A consumer class action is a lawsuit in state or federal court that is brought by one individual, or a few individuals, on behalf of a larger class of people similarly situated. Typically it seeks damages (compensation for harm done) on behalf of the named persons bringing the suit as well as the members of the class. For example, class actions have been brought on behalf of all persons who purchased a certain type of automobile during a particular time period, and have experienced brake or tire failure, etc.
In general, claims involving mass accidents or disasters, certain product defects, or violations of state consumer protection laws may qualify for class action treatment. The classic basis for the use of a class action is to combine the smaller-dollar claims of a large number of people. Each person’s claim individually may be too small to pursue cost-effectively. Combining many relatively small claims, however, may justify the expense of litigation and improve the chances for success, especially against large corporations.
What is a class action lawsuit?
A consumer class action is a lawsuit brought in federal or state court by one or more people on behalf of a larger class of people who have similar claims against the same defendant.
Why class action?
If you have a grievance with a large corporation because you believe you’ve been mistreated, it can make you feel like David versus Goliath. The cost of litigation can seem overwhelming. The odds of winning as a sole plaintiff can seem almost impossible. But, if you become part of a class action lawsuit, you increase your odds exponentially. The classic basis for a class action is to combine the smaller dollar claims of a large number of people. Doing so may justify the expense of litigation and improve the chances of success. A class action lawsuit removes the obligation of all plaintiffs to be present in court for trial.
Is a class action appropriate?
There are four factors the courts use to determine if a class action is appropriate:
Numerosity – are there enough individual claims to make up a class action as the most reasonable and efficient way to proceed?
Commonality – are the claims sufficiently alike regarding harm and wrongdoing?
Typicality – are the proposed class representative claims typical of all class members claims?
Adequacy – are the representatives up to the task of representing the class fairly and adequately?
What’s a typical class action?
Quite often, a class action can be brought against a corporation or manufacturer of a defective product that has caused bodily harm to a large number of people. A class action can be brought against a corporation by shareholders. There can be class action claims as a result of a mass accident or disaster. A class action may be brought against a corporation that may be guilty of violating consumer protection laws.
Can I choose to participate or not?
There is nothing you need to do to join a class action. In most cases, this happens automatically. Attorneys determine who might have been affected by a defendant’s wrongful action. At that point, you will be given notice of the class action. Any judgment or settlement of a class action binds each and every member of the class. If you believe your losses are more serious, you can opt out and consider an individual claim.
Call us for a consultation
If you have been notified of a class action, we can help you determine if it’s in your best interests to participate or to opt out and pursue a claim on your own.