Mass Tort and Class Action Lawyers The attorneys of Stark & Stark’s Mass Tort and Class Action team work tirelessly on behalf of their clients to obtain the maximum compensation for their injuries. Our litigation team handles all types of cases involving defective drugs, defective medical devices and environmental contamination. Those cases generally arise out of a common set of facts or circumstances, and are frequently litigated as mass torts or class actions. Mass tort and class action claims typically consist of claims against drug and medical device manufacturers, and those responsible for environmental hazards, which lead to injuries suffered by numerous plaintiffs. As such, mass torts and class actions provide a cost-effective alternative to lengthy and expensive traditional single-party litigation. Stark & Stark’s Mass Tort and Class Action team is comprised of seasoned firm shareholders dedicated to applying their extensive experience to successfully litigate large, complex mass torts and class actions: Martin P. Schrama Craig S. Hilliard Stefanie Colella-Walsh Kevin M. Hart For almost a decade, our team has managed the Mass Tort Law Blog, a blog dedicated to providing crucial information to the public regarding mass torts and class actions, such as defective drugs, defective medical devices and environmental contamination. Potentially Defective Drugs Stark & Stark’s Mass Tort and Class Action team prosecutes claims against drug makers whose products cause serious injuries to the people who use those products. We hold drug makers accountable when the drugs they market are proven to be defective and cause catastrophic injury to the people who use them. Our attorneys are committed to assisting clients pursue claims against drug makers so that they can be held liable. We work hard to protect the rights of those injured and strive to obtain the maximum compensation possible for our clients and their families. In addition to many other claims we have investigated and are pursuing, our team is currently reviewing cases related to: Belviq Elmiron Incretin Mimetics (Byetta, Januvia/Janumet and Victoza) Metformin Pradaxa Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs – Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Dexilant, Protonix, and Aciphex) Taxotere TDF drugs (Truvada, Viread, Atripla, Complera, and Stribild) Uloric Valsartan Xeljanz Zantac Potentially Defective Medical Devices Stark & Stark’s Mass Tort and Class Action team prosecutes claims against medical device manufacturers whose products cause serious injuries to the people who use those products. We hold medical device manufacturers accountable when the medical devices they market are proven to be defective and cause catastrophic injury to the people who use them. Our attorneys are committed to assisting clients pursue claims against medical device manufacturers so that they can be held liable. We work hard to protect the rights of those injured and strive to obtain the maximum compensation possible for our clients and their families. In addition to many other claims we have investigated and are pursuing, our team is currently reviewing cases related to: Breast Implants Hernia Mesh Hip and Knee Implants IVC Filters Paragard IUD Pelvic/Transvaginal Mesh (TVM) Potentially Defective Products Stark & Stark’s Mass Tort and Class Action team prosecutes claims against manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and retailers whose products cause serious injuries to the people who use those products. We hold manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and retailers accountable when the products they design, manufacture and market are proven to be defective and cause catastrophic injury to the people who use them. Our attorneys are committed to assisting clients pursue claims against manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and retailers so that they can be held liable. We work hard to protect the rights of those injured and strive to obtain the maximum compensation possible for our clients and their families. In addition to many other claims we have investigated and are pursuing, our team is currently reviewing cases related to: E-Cigarettes JUUL Lawsuit Monsanto Roundup Talcum (Talc) Powder Environmental Contamination Stark & Stark’s Mass Tort and Class Action team prosecutes claims against those responsible for putting toxic chemicals in our homes, schools, workplaces and environment, causing serious injuries to the people exposed to those chemicals. In addition to many other claims we have investigated and are pursuing, our team is currently reviewing cases related to any number of toxic chemicals, including: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs – such as Benzene, Tetrachloroethylene-PERC, Trichloroethylene-TCE, Vinyl Chloride) Heavy Metals (such as Arsenic, Chromium, Lead, Mercury) Pesticides Asbestos Mold The team also co-authored the chapter, “Mass Torts and Class Actions in New Jersey” for the New Jersey Environmental Law Handbook, Eighth Edition. Read our blog for more information about environmental contamination. Catastrophic Events Stark & Stark’s Mass Tort and Class Action team is readily available to assist those left wondering if there is any recourse available for the injuries they have suffered after a catastrophic event has occurred. Our attorneys represent clients who have suffered injuries due to various types of crises and natural disasters including industrial accidents, power outages, fires, terrorist attacks and explosions involving pipelines, tankers and wells. Frequently