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Mass Torts 101: What They Are and How They Work

By Texas Personal Injury Lawyer on May 30, 2024

A meeting between a lawyer and a potential client.

Mass torts are legal actions where multiple plaintiffs file a lawsuit against one or more defendants due to harm caused by common actions or products. While class actions group plaintiffs into a single lawsuit, mass torts handle each plaintiff’s case individually, allowing for the particular aspects of their harm to be considered. This is critical because it acknowledges that the cause of injury is similar, but the extent and impact can vary greatly between individuals.

In Texas, mass torts are often associated with pharmaceuticals, environmental disasters, or consumer product failures.

Differences Between a Mass Tort and a Class Action Suit

A plaintiff is the person who files a case against another individual, business, government identity, or organization in court. Understanding the distinction between mass torts and class action suits is important for plaintiffs seeking justice in Texas.

Mass torts deal with individual claims where each plaintiff may receive a different amount of compensation based on their specific damages. On the other hand, class action suits involve one lawsuit in which a group of people with similar injuries caused by the same party is treated as a single plaintiff. In class actions, the plaintiffs must have common legal issues, and the outcome applies uniformly to all class members.

Texas plaintiffs may benefit from mass torts when their injuries vary in severity because mass torts allow for a more personalized approach to litigation, potentially leading to more accurate compensation for individual circumstances.

Filing a Mass Tort in Houston and Throughout Texas

The process of a mass tort in Texas begins with a thorough initial investigation. Lawyers gather evidence — including medical records, expert opinions, and regulatory reports — to build a solid case foundation. This phase is crucial because it establishes the basis for causation and harm, which must be sufficiently demonstrated when filing a claim.

Once the evidence supports the allegations, the suit is filed in a Texas court. The filing sets forth the facts of the case and the legal grounds for holding the defendant liable. It’s during this stage that the extent of the harm and the number of affected individuals start to become clear. The goal is to prepare a compelling case that can withstand the scrutiny of the court and defense, setting the stage for further legal actions and potential compensation for the plaintiffs.

Identifying Common Issues Among Mass Tort Plaintiffs

Once the initial filing of a mass tort is underway, a critical step is to identify the common issues or injuries shared among the plaintiffs. This involves analyzing the pattern of harm and pinpointing the similarities that justify a mass tort approach rather than individual lawsuits.

In Texas, the identification process strengthens the case by demonstrating a clear link between the defendant’s actions and the injuries and helps to efficiently manage the litigation; focusing on the defendant’s conduct and the harm they caused is the essence of mass tort litigation. For example, if a defective drug is the subject of the mass tort, the plaintiffs may suffer from a range of adverse effects, yet the core issue remains the drug’s safety and efficacy.

Gathering evidence is a meticulous process that supports the claims of the plaintiffs in a mass tort. In Texas, this often involves compiling a wealth of documentation, such as scientific studies, testimonies from experts, and personal accounts of the plaintiffs’ experiences and damages.

Mass tort attorneys work diligently to secure evidence that is not only compelling but also admissible in court, aligning with the rules of evidence in Texas. This evidence must demonstrate commonality among class members’ claims.

How a Mass Tort Case Works in Houston and Across Texas

As mass tort cases in Texas progress, the negotiation and trial processes become pivotal. Negotiations may occur at any stage, but they often gain traction after bellwether trial outcomes. These negotiations aim to reach a settlement that compensates plaintiffs without the need for every case to go to trial.

If a settlement isn’t reached, the case moves to the trial phase. Trials in mass torts are complex and require presenting evidence that’s clear and compelling to the jury. The trial process includes the selection of a jury, opening statements, witness testimonies, cross-examinations, and closing arguments.

After a settlement is reached or a trial verdict is decided in a mass tort case, the next critical step is the distribution of compensation to the plaintiffs. Factors such as the severity of injury, the degree of harm suffered, and individual circumstances are all taken into account to ensure a fair distribution. The ultimate goal is to ensure that all parties receive the restitution they are due in a manner that reflects the individual impacts of the defendant’s actions.

Our Houston Mass Tort Lawyer Has Won Millions for Clients

If you were injured by unsafe pharmaceuticals, defective consumer product failures, or the careless actions of a large business or organization, DK Law wants to hear about it. Lead attorney Darius Khosravian is a lifetime member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an organization that’s limited to attorneys who win multi-million-dollar settlements for their clients. Mr. Khosravian was also selected among the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40.

Call (281) 402-8856 to schedule a FREE consultation with our mass tort attorney in Houston — you won’t owe us anything unless we win. You can also contact our office online.

Posted in: Personal Injury


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