Many people are familiar with class action lawsuits. When technicalities prevent injured parties from joining together in a class action, they may still be eligible to file a mass tort claim.
Like class actions, mass torts consolidate the similar claims of people who were wronged but would otherwise be unable to pursue compensation for their injuries. While there are certainly similarities between these forms of legal recourse, there are also significant differences that are important for victims to understand.
If you were injured or your loved one was killed by using any type of product that has likely been purchased by several consumers, you should explore all of your legal options. The Law Offices of James B. Coulter represents clients throughout Brevard County, FL, including Viera, Titusville, Satellite Beach, Rockledge, Palm Bay, Mims, Melbourne Beach, Lake Washington, Indian Harbour Beach, and Cocoa Beach.
Our mass tort attorney handles cases on a contingency fee basis, so you pay no fee for our representation unless we get you a financial award. We will provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (321) 586-9944 or send us an online message right now.
The prerequisites to class representation were established under Florida Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 1.220(a). The rule was completely revised by a 1980 amendment that brought it in line with modern practice.
The new rule is based on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, although the notice requirements were made more explicit and stringent than those in the federal rule.
Rule 23(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establishes the following prerequisites for class action lawsuits. One or more members of a class can sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all members only if:
If the plaintiffs are unable to meet these standards, they may be able to proceed with a mass tort. The major difference between class actions and mass torts is that mass torts allow each plaintiff to have an individual claim with separate trials, but plaintiffs in a class action are not considered individually and only receive one trial for the entire group.
Mass torts typically deal with consumer products or pharmaceutical drugs. Some of the most common subjects of mass tort claims include, but are not limited to the following dangerous drugs, dangerous medical devices, defective products, or hazardous materials:
Under 28 U.S. Code § 1407(a), common questions of fact may be transferred to any district for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings when civil actions involving one or more common questions of fact are pending in different districts. This federal procedure is called multidistrict litigation (MDL).
Either party in any action may file a motion filed with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) or the JPML may transfer a case upon its own initiative. Congress created the JPML in 1968, and the panel consists of seven circuit and district judges designated from time to time by the Chief Justice of the United States. No two of these judges can be from the same circuit.
Several advantages and disadvantages exist for MDL cases. MDL could end up saving or costing the plaintiff more money, depending on which court the case has been consolidated into.
If a lawyer has to make repeated flights from Florida too, say, California, you could be responsible for those legal fees upon receiving any award. MDL could also save your attorney money because multiple lawyers can pool their funds to share access to expert testimony that would otherwise be incredibly expensive.
Additionally, having all cases heard in a single court also gives the plaintiffs a more consistent result. Instead of having similar cases heard in different courts and risking to completely different outcomes, the lawyers for the plaintiffs can coordinate with one another to pursue the best legal strategy.
If you file a mass tort in a state court, it will not be part of a MDL. James Coulter of The Law Offices of James B. Coulter can advise you on which approach could be more beneficial for your particular case.
Florida Rules of Civil Procedure — These rules were adopted in March 1954, and this legal document contains 82 separate rules that can be amended with the approval of the Florida Supreme Court. New rules can also be added with approval from the high court. You can learn more about the procedures associated with mass tort and class action lawsuits on this website.
Mass Torts | American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Litigation — This section of the ABA website is dedicated entirely to mass torts. It is regularly updated with the latest news and developments, articles, announcements, roundtables, and sound advice. You can also learn more about the Mass Torts Committee.
Did you sustain serious injuries or was your loved one killed after using a dangerous or defective product? You should make sure that you have experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel.
James Coulter is a personal injury attorney who is licensed in state courts throughout Florida as well as United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. The Law Offices of James B. Coulter represents clients on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will pay nothing for any fees accumulated during the legal process if we do not get you a financial award.
The Law Offices of James B. Coulter represents clients all over the greater Melbourne area, including communities in Brevard County, Volusia County, Seminole County, Osceola County, Orange County, and Indian River County. We will review your case when you call (321) 586-9944 or send us an online message today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.