The Difference Between, Mass Torts, Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), and Class Actions

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Wondering about the difference between mass torts, multidistrict litigation, and class actions? While these types of lawsuits involve multiple plaintiffs and are similar in many ways, there are important differences. Below, we discuss the differences between mass torts, multidistrict litigation, and class action.


Lawsuit Differences
Mass Torts
  • Plaintiffs maintain individual lawsuits
  • Claims may be filed in multiple courts across the country
Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)
  • Usually occurs when individual mass tort cases are combined to speed up processing and information gathering
  • Plaintiffs still maintain individual lawsuits, but they are consolidated and tried before one judge and one court
  • Mass torts are often consolidated into MDLs
Class Actions
  • Filed on behalf of a large number of plaintiffs with similar complaints
  • All individual claims are combined into one large lawsuit
  • Class members often receive the same payout in the event of a settlement

What Is Mass Tort Litigation?

Mass tort litigation occurs when legal action is taken on behalf of multiple plaintiffs that have similar complaints against one or more companies. Individuals seeking to file a mass tort lawsuit may file at the state level or at the federal level. Plaintiffs maintain separate lawsuits even if the lawsuit is consolidated into multidistrict litigation. If a settlement is reached, the award will differ for each plaintiff based on the specific injuries he or she suffered.

Common Types of Mass Torts

The most common types of mass tort lawsuits include but are not limited to:

  • Injury due to pharmaceutical drugs
  • Injury due to medical devices
  • Injury due to defective products

What are examples of mass tort cases? For examples of mass tort cases, see our Current Litigation page to review the mass tort cases our attorneys are currently investigating and litigating. If you have questions about your specific situation, please contact our firm for a free consultation.

What is Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)?

Multidistrict litigation, or MDL, also involve multiple plaintiffs. This legal action occurs when multiple individuals file lawsuits against a company in federal court due to injury. MDLs are often consolidated mass tort lawsuits. A benefit of the MDL is that it can help streamline the litigation process, as:

  • Individuals may live and file claims in different jurisdictions
  • One judge will oversee the lawsuits and appoint a committee of attorneys

An MDL may result in a mass tort settlement, where the awards differ for each plaintiff based on injuries suffered. If an MDL does not result in a settlement, the plaintiffs may still seek to recover damages through individual lawsuits.

What is a Class Action Lawsuit?

Class action litigation is a third type of litigation that involves multiple plaintiffs. A class action lawsuit occurs when advocates representing a large number of people with the same interests file one large lawsuit against a company. The lawsuit goes before a single court and a single judge. If the lawsuit results in a settlement, each class member is usually awarded the same payout.

Questions About a Potential Mass Tort Lawsuit? Contact Our Team.

Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. is a leading plaintiffs’ firm in the mass tort industry. We help clients across the country with complex and mass tort litigation. If you have been significantly injured by a defective drug, product or medical device, speak to our attorneys. Request a free consultation online or by calling our office at (888) 984-7988 today.

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