to initiate the process. After you realize you may have grounds for a lawsuit, contact a mass tort attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case potential and strategize your road to recovery.

Stages Of A Mass Torts Case

A mass tort case goes through specific stages, just like every other personal injury case. Either party may lose at any time, and the case may settle at any time. Because of the danger, mass tort attorneys often wait to file a lawsuit unless they are certain the plaintiffs have a strong case. It is common for several attorneys from several firms to collaborate to work on these cases. The entire process may take many years. Case management is essential in situations involving mass torts since there are many lawyers and many victims involved. 

It's critical to comprehend the various steps in the procedure you could go through with your attorney. The key stages are as follows:

  • Review records 
  • Distinguish injury uniformity 
  • Filing lawsuits 
  • Bellwether trials 
  • Settlement or resolution

There is no set time frame for how long all of these steps take or even if all of the steps need to be taken. Sometimes mass tort cases take longer than individual lawsuits because the issues are more complicated and there are multiple plaintiffs. However, the potential benefits of sharing evidence and litigation costs often outweigh the extra time it takes to resolve a mass tort lawsuit. Additionally, sometimes cases may settle or be dismissed before bellwether trials occur.

Review Records

Your attorney will have to analyze a sizable amount of documentation, including statements made by the plaintiffs and claims of injuries you allegedly sustained, in order to determine whether you have a case, not only for you but for each and every plaintiff as well.

Additionally, your attorney is not the only one digging through your records. Defense attorneys will dig through your entire medical history in order to find any pre-existing condition that could be the reason for your injuries or illness or at least a contributing factor to it. This is why it's crucial to be completely honest with your attorney so there are no unpleasant surprises along the process and so they can better represent you and the other participants in the mass tort lawsuit.

Distinguish Injury Uniformity

For a case to even be considered a "mass tort," mass tort attorneys must find and pinpoint patterns among their clients. Despite the fact that each plaintiff has their own unique claim, mass tort attorneys must develop a single case against a defendant. There will only be a few instances that set the stage for the remainder of the cases; thus, each litigation must have a similar framework. Some cases could not be eligible for compensation if they don't meet the defined uniform pattern.

Filing Lawsuits

All mass tort lawsuits are filed in state court. Though the plaintiffs may live in different parts of the state, it is best to file the suit together. The cases are tried in the civil court with experienced attorneys who understand the filing procedures and the structure of mass tort cases. The court prefers these cases combined for convenience, easy streamlining, and speed.

Bellwether Trials

A bellwether trial is a trial that serves as a benchmark in a situation when numerous lawsuits have been brought against the same defendant (or group of parties). The bellwether plaintiff is typically chosen because he/she is a typical representative of a large group. They are commonly utilized in mass tort cases and are used as test cases in an effort to predict how future litigation may proceed.

Benefit Of A Bellwether Trial

A Bellwether trial has advantages for all parties concerned. A Bellwether trial gives plaintiffs a chance to present evidence and concentrate their claims on those that have the best chance of succeeding in court. A Bellwether trial gives the defendant the choice of continuing the litigation with the other cases already filed or reaching a settlement outside of court. Bellwether trials act as a predictor of future developments in the legal sector for judges and legislators. When there are no other ways to handle a huge caseload, bellwether trials provide the legal system a special benefit. Keep in mind that bellwether trials only serve as a sample illustration of the problem at hand and how to manage it; they do not guarantee the same result across a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL).

Settlement Or Resolution

Settlement or resolution is the final stage of a mass tort. Because some mass tort claims are more complex than others, there are different deadlines for settlement. Even though it could take months or years, most of these cases do end up being resolved. Trials require a lot of time and money; therefore, it is frequently in everyone's best interests to reach a settlement without taking any matters to trial. There is always a risk of an appeal, even if you win the trial. A lost case is the same way.

Recent Mass Torts Cases

3M Earplugs

The American military began providing soldiers with a novel style of combat weaponry earplugs in the early 2000s. These earplugs, also referred to as dual-ended combat arms earplugs (CAE), were created by 3M to protect users' ears in hostile environments from both loud noises and persistent background noise. The CAE earplugs had a design flaw that allowed them to slip loose in the wearer's ear, as was later revealed. Even worse, the evidence suggests that 3M knew about the problem but neglected to alert the military. 

