Should My Injury Lawsuit Be a Class Action?
Mass torts vs. civil suit: What you stand to gain in MarylandBy S.M. Oliva | Last updated on January 12, 2023
Use these links to jump to different sections:
Class Action CasesA class action is a special type of civil lawsuit where a small group of representative plaintiffs litigates a case on behalf of a larger group (or “class”). The class action is treated as a single lawsuit. This means the class is essentially treated as a single plaintiff, even if it has thousands—or even millions—of individual members of the class. Maryland courts have specific rules governing class actions. There are four basic preconditions a case must meet before it is “certified,” or permitted to proceed as a class action:
- The class has so many members that it would be “impracticable” for each one to bring a separate lawsuit.
- The class members all have a claim arising from the same set of facts, i.e. they were all injured by the same conduct.
- The representative parties’ particular legal claims or defenses are “typical” of the class as a whole.
- The representative parties can show they will “fairly and adequately” protect the interests of the entire class.
Mass TortsLike a class action, a mass tort refers to a scenario involving a large number of plaintiffs alleging similar misconduct on the part of a common defendant or defendants. The key difference, however, is that a mass tort is not treated as an individual lawsuit managed by a group of representative plaintiffs. Instead, each plaintiff in a mass tort must still prove certain facts relevant to their particular case. So even if one plaintiff in a mass tort is unsuccessful, the other plaintiffs may still proceed. Mass torts are quite common in lawsuits involving defective drugs or medical devices. Thousands of people may be harmed by a particular drug, for example, but each case involves unique medical facts that preclude a class action. But it may be possible to consolidate certain procedural issues through the mechanism of a mass tort, such as having the same judge conduct all of the individual trials and rule on motions regarding the admissibility of evidence common to multiple claims. The decision to bring or join a class action or mass tort should not be made lightly. Even if you might think there is “strength in numbers,” it may still be in your best interest to pursue an individual personal injury case against the company whose actions or defective products harmed you. A qualified Maryland class action lawyer or law firm can review the facts of your case and provide legal advice (often in a free consultation) on the best course of action. For more information on this area of law, see our overview of class action and mass torts.
Additional Class Action/Mass Torts articles
Find top lawyers with confidence
The Super Lawyers patented selection process is peer influenced and research driven, selecting the top 5% of attorneys to the Super Lawyers lists each year. We know lawyers and make it easy to connect with them.Find a lawyer near you