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Products Liability Newsletter

What Constitutes a "Class" for Litigation Purposes

A class action suit is a claim brought by one or more individuals on behalf of themselves and others with similar claims. There are several types of cases appropriate for a class action lawsuit including:

  • A mass accident – usually a single event such as an airplane crash
  • Widespread personal injuries – usually involving defective products such as tires or pharmaceuticals

How Is a Class Action Lawsuit Brought?

There are usually four steps prior to beginning a class action claim:

  1. Define the class – To define the class is to identify the individuals with similar claims who would like to participate in the class action lawsuit.
  2. Choose a representative plaintiff – Injuries or afflictions beyond that of class members is not necessary. However, the representative plaintiff should possess the ability to fairly and accurately represent the entire class.
  3. File a Statement of Claim – This is a descriptive statement about the suit that must be filed with the court.
  4. Have the claim certified as a class action – If the court certifies the Statement of Claim, the court has granted permission for the claim to proceed as a class action. After this, the lawsuit may begin.

The Advantages of a Class Action Lawsuit

There are several advantages to bringing a class action lawsuit. First, the class benefits from the perception of strength in numbers. Additionally, class actions allow individuals who might not otherwise pursue legal action an opportunity to have their grievance heard. Class actions also serve to funnel numerous possible court actions into one, thereby relieving the burden on courts.

Class action parties are usually represented by attorneys on a contingency basis, meaning the attorney will receive a portion of the settlement if awarded. If there is no settlement, there is typically no requirement of any payment of attorneys’ fees by the individuals of the class.

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