Mass tort litigation is a complex field of law with a multitude of moving parts in and out of the courtroom. When a critical mass of cases arises based on injuries related to a specific product, a mass tort can effectively consolidate all related litigation. Many personal injury cases—particularly those related to defective medical products—can be classified under the mass tort umbrella, sometimes without the victim being aware of it.
Who Are The Victims?
The first step behind a mass tort is to identify the need—defined as a significant group of people reporting injury due to a defective product. Precedent is often set for mass torts in the form of prior litigation from individual cases which resulted in a verdicts that serve as guidelines for further legal action. Beyond that, a significant product recall could also provide the impetus for a mass tort. If there exists a proven population of victims of a specific product, consolidating these claims in a mass tort can help them find justice on a larger scale. Often, advertising takes place outside of the legal sphere, reaching impacted individuals wherever they can be found.
What is Required of the Victims?
For a mass tort to be effective, consistency from the victims is paramount. Once these individuals can be considered clients of the law firm, they will undergo extensive screening to establish a relationship between the use of the defective device and harm. Potential Clients will be asked a series of questions regarding the dates they first started using the defective drug or medical device, as well as the dates that they first started to experience any problematic side effects. Often, the goal is to create a broad picture of what all of the plaintiffs have in common—something that is substantiated through medical records soon after.
How Do Cases Proceed?
Given the volume of plaintiffs in a mass tort case, the courts and lawyers will select the most relevant cases to demonstrate the value of the case and give a sense of what a resolution might look like. The court will also examine it from a scientific perspective. A Daubert hearing is often required to gain insight into whether the stories of the plaintiffs match up with what is scientifically possible. Some cases of mass litigation may not hold up to this scrutiny and be dismissed out of hand.
What Happens In Court?
Often, only a small number of cases in a mass tort actually go to trial—frequently the most representative of the group. However, this can often guarantee better outcomes for all plaintiffs involved, ultimately giving them access to the treatment they deserve and compensation for any injuries sustained. Through the process of mass tort litigation, victims gain power in numbers and can go toe-to-toe with even large pharma companies—something most individuals are incapable of.