A class action involves one or several defendants being sued by numerous plaintiffs in cases where it is impractical for all plaintiffs to be part of one traditional personal lawsuit. A class action suit is filed by one or a couple of representative plaintiffs who also conduct the litigation to seek out a judgement that all class members will benefit from. The other potential plaintiffs are contacted to provide them with the opportunity to opt out of the class action lawsuit, or are provided with instructions on how their share of the damage award can be received.
Requirements For Getting A Class Action Certified
Before a class action may proceed, the class has to be certified first. The process ensures that there are enough similarities among the plaintiffs for litigation to proceed against the named defendant(s) as part of one large case.
Although there may be variations to these requirements from one state to the next, a majority of states have the following class action requirements:
Number of Plaintiffs
A class action lawsuit is not intended for a case where there are just a couple of plaintiffs. Rather, there has to be too many lawsuits and plaintiffs against a specific defendant to the point that it wouldn’t be practical for each of them to file a separate individual lawsuit. There are numerous class action lawsuits with hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs. There have also been many cases that have certified classes with 40 plaintiffs.
Common Questions of Fact or Law
A class must have similar questions of fact or law that are common to its class. That is to make sure that one case can efficiently handle all the claims.
Defenses or claims by the representative plaintiff must be typical of the class. For instance, if it has been alleged by the lawsuit that a business has imposed additional fees illegally on customers, then it is required that the representative plaintiff be an account holder with the business that has allegedly overcharged the fee. The claim by the representative plaintiff needs to be very similar to the claims being made by other class members so that litigating the case brought by the representative plaintiff will decide the class sufficient for all of the other absent class members.
Interests of the Class are Adequately Protected
The representative plaintiff must have the ability to adequately and fairly protect the interests of the entire class. The class lawyers and representatives must consider the entire class’s interests. Courts consider the competence of the representative plaintiffs and lawyers.
Subclasses might be established if some parties in the class have interests that are different than some of the other class members interests. Each of the subclasses is required to have their own representative for the class action.
There might be other criteria at times. For example, it is essential for the class to be clearly defined so that it may be determined which people are members of the class and which are not. Also, there could be a judicial efficiency requirement, which means that is must be determined that the most efficient way for resolving the claims is through a class action.
A case will be dismissed if the case isn’t certified. If it is certified, then the case will move to pre-trial procedures.
After a class is certified, all potential class members must be notified of the class action lawsuit. Many types of class actions will include information on the potential class member’s right to opt out of this class. However, you usually are not allowed to opt out of the class action in order to pursue your own individual claim.