Clients who decide to pursue a class action lawsuit go all in, declining their rights to sue individually and instead having faith that they will be better off staying united as one group. Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary defines class action as a lawsuit in which a number of people with similar legal claims join together in a group (the class) to sue someone, usually a company or organization. Common class actions involve cases in which a product has injured many people, or a group of people has suffered discrimination at the hands of an organization.
A class action claim may involve one or more plaintiffs that seek to be the class representative in a representative proceeding for a class of people not named in the complaint [absent class members] that allegedly suffered a common harm. Since class action suits often involve many people [class members] in complex litigation having an experienced law firm on your side may help you to avoid getting lost in the shuffle. At Swope, Rodante P.A., our attorneys have experience championing the rights of several people injured due to a common cause. If you would like to speak with one of our representatives about your case, please contact us.
Major class actions have ranged from suits against big tobacco to recover health care costs which alleged that the companies hid the dangers of smoking early on to more recently suits against employment discrimination, recalled prescription drugs and surgical implants gone awry.
These suits often involve large amounts of money, which is distributed to members of the class, and you may have seen advertisements to join these class action suits if you’ve been harmed by a product on commercials.
Class action suits usually involve multiple plaintiffs, but suits that involve multiple defendants are also possible. For example, in 2005, a defendant class action lawsuit named thousands of parishioners as a class of defendants after the Archdiocese of Portland filed bankruptcy, arguing that they — not the archdiocese are the true owners of $600 million in assets. If the parishioners were found to be the owners the property would be off limits to sexual-abuse claimants that were suing the archdiocese, but if the archdiocese was found to be the owner, it would be fair game.
HOW TO BRING A CLAIM?
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 23(a), and Florida Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 1.220, one or more members of a class may sue on behalf of all members under the following circumstances:
• The class is so numerous that bringing several claims is impractical;
• There are questions of law or fact common to the class;
• The claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and
• The representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.
To maintain a class action, the claim must meet at least one of the following conditions:
• Prosecuting separate action by or against individual class members would create a risk of inconsistency or would impair or impede their ability to protect their interests.
• The party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds that apply generally to the class, so that final injunctive relief or corresponding relief is appropriate to the class as a whole.
• The court finds that the questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating controversy.
A class action is a device for the parties’ interests to be represented through the efforts of one of the named parties when there are too many injured parties to be brought individually before the court. Notes, Defendant Class Actions, 91 Harv. L. Rev. 630 (1978).
Class action claims involve complex litigation and the statute of limitations for class action lawsuits may vary depending on the type of claim so it is important to consult with an attorney. For more information about filing a claim for a prospective class action, please contact us.