The process of starting a legal case is going to be different for class actions and mass torts. This is because in a class action lawsuit, the court will address either a single lead plaintiff or a few lead plaintiffs, but these lead plaintiffs are representing a huge group of people, sometimes even millions of people who have all been affected by the negative behavior of the defendant.
Here are a few things to remember about class action lawsuits:
- There can be thousands, even millions of victims of a class action lawsuit.
- The amount of compensation if a case is won may be small for each plaintiff, because the settlement money must be split between hundreds, thousands or millions of people.
- If a class action lawsuit is ultimately won for the plaintiff and not the defenant, all the victims, not just the lead plaintiffs, are compensated but the compensation must be split evenly.
Comparatively, you have mass torts. In mass torts, each plaintiff’s individual situation is considered as a separate case in the courts, although all the plaintiff’s lawsuit filings are against the same defendant for the same wrongdoing. Here is some more insight:
- In mass torts, you will have the benefit of strength in numbers because all the plaintiffs are filing similar claims against the same corporation or company. So it’s clear that the company did something wrong!
- So, if you win a mass tort lawsuit, then your legal claim will be considered separately from all the others.
- This means that you will likely receive differing amounts of winnings compared to the other victims.
To decipher whether you think your case is a class action lawsuit or mass tort lawsuit, it is usually beneficial to compare your situation to other real life examples of each type of lawsuit so you can see which is more similar to yours.
For example, a famous and recent example of a mass tort lawsuit is the huge case against the corporation Johnson & Johnson.
Johnson & Johnson had been marketing baby powder for many years and selling baby powder on the market that actually included talcum powder as an ingredient, which is a cancer-causing agent.
In the year 2020, the Missouri Court of Appeals deemed that Johnson & Johnon lost the case, and ordered the company to pay a $2.1 billion settlement which was split among 22 women who contracted ovarian cancer from using the Johnson & Johnson powder.
At first look, the Johnson & Johnson case might sound like a class action talcum powder lawsuit. However, it was actually a mass tort lawsuit. Can you guess why?
The mass tort lawsuit was chosen as the legal action against talcum powder scandal because the victims experienced different levels of extreme harm or even death, and so they and their families were awarded different amounts of money out of the billions that were ordered to be paid, depending on each individual woman’s circumstance.
In other words, if the Johnson & Johnson victims had instead been a part of a class action lawsuit, they would have been given the same amount of money each, which would have been distributed in ultimately smaller settlements, because the compensation would have been split among many more victims.