QRF for Mass Torts, Insurance, & Consumer Litigation

Mass Torts, Insurance & Consumer Litigation

QRF will organize quickly to bring you immediate legal help through the Court system by taking action to defend cases on every level—from formulating and implementing strategy in multijurisdictional litigation to conducting hearings and trials and pursuing appeals. Our Mass Torts, Insurance and Consumer Litigation group’s vast experience in complex tort and consumer fraud litigation, enable us to work collaboratively to provide seamless, innovative strategies to protect your rights.  We care about getting our client the best result possible. 

QRF defends high-stakes litigation ranging from toxic torts to product liability and product recalls to multi-jurisdictional consumer class actions.  For companies facing enterprise-threatening litigation in hostile venues, settlement may not be an option.  In those cases, our firm offers a formidable bench of seasoned trial lawyers with a record of success in bench and jury trials in state and federal courts across the United States (US).  The team’s success is predicated on the courtroom skills of its trial lawyers and their substantive expertise in handling complex scientific and technical matters.  When complex cases need to be settled, our lawyers craft outside-the-box solutions and draw on the firm’s top-tier QRF to bring them to closure. 

What are Mass Torts? 

A Mass Tort is a case where many people are wrongfully harmed in a similar way, by a similar product. Often by a drug, medical device or defective product, a recent example is the Takata airbag recall, which affects millions of cars. 

A “tort” is a civil – rather than criminal – wrong committed by one person that results in injury to another. (In the legal context, a “person” can be a business or corporation.)  Our civil justice system is founded upon principles of personal responsibility.  As a result, a person who commits a tort is responsible for the harm caused and is liable for the physical and financial damages incurred by the victim. 

As previously mentioned, mass tort cases allow many people harmed by the same person (or, in most instances, the same corporation) to benefit from shared research, efficiency and economy of scale, but still have their cases considered individually.  The cases are pursued as individual lawsuits, often consolidated in the beginning by the Court.  Mass tort cases are frequently confused with class actions, yet mass torts are far different than class actions.  Class actions involve the claims of multiple parties, all brought in the same suit. 

Some mass torts arise out of widespread disasters, such as the Exxon and BP oil spills, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the MGM Las Vegas hotel fire and various airlines crashes.  Others are triggered by government action, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall of automobiles with design defects. Still, others come about as a result of violations by big businesses in antitrust claims, deceptive and fraudulent business practices and security fraud; or from scientific studies that discover previously undisclosed dangers of consumer products, such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices. 

Unique Characteristics of Mass Tort Cases: 

  • A large number of claims which derive from a single product or event:  For example, many patients were injured by the same defective medical device, or numerous neighbors were sickened by the same toxic spill. 
  • All of the claims have factual and legal issues in common:  The cases share identical or similar issues of law and fact associated with a single product, disaster, action or event. 
  • The claimants share a common goal:  The aggregate value of all the claims rise and fall with the outcomes of the individual cases or other critical developments. 
  • Frequently, the cases are consolidated in the beginning:  In an effort to promote judicial economy and promote consistency, one judge decides preliminary issues of law and discovery. 
  • Every claimant has his own, individual case:   Unlike class actions, each claimant retains control over decisions regarding their case. If the case is tried by a jury, most of the time it is tried independently of the other mass tort cases. 

By consolidating mass tort cases for preliminary pre-trial matters, and then trying the cases individually, our court system seeks to balance the interests of injured parties who have a right to have their claims individually addressed against the need for cost-efficient and timely proceedings.  In doing so, lawyers and judges handling mass tort cases borrow some concepts from class action cases, while retaining each injured party’s individual case.   

Distinctions between class action claims and mass tort actions: 

  • In class actions, one representative lawsuit is filed by one or more plaintiffs on behalf of many other claimants who are in the same or similar situations. 
  • There is one trial on behalf of “the class” and when a settlement or verdict is reached, all the members of the class share in the proceeds, often on an equal basis. 

In order to obtain class certification, it is important to show that all of the class members have been harmed in the same fashion.  This is why class action lawsuits generally are inappropriate for plaintiffs who have suffered personal injuries.  Class actions are often used to recover financial losses under consumer fraud laws. 

In mass tort litigation, individual cases are consolidated only for purposes of: 

  • Pre-trial procedures involving generic discovery and causation (document production and review, depositions of fact witnesses and development of expert witness reports and testimony). 
  • Case management briefing and consideration of various legal and evidentiary issues. 
  • Weighing of sufficiency of expert witness testimony. 
  • Resolution of disputes that arise during discovery. 

Each plaintiff’s case proceeds forward individually, and if the case is tried, it is tried individually. Any damages awarded in trial go to the individual, not to a class for later division. 

Scope of Services: 

  • Accident and disaster litigation 
  • Consumer class actions  
  • Crisis management  



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QRF for Mass Torts, Insurance, & Consumer Litigation