What’s the Difference Between a Mass Tort, Class Action Lawsuit, and Multidistrict Litigation? 

By Osborne & Francis
July 18, 2024

You might have suffered an injury due to a defective medical device, a dangerous drug, or a defective product you recently purchased. You're likely considering legal action as a result. If you've researched your options, you might have come across the terms "mass tort," "class action lawsuit," and "multidistrict litigation." To say these terms are confusing is putting it mildly.

The attorneys with Osborne & Francis would like to help clear up any confusion and show you precisely what these terms mean. We'll also be ready to fight for your rights and hold those who caused your harm accountable. Our firm has extensive experience in these cases and has helped our clients obtain millions of dollars in compensation.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch for a free consultation. You can contact us online or call 561-293-2600.

What's a Mass Tort?

A "tort," in legal terms, is an act, or failure to act, that leads to someone being injured or harmed in some manner. A mass tort occurs when hundreds (or thousands) of people are injured or harmed in the same way for the same reason. For example, if many people took the same prescription medicine and developed cancer, they're all part of a mass tort. The legal action they take to obtain compensation for that harm will typically be either a class action lawsuit or multi-district litigation.

What's a Class Action Lawsuit?

A class action lawsuit is a legal action where a group of individuals who have suffered similar harm due to a defendant's actions collectively sue that defendant as a single representative group. In a class action, one or a few individuals, known as class representative(s), represent the interests of the entire class. The court's decision applies to all participants in a class action, and all participants divide the award.

Class action lawsuits are typically appropriate when the number of plaintiffs is large. Still, individual claims might be relatively small, making it impractical for each individual to file a separate lawsuit. Once the class action suit ends, no participants can file individual lawsuits for the same harm or injury they suffered.

Examples of Class Action Cases We Handle

Osborne & Francis attorneys have handled several class action cases over the years. One example is a lawsuit accusing the U.S. Department of Agriculture of unfairly basing loans on race, disability and gender. We represented several Black farmers and helped them obtain a substantial settlement. 

We also represented plaintiffs in a class action suit against the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC). The plaintiffs alleged several parties associated with the AMEC lied about the amount of money in the Church's pension fund. The plaintiffs allege the defendants also spread misinformation regarding how the organization used fund contributions. 

What's Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)?

It can be hard to distinguish between a mass tort and an MDL. Again, a mass tort is the injury suffered by the plaintiffs. If thousands have the same injury, the court may combine all of these mass tort cases into an MDL. An MDL allows federal courts to streamline thousands of cases into one claim.

MDLs allow multiple similar lawsuits filed in different federal courts to be transferred to a single court for pre-trial proceedings. This consolidation streamlines the pre-trial phase by centralizing common discovery, avoiding duplicative efforts, and ensuring consistent rulings on common legal issues.

Courts commonly establish an MDL in mass tort cases where numerous plaintiffs from different jurisdictions have similar claims against the same defendants. Once pre-trial proceedings are completed in the MDL court, individual cases may be returned to their original courts for trial or resolution.

Our Firm’s MDL Experience

Osborne & Francis also has years of experience representing plaintiffs in MDL cases. Here are a few examples:


Doctors prescribe Traysol (the brand name of Aptronin) to help reduce bleeding during heart procedures. According to the results of a study, however, many patients suffered severe side effects after taking the drug. These include kidney failure and kidney damage. Some patients died after using Traysol. Our firm played a major role in helping plaintiffs obtain more than $9 million.


We also represented clients in a lawsuit against the makers of medicines containing acetaminophen. Research shows that when pregnant mothers use drugs that contain the ingredient, their children are at a high risk of developing autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Hip Implants

Osborne & Francis attorneys also helped plaintiffs who suffered injuries after undergoing hip implant procedures. Victims allege they developed severe health problems due to their implants. These issues include thyroid and heart issues and damage to the nervous system. At the time of this writing, the manufacturer was expected to distribute more than $1.4 billion in settlements by the fall of 2023.

Receiving Compensation for a Mass Tort Case

In a mass tort case, compensation for plaintiffs can vary based on factors such as the severity of injuries, the extent of damages, and the strength of the evidence. Plaintiffs may individually reach settlements, verdicts, or judgments. Courts have awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in many mass tort cases. 

The compensation in a mass tort case may cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering. The court may award punitive damages if the defendant's conduct was particularly egregious.

Why Choose Osborne & Francis to Represent You?

Osborne & Francis is a leading law firm experienced in handling complex mass tort cases. With a track record of success and a dedication to providing personalized legal representation, our firm is well-equipped to navigate the intricacies of mass tort litigation. We understand the emotional and financial toll these cases can have on individuals and families. We're committed to advocating for your rights to seek compensation for your injuries or damages. 

We have the knowledge, resources, and dedication needed to guide you through the legal process and help you achieve the best possible outcome. You can schedule a free review of your case by calling 561-293-2600 or using our online form.

T. Andrews

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“Attorneys Greg Francis and Ryan Fletcher at Osborne & Francis Law Firm represented me in my personal injury case.The defendant drew a line in the sand and was adamant on a settlement amount I was almost willing to accept. After the dust settled and the smoke cleared, we settled for 3 times that amount!!! When they say ‘Real Tough Lawyers,’ they mean it.”

J. Davis

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“I couldn’t have asked for a better lawyer/ firm — everything was done professionally exactly how I wanted. Due to COVID my personal attorney Mr. Garcia was still able to make things work in a timely manner and he never made me feel like he wasn’t working. Overall I’m happy with how my case turned out and I would recommend him and this law firm to anyone. 100% satisfied.”

Erica F.

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"Best personal injury attorney around, I could not be happier! I was seriously injured in a car accident and Osborne and Francis helped me through the entire process. I was blown away by how knowledgeable the staff and attorneys are at this incredible law firm. I would not hesitate to recommend this law firm to friends and family!"

C. Smith

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“I am so thankful for EVERYONE, the entire staff at Osborne & Francis Law, for mentoring me through the mediation process with my hip replacement failures. I didn't realize how MUCH pressure they relieved me of by helping me deal with the reality of this traumatic time in my life, as it was OVER so quickly with a positive result. My family is grateful to have their mom HAPPY & FOCUSED on the future, rather than worrying over what happened in the past! FAST FORWARD, we are LIVING LIFE to the fullest once again!”

E. Holland

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Dennis and the other Osborne & Francis staff were amazing! Our case was HUGE and required tender loving care. Everyone on our case did their part by putting all the puzzle pieces together. We were given step by step updates and put at ease when our nerves got the best of us. For every inquiry we made we received a timely response...You are appreciated!


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Quick and fair resolution to a unique case. On advice of my own attorney, I engaged Joseph Osborne of Osborne & Francis of Boca Raton, FL. Mr. Osborne had considerable experience in cases such as mine and the results showed that. Mr. Osborne and his staff were very helpful, kept me up to date, and listened to my input. The settlement was very fair as far as I am concerned.

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