What Are the Most Common Types of Mass Torts?

The most common types of mass torts include defective products, toxic exposure, dangerous drugs, natural disasters, and human-caused catastrophes.

Mass torts are a type of civil litigation that allows multiple injured parties to seek compensation from the entity responsible for their losses. Mass torts claims are usually filed by a group of people who suffered injuries from the same organization’s negligence. 

What Are the Most Common Types of Mass Torts? 

There are many different kinds of mass torts claims, including:

Defective Products

Product liability claims for defective products are the most common type of mass torts claim. When a company designs, manufactures, distributes, or sells a product, it must ensure that those products work safely and as intended. When a consumer is injured by a defective product, they can sue the responsible party for damages. 

Recent product liability mass torts claims include:

  • 3M Combat Arms Earplugs (MDL 2885): Over 260,000 claims allege that 3M Combat Arms Earplugs failed to protect the hearing of military members who used them in training and combat.
  • Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder (MDL 2738): Consumers were exposed to cancer-causing asbestos in J&J talcum powder
  • Philips Respironics CPAP, BiPAP, and Ventilator Machines (MDL 3014): According to claims, sound-attenuating foam in these products breaks down, allowing dangerous particles to enter the user’s airway, lungs, and sinuses.
  • Davol Inc./C.R. Bard Polypropylene Hernia Mesh (MDL 2846): Lawsuits state that faulty mesh causes health complications in patients, including infection, mesh migration, and implant rejection.

Many product liability claims are associated with recalled products, but the product doesn’t have to be recalled for you to file a product defect lawsuit. Product liability claims may include defective design, defective manufacturing, or failure to warn of known hazards. 

Toxic Exposure

Toxic exposure mass torts claims seek damages for victims of exposure to toxic substances. Such claims hinge on proving that the responsible party knew of the risks of exposure and failed to provide adequate warning or protection. Examples of toxic exposure claims include:

  • 3M Aqueous Firefighting Foam (MDL 2873): Lawsuits claim that PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam caused health problems and fatal cancers, especially for firefighters, first responders, and people who lived near high-usage areas.
  • Roundup Herbicide (MDL 2741): Victims filed claims against Monsanto for cancer they allege came from exposure to Roundup chemicals.

Harmful Drugs

FDA regulations for drugs attempt to eliminate dangerous side effects. Unfortunately, drugs with harmful properties still end up on the market regularly. Defective drug design, lack of testing, faulty manufacturing, and inadequate labeling all contribute to mass torts claims against pharmaceutical companies for harmful drugs. Some recent dangerous drugs mass torts claims include:

  • Proton-Pump Inhibitors (MDL 2789): Claims allege that patients on proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) experienced acute and chronic kidney injuries related to PPI use. 
  • Invokana (MDL 2750): Complaints state that patients with Type II Diabetes who used Invokana to control blood sugar experienced serious side effects, including ketoacidosis, kidney infection, sepsis, and increased risk of amputation.
  • Elmiron (MDL 2973): Lawsuits against Janssen Pharmaceuticals allege that patients who took Elmiron to treat interstitial cystitis (IC) experienced vision loss, eye damage, and blindness.

Natural Disasters

While natural disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods don’t typically have an at-fault party, mass tort claims often arise against insurance companies who refuse to pay claims related to the disasters. 

Structural instability, infrastructure failure, and poor city planning can also be causes for mass tort natural disaster claims. Examples of mass tort claims related to natural disasters include:

  • Hurricane Katrina Canal Breach (MDL 4182): This mass tort litigation claims that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was responsible for levee failures that caused severe flooding during Hurricane Katrina.  
  • Farmers Insurance Hurricane Litigation (MDL 21-0530): Texas courts consolidated numerous cases that claim Farmers Insurance failed to provide timely and adequate settlements for claims related to Hurricane Ike in 2020. 

Human-Caused Catastrophes

Unlike natural disasters, human-caused catastrophes occur when organizations directly cause a large-scale disaster. Oil spills, fracking earthquakes, water table contamination, and other incidents can be traced back to human error, negligence, or willful actions. 

A major example of mass tort litigation for human-caused catastrophes is the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (MDL 2179). This lawsuit included approximately 3000 claims against British Petroleum (BP) for personal injury and wrongful death damages. 

What is the Purpose of a Mass Tort Claim? 

The goal of a mass tort claim is to reduce the time and resources of trying multiple cases against the same entity. For all the above mass torts claims, enough lawsuits were filed against the manufacturer, distributor, or other liable parties to justify combining those cases in one multi-district litigation (MDL). 

If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to an organization’s negligence, you could join an existing mass torts claim or file your own lawsuit. If enough people file independent cases against the same company, they may be combined into an MDL. 

Difference Between Mass Torts Claims and Class Action Lawsuits

While class action lawsuits and mass torts claims sound similar, they have important differences that can affect the way your case proceeds. Class action lawsuits consolidate similar claims into one lawsuit, while MDLs keep the cases separate. Once the pre-trial proceedings are complete for an MDL, the cases are remanded back to their original federal jurisdiction for trial. 

Since MDLs are tried individually, claimants don’t have to prove that their case fits within strict parameters, as they do with a class action. Finally, class action claims divide the settlement evenly among all the claimants, while a mass tort lawsuit tailors the settlement or award to each case. This makes MDLs particularly useful for cases that involve a wide range of injuries with varying degrees of severity.

A Mass Torts Attorney Can Assist With Your Claim Against a Large Company 

Whether you were injured due to a dangerous drug, defective medical device, or toxic exposure, you deserve compensation for your losses. Fill out our online form to seek assistance from a mass torts lawyer in your area.