Product recalls are often associated with civil lawsuits that usually have many plaintiffs suing one or a few corporations as defendants. These claims can be brought in state or federal courts. Courts refer to these actions as “mass torts” in part due to the number of litigants, but also because of how the plaintiffs’ attorneys use mass media to discover more people who have been hurt by the corporation. For a lawsuit to be a mass tort, a product must have harmed many people, the same defendant caused those people harm, and they consolidate the suit into one action rather than separate lawsuits.

Advances in technology, particularly production and distribution, are part of the reason why mass torts have become necessary in the legal arena. Because of large production and distribution, large numbers of people can be affected by a single product. Mass tort litigation involves many areas of the law, but the two most common mass tort claims involve:

  • Pharmaceutical Claims – Many pharmaceutical companies release products without proper testing or even knowing there are serious side effects. These can be prescribed drugs, over-the-counter medications, or medical devices.

  • Product Claims – When a product is dangerous or doesn’t act as the consumer expects, the people who were injured by the hazardous device may sue the company through a product claim.

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