A Brief Overview of Class Action Lawsuits

The class action lawyers at BRE Law are often asked what a class action lawsuit is. Generally, a class action lawsuit normