If you have been harmed by a defective product, a dangerous drug or a negligent corporation, you may wonder what legal options you have to seek compensation. Depending on the nature and extent of your injury, and how many other people are in a similar situation, you may be able to join a mass tort or a class action lawsuit.
Mass torts and class actions are both types of lawsuits that involve multiple plaintiffs suing one or more defendants for the same or similar wrongdoing. A mass tort is a lawsuit that involves many individual cases that are consolidated for some purposes, such as discovery, pretrial motions or settlement negotiations. Each plaintiff in a mass tort has their own attorney and their own claim, and they must prove their own damages.
Mass torts are often used when the plaintiffs have suffered different types or degrees of harm from the same defendant or defendants. For example, if a pharmaceutical company sells a drug that causes various side effects in different people, those who are injured may file a mass tort against the company.
A class action is a lawsuit that involves one or more representatives who sue on behalf of a large group of people who have been harmed in the same way by the same defendant or defendants. The group of people is called a class, and they must share common legal issues and factual circumstances.
The court must certify the class before the lawsuit can proceed. Once certified, the representatives act on behalf of the entire class, and any settlement or verdict applies to all class members. Class actions are often used when the plaintiffs have suffered similar or identical harm from the same defendant or defendants. For example, if a bank charges illegal fees to its customers, those who are affected may file a class action against the bank.
Examples of mass torts and class actions in North Dakota
North Dakota has seen its share of mass torts and class actions in recent years. Some examples include the mass tort against 3M Company for allegedly selling defective earplugs to the U.S. military, causing hearing loss and tinnitus in thousands of veterans. And, then, there is the class action against Wells Fargo Bank for allegedly opening unauthorized accounts and charging fees to its customers.
Another example is the mass tort against Monsanto Company for allegedly causing cancer in farmers and consumers who were exposed to its Roundup weed killer. In addition, there was a class action against Dakota Access Pipeline for allegedly violating the rights of Native American protesters who opposed the construction of the pipeline.