Class action lawsuits arise when a large group of people get together to sue a defendant (usually a company) or a group of defendants. One person, or a group of people, may sue as representatives of a class of plaintiffs that have been harmed. The court in which the lawsuit is filed must permit it to be a class action. These types of lawsuits allow the court to manage litigation efficiently – it would be a nightmare to have to allow separate claims out of one incident or one defective product.
Class actions, by definition, are appropriate when a large group of people have been harmed by a singular event or product. There are a number of requirements that must be met before a lawsuit can be certified a class action.
Commonality – there must be common legal or factual issues (the same product or same event)
Adequacy – the representative parties must adequately protect the interests of all members of the class
Numerosity – the number of plaintiffs in the class must be so large as to make individual lawsuits impractical
Typicality – claims or defenses must be typical of the plaintiffs or defendants
As you can see, analyzing these factors can be difficult, which is why you need knowledgeable class action attorneys. If these factors are not present, there is not a viable class action, and precious time may have been wasted.
For instance, class actions have come about in cases of defective products that have harmed large numbers of people, such as asbestos or the herbicide Agent Orange used in the Viet Nam war. Class actions have also come about as a result of mass accidents, such as plane crashes or cruise ship accidents.
Class actions may also be appropriate if a company policy results in systemic workplace discrimination in violation of labor laws. If many people have been the victim of fraudulent advertising, or billed for unauthorized charges (such as those on credit cards), then a class action might be appropriate.
In recent years we have seen much litigation surrounding dangerous side effects of certain drugs, and medical devices that have harmed people. While the government tries very hard to make sure the drugs and devices are safe, there are often problems which arise when the drug or device is used on a widespread basis.
While class actions ultimately involve many people, it only takes a few injured parties to begin the process. Often class actions are initiated by just one person who has been harmed, and then other plaintiffs come forward or are discovered. That one person who got the ball rolling is responsible for the compensation of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people.
If you think you have been injured by a product such as a medical device, or a policy or practice that might be appropriate for a class action, you should consult an attorney who knows this area of law. The rules regarding class actions are complex and the attorneys at Brill & Rinaldi, The Law Firm have the expertise and dedication to lead the way. Our free consultation will evaluate your circumstances and determine how best to proceed.