People rely on products in almost every aspect of their lives, so when a defective product causes harm there are legal remedies for victims to recover financial damages. Oftentimes the responsible parties are major corporations with extensive legal teams and abundant financial resources, making it challenging for an individual to file suit on his or her own. However, in situations when a defective product injures many, even thousands, of innocent people, mass tort lawsuits can be filed. A mass tort civil action is a mechanism that lets one attorney or groups of attorneys represent several injured parties who suffered personal injury from a common source, thus providing individuals fair representation by conserving resources within the judicial system.
A mass tort lawsuit can occur whenever a large group of people are injured in unique and individual ways from one of the following:
- Defective Product or Pharmaceutical Drug
- Single Disaster
- Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum attorneys work on behalf of those who have been injured to obtain the maximum compensation under the law. Our team of attorneys, paralegals and support staff have the resources and experience needed to handle complex, multi-plaintiff mass tort cases. Additionally, our pharmaceutical litigation group specifically concentrates its efforts on helping clients and their families get through and overcome struggles that come along with defective drugs and medical devices.
How is a mass tort lawsuit different than a class action lawsuit?
Both mass tort and class action lawsuits involve multiple plaintiffs who were harmed by a defendant’s defective product. The difference is in how they are prosecuted. A class action lawsuit allows one person to represent a large group of people. The plaintiff must prove the class of victims is so numerous that joining all members is impracticable and that each member of the group has suffered similar injuries. At the conclusion, all of the plaintiffs are given the same judgment. An example of a class action case is when an automotive company has a defect and recall, such as Volkswagen’s defeat device on clean diesel vehicles to deliberately falsify pollution tests.
Unlike class actions, the plaintiffs in a mass tort lawsuit have experienced a variety of injuries and file their lawsuits separately rather than in a group. Each verdict is decided individually and if the case is successful, plaintiffs are compensated based on their personal damages and losses. The most common mass tort cases involve defective drugs because they can cause a wide range of problems and reactions, and medications can vary based on dosage and duration.
Can I participate in a mass tort lawsuit?
Anyone who suffered an injury due to a defective product or drug can participate in a mass tort lawsuit. A representative of an injured person, such as an executor or guardian, can also file a lawsuit. Additionally, in order to be able to file a lawsuit against a drug manufacturer, the injured person must have consumed the minimum exposure of the drug. Contact Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum today for information on the types of mass tort cases that are in progress.
What parties can be held liable?
In pharmaceutical cases, the drug manufacturer is the sole party that can be held liable, and a drug manufacturer can only be held liable if they had or should have had information in hand indicating their product would harm people. For a defective product that causes an injury, anyone in the chain of commerce can potentially be held liable, including the designers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesale sellers, suppliers and retail stores.
What can I expect if I file a mass tort claim?
The first step in a mass tort claim is an investigation that consists of collecting medical records, collecting and reviewing medical literature, and consulting with medical experts. Typically, the injured parties will have to work with their law firm during this phase to ensure a thorough investigation. After all of the relevant information is collected, the firm will file a claim on behalf of their clients. Once a claim is filed it enters a discovery process. Discovery allows both sides to request evidence, depose witnesses and experts, and examine the facts of each other’s case. Only a small portion of the plaintiffs will be asked to testify for a deposition during this process. At Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum it has been our experience that discovery can take many months, sometimes years, to sift through hundreds of thousands of documents and collect thousands of hours of testimony. However, it is common for a case to settle during discovery.
Will my mass tort case be handled in a state or federal court?
Generally mass tort cases are handled in federal court. However, many cases are filed in the state court system of the drug manufacturer or liable party’s home state.
Is there a time limit for filing a mass tort claim?
Each state has its own deadlines, or statutes of limitations, for injuries related to defective products. These time limits typically begin when the injury occurs, and a handful of states have time limits as short as one year. There are exceptions that can extend the time limit, so it is always important to consult with a mass tort attorney to determine the proper statute of limitations.
What type of damages and losses can I recover?
Examples of recoverable damages for mass tort claims, include:
- Pain and Suffering
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
- Future Losses
- Emotional Trauma
In addition to those mentioned above, punitive damages can also be recovered. These are judgments imposed in order to punish the liable party, for example a drug manufacturer or a product designer.
How much will it cost me to file a mass tort claim?
Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum is an experienced mass tort law firm in St. Louis representing clients in Missouri and Illinois on product liability and pharmaceutical liability cases. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that if we take on a client, we will advance all of the costs and expenses of the investigation and litigation. If we achieve a successful result, our fee and expenses are collected from the recovery. If for some reason we are not able to recover anything on your behalf, then you will not owe us anything. To find out more about filing a mass tort claim, contact our office today for a free and confidential legal consultation.