Overview of Groundbreaking Mass Tort Cases

  • March 5, 2024

Mass tort litigation is a complex and significant arena in the legal field. These cases often involve a large number of plaintiffs against one or a few corporate defendants. By understanding the most groundbreaking mass tort cases, we can gain insight into the most influential rulings that have shaped the legal landscape.

Agent Orange Litigation

Agent Orange was a herbicide used during the Vietnam War. Over time, its ingredients were found to be highly toxic, resulting in various health issues for veterans exposed to it. The litigation, which took place in the ’80s, resulted in a $180 million settlement – the largest ever in a personal injury case at that time.

The Tobacco Litigation

This was one of the most notable mass tort lawsuits involving giant tobacco companies. The state attorneys general of 46 states filed lawsuits against the four largest tobacco companies in the U.S. In the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, the tobacco industry agreed to curb its marketing tactics and pay an ongoing sum, which has reached over $206 billion.

The Big Pharma Opioid Litigation

The opioid crisis has led to a multitude of cases against pharmaceutical companies. One of the most significant is the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the creator of OxyContin, for their alleged misleading marketing practices and contribution to the opioid epidemic. In 2020, Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty and agreed to an $8 billion settlement.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. The lawsuits filed against British Petroleum (BP) resulted in an initial settlement of $7.8 billion, which has grown to over $65 billion due to subsequent fines and penalties.

The Vioxx Case

Vioxx was an anti-inflammatory drug withdrawn from the market in 2004 due to health risk concerns. Manufacturer Merck & Co was hit with a wave of lawsuits, and in 2007, it agreed to a $4.85 billion settlement to resolve around 27,000 lawsuits.

Talcum Powder Litigation

The Talcum powder litigation involves lawsuits against the Johnson & Johnson company, alleging that their baby powder is associated with ovarian cancer. In 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced it was discontinuing its talc-based baby powder in North America amidst mounting lawsuits that have resulted in billions in legal damages.

These cases highlight the enormous impact mass tort litigation can have, both on public health and corporate responsibility. They signify the power of collective legal action against big entities that fail to ensure the safety of their consumers.


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