Asked Questions About Mass Torts and Class Actions What is a Mass Tort? A Mass Tort (or Mass Action) involves related circumstances giving rise to claims by numerous plaintiffs against a limited number of defendants. The most common Mass Tort claims involve defective drugs, defective medical devices, environmental contamination, disasters, defective consumer products and the like. Mass Torts are consolidated for certain purposes that permit the court system to manage a large volume of similar, but discrete, claims. Many times, it is the varying liability, damages and procedural issues across individual, or categories of, Mass Tort cases that render those cases less amenable to Class Action treatment and more suited to Mass Action consolidation. What is an MDL (Multidistrict Lititgation)? An MDL (or Multidistrict Litigation) is the manner in which Mass Tort cases filed in federal district courts throughout the nation are consolidated in one federal district court, before a single judge. MDL’s are governed by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML”). The JPML consists of seven appellate and district court judges, each from a different judicial circuit, appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States. These seven judges decide by a majority vote whether to create an MDL, weighing such factors as the commonality of factual and legal issues and the value interdependence between the different claims. The JPML then selects the district court and assigns a judge to preside over the litigation. Each of the cases in the MDL retains its separate identity as it is prepared for trial and the JPML retains the authority to remand any MDL case back to the originating district court for trial. The benefits of an MDL include uniform pleadings, discovery and motion practice before a judge that has the experience and resources to effectively manage complex litigation. The MDL structure also allows for the conservation of court system resources and permits the plaintiffs’ attorneys to pool and maximize their resources. Finally MDL’s are effective in avoiding conflicting rulings and employing specialized case management mechanisms (such as the preparation and use of “bellwether cases”). What is an MCL (Multicounty Litigation)? An MCL (or Multicounty Litigation) is essentially the New Jersey state analog to an MDL. An MCL is the manner in which Mass Tort cases filed in trial courts throughout the state are consolidated in one state court, before a single judge. New Jersey MCL’s are particularly popular in pharmaceutical Mass Tort cases, as many large pharmaceutical companies maintain their principal place of business in New Jersey. This makes it very difficult[i] for those pharmaceutical companies to remove cases brought against them in New Jersey state court to federal district court, due to the “forum defendant” rule (28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2)), as well as the lack of diversity with New Jersey plaintiffs. Many times this will lead to a parallel federal MDL and state MCL. MCL’s are governed by the New Jersey Supreme Court, pursuant to New Jersey Court Rule 4:38A. A party may make an application to establish an MCL to the Assignment Judge of any vicinage, or a party or Assignment Judge may apply directly to the New Jersey Supreme Court. The New Jersey Supreme Court then decides whether MCL status is warranted, based on whether the cases: 1) involve a large number of parties; 2) involve many claims with common, recurrent issues of law and fact associated with a single complex environment or toxic tort; 3) involve geographical dispersement of the parties; and 4) exhibit a high degree of commonality of injury or damages. In addition to these concerns, the court will consider whether centralization will expedite or delay the litigation and whether any party is unfairly prejudiced by MCL status. Once that determination is made, the New Jersey Supreme Court assigns the cases to one of the three sitting Mass Tort judges (there is also a separate judge for asbestos cases) in Bergen, Middlesex or Atlantic counties. Thereafter, the cases proceed in essentially the same manner as an MDL – frequently with some level of coordination between the MCL and MDL courts. [i] Note that the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 may apply to Mass Actions, as well as Class Actions, in certain circumstances. What is a Class Action Lawsuit? A Class Action is a lawsuit brought on behalf of a few named individuals (the class representatives), whose claims represent the similar claims of a much larger group of individuals (the class). The Class Action procedural mechanism, created under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 (and reflected in parallel state rules, such as New Jersey Court Rule 4:32-1), allows for global resolution of common claims. The general requirements for the establishment of a Class Action and certification of a class are: 1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable (numerosity); 2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class (commonality); 3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class (typicality); and 4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class (adequacy of representation). Again, varying liability, damages and procedural issues across many Mass Tort cases frequently render those cases unsuitable to Class Action treatment under the foregoing parameters. This makes the Class Action model more appropriate for cases involving employment, investor/securities, consumer fraud other similar