The term class action is not a new term; in fact, it is readily associated with legal action. However, there are a number of grey areas when it comes to class action lawsuits and how they work. This article will discuss class action lawsuits and the manner in which they work.
According to the Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute [Class Action | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)] a class-action is “a procedural device that permits one or more plaintiffs to file and prosecute a lawsuit on behalf of a larger group or class. Put simply, [a class-action] allows courts to manage lawsuits that would otherwise be unmanageable if each class member were required to be joined in the lawsuit as a named plaintiff.” Key points to note about a class action is that:
- it involves a large number of individuals with a similar experience of harm
- the lawsuit is filed against one or more parties
To learn more regarding a class action speak to class action lawsuit lawyers California .
The basic idea of a class action is that it allows for defendants to be sued where there are many likely plaintiffs that would be included. If it were a standard personal injury lawsuit the filing of individual personal injury lawsuits by this large number of plaintiffs would be impractical, therefore, a class action lawsuit makes it possible by way of having one or some representatives that file the lawsuit. Such representatives undertake litigation, while potential plaintiffs or class members are informed giving them the choice to be a part of the class action or to opt-out of it. The notification to these potential class members allows them to be instructed on receipt of a share of damages or a settlement that is awarded.
In cases whereby a defendant pays the damages award or settlement, class members who did not opt-out receive a percentage of the amount. However, in instances whereby it is hard to identify potential class members or contact all of them, a fund is created that provides damages to those who can show harm caused by the defendant’s actions. This would require the potential class members to provide proof of the harm done. For example, if the class action is with regards to a defective product, the potential class member may provide proof of purchase of the product that was said to be defective.
It must be noted that there are instances whereby a class action is in respect of a non-injury case. In this regard, settlement or an award may be non-monetary. For example, in respect of allegations made against stores who worked together secretly in order to keep prices of cosmetics unreasonably and artificially high may result in a solution whereby specific department stores agree to free makeup giveaways for a limited time in order to settle a class action.
Unlike how other personal injury cases work a class action requires that after a complaint is filed and served on the defendant, the court needs to certify the class. However, a number of factors come into play in order for the certification process to begin and in the manner it must be carried out.