When a number of plaintiffs in West Virginia or another state make the same claim against a defendant, such as makers of Zantac, they have the option of filing a mass tort. Mass torts differ from class-action lawsuits because they represent each claimant as an individual. Filing a mass tort has several benefits over other types of lawsuits.
Filing a single lawsuit can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars whether the plaintiff wins or not. In a small claims court, the damages are usually not worth seeking. Mass tort lawsuits and class-action litigation may make filing the claim worthwhile and get the plaintiffs more than their original claim.
Ease and speed in proving damages
Single lawsuits also place the burden of proof on one person. A mass tort divides the burden of proof among individuals while saving on costs. Since the plaintiffs have the same claims, they likely have the same resources and same pre-trial information, so it speeds the discovery process.
Increased chance of compensation
A mass tort has the benefit of an increased chance of being awarded damages. If a plaintiff waits to file an individual lawsuit, the defendant could file bankruptcy after a class-action case. When a defendant makes themselves judgment proof, only those who filed early get compensated. Numerous claims also put more pressure on a defendant to settle.
Being part of a mass tort ensures that all plaintiff get their share of the settlement based on the severity of their injury at the same time. They are also more likely to receive expert representation in court since mass torts require reviewing expert advice and many documents. These cases also relieve the court from deciding dozens of single lawsuits that could take time.
A mass tort eases the burden of litigation, but once the plaintiff has filed, they can’t bring a civil lawsuit against the defendant. It may be in the plaintiff’s best interest to get legal advice on what to do.