Class action and mass tort lawsuits are universally recognized as high-stakes litigations. Given the publicity following the slew of eye popping settlements and jury verdicts generated over the past two decades, such a response is understandable. Everyone is familiar with the astronomical settlements and verdicts obtained in recent years in the cases involving Vioxx, Yaz, NFL concussion, the Volkswagen emission scandal, Pinnacle hips, Stryker hips, and “kids-for-cash.” While the public and media focus on the awards and parties involved, they often ignore the fact that these cases, which regularly last in excess of five years, involve clashes between the titans of the legal profession debating some of the most hotly contested factual, scientific, legal and procedural issues courtrooms have ever seen. Over my career, I have had the opportunity to represent clients in both class action and mass tort litigations. Attorneys representing plaintiffs and defendants in these types of cases recognize the benefits of having a large number of injured people aggregated in a single forum, which allows the matters to proceed in an extremely efficient manner helping to facilitate the timely resolution of the numerous claims. While class actions and mass torts share many similarities, they are not the same and have very unique and significant distinctions.
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