Mass Tort Vs Class Action: What’s the Difference?

Mass Tort Vs Class Action: What’s the Difference?

Understanding the differences between mass tort and class action lawsuits is fundamental to knowing what kind of lawsuit pertains to you and how you can be financially compensated. For anyone who is not in the legal field, differentiating between these two lawsuits might be tricky because there is a fair amount of overlap in their procedural similarities. 

Both of these forms of litigation include procedural actions that involve:

  • A big group of plaintiffs that assert they have been harmed in some way
  • A defendant or defendants that are considered responsible for that harm
  • Lawsuits that have been condensed into a single action

While sharing these characteristics and producing comparable judicial relief, the principal differences arise in how the plaintiffs are handled during these proceedings.

Class Action

Mass Tort Vs Class Action: What's the Difference?


A class-action lawsuit is one that has been filed on behalf of a large group of similarly-injured victims. This group is referred to as a class and they are regarded as a single plaintiff, not as individuals. An attorney will file the suit on behalf of the entire class. Once the attorney gets the go-ahead to proceed, the class is approved to proceed with the lawsuit. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure state that the conditions for a class action are:

  • The class is so large that joinder (the act of bringing all individual plaintiffs together) is unreasonable
  • There are queries regarding a fact or law common to the class
  • The defenses or claims of the representative party (in this case, the attorney) are distinctive of the defenses or claims of the class
  • The representative party will honestly and sufficiently defend the interests of the class

Mass Tort

In opposition to a class action, individual claims that cite the same defect or product that are not approved to be processed as a class action are known as mass tort claims. Mass tort lawsuits make it possible for individual claims to be packaged as one for pre-trial procedures in order to save money and time. However, although a member of a much bigger group, each plaintiff is viewed as an individual and sues the defendant independently in their own lawsuit. In these situations, each plaintiff will be required to factually demonstrate in a court of law how they were harmed by the alleged actions of the defendant.

Mass tort lawsuits can develop in a few distinct ways:

  • Individual plaintiffs claim they were injured as a result of exposure to a particular kind of product
  • Several plaintiffs unite and claim they suffered comparable injuries as a result of exposure to a particular kind of toxic item or product
  • Lawsuits are filed by multiple plaintiffs, all of which derive from the outcome of a distinct event

While both mass tort and class action address numerous victims with similar injuries that only occurred because of someone else’s negligence, the fundamental distinction between these two is the way plaintiffs are handled as either a member of a much bigger group in class action lawsuits or as singular plaintiffs within a group in mass torts.

If you or someone you love believe that you have endured some kind of harm at the hands of a faulty or defective product or the carelessness of another person, we want you to reach out to our experienced mass tort attorneys. The legal team at Metro Law has a well-founded reputation for successful claims in cases concerning medical malpractice, premises liability, defective pharmaceuticals, and additional mass tort claims. Give us a call at (800) 469-6476 to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.