claims. Through the certification of a class of claimants, the Class Action mechanism provides a representative model used to resolve a large number of claims that could not be practicably prosecuted as separate lawsuits. Unlike a Mass Action, a Class Action does not consist of discrete cases, as the class representatives represent the entire class of pooled claims. Like a Mass Action, a Class Action provides for economies of scale and consistency in managing a large volume of claims. Further, a Class Action enables relatively smaller claims that could not be economically pursued on an individual basis, to be prosecuted as part of a class of numerous combined claims. In the past, state-based Class Actions were considered to be, in many circumstances, more favorable to the interests of a putative or certified plaintiff class, but viable state-based Class Actions (and to some extent, Mass Actions) have become much more uncommon, following the enactment of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”). CAFA altered the management and practice of Class Action litigation in federal and state courts. Concern that state courts would be hearing “nationwide Class Actions” that were more properly resolved in federal court, led Congress to expand the federal subject matter jurisdiction over Class Actions. CAFA created federal subject matter jurisdiction where: 1) the proposed class has over 100 members; 2) the aggregated claims of class members exceed $5,000,000, exclusive of costs and interest; and 3) any members of the class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a different state from any defendant. In addition, Congress also expanded a Class Action defendant’s removal opportunity by enacting 28 U.S.C. §1453, which prevents plaintiffs from including claims against in-state defendants for the sole purpose of avoiding removal, allows removal of a Class Action without regard to whether any defendant is a citizen of the state in which the action is brought, allows removal without the consent of all defendants, and eliminates the prohibition on removal of a diversity Class Action to federal court more than one year after the action commenced. What do I do if I would like more information regarding a pending or potential Mass or Class Action? Please feel free to contact Stark & Stark directly at (609) 859-7271, or fill out the form below and one of our attorneys will get back to you by the end of business today. Click here to contact a lawyer Class Action Lawsuit and Settlement Attorneys We are national class action attorneys. Stark & Stark’s Class Action team is comprised of seasoned class action litigators. Unlike many advertisements you may have come across on the internet or seen on television, we are not a marketing group. Stark & Stark is a national law firm of experienced trial lawyers, pursuing cases throughout the country. We have been in business for over 80 years and have over 100 attorneys in offices located throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. If you, or someone you know, would like assistance with a class action claim, or would simply like more information about class actions, please contact us for a free consultation. Click here to contact a lawyer What Are the Different Kinds of Class Action Claims? Stark & Stark’s Class Action team prosecutes claims all over the nation, in numerous federal and state jurisdictions. Our team is dedicated to successfully litigating all types of class action cases, including, but not limited to: Personal Injury Claims (including: drug, medical device and toxic exposure) Employment Claims (including: wage and hour; civil rights/discrimination; LAD; ERISA and employee benefits) Fraud Claims (including: consumer fraud; insurance fraud; and false advertising) Antitrust Claims (including unfair competition; price fixing) Securities Fraud Claims (including: investment fraud; stock fraud) Privacy Claims (including: data breach; and violations of privacy protection statutes) Healthcare and Education Claims (including: civil rights/discrimination; and equal access) Please contact us, confidentially and free of charge, and we will help assess any potential claims. Click here to contact a lawyer How Do I Start a Class Action Lawsuit? Class action lawsuits are basically a way for a group of plaintiffs to pool their resources and combine their claims, in order to fight against large, well-funded defendants. The essential ingredients of a class action include a group of individuals with similar claims, class representatives willing to pursue claims on behalf of the class, and qualified class action attorneys to act as class counsel. Stark & Stark’s Class Action team has represented numerous classes in federal and state courts throughout the nation. We have proven time and again that we work tirelessly to identify and investigate class action claims. We have extensive experience in handling all types of class actions, mass actions and other complex litigation. We have an unparalleled depth of knowledge of the applicable law. Most importantly, we are prepared to dedicate the personnel, time, money and resources required to obtain the best possible results for the class. Allow us to walk you through the procedure of investigating, filing, certifying and litigating class action claims. If you, or someone you know, would like assistance with a class action claim, or would simply like more information about class actions, please contact us for a free consultation. Click here to contact a lawyer How Do Class Actions Work? In order to certify a class, class counsel has