At LA Lawyers Group, we handle all types of mass tort cases. Some examples of more common types of mass tort cases we can handle include those involving:
Mass torts are often confused with class action suits, since they share some similar attributes. Most notably, they both involve large groups of people that are taking legal action against one defendant or a small group of defendants. However, while mass torts and class action lawsuits are similar in some ways, they’re in fact very different types of legal action.
A class action lawsuit brings together many individual claims into one single claim. For this to work in a legal sense, the many plaintiffs in a class action must share common characteristics that would make them a “class.” Typically, the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit will have similar injuries that were sustained in a similar way. Note that in a class action case, there is one lawsuit for all. The losses of plaintiffs in a class action case are viewed together as a whole, so plaintiffs in a class action suit do not have each of their losses considered individually.
A mass tort consists of individual cases that are related because the injuries of the plaintiffs are similar and are linked by a common cause. The major difference between a mass tort and a class action lawsuit is that the linked cases involved in a mass tort are still considered separate cases. A mass tort can benefit plaintiffs by allowing them to share information during the legal process, while also allowing each plaintiff to have their own case outcome.
Ultimately, the court decides when a large number of personal injury cases can be a mass tort. Before bringing a mass tort action to court, your lawyer will need to do thorough preparation to show evidence that a mass tort would be appropriate, then present this evidence to the court along with a request for permission to file a mass tort action.
A court may consider many elements of a group of personal injury cases when deciding whether or not to give permission for a mass tort. These elements include, but are not limited to:
If a court grants permission for a mass tort action, the mass tort case will be assigned to a judge. When a mass tort action is approved, a notice of the mass tort lawsuit will also be published in the media. This is a standard part of the mass tort action process that allows victims who may also have been injured in a similar way (generally, by the same product or event) to take legal action and join the mass tort.
Civil cases that share many of the same characteristics, such as those involved in the same mass tort action, may sometimes be combined in either Judicial Council Coordinated Proceedings (JCCP) or Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). Both of these processes can be used to transfer multiple cases to a single court for pretrial proceedings. It’s important for California plaintiffs involved in mass torts to understand these types of proceedings, since they frequently become a part of the mass tort process.
Multidistrict Litigation is an option for certain cases that have been brought in federal court. The MDL process can transfer personal injury cases that involve many similar facts to the same federal district court for pretrial proceedings. Cases can be settled during these pretrial proceedings. However, if a case is not settled during this pretrial process, it will be transferred back to its original district for trial.
The Judicial Council is the policy making body of the California court system. When cases that involve many similar facts are filed in state courts in California, they can be coordinated through the Judicial Council Coordinated Proceedings process. The JCCP process formally consolidates mass tort cases for the pretrial process and the first bellwether trials, allowing these parts of the litigation process to take place in a single California court in front of a single judge. The results of these bellwether trials, which are essentially test case trials, generally determine the next steps in the legal process. Both plaintiffs and defendants will be more informed about what the likely outcome of their cases will be, allowing them to make more educated decisions on their settlement or trial options.
JCCPs and MDLs have the same purpose, which is to conserve resources and foster consistent ruling across lawsuits that involve similar facts. JCCPs and MDLs can be beneficial for all parties involved, including the courts, since they also conserve court resources. Whether your case may eventually be involved in a JCCP or an MDL very much depends on the specific circumstances of your case. Your legal team can offer you guidance on what to expect in the near future and whether or not a JCCP or MDL is an option for you down the line.
The statute of limitations that applies to a mass tort claim or lawsuit filed in California can vary. A mass tort involves a series of personal injury claims or lawsuits, so personal injury laws apply to each individual case. The standard statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. This means that, generally, California injury victims have up to two years to file a claim or bring a lawsuit to court. However, there are exceptions to this standard timeline.
In the event that a government entity will be named as a defendant in a mass tort, injury victims would have only six months from the time of their injury to file a claim. This is because the statute of limitations for personal injury cases that name a government entity as an at-fault party is only six months.
In cases of delayed discovery, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case may begin at the time the injury is discovered. Most often, delayed discovery occurs in products liability cases. For example, if a defective prescription drug causes internal injuries, the injured person may not know immediately that they have suffered harm. In cases like this, the statute of limitations for the case may begin when the person discovered or should have reasonably discovered their injuries.
These are some of the more common limitation period exceptions for personal injury cases, but they are not the only exceptions. As such, it’s crucial for those who have sustained an injury due to the harmful action or inaction of another party to pursue legal action promptly. If you seek the services of a personal injury attorney quickly, you reduce the risk that the statute of limitations for your case will run out, which would make it impossible for you to recover compensation for your losses.
Mass tort cases are generally more complex than standard personal injury cases, so they tend to take longer to resolve. With that said, there is no one timeline you can expect in a mass tort case. How long a mass tort claim or lawsuit will go on depends on numerous factors, including how many people are involved in the mass tort case, how cooperative the defendant is, and the extent of your injuries. Some mass tort cases may be settled in months, while others take years to reach a resolution.