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6 High-Profile Mass Tort Cases

6 High-Profile Mass Tort Cases

Mass tort cases involve harms caused to a large number of plaintiffs by a defendant or group of defendants. These complex legal cases can involve thousands or even millions of plaintiffs seeking compensation. Some of the most notorious mass tort cases have involved dangerous products, environmental disasters, and corporate negligence. Here are six high-profile examples.

1. Asbestos Litigation

Asbestos litigation is considered the longest-running mass tort case in U.S. history. Asbestos is a mineral once used widely in construction and other industries before its serious health risks were fully understood. Since the 1970s, defendant companies like Johns Manville have faced lawsuits from hundreds of thousands of plaintiffs who developed mesothelioma, lung cancer and other diseases after asbestos exposure. The ongoing litigation has led to billions in payouts.

2. Tobacco Litigation

For decades, tobacco companies concealed evidence that smoking caused cancer and emphysema. Massive class action suits in the 1990s and 2000s against firms like Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds resulted in a Master Settlement Agreement requiring tobacco companies to change marketing practices and pay states billions for smoking-related healthcare costs.

3. BP Oil Spill

After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion, nearly 5 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico in the largest marine oil spill ever. Fishermen, property owners and businesses filed class action suits against BP and other defendants for economic losses. BP ultimately paid over $60 billion in fines, penalties and settlements.

4. Vioxx Litigation

Merck’s prescription painkiller Vioxx was linked to an increased cardiac risk. After Merck voluntarily recalled the blockbuster drug in 2004, thousands sued the company for heart attacks and strokes allegedly due to Vioxx. Merck paid $4.85 billion to settle most Vioxx claims. The litigation highlighted drug safety issues.

5. Volkswagen Emissions Scandal

In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to intentionally programming diesel engines to activate emissions controls only during emissions testing. The “defeat devices” allowed illegal amounts of pollution.  The company settled criminal and civil charges for $20+ billion. Car owners also filed class actions demanding compensation for fraud and loss of vehicle value.

6. Zantac Litigation

The heartburn medication Zantac, sold by many companies, was discovered to contain NDMA, a probable carcinogen, prompting recalls starting in 2019. Thousands of cancer patients who had taken Zantac filed lawsuits against manufacturers like Sanofi and Pfizer for failing to disclose the risk. This mass tort litigation is still ongoing.

These landmark cases show how mass tort litigation helps hold companies accountable while providing some measure of justice to harmed individuals. They often spur changes preventing future wrongdoing. Mass tort cases will likely continue playing a crucial role for plaintiffs combating negligence and malfeasance by wealthy corporations.

If any of these issues have affected you, contact a personal injury law firm like us. You can visit one of our offices at the following addresses, where you can talk to an experienced attorney about your case.

  • 2005 West Main St. Tupelo, MS 38801
  • 406 Galleria Dr., Suite 7 Oxford, MS 38655
  • 5100 Poplar Ave., Suite 2700 Memphis, TN 38137
  • 1671 Lelia Dr Suite B, Jackson, MS 39216

Call us today for a free consultation, on (888) 484-1476.

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2005 West Main St. Tupelo, MS 38801


406 Galleria Dr., Suite 7 Oxford, MS 38655


1671 Lelia Dr Suite B, Jackson, MS 39216


5100 Poplar Ave., Suite 2700 Memphis, TN 38137


905 Main Street, Columbus MS 39701

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