A class action is a type of lawsuit in which one or more persons sue on behalf of a larger group of persons which is referred to as ‘the class’. Whilst the subject matter of class action lawsuits can vary quite widely, there are a number of factors which are almost always present for every class action. In this article, we have explained in simple terms how a class action lawsuit works.
As mentioned above, there are a number of factors present in almost every class action lawsuit regardless of the subject matter. Two factors which are almost always present for every class action is that the issues in dispute are common to all members of the class, and that the number of persons affected by the matter is too large to bring them all individually before the court.
Depending on the type of class action, the resolution of the lawsuit will bind all members of the class certified by the Court. The rules which govern class action lawsuits under federal law are found in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Many class action cases begin due to a complaint by just one or a small handful of persons, such as the Morcellator Class Action lawsuit, as seen in recent Class Action News.
Types of Class Action
There are various different types of class action lawsuits, which include claims by employees who have been subject to a pattern of discrimination due to race, age or gender by their corporate employer, home or business owners who have been affected by an environmental disaster, or consumers who have purchased a defective product or have been deceived by false or manipulative advertising practices. Class action lawsuits could also include patients who have been prescribed a drug with dangerous side effects that the manufacturer or prescriber failed to disclose, investors who have lost funds due to securities fraud, or individuals whose sensitive and/or private communications were recorded or released by a corporation without knowledge or authorization.
Class Action Lawsuits and Controversy
Many are of the opinion that lawyers and the counsel of the plaintiffs and defense who are paid regardless of the outcome of the case are the only ‘winners’ when it comes to the resolution of a class action lawsuit. This image of class action lawsuits is also often advanced by large corporations and the organizations that they support financially for the purpose of undermining the ability of individuals to exercise their right to a civil jury trial under the 7th Amendment to the Bill of Rights. With this ability to safeguard our rights through the civil justice system, rogue corporations would in many cases be immune from liability, and no compensation would be paid to those who are physically or economically injured as the result of misconduct by a company or employer.
This summary is intended only to give lay personas a basic overview of class actions. It is for informational purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice.