Being harmed as a result of someone else’s negligent actions can be very frustrating. However, not all of these situations can give rise to an individual claim seeking for compensation, especially if it’s too small to be worthwhile. Because of such, filing a class action lawsuit can be an excellent option.
Primarily, a class action lawsuit pertains to a legal dispute brought by a group of people against a single defendant, more specifically a corporation. It’s also one of the common examples of commercial litigation, which is usually intended for situations whereby many individuals have sustained similar injuries caused by the defendant’s actions, and the damages claimed by each plaintiff are too small to be filed individually.
However, if you’ve heard about this legal concept for the first time, keep reading this article to learn the things involved in a class action lawsuit.
- Parties Involved
One of the important things you should know about a class action lawsuit is the parties involved. For instance, the parties involved in such a lawsuit are different from the usual civil actions. So, if you’re filing a class action lawsuit anytime soon, below are the parties involved:
- Lead/Named Plaintiff/s – This refers to the person/persons who are filing the lawsuit. Their names appear on the complaint, which is the legal document being filed in court. For example, in a lawsuit styled ‘Nitz VS XXX Corporation,’ Nitz is the name of the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit.
- Defendant – This is the company or individual being sued by the plaintiffs due to the harm caused to them.
- Class Members – Although there may be a lead plaintiff who’s named in the complaint, a class action lawsuit has class members whose legal rights are similarly affected by the wrongdoings of the defendant. This means that any judgment or settlement arising from the suit will cover all the class members.
- Class Certification
Another essential thing to consider in terms of how to initiate a class action lawsuit is the class certification. Even if the lawsuit may be filed as a class action, it doesn’t automatically become one until the presiding judge should give the case a class action status. This process is commonly called as the class certification.
However, the process of certifying a class is never easy. Ultimately, you need to satisfy the following prerequisites:
- Numerosity – This factor doesn’t only focus on the specific number of individuals that should be included in a class action. Under this prerequisite, the court will also consider the complexity and size of the individual claims, the types of claims and reliefs sought, and many more. Although some courts rule that a class action with less than 20 members is insufficient, the numerosity factor is also used to evaluate whether the joinder of people in a regular suit is impractical, thereby warranting the need to file a class action suit.
- Adequacy – This factor focuses on the class representative’s ability to adequately represent the interests of the class members. When making this determination, the court will see if the interests of the representative and the members are conflicting with one another, and if the injuries suffered by the representative are similar to the class members.
- Commonality – This factor pays attention to the question of whether the claims of the class members involve common questions of fact or law. This means that the members shouldn’t only show that they have common claims, but the manner in which the claims occur, such as the misrepresentations of a manufacturer, is also common.
- Typicality – This requirement focuses on whether the claims of the representative and the members are typical with one another. But, to satisfy this prerequisite, the representative should show there’s an adequate connection between their claims and those of the members.
- Notifying The Class Members
After the lawsuit has been resolved, the lawyers working on the case will notify the class members about the settlement or judgment, and their option to opt out of the suit and file a separate action. Typically, the notice will outline the facts alleged in the suit and describe the group of people who may be entitled to claim part of the judgment.
However, when some of the class members fail to get their compensation within the deadline, the money may be returned back to the defendant, distributed among the remaining members who claimed their compensation, or donated to a charity or non-profit organization.
There’s no doubt that a class action lawsuit can be an excellent legal action to take especially if you, along with other individuals, are victims of defective products, false advertising, unlawful employment practices, and many other causes. Luckily, the process of filing one doesn’t need to be difficult if you keep the information mentioned above in mind and you hire an experienced class action lawyer to handle the job for you. That way, you, along with other members, will recover compensation and get the justice you deserve against the defendant who wronged you.