As a result, a lawsuit was brought in 2018 against 3M, the company that made the CAE earplugs. Although the lawsuits are still ongoing, it's believed that close to 300,000 individuals have already filed 3M earplug claims against the American multinational government contractor in an effort to receive compensation. In numerous bellwether instances, the plaintiffs have also successfully won jury verdicts ranging from $50 million to $110 million.


Abbott Laboratories produced the infant formula known as Similac with the goal of giving babies all the nutrients they require for healthy growth. The mixture of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals in the formula are necessary for both growth and maintenance. Prebiotics and probiotics are additional ingredients in Similac that promote intestinal health. The formula is offered in powder, liquid, and ready-to-feed varieties, and it may be adjusted to each baby's specific nutritional requirements. For more than a century, Similac has been a reputable manufacturer of infant formula.

In Texas, word spread in February 2022 that Similac was one of three currently hazardous formula products and that parents should not use it. Since Texas was one of the first states to receive reports of newborn illnesses, the FDA started collaborating with federal and Texas authorities on that date. In response, Abbott laboratories voluntarily recalled all Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare products made in the disputed plant.

The legal battle over Similac and the elevated risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature newborns is still in its early stages. In courts across the nation, more Similac NEC lawsuits are being brought against Abbott. In all 50 states, attorneys are now accepting new cases.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Multiple legal actions have been taken against the American government as a result of Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina, having contaminated water. The claims claim that a variety of ailments, including cancer and birth problems, were brought on by the tainted water.

Since Camp Lejeune was established on top of an existing landfill in the 1950s, there has been a constant issue with toxic water onsite. The Agency for Dangerous Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reports that in two of the eight water treatment facilities that supply water to the Marine Corps Base, particular chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and additional toxic substances were found.

Testing revealed that the water was tainted with numerous dangerous pollutants, including benzene and arsenic, which led to the problem's discovery in the 1980s. By the time the Marine Corps informed the locals of the contamination in 1997, many people had already been exposed to the poisonous water.

The case is still pending, and a ruling is anticipated in 2023. The Marines and their families are being urged to speak with a mass tort lawyer as soon as possible because they are still experiencing the effects of drinking tainted water.

Why You Need A Mass Torts Attorney

The negligence and reckless behavior of defendants in mass tort cases affect people all over the country. Plaintiffs in mass torts may be awarded damages for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses. Contact a mass tort lawyer to assist you with your case so that you can receive appropriate damages because mass tort litigation is complicated. Hiring an attorney to represent your case can provide several benefits to you.

  • To launch a mass tort lawsuit, you must locate additional defendants who might have suffered the same loss. On your behalf, a mass tort litigation attorney can expedite this procedure.
  • Mass tort litigation is more complicated than many other kinds of lawsuits. Your lawyer will be able to walk you through the procedures required to submit and support your claim because they have the necessary training and expertise working with mass tort cases.
  • In a mass tort lawsuit, you will have to compete with powerful corporate legal teams in the courtroom. Your national mass tort attorney will be equipped with the knowledge required to fight for your interests when negotiating with these parties.

Suffering injuries due to the actions of a corporation can cause significant damages. You may endure medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more — and many others may be experiencing the same hardships. If you believe you have a case that qualifies for litigation, contact our mass tort lawyer at The Cochran Firm.

Why The Cochran Firm

Founded over 50 years ago, The Cochran Firm is one of the nation's premier personal injury, truck accident, and medical malpractice law firms. The Cochran Firm is a national firm with regional offices throughout the United States. Our firm has on hand a diverse group of highly skilled and experienced lawyers dedicated to bringing quality representation to injured people and their families.

At The Cochran Firm, our attorneys and trial lawyers are dedicated to providing the highest quality legal representation for people and their loved ones. Our successes and results have been recognized nationally by legal publications and professional legal associations. We're here to help answer your questions. Judicial matters can be complicated; our experts are on hand to help inform you of every aspect of your topic. We take great pride in using our expertise for you and look forward to hearing from you. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys, please contact us today. We maintain offices throughout the United States, better enabling us to fight tirelessly for the rights of injury victims in all areas of the country.