The purpose of class action litigation is to give an average person the ability to take on the largest corporations and private entities, providing them with the chance to redress the wrong done by these entities.
Banding together hundreds—or even hundreds of thousands—of individuals into one lawsuit gives the case more merit and forces the defendant to take notice. For many victims, class action litigation has provided the only meaningful way for redress from widespread discrimination, fraud, and other violations of the law.
What is a Class-Action Lawsuit?
A class action is a type of lawsuit in which the claims and rights of many people are decided in a single case. Specific plaintiffs are named in the lawsuit to assert the claims of the entire class so that everyone with the same claim or injury doesn’t have to file their own separate lawsuit. Also, because they allow people whose damages are too small to warrant an individual lawsuit to try their cases together, class actions can often be the only practical way to stop illegal practices and recover ill-gotten gains. Class action suits have allowed individual people to stand up against the most powerful industries in the world and to hold them accountable for their actions.
What types of cases can be brought as class actions?
The typical class action lawsuit involves a situation where a large group of people is injured by the same conduct. There are four primary types of class action lawsuits:
- Securities Class Actions: Securities class actions are typically brought on behalf of a group of investors who have been injured as a result of a improper conduct, such as misstating earnings, concealing or misrepresenting risks, or otherwise engaging in activity detrimental to a company, partnership, or individual investors.
- Product liability/Personal Injury Class Actions: Product liability and personal injury class action lawsuits are generally brought when a defective product, such as a drug with harmful side effects, or “mass accident”, such as a toxic spill harms many people.
- Consumer Class Actions: Consumer class actions are generally brought when consumers are injured by a company’s systematic and illegal practices. Examples include illegal charges on bills, illegal penalties for late-payments, and failure to comply with consumer protection laws.
- Employment Class Actions: Employment class action lawsuits are typically brought on behalf of employees of a company for violations of the Labor Code, such as unpaid overtime, failure to provide breaks, as well as claims ranging from safety violations to systematic workplace discrimination.
How does a case become a class action?
A class action is generally initiated by one or more people who feel that they, along with a group of other people, have been wronged. A lawyer then files suit on behalf of the individual(s) and the class. At the appropriate time, the lawyer files a motion asking the court to formally recognize the case as a class action. If the court grants that motion, the other people who were similarly wronged are notified of the class action and are given an opportunity to participate in the class action as a member of the “class.”
How many people are needed for a class action?
Although it sometimes helps if several people are named as plaintiffs in the suit, a single person is generally enough to file a lawsuit so long as the attorney for the class has a good faith belief that a number of other people were injured in a similar way. It generally takes at least 30-50 people with similar claims, and sometimes many more, to qualify as a class action.
How much does a class action cost?
Generally, the lawyer advances all of the costs and fees and, if the lawsuit is successful, petitions the court to award attorney fees and reimburse out-of-pocket costs. If the case is unsuccessful, the plaintiff’s lawyer absorbs the loss.
Why would I want my case to become a class action?
People have different reasons for taking part in class actions. Many class members take pride in forcing a giant corporation that is breaking the law to change its ways and in helping to recover often millions of dollars for the other victims. Others bring class actions to recover money that was illegally taken from them, recognizing that they couldn’t afford to pay a lawyer’s hourly fees to bring an individual suit and that their individual claim isn’t large enough to attract a lawyer who works on contingency.
Are class representatives entitled to any additional compensation?
If a class action is successful in winning relief for the class, most courts, understanding that class actions can be a powerful tool for consumers’ rights in society and are to be encouraged, provide class representatives with “incentive awards.” Judges are typically given broad discretion in deciding whether these awards are appropriate and in setting the amounts of the awards, which can range from hundreds of dollars to over $50,000. In deciding how much, if anything, to award to the class representatives, courts look at factors such as the amount of involvement of the class representative and the size of the recovery for the class.
What if I am the target of a class action lawsuit?
If you are the target of a class action lawsuit, CPLS’s Complex Litigation attorneys defend against national class and mass tort actions involving financial services, securities, insurance, electronics, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, food and supplements, building materials, recreational equipment, and other consumer goods and services. CPLS Complex Litigation lawyers are ready to defend nationwide or statewide class actions, including many with potential exposure of billions of dollars.
Class Action Law Firm
CPLS is proud to represent individuals and classes of plaintiffs, government entities, public companies, and private organizations in federal and state class action litigation across the country. Often, we serve in leadership positions, strengthening our reputation as experienced and effective class action litigators. Learn more, by contacting us.