Class action lawsuits render one jury verdict, which is followed by one award. If there is a settlement, it is also a common settlement. Strictly defined, a class action lawsuit is one where multiple parties are suing the defendant together and are represented by one named plaintiff. A class action lawsuit is a way for someone who has been harmed to be able to file a lawsuit against the alleged wrongdoer without having to go through the burden and effort of a full-fledged trial.
Who Can File a Class Action Lawsuit?
If you have been harmed by a prospective defendant, you can file a lawsuit against them seeking compensation. Whether or not the lawsuit becomes a class action is determined after the lawsuits have been filed. In other words, anyone can file a class action lawsuit, but whether it achieves class action status is determined by the court. The prerequisite for being able to file a class action lawsuit is that you have suffered some sort of injury. This could be a financial harm or a physical one. If there is an injury that many others have also suffered, one may file a class action lawsuit, especially if the number of plaintiffs is so numerous that it would be impractical for individual lawsuits to be filed. To find out whether you are a candidate for filing a class action lawsuit, you should consult with an attorney to learn more about the requirements.
How Do I File a Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit begins in the same way as any legal action would. To begin the process of filing this lawsuit, a complaint would be filed with the court. The complaint should describe the harm that you have suffered and would state your claim for relief. The complaint would also include the laws that you believe the defendant violated. When there is a potential class action lawsuit, there are usually many other lawsuits pending about the same exact set of facts by other plaintiffs who have either already filed or will be shortly be filing their claims. The court will look at the factors involved and may hold a hearing to decide whether or not these lawsuits can all be joined together as one. If the court grants class status, it will then decide upon a lead plaintiff for the class action. This individual will be the named party and represent the class to the court. The class action lawsuit must be filed with the proper court and within the statue of limitation, or timeframe for filing such suits.
How Do I Join an Existing Class Action Lawsuit?
When there is a class that has been certified by the court, notice must be provided to all prospective class members. You will generally receive this notification through the mail. The good news about joining a class is that it is relatively easy and there is not much that you need to do, since the lead plaintiff has likely already been appointed. As long as you meet the definition, you are automatically enrolled in the class. In fact, the only way out of the class is to opt out of it. This means that you do not need to do any work on the case as long as the case is pending. Once the case settles, you would be notified and given the ability to file a claim for your portion of the settlement. There is a limited category of cases that will require you to affirmatively file an opt-in notice. In general, all that is required is to read the notice and submit your claim so you are automatically part of the class that will receive compensation if there is a verdict or settlement.
How Many People Do You Need to File a Class Action Lawsuit?
In order to actually file a class action lawsuit, only one person is needed. As you will see below, the requirement for numerous possible plaintiffs is enforced after the case has been filed and the court decides whether or not to certify the class. In other words, if you file a lawsuit and you are the only person who is suing the company, your lawsuit will not be given class status, but you can still sue the defendant.
What are the Requirements of a Class Action Lawsuit?
The Class Action Complaint
A class action lawsuit has the same requirements as a regular lawsuit in additionn to meeting a rule that is specifically for class action lawsuits. The class action lawsuit begins with the complaint and, like any legal complaint, it must lay out a valid claim for relief. This means that you have:
- Shown that the court where you are filing the complaint has jurisdiction over the matter
- Included a short and plain statement of the claim showing that you are entitled to relief
- Made a demand for the type of relief that you are seeking.
What You Must Prove for Class Certification
After that, the court will examine whether your class can be certified. Certification is preferred because it makes your case easier and more efficient. There are federal rules that dictate whether or not a class can be certified. In order to have your class certified, you must prove the following:
- You must have so many possible plaintiffs that requiring them to proceed individually as their own separate lawsuit is not practical.
- There are matters of law and or fact that are commonly applicable to the entire class. In other words, everyone who is part of the proposed class would have suffered the same injury from the same use of the product.
- The claims or defenses of the class are the typical and usual claims and defenses that the class members would make.
- The class representative will adequately and fairly represent and protect the interests of the class. In other words, whoever is appointed as the represented must be trusted to prosecute the case in a way that advances the interests of the entire class and does nothing to harm their legal rights.
What are the Different Types of Class Action Lawsuits?
Consumer Class Action – In some cases, companies that sell a product could commit various violations of the law, including false advertising or failing to give customers the benefit of the bargain for which they have paid. Consumers are protected when they buy something that turns out to be different from what they were promised. An example of this is when a company overcharges customers for a product, such as when a cell phone provider double charges a fee.
Product Liability – When there is a defect in the product, whether it is in the manufacturing or the design, or the manufacturer fails to warn customers of a safety issue, anyone involved in selling the product to consumers can be held responsible in a class action lawsuit. An example of this is a class action against the manufacturer of airbags when it was revealed that its airbags had the propensity to explode on impact.
Securities – When investors of a security have made purchases based on a misrepresentation by the company, that company can be held liable to its shareholders. An example of this is when a company misstates their revenues on their balance sheet or makes a false forecast of future revenues. When owners of that company’s shares or bonds have lost money, they can file a lawsuit to recoup the losses that were caused by the company’s misrepresentation.
Employment Class Action – Sometimes, a corporate practice can impact many of the employees. The most common example of this is when the company violates wage or overtime laws. Other instances that can give rise to this type of lawsuit is a corporate pattern of discrimination. Note that for certain types of employment class actions, the plaintiff will actually have to opt into the lawsuit as opposed to automatically becoming a plaintiff.
