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What Is A Mass Tort Lawsuit In California?

A tort is a civil wrong. A tort can be negligence, battery, or trespass. A mass tort is a tort that causes damage to a lot of people. That damage could be personal injury or property damage.

People who have been injured or damaged in a mass tort can file one lawsuit against the responsible defendant. That’s a mass tort lawsuit. Common examples are a defective drug or a wildfire that causes damage.

What Is A Class Action Lawsuit In California?

A class action lawsuit happens when one person, the claim rep, files a lawsuit on behalf of other people, the class, who are affected by the same issue, which could be a tort. Common examples are consumer fraud or employment practices.

Why You May Want A Mass Tort Not A Class Action

Let me explain with a table.

Mass TortClass Action
Each person is treated individually. People are treated collectively. One person represents everyone else.
Each person’s damages are treated differently. Damages can vary. Everyone’s damages are treated the same. Damages do not really vary.
Damages are assessed individually.Damages are distributed according to a formula.
Could be individual “bellwether” trials.One trial for everyone.

Why Not File Individual Lawsuits For the San Diego Floods

Easy. Because there is strength in numbers. You don’t want to be David pitted against Goliath.

Why A Mass Tort Lawsuit Is Needed For The San Diego Floods

The January 2024 San Diego floods were catastrophic. A mass tort lawsuit is needed because everyone’s damages are different. No one should be lumped together and be subject to some formula. There should be individualized damage assessments for each person affected by the San Diego floods. Compensation is more tailored and fair. Damages would be divided in a class action.

Also, a mass tort could lead to more efficient negotiation and resolution. Instead of trying to settle one class action lawsuit, a defendant could settle individual claims within the mass tort. Settlement can be more nuanced.

Questions? Contact Me for a free consultation!

Evan Walker

Evan W. Walker is a La Jolla attorney who has practiced law since 2008. He has practiced law throughout California, Connecticut, and Louisiana.

Evan worked for and defended insurance companies during the first 7 years of his practice. Since 2015, he has represented people with personal injury and property damage claims and insurance disputes.

Evan’s practice is devoted to serious personal injury claims and catastrophic property damage claims. Areas of focus include security claims against bars and other businesses, government tort claims, fire and flood claims, and inverse condemnation. On behalf of clients, Evan has fought insurance firms, international companies, cities, bars, and casinos.

Evan regularly shares his expertise with other attorneys by teaching courses on insurance and inverse condemnation. He has taught several continuing legal education courses to Attorney Credits, a nationwide CLE company, and ProLawCLE, another nationwide CLE company. He also contributes to various podcasts and publications.


  • Member, State Bar of California
  • Member, San Diego Bar Association
  • Member, Consumer Attorneys of California
  • Member, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego
  • Member, La Jolla Bar Association
  • Member, La Jolla Village Merchants Association
  • Member, San Diego Chamber of Commerce