FAQs on Class Action Lawsuits
What types of cases are suitable for class action? To determine whether a certain dispute is suitable as a class action it is important to look at the requirements. The requirements are set out by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in Rule 23(a) [https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_23] of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) as listed below:
- Numerosity – this looks at the number of potential claimants. And points out that the number would be ‘impracticable’ to include all of them as named plaintiffs in one lawsuit.
- Commonality – it must be that all the claims are based on the same flaw or wrongdoing, therefore, they must be common “questions of law or fact”. For example, if the class action is with reference to a manufacturer of a washing machine with a faulty switch. It must be that all the claims are claiming for the faulty washing machine switch.
- Typicality – the class representatives or lead plaintiffs must have the same claims as other class members and any arguments made by the defendant in response to such claims must be the same or similar. In the washing machine example, the lead plaintiff’s claim cannot be connected to a defective pump while the others claims are for the faulty switch.
- Adequacy – the class representative must provide fair and adequate protection for the class. The class representative and lawyers will come under scrutiny especially with regards to the fee agreement.
A good class action may involve a prescription drug that had reasonably harmful side effects. Whereby the medication could have been taken by thousands of people. For example, a type of contraceptive drug. In order to satisfy commonality, it may be that the drug affected the ovaries of the people who used it. If the class representatives have used the drugs and suffer from the same ovary problems as the other members of the class and are up to the task of representing the class this satisfies the requirement of typicality and adequacy. As a result the class action may proceed.