A class action lawsuit is a legal suit filed against a defendant by a group of individuals with a common interest who may not be able to pursue individual cases. The group assigns the lead plaintiff to file a lawsuit on behalf of all group members. The lead plaintiff works along with their lawyer and communicates updates to the group. The basis of a class action is typically one of the following:
- Defective product
- Illegal corporate practice
- Illegal pay practice
In a class action, one or more class representatives bring their claims on behalf of the entire group of similarly injured people. Other members of the class are informed of the lawsuit and given the chance to participate or opt-out.
CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT EXAMPLES
Common types of class action lawsuits include:
- Employment Class Action: Cases where several employees experience the same employment law violation such as overtime violations, discrimination, and other cases affecting a large group of people.
- Consumer Class Action: Cases where hundreds or even thousands of consumers have been cheated by a bank, lender, or other corporation.
- Defective Products: Cases involving a defective product, like defective Takata airbags or hoverboards.
- Accidents: Cases involving a large, single accident, such as an airplane, bus or train crash.
- Civil Rights Class Action: Cases involving a large group of people whose civil rights were violated.
Benefits of a Class Action Lawsuit
Class action lawsuits are beneficial if:
- Many people suffered a similar type of harm.
- A class action lawsuit is the only option for fair compensation based on the size of an individual claim and the cost of litigation versus settlement returns. Some claims are too small to file on an individual basis.
- Some users want to opt-out of the class action filing. If you were not harmed or if you want to pursue an individual action against the defendant, you can opt out of the class action. You cannot file an individual lawsuit if you agree to the terms of the class action.
- Multiple people have the same claim but a better chance of securing a fair outcome together. For example, if one person files a claim because of a mislabeled product, it may not go anywhere. On the other hand, if 1,000 people have the same claim, they have a better chance of securing a fair outcome.
- The suit allows consumers and groups of people to enact meaningful change. Oftentimes, class action litigation initiates change in large corporations for improved safety and practices.
While these cases can take time to resolve, they are often the most efficient way to handle certain legal matters.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE INVOLVED IN A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
Once a class action is certified, the court will order that individuals impacted receive a notification. Typically, this is done through direct mail, email, or other media. In many cases, impacted individuals are automatically included in the case, although someone can also choose to opt-out.
Typically, only the lead plaintiff or plaintiffs work directly with the class action attorneys. Other individuals do not have to take part in the case unless they have evidence to offer.
At the end of a class action lawsuit, the court must approve any settlement and division of recovered funds. The court must also approve the attorneys’ fees and costs.