Mass Tort vs. Class Action: What’s the Difference?

What is a Mass Tort?

A mass tort is a legal action that involves a large number of plaintiffs who have suffered similar harms or injuries as a result of the same product, device, or action. These cases are typically handled in a consolidated manner, with one court overseeing all of the claims. Mass tort cases hold corporations accountable for their actions and allow victims to seek compensation for their injuries.


Mass tort and class action lawsuits are similar in that they are both legal actions that involve multiple plaintiffs seeking compensation for similar injuries or damages.  However, there are differences in the legal process and compensation between the two types of lawsuits.  

The main difference between a class action lawsuit and a mass tort is that in a class action, all plaintiffs are represented by one or more individuals (the class representatives), whereas in a mass tort, each plaintiff has their own individual case.  Therefore, a mass tort lawsuit allows for more individualized attention and potential for higher compensation.

The differences are outlined below:

Mass Tort

  • Individual claims brought together in a single lawsuit
  • Each plaintiff has their own individual attorney
  • Compensation is individual and based on individual circumstances and extent of injuries

Class Action

  • One representative plaintiff filing a claim on behalf of a larger group of people
  • Represented by a single lawyer or group of lawyers
  • Compensation is divided between all members of the class


When it comes to mass tort cases, there’s a lot to consider. Plaintiffs file cases for a variety of reasons, including defective products. For example, some mass tort cases have involved defective medical devices such as hip implants or hernia mesh. Examples of some mass tort cases include:

Roundup Lawsuits– A major example of a mass tort case is the ongoing litigation surrounding the weed killer, Roundup. Many individuals have claimed that exposure to Roundup has caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers. Multiple trials have resulted in large verdicts against the manufacturer, Bayer.  If you were exposed to Roundup and later developed cancer, you may be eligible to file a claim and receive compensation.

Medical Devices – From hip replacements to birth control implants, defective medical devices can cause serious injuries or even death. One current example is the Exactech Joint Replacement Lawsuits.  

Exactech Joint Replacement- The FDA issued a recall for Exactech joint replacement devices that were manufactured between 2004 and August 2021.  The packaging for the devices, including knees, hips, and ankles, were found to be defective by missing an oxygen barrier that protects the devices from oxidation.  The oxidation of the devices before impanting them into the patient can lead to premature wear and tear, excessive damage to the device, fractured components, and device failure.  The remedy for the early breakdown of the devices is an additional surgery to correct and replace the device. If you had a joint replacement with a device manufactured by Exactech between 2004 and August 2021, you might be affected.

Hernia Mesh Complications- Hernia mesh is a medical device used during hernia repair surgeries. Unfortunately, many patients have experienced complications from these devices such as infection, chronic pain, and even organ perforation. These complications have led to major mass tort cases.

Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit- The use of hair relaxers, such as Dark & Lovely, Just for Me, Olive Oil, Optimum Care, etc., have recently been linked to increasing the risk for certain types of cancers.  There have been a number of lawsuits filed against the manufactures from women who have developed uterine fibroids or cancer that they believe is attributed to the use of these products. Cancers linked to hair relaxers include: endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer related to the use of hair relaxer, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the company for compensation. 


Anyone who has suffered harm or injury as a result of a specific product or action can file a mass tort. This includes individuals, families, and businesses that have been affected by the same issue. However, it is more common for plaintiffs to join an existing mass tort lawsuit rather than file their own individual claim. It is important to consult with an experienced attorney to determine the best course of action for your specific case.


The legal process in a mass tort typically involves several phases, including pre-trial discovery, where evidence is gathered and examined, and settlement negotiations between the plaintiffs and defendants. If a settlement cannot be reached, then the case may go to trial.  In a trial, a judge or jury will determine liability and damages.


Mass tort claims can be complex and difficult to navigate. The amount of compensation can vary significantly depending on the specifics of the case. In general, there are two main ways that compensation is determined: settlements and jury awards.  

Settlements are agreements between the two parties in a court case to resolve the matter outside of court. Settlements might involve a lump sum payment to the plaintiffs or an agreement to pay medical expenses and other damages. Jury awards, on the other hand, are financial awards determined by a jury in a court of law.

These awards can be quite substantial and are meant to cover a wide range of expenses, such as medical bills and lost wages. In some cases, plaintiffs may also be eligible for punitive damages, which are payments made by the defendants as a punishment for their actions. Overall, the compensation for mass tort claims will depend on the strength of the evidence, the severity of the injuries, and the competence of the plaintiff’s legal team.


Many people hesitate to pursue mass tort cases because they’re concerned about how much it will cost in legal fees. However, our law firm works on a contingency fee basis. This means that we don’t get paid unless we win your case.  


Mass tort cases can be complex and time-consuming, and they often involve significant financial resources. However, they can also provide assistance to individuals harmed by a company’s actions by recovering compensation for their injuries.

A personal injury lawyer can guide you through the legal process. They can assist you by evaluating your case, negotiating settlements, and representing you in court if necessary. At Winocour Law, we work tirelessly to protect our clients’ rights and recover fair compensation for their injuries. All case consultations are free so let us help determine if you have a claim. There can be time limitations for filing your claim so you should seek legal representation as soon as possible.

If you think you have a claim or have any additional questions, please contact us at 214-575-6060 or by email at