to follow the general requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, and demonstrate to the court that: The class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable (Numerosity). There are questions of law or fact common to the class (Commonality). The claims or defenses of the class representatives are typical of the claims or defenses of the class (Typicality). The class representatives will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class (Adequacy of Representation). Depending on the type of class, class counsel will also have to show that that: Common questions of law or fact predominate (Predominance). A class action is the superior way to adjudicate the controversy (Superiority). Class counsel will also have to show that proper notice can be sent to the class. This all sounds very complicated, but Stark & Stark’s Class Action team is ready to walk you through the process. If you, or someone you know, would like assistance with a potential class action claim, or would simply like more information about class actions, please contact us for a free consultation. Click here to contact a lawyer Other Frequently Asked Questions about Class Actions Why Are There Class Action Lawsuits and Settlements? Think of it as the legal answer to David versus Goliath. Class action lawsuits and settlements involve one or a few class representatives that represent a large class of plaintiffs. Alone, the class members might not have the resources to litigate against large defendant corporations. There may also be relatively smaller claims (as compared to the expense of litigating those claims), which would just not make economic sense to litigate individually. Class action lawsuits and settlements allow plaintiffs (including plaintiffs spread out across different states) to ban together to prosecute their claims against well-funded defendants. Class action lawsuits and settlements also permit: pooling of resources; time and money savings for the parties and the court; and consistent outcomes on similar claims. How Does a Class Action Work? A successful class action requires solid legal claims, dedicated class representatives and qualified class action attorneys. A class action lawsuit begins with extensive legal and factual investigation. If that investigation turns up viable class claims, a complaint is filed on behalf of one or a few class representatives that seek to represent a larger class of plaintiffs. The class representatives then have to provide the defendant with discovery, detailing the claims. The class representatives and their attorneys then have to demonstrate to the Court that the class action requirements are satisfied. If successful, the Court will “certify” the lawsuit to proceed as a class action and the members of the class will be notified. If the class action is certified, the class representatives participate throughout the litigation process and make decisions about the conduct of the lawsuit on behalf of the class. The class representatives provide notice to the other class members about the progress of the lawsuit, and the decisions of the Court. After certification, if the class action lawsuit does not settle, the case may proceed to trial. If the class action lawsuit is successful, the class representatives may receive an enhanced monetary award for serving as class representatives. What are the Basic Requirements for a Class Action? In any class action lawsuit or settlement, you basically need four things: A bunch of Plaintiffs (“Numerosity”); Who share issues of fact or law (“Commonality”); That are represented by one or a few individuals with claims like the rest of the class (“Typicality”); and Those representatives will protect the interests of the class (“Adequacy of Representation”). If the class action lawsuit seeks money damages, you will also need to show: Common issues outweigh any individual issues of the class (“Predominance”); and A class action is the best way to handle the litigation (“Superiority”). How Do I Choose the Right Class Action Attorneys? In order to maintain a class action, attorneys have to prove to the Court that they will fairly and adequately represent the interests of the class. This means that the Court will consider the attorneys’: Work in identifying or investigating potential claims; Experience in handling class actions or other complex litigation, and the types of claims asserted in the case; Knowledge of the applicable law; and Resources committed to representing the class. In a nutshell, you need to find class action attorneys that are experienced and knowledgeable. Those attorneys must also be able to dedicate the extensive personnel, time, money and resources required to obtain the best possible results for the class. What is the Difference Between a Mass Tort and a Class Action? A class action involves class representatives that prosecute the claims of all similarly situated individuals in the class. A mass tort involves individuals with claims that are consolidated together for case management purposes, but maintain their separate identity. There is overlap between class actions and mass torts, but they are generally used to fit different situations. For example, a large number of employees with claims that they were not properly paid for overtime work is typically amenable to class action treatment. On the other hand, if there is a large number of patients that were injured by a defective drug, the wide differences in individual dosage, health factors and resulting injuries, usually make those cases more suitable for a mass tort.