A class action is a legal device used to efficiently litigate a lawsuit in which a large number of people have incurred damages by another person or business’s wrongful or fraudulent actions. In a class action, one or several named plaintiffs stand in for the entire class of people who suffered a similar harm.
Class actions are often used to get justice for people who were harmed by torts committed by large corporations. In many cases, the damages to each aggrieved individual are too small to warrant the significant time and expense associated with filing a lawsuit. Therefore, without the class action tool, a single individual’s claim would be stymied by expensive court costs and an aggressive defense mounted by the corporation’s defense lawyers.
Class action lawsuits often involve defective products, consumer fraud, financial securities and environmental catastrophes. For example, some common class action lawsuits include matters involving the following:
- Price-fixing of services or commodities,
- Oil spills,
- Fraudulent stock manipulation,
- False advertising,
- Defective products, and
- Employment matters such as wage laws.
As a class member, upon successful resolution of the claim, you may recover compensation for damages or losses you have incurred as the result of a corporations wrongful conduct.
Prerequisites of a Class Action Lawsuit
Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth the prerequisites to filing a class action lawsuit. Four elements that must be met include:
- Numerous plaintiffs;
- Common questions of law or fact;
- Claims of the plaintiffs are typical of the class; and
- The representative parties will protect the interests of the class.
How do I Join a Class Action?
Usually, members of a class action will be joined automatically and action is only required if you want to opt out from the class. However, in some instances, class actions can be filed as “opt-in” and you may need to submit a request to join. If you have questions about how to join a specific class action you can contact counsel representing the named plaintiffs to discuss your rights.
Why have Class Actions Gotten a Bad Rap?
Mega-corporations and lobbying groups have tried to undermine class actions by setting forth the image that the lawyers are the only “real winners” in a class action suit. This is part of a long effort by big business and the insurance industry to dismantle a person’s right to a civil jury trial which is guaranteed under the 7th Amendment to the Bill of Rights.
The truth is that before a settlement occurs, it will be carefully examined by the court to determine if it is fair and just. The judge presiding over the case must give the class notice of any settlement, provide class members an opportunity to voice their opinions and object to the settlement, and approve the amount of attorneys’ fees (which is usually determined by time and expenses spent on litigation and must be fair and reasonable) before a class action settlement may occur.
Without class actions lawsuits, big business would essentially become immune from liability for many types of wrongful conduct. Citizens would no longer have the ability to protect and safeguard their rights through the civil justice system, and people would be unable to seek recourse for damages they have incurred through the business misconduct.
Need a Class Action Attorney? Call the Wieand Law Firm
If you think you were the victim of deceitful business practices or purchased a defective product and would like to investigate a potential claim, call the Wieand Law Firm at (215) 666-7777 or fill out a description of your claim in the online form.
Disclosure: This website and is intended for information purposes only. This summary of class actions does not create an attorney-client relationship nor does it constitute specific legal advice. You should consult with an attorney if you have questions regarding a class action lawsuit.
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