Mass Tort & Class Action Litigation

Class action lawsuits or mass tort actions?

If a person has suffered an injury due to a defective product or an incident – and others have suffered similarly – they have a choice as to the legal remedy they can pursue. Each decision has advantages and disadvantages, depending on the circumstances.

Class Action

A class action is a type of lawsuit where a group of people with the same or similar injuries sue the defendant as a group.

Like a mass tort (explained below), every class action has a triggering event, whether an airplane crash or a defective medical device. The claim is then commenced by a Representative Plaintiff who will effectively act as the face of the class.

Once the court certifies the class action, a notice is put out to all potential members of the class to ensure everyone with similar injuries can join in the lawsuit. Keep in mind, however, that a plaintiff who joins a class action forfeits his/her rights to pursue an individual action – unless they provide written confirmation of their desire to opt-out.

When the action is resolved – whether by mutual settlement or trial – everyone in that class is bound by that resolution. The funds from the settlement are then distributed according to the category into which each person falls, which depends on such factors as the severity of their injuries.

Mass Tort

Sometimes it makes sense to pool similar cases together in what is called a mass tort action. This way of proceeding allows plaintiffs to bring an individual case against a defendant alongside what is often hundreds of other individual plaintiffs in the same situation.

Mass tort actions are generally funded through contingency fee agreements, which means a plaintiff to an action does not have to pay expenses related to the case out of pocket while it works its way through the legal system. Instead, legal representatives only receive compensation (a portion of the award) if the action is successful. This means there is substantially less risk for plaintiffs and it can significantly enhance access to justice.

Unlike class action lawsuits, where the representative plaintiff pursues the claim on behalf of the class members, mass tort actions allows for plaintiffs to pursue their cases individually. These plaintiffs may have different interests and assessments of individual damages may vary.

Medical product liability cases are often tried as mass torts because the severity of resulting injuries can vary widely. HSH lawyers have extensive experience handling mass torts relating to such products as:

In these cases, we help determine the extent of your injuries, the damages and compensation you may be entitled to, and whether you would benefit from joining a mass tort action or pursuing your case by way of a class action.

At HSH, we believe mass tort and class actions are important legal tools that can be used to achieve justice for plaintiffs who have been hurt by the conduct of another party. We will always treat you as an individual and consider your unique needs and interests, because you are more than just a file to us.

Among the best in Canada

Since 2011, our peers have consistently voted for us as one of Canada’s top personal injury firms in Canadian Lawyer magazine’s annual rankings of the top personal injury boutiques in Canada.

Howie, Sacks & Henry LLP – Personal Injury Law – Canadian Lawyer Magazine 2023