If you keep up to date with large court cases, it’s likely that you’ve heard the terms class action and mas tort, or mass action, lawsuit. While you might hear these terms often, it’s understandable that you might not know exactly what they mean or how they work.
If you want to learn more about mass tort law firms and how these cases came to be, you’re in the right place. Here’s a basic history of mass tort lawsuits, as well as how they function in a court of law.
To understand what mass tort means, you need to understand what “tort” means by itself. As much as it might sound like the popular dessert, the spelling is different and the definition is certainly not sweet. In legal terms, tort refers to a “civil wrong” committed by an individual or entity against another. In order to classify as a tort, the action committed must result in injury to the plaintiff. the majority of tort cases involve one plaintiff and one defendant, but mass tort cases are a little bit different. Rather than one plaintiff, there is a large group, usually all residing in a single geographical area, united against one or more entities that have caused some form of harm. Unlike a class action lawsuit, a mass tort attorney will treat each plaintiff individually. Each person involved will be asked to confirm certain facts about their case, which will then be used by a mass tort law firm to determine exactly the kind of harm done to each plaintiff. If the facts are aligned closely enough, a court can order a mass tort action.
Mass tort litigation can be traced back to a few big cases that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the most famous mass tort settlements involved asbestos exposure. Thhis issue involved numerous cases brought to court by mass tort lawyers across the country, all related to products and companies using asbestos. Lawsuits about asbestos exposure still plague the nation today, and it all began with major cases in the 1970s.
Mass tort is more common than you might think, so next time you hear about a class action lawsuit or a mass action lawsuit, you’ll know a little bit more about how that practice began.