Class Actions Protect Consumer Rights against Defective Products through Mass Torts

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( — July 26, 2016) — You probably never want to be involved in a lawsuit, but it happens. When you buy a product, you expect it to work perfectly. It doesn’t always happen. If you’re injured by it, you have rights. Here’s what you need to know.

Mass Torts

According to information from, a mass tort is a civil suit filed against corporations my multiple plaintiffs. Mass torts can exist at the state and federal level. They basically involve a mass number of people who are injured by the same company and are filing a suit together. Rather than have multiple cases heard on the same essential issue, the court hears one case on the issue.

When law offices find a large number of plaintiffs are making the same complaints, they often investigate the legality of the product or service in question. Then, they decide whether any legal action can be taken and compensation received.

Each plaintiff has an individual claim carrying distinct damages. Any information dug up by one attorney in these types of cases is shared with other lawyers to help with cases involving the same defendant. Mass torts differ from standard class action suits because class action lawsuits are filed on behalf of a specified group of people. These people share certain injuries and damages from the same problem. Mass torts and class actions are aimed at reducing the number of court cases that are heard.

Pharmaceutical And Consumer Product Claims

Two of the most common mass torts include pharmaceutical and consumer product claims. Unfortunately, many manufacturers experience mistakes in the manufacturing process. While they’re not malicious in intent, the fact is the mistake happens. And, if consumers are injured, there is a responsibility there. These defective products may not become labeled as such before being used.

Many people have been injured from these kinds of items, and there have been cases where people have been killed. This is especially true in the drug market, where perfect efficacy is not possible, and where drug companies may not have perfect control over manufacturing processes or where drugs with known side-effects are approved by the FDA because they meet minimum safety requirements (which doesn’t make them safe for everyone but rather a majority of people).

All drugs have side-effects, and it’s impossible to know how they will affect individual consumers.

It’s also important to understand the responsibility of the doctors and drug companies it to administer appropriate tests and diagnostics to the patient. They’re also supposed to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean the drug is safe.

Defective Children’s Products

Children are more susceptible to serious injury than adults. A child’s toy may not be totally safe, and may injure a child in ways adults may not be aware of. Many of these injuries will have lifelong consequences including medical rehabilitation costs. They may also suffer mental and physical limitations and handicaps, emotional pain and suffering.

Some of these injuries from defective children’s products also result in the death of the child. This brings up the issue of wrongful death and negligence in civil cases where this happens. Negligence is hard to prove and, believe it or not, so is wrongful death.

A plaintiff must be able to show the company was responsible for the death of the child, and that the company was negligent (in a negligence claim). The company, to be considered negligent, must have known about the problem and done nothing to fix it. This requires substantial proof — proof that’s not always easy to get hold of for a lawyer.

Defective Medical Products

The FDA requires “device user facilities” and manufacturers and distributors to notify the agency about device-related failures or events which may have caused death at some point. They must also notify the FDA about serious injury, or illnesses resulting from the product. Typically, the problems with medical devices are either:

  • Device problems
  • Use problems
  • Clinical problems

These reports are called Medical Device Reports, or MDRs.

Every year, the FDA receives about 100,000 reports through MDR and another 5,000 reports through the voluntary channels, like MedWatch. Because of the way these things are reported, it’s not always apparent that your device has a problem. Unless you are combing through these reports, or have access to them, then you may not know until the FDA announces it, or the company announces it, if they do.


There are many ways products can be defective. Whether through a manufacturing defect, an intentional defect or negligence, or through distribution-related problems resulting in defects, the fact is you need to understand your rights in the matter.

If you suspect you’ve been wronged, you should contact a lawyer specializing in the kind of case you may be involved in. For example, if you suspect you’ve had an adverse reaction to a drug, you should contact a lawyer specializing in legal cases involving pharmaceutical drugs.

You may or may not be able to sue. The important thing is to understand your rights in the matter.

Amelie Curtis works in a law office. Outside of work she enjoys spending her free time writing, and usually focuses on legal topics, helping business owners as well as consumers know more about their rights.