When you have an initial consultation with a lawyer, you will need to bring some sort of documentation to help demonstrate the facts of the case. While you do not need to bring each and every single document related to your case, you should bring enough that the lawyer will be able to get an initial impression of your case. This may include pictures or other important pieces of evidence that can present a visual picture of what happened. The first person who you need to convince that your case has validity is an attorney since they will be investing their time and effort into the case, and they will not be paid if your case goes nowhere.
You also need to bring a clear and cogent statement of your case. This does not have to be in writing, but you need to have some presentation of what happened to you and be able to clearly relay it to the lawyer with whom you want to work. You will also need to have an open mind in order to heed some suggestions that the lawyer may make to you about how best to proceed with your case.
When there is a class action lawsuit, there may be tens of thousands of possible plaintiffs. There could not be an effective case if each one had the ability to represent and make decisions for the class. The court will appoint a lead plaintiff who is tasked with the responsibility of acting as the representative for the class. The lead plaintiff will actively participate in the lawsuit, which may involve having a role in discovery or even testifying. This is in contrast to every other class member who is largely passive during the case. It is the lead plaintiff who hires the lawyer, agrees to the settlement, and consults on the case.
The concept of a statute of limitations is no different in a class action lawsuit than in any other civil case. Based on the harm that is alleged, there is a time limit on how long the plaintiffs have to file their lawsuit in court. This is generally a certain period after the plaintiffs knew or should have known about their claim. The actual period will differ based on whatever law is alleged that the defendants purportedly broke. For example, securities lawsuits must be filed within two years after the actual fraud was discovered and not more than five years after the fraud has occurred.
The difference between a class action lawsuit and a mass tort lawsuit can generally be boiled down to commonality versus separate. A class action lawsuit is one lawsuit where all of the plaintiffs proceed on a common basis. So long as the class is successful in the lawsuit, each class member can recover a reward. All that is required to show is that the class, through the named plaintiff, suffered injury.
Mass torts are different with regard to the facts that each plaintiff must prove their injury and damages. There could be some difference in each plaintiff’s case. In a mass tort, it could be that the harms were similar, but the lawsuit failed to obtain class certification because it did not meet all of the requirements to become a class. Nonetheless, each lawsuit proceeds separately. One way that mass torts are tried is through something called multi-district litigation. In these cases, there are some common proceedings where the cases proceed together before having their own individual trials. In this case, the court will select several cases, known as bellweather cases, to be tried first in order to give the parties an idea of how their cases will fare in front of a jury.
Many class actions focus on product sellers who have, in some way, denied the purchaser the benefit of the bargain for which they paid. Alternatively, they may have been overcharged for a good or service. Many class action settlements will provide rebates to compensate the purchaser for what they were previously denied. An example of this is when Skechers misrepresented their toning shoes as having benefits related to muscle toning that they did not in fact have. This is often a form of unexpected money that arrives in the product user’s mailbox without any effort on their part.
In a class action lawsuit, you can recover the damages that you have suffered by the defendant’s conduct or actions. It is important to note that your damages will be directly proportional to that of the other class members. For example, in a securities lawsuit, you would be paid a certain proportion of the damages that you have suffered. This does not always mean that you will receive the same exact amount as other plaintiffs in the case. For instance, in a wage and labor hour case, you would likely receive more money if you worked more hours just like you would receive a higher settlement if you owned more shares.
Some class action lawsuits will divide the total settlement by the number of plaintiffs. In other words, if a car manufacturers settles a class action lawsuit alleging a product defect for $50 million, then the total amount of the payment would simply be the number of purchasers divided by the total payment.
Class action lawsuits can also offer non-monetary compensation for those in the class of plaintiffs. For example, if a data breach was at issue in the lawsuit, then one recovery could be credit monitoring services.
Class action lawsuits are complicated exercises that often involve a bitter court fight. Since there are potentially many thousands of plaintiffs, the stakes for the defendant are very high. This means that they will fight hard to defend themselves. Even if the defendant elects to settle a class action lawsuit in order to reduce their risk, the negotiations are often complex and drawn out, and will involve extensive back-and-forth between the parties.
Furthermore, being certified as a class is not always a slam-dunk. Courts will often deny class certification and make the process challenging. This is something that requires the expertise of an attorney who has extensive experience in class action cases. These legal actions are complex and must be navigated by a class action lawsuit attorney.
How can the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates help Me in a Class Action Lawsuit?
The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates has a track record of helping consumers and others stand up for themselves in class action lawsuits. We are well-versed in this type of law and have recovered millions in settlements for our clients. Our attorneys help navigate this complex process from start to finish. Call us to discuss your possible case and we can help you get started with the process of filing a lawsuit against the company that has harmed you.
People Also Ask:
In order to file a class action lawsuit in New Jersey, contact a New Jersey class action lawyer to discuss the merits of your claim and to find out how the class action lawsuit process can work to help you get the compensation that you deserve. The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates handles New Jersey class action law suits. Call today for a consultation.
In order to file a class action lawsuit in New York, contact a New York class action lawyer to discuss the merits of your claim. A class action lawsuit in New York will start with filing a claim against the company in court. A New York class action lawsuit lawyer can help you file the strongest possible legal claim. The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates handles New York class action law suits. Call today for a consultation.