Differences Between Class Action and Mass Tort Suits
Each woman who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or who has passed away from ovarian cancer has an extremely valuable case, as well as an extremely sad and important story to tell.
Consolidating all of those cases as a class action would minimize the real significant severity of just how bad these cases are and just how bad the outcome is for a lot of people.
The mass tort context lends itself to these ovarian cancer claims where the general causation or the general case alleging talcum powder causes ovarian cancer is difficult. It is expensive and it would be hard to shore up the resources to take that fight on alone.
It is good to have a lot of people fighting a common battle and a lot of resources fighting the common battle, but you also maintain the ability to have control over your case and your case alone because what is happening to these women is so important and so damaging.
Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Talcum powder lawsuits are currently being pursued. There has not been an MDL formed yet, but talcum powder cases are considered a mass tort because the cases are being filed such that each individual is pursuing the case on their own terms.
Although a class action and mass tort litigation may seem similar, they are quite different.
Class Action Cases
An example of a proper class action would be a thousand people who each get a bill from a company and each of those people is out $10.00 because the bill was incorrect. It would not make sense for one of those people to file a lawsuit and have their day in court against the defendant over $10.00.
If you consolidate all of the thousands of people, and then the mass or the collective of the harm—the $10.00 of damage that was done to each plaintiff—all of that put together would make sense to pursue the company to get compensation for.
In a class action, instead of each individual plaintiff filing a lawsuit on their behalf, you have one named plaintiff and certify everyone else as a class member. That named plaintiff has the authority and the ability to make decisions that bind all of the other class members.
The named plaintiff can arrange a $5 million settlement with a company, and then every class member is bound by that settlement.
Mass Tort Litigation
A mass tort looks similar because there are a lot of people who have suffered a similar harm, but it is very different because each claim is filed and pursued individually. This means that a person cannot be bound without their consent, and their case cannot be settled without their consent.
Sometimes, these cases may resolve under a global resolution or a global settlement. In this situation, a defendant will say that they will pay a certain amount of money to resolve every single case that has been filed against them. At that point, the client would have the opportunity to opt in to the settlement or to hold their case out for trial. In a mass tort case, the client’s case is being pursued on his or her terms, in his or her best interest, and he or she would not be bound by the decisions of any other plaintiff.