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What’s the Difference Between Class Actions and Mass Torts?

Sometimes products fails or malfunction resulting in unintended consequences. When this happens, the companies that create those products need to held accountable. This can be done through a class action or a mass tort.

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Personal Injury Cases

In a perfect word, people would be free to indulge themselves with different products and services in a worry-free environment. They could blissfully run around without thinking twice about a potential side effect from a drug or a product. Most of the products we use on a daily basis do not pose any harm to us. However, sometimes products fails or malfunction resulting in unintended consequences.

Thus, we have our legal system and within that, personal injury litigation. The personal injury space of law covers a wide variety of injuries that include injuries of the body, mind, or reputation. When a company creates a product and brings it to market, they routinely share the benefits of said product and highlight the positive impacts it will have on one’s life. If the product does not meet the advertised expectations, and at worse, causes harmful side effects to the buyer, that company should be held accountable.

There are many different types of personal injury cases. Our office practices and files mostly mass torts, class actions, and isolated civil case. Each type of case is treated differently. The main difference between mass torts and class action lawsuits is how the court treats the plaintiffs. Instead of treating them as a single entity, the court considers mass tort plaintiffs as individuals, and the compensation each plaintiff receives will reflect his or her specific damages.

Class Actions

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A class-action is a type of civil lawsuit filed by a group of people or business entities who have suffered common injuries or damages because of the defendants’ conduct or negligence. In a class action, at least one individual or entity acts as a representative of the group of people or companies injured.

 

Burger King Lawsuit

A great example of a class action case is the recent Burger King lawsuit. In some of the court documents sited by Law360, Burger King’s Whopper was deemed “unfit for human consumption.” This isn’t such a profound concept. It continued saying, “because the burger’s packaging contains chemicals that can cause cancers, thyroid disorders and other illnesses, despite the fast food giant’s assurances that its product is safe.” The chemicals allegedly found in the packaging are known as “per- and polyfluoroalkyl substancesFAS”, or PFAS for short. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PFAS are used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. Items with this coating can be found in a variety of products including clothing, furniture, adhesives, food packaging, heat-resistant non-stick cooking surfaces, and in the insulation of electrical wires.

According to the lawsuit documents, the PFAS in the food packaging can migrate to the food it contains, which exposes consumers to the risk of illness. These risks can include cancer, liver damage, fertility issues and other diseases.

In this lawsuit the plaintiff is acting as a representative of the people who may have been harmed by Burger King’s products.

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Mass Torts

A mass tort is a type of civil case where multiple plaintiffs file claims against one or more parties. These types of claims typically involve similar grievances, with the different plaintiffs suffering physical or financial damages due to the negligence of a large company or companies. Individuals can file a mass tort at the state level and at the federal level.

Common types of mass tort lawsuits include claims involving:

 

Great examples of a mass torts are the CPAP machine lawsuits and the lawsuits involving Hernia Mesh victims.

 

CPAP Lawsuit

You may have seen different ads mentioning a recall on CPAP machines. Philips Respironics issued a recall for Philips Bi-Level Positive Airway Pressure (Bi-Level PAP), Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), and mechanical ventilator devices after potential health risks were identified. Most of these risks are associated with the sound abatement foam within the devices. This foam is a polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) designed to reduce machine noise, making them quieter when in use. According to a notice send from Philip Respironics, this foam has been shown to degrade into tiny particles that may be ingested or inhaled by the user. These particles may also cause off-gassing from certain chemicals which could lead to a range of illnesses, including chemical poisoning, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and liver damage. People who have been using a CPAP machine and suffered worse health conditions after prolonged use, have filed civil claims against Philip Respironics.

Hernia Mesh Lawsuit

This is very similar to the victims of C.R. Bard’s hernia mesh products. C.R. Bard defectively designed its Composix Kugel hernia mesh with a memory coil ring that was prone to breaking and causing complications, according to a lawsuit filed by Vicky Sanders.

Bard’s Kugel mesh allegedly had manufacturing defects due to “substandard, adulterated, and/or non-medical grade polypropylene and raw materials used to make the Composix Kugel product which deviated from their material and supply specifications,” according to Sanders’ lawsuit documents.

Sanders also said that Bard failed to warn the public despite knowing that its product could cause health problems. Some patients are suing the hernia mesh manufacturer for compensation for damages, including lost wages, medical bills, loss of quality of life and pain and suffering. This came after their mesh implants failed, resulting in revision surgery to correct the damage done.

Experience is Needed for Both Class Actions and Mass Torts

So as you can see there similarities and differences between between class actions and mass torts, however, both required a skilled and experienced attorney to handle them. Our personal injury class action and mass tort lawyers have dedicated their careers to fighting for the rights of injured victims throughout the United States. If you were seriously injured through the negligence or wrongdoing of a company or another person, you may be able to file a lawsuit to secure the compensation you need for you and your family. Contact us today to speak with one of our specialists to review your case information.

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