Mass Tort Law - Class Action Law

Mass Tort Law, more commonly referred to as class action law, is part of Personal Injury law and can be litigated in many other types of practice areas, such as antitrust law; defective drugs law; product liability law; employment discrimination law; insurance law; and various others. Due to this wide diversity, there are many, many laws governing this area, on both the state and federal level.

Mass torts involve a large number of plaintiffs or claimants with a common claim regarding a single product, drug, disaster, unfair business practice, environmental tort or toxic tort. The parties are usually spread out geographically, but share a common injury or damage. When the facts and legal issues are similar, the parties may join together to bring a legal action against the party responsible for the tort. This can involve suing a manufacturer for a faulty product that has been responsible for several injuries, as well as suing a big company accused of a being responsible for a pattern of discriminatory action which has caused damage to many employees, job applicants, clients, customers, etc. These types of lawsuits also refer to those filed by a group of people for one specific incident, such as an airplane or railway accident with many fatalities and injuries.

This type of claim is a representative action. Usually only a few specific claimants are named in the suit, on behalf of themselves and others in a “defined class”. When a class action lawsuit is successful, other individuals who believe they belong to the “defined class” will then have a certain period of time to assert this claim and their subsequent right to a portion of the damages to be recovered. Members of the class may also “opt-out” of the class action if they choose and even pursue their own separate suit.

Federal class action claims are governed by Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and 28 USCA § 1332 (d). Rule 23 spells out the requirements and procedures for certifying a class and 28 USCA § 1332 (d) defines specific claims that may be brought in federal court as class actions. Most states have enacted civil procedure laws similar to the federal rules, although some do differ significantly, some limit the types of claims which may be brought as a class action, and a few others allow no class actions at all. Although most class action suits are filed to obtain money damages, some are pursued to seek a declaratory judgment of legality and others may seek injunctive relief, in which the court orders the defendant to either refrain from continuing to perform an action or to actually perform a specific action.

Administrative law claims may also be filed as class actions. However, administrative agencies can craft their own rules regarding these types of actions and are not governed by federal and/or state civil procedure. Copyright

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Mass Tort Law - US

  • 28 USC § 1332 (d)

    Federal code regarding Diversity of Citizenship; amount in controversy; and costs with regards to class action suits.

  • ABA - Mass Torts Litigation

    This Committee was created to address both current and emerging issues that arise in a broad spectrum of substantive areas, where the common denominators are the large number of plaintiffs asserting the claims, and the type of claims being a tort in the broadest sense of the word. Thus, this Committee focuses on the substantive and procedural developments in the case law, proposed reforms, and best practice techniques in cases that may involve environmental, toxic torts, pharmaceutical, various types of products liability litigation, aviation, antitrust, securities litigation, and employment claims.

  • FDA - Product Safety and Legislation

    Today, the FDA regulates $1 trillion worth of products a year. It ensures the safety of all food except for meat, poultry and some egg products; ensures the safety and effectiveness of all drugs, biological products (including blood, vaccines and tissues for transplantation), medical devices, and animal drugs and feed; and makes sure that cosmetics and medical and consumer products that emit radiation do no harm.

  • Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)

    Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) cases are varied. Those cases handled by section litigators include traditional problems in tort law, such as medical malpractice and other personal injury litigation, as well as seminal issues arising in areas as diverse as regulatory agency activities, wild animal attacks in national parks, and professional malpractice. The section also handles litigation brought by persons who contracted AIDS allegedly due to government negligence in the course of blood transfusions or other medical procedures. Section attorneys protect the United States from exposure to excessive liability, and from second-guessing of governmental policy decisions through tort litigation.

  • Rule 23, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

    Text of the Federal Rule of Procedure which governs certification of a class for federal class action law suits.

  • USDOJ - Constitutional and Specialized Tort Litigation (CSTL)

    Constitutional and Specialized Tort Litigation (CSTL) is divided into three separate areas. Constitutional Tort attorneys represent federal employees in their individual capacity for alleged violations of the Constitution, common law, and/or statutory provisions. Vaccine Litigation attorneys defend cases brought under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Program offers monetary compensation to claimants who contracted certain cancers and other serious diseases as a result of their exposure to radiation under circumstances outlined by Congress.

Organizations Related to Mass Tort Law

  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

    The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversees the creation, promulgation and use of thousands of norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses in nearly every sector: from acoustical devices to construction equipment, from dairy and livestock production to energy distribution, and many more. ANSI is also actively engaged in accrediting programs that assess conformance to standards.

  • RAND - Class Action Lawsuits and Mass Torts

    RAND Mission: The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND focuses on the issues that matter most such as health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment, and more. With a research staff consisting of some of the world's preeminent minds, RAND has been expanding the boundaries of human knowledge for more than 60 years.

  • US Consumer Product Safety Commission

    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

Publications Related to Mass Tort Law

  • Federal Judicial Center - Manual for Complex Litigation, Fourth

    Successor to the Manual for Complex Litigation, Third. This work describes approaches that trial judges have found to be useful in managing complex cases. This edition updates the treatment of electronic discovery and other aspects of pretrial management and describes major changes affecting case management in the substantive and procedural law in mass torts, class actions, intellectual property, employment discrimination, and other types of litigation. A new chapter deals with managing scientific evidence. This fourth edition was published in March 2004.

  • Law and Research - Just Law Links - Mass Torts

    A subsidiary of LawResearch, it is intended to be a reference tool for locating legal documents on the internet. It is specifically designed to identify universal resource locators or url's, to meet the legal community's informational and legal research requirements. LawResearch provides the initial searching, filtering, sorting, selecting, editing and testing of thousands of law related internet hyperlinks. The quality of the data found lies soley with the orignating source and the researcher. LawResearch rarely supplies source legal data rather it supplies reference material to for finding the legal information you want or need. The final compilation delivers an well ordered and tested "library card catalogue" of links enabling the user, fast, efficient and cohesive access millions of legal documents on the net, .

  • Mass Tort Litigation Blog

    Articles and information regarding the subject of mass tort litigation provided by Law Professor Blogs Network.

  • USAM - Tort Litigation

    Tort litigation against the Federal Government is under the general supervision of the Civil Division's Torts Branch. The Torts Branch has four different litigation offices or staffs, each of which specializes in a different area.

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