What is a class action lawsuit?
A class action is a lawsuit where one or more people, or class representatives, bring suit on behalf of a group of persons who have been similarly harmed by one or more defendants. The claims of all persons who are part of the class are litigated in one lawsuit in one court. Typically, the number of persons harmed is so numerous that a class action serves as the most practical and efficient means to address class members’ claims.
What types of cases are suitable for a class action?
Many types of cases can be suitable to file as a class action, including consumer, employment and securities investment claims. There are several requirements for a case to be considered appropriate for class action treatment. The claims must be similarly situated and so numerous that it is more practical for them to be adjudicated in a single lawsuit. Claims must also share common facts or questions of law so that there is a commonality. Class representatives’ claims must be typical of the class. Finally, the class representatives and class attorneys must be capable of adequately representing the claims of class members.
What are the benefits of a class action?
Class actions allows plaintiffs whose claims may be relatively small to join together to collectively pursue a remedy for damages incurred. Many class action claims are cost prohibitive to file suit on an individual basis. However, when hundreds or thousands of class member claims are litigated in the same case, the shared cost of filing a single lawsuit is much more manageable. The class action process also results in efficiency in that all of the claims may be heard at once, which benefits all parties, as well as the court system.
How do I join a class action lawsuit?
Each class action lawsuit includes its own definition of the class, or those persons eligible to be a class member. If you are part of the class as stated in the description, you are automatically part of the case. Usually, you need not do anything to join the class. You will be bound by the result of the lawsuit and participate along with other class members in the distribution of any common fund of money which results from a settlement or verdict.
What type of relief can be awarded in a class action lawsuit?
Most favorable class action settlements result in monetary damages being awarded to class members. In certain class actions, other types of relief may be awarded. Injunctive relief may be sought through a class action. Injunctive relief typically requires the defendant in a class action to refrain from committing a harmful act or take certain action in favor of class members. For example, prohibition of a company further selling a defective, harmful product would be considered injunctive relief. In a class action seeking declaratory relief, class members request the court declare certain rights or obligations in favor of class members.
How does a class member obtain a share of a favorable recovery in a class action?
Qualifying class members typically must return a claim form in order to obtain a share of settlement proceeds. Class members must return any such claim form by a specified deadline in order to be eligible for settlement proceeds. Claim forms can include other instructions that are important to adhere to in order to ensure class members’ receipt of settlement proceeds.
How do attorneys get paid in a class action lawsuit?
Class action attorneys are typically compensated through a percentage of any financial recovery obtained for the class members. A court must approve any award of attorneys’ fees and will ensure that the amount is fair in relation to the recovery for the class. Fees awarded to class action attorneys can also be based on the time spent litigating the case and the quality of the result obtained. Attorneys will also usually request a financial award for class representatives which also must be approved by the court.