Our body is a machine – an amazing yet pretty frail one which, like any other type of machine, starts to break down eventually. Sometimes we reach this point through our own doing and toxic habits, a sedentary lifestyle, age, prolonged physical (or mental) wear consequences first come to mind. But there are times when it’s the actions of other people that directly impact our well being and resources.
Let’s take the (sadly) frequent occurrence of hernia repair surgeries going wrong for example – does it ring any bells?
The Big Picture
All manufacturers of medical devices must obtain approval, from the Food and Drug Administration, in order to distribute and capitalize on their products. Yet, as history shows, they do not always consider it incentive enough to ensure diligent testing.
Case in point:
the FDA permitted that a number of hernia mesh manufacturers launch their products by means of the 510(k) clearance process, a program which facilitates rapid marketing clearance to devices that are ‘substantially equivalent’ in safety and utilization to existent, FDA standards-abiding devices (provided they maintain the same intended purpose). As a result, defective hernia mesh products ended up on the market, causing an array of post-operative complications and injuries and leading to numerous Hernia Mesh lawsuits.
What You Can Do About It
When a product, a service or a specific circumstance (i.e. an incident, catastrophe, fraud etc.) similarly affects a large group, litigation on an individual basis is far from efficient – in fact, it might just be as close as one can get to the contemporary ‘divide and conquer’ scenario.
Mass tort litigation, a civil action justified by harmful, large-scale effects of technological advancements (involving production and distribution in particular) is a clearly better tool for the job. It’s usually more complex than standard class actions (as plaintiffs’ injuries differ and need to be established, one-by-one, via specific proceedings) and aims to find and act upon the goldilocks spot between group and individually relevant interests.
The best known of mass torts, the ‘Agent Orange Product Liability’ litigation, dates back to 2004.
Vietnam Vets (coordinated by one veteran and his wife) jointly brought suit against big manufacturers of chemical herbicides based on the recurrent, negative health effects – cancer, diabetes, heart conditions and birth defects in offsprings – that they have experienced after being exposed to such herbicides deployed (guerrilla warfare style) during the Vietnam war.
Though an initial $180 million settlement was achieved, veterans with more recently onset heath issues are still carrying on the battle.
Given their seemingly evergreen relevance, mass torts are still a practice today and such is proven by the aforementioned Hernia Mesh lawsuits and similar others (i.e. IVC Filter or Xarelto).
The Fine Print
Although they’re all about personalized recoveries and decent benefits in litigation costs, mass torts are not without difficulties. It takes a significant amount of time and financial resources to prove each party’s injuries and, if medical bills start piling up and work options are scarce, most plaintiffs will end up facing a lot of pressure to compromise and settle.
But running out of money can be prevented; it doesn’t have to be the finish line. Alternative litigation funders can be brought in to mitigate potential settlement constraints. They can help cover medical expenses and legal fees until a fair settlement is achieved.
Funding sources are available for both:
- Plaintiffs, in the shape of non-recourse loans (support for injuries recovery and avoiding bankruptcy), and
- Legal Representatives, through non-recourse loan deals which make it possible for them to receive financing in exchange for a percentage of the contingent fees.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade – that’s wisdom to consider and put to work if needed. Bad things will always happen and good people will unwillingly be caught in the middle. But, in the aftermath, reaction time and clarity are crucial; and there’s no rule to say that you should stand alone.
If litigation is the best way to protect your well being and your rights, reach out to those who face the same predicament and look into mass torts. They represent an innovative way to seek justice against large-scale wrongdoers and get your life back on its rightful track.