Risks And Difficulties Unique To Mass Tort Cases
Mass torts are where a large group of people—often, tens or hundreds of thousands, or perhaps even millions of people—are harmed by a wrong, usually a defective, malfunctioning, or dangerously designed product. You hear of product recall lawsuits, defective drug lawsuits, or asbestos lawsuits, all the time. These are mass torts.
Mass torts are in some ways like standard individual personal injury cases, but they aren’t always the same. There are many legal issues that make mass torts more unique—and more difficult—than the standard types of injury lawsuits.
Here are some common legal issues that make mass torts more complex than an individual injury suit
Jury perception – Often, in mass torts, you are suing big name companies—companies that the average juror may have trust in. Many jurors may use or may have in the past used products by the same company that the victim is now suing. Many people or jurors have perceptions of large companies, like Johnson & Johnson, 3M, Merck, Hyundai, Jeep, or others, as being big, reputable, scientific, and safe. Many of the products that injure people, may be products that we have used for many years, creating the perception of safety.
Causation – Mass torts often cause long term injuries or disease, or damages like cancer, that may not manifest for years after the product is used. Large volumes of scientific data, and testimony, must be used, to show that cancers or other diseases are actually caused by the defective product. This is especially true with disease, like cancer, which can be caused by a number of different things.
Damages – Many people who use the same defective product may manifest different injuries. One person may get cancer, another person may develop heart problems, and other people may have no apparent injuries at all. Of the people with no apparent injury, they may be at heightened risk to develop a given disease later on in life, given their exposure to the defective product or condition.
This variance in injury can confuse a jury, and make them ask why, if a product is so dangerous, everybody doesn’t get the same kinds of injuries.
Value – Needless to say, mass torts can cost injury attorneys millions of dollars, and take many years to resolve. Injuries or damages caused by defective products must be serious enough to warrant such an investment.
Risk – If either party loses their case, there is the chance that the floodgates of lawsuits will open—or close. If one mass tort victim’s case loses, it may make the Defendant bolder in other cases, knowing it has already shown it did nothing wrong in one case. Likewise for Defendants; if one mass tort case wins, the Defendant now risks more mass and individual lawsuits related to the same defective product.
Another risk is the Defendant simply filing bankruptcy, if there are too many lawsuits. Nowadays, even major companies have had success discharging injury verdicts in bankruptcy.
Call the Clinton personal injury lawyers at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, today for help with every part of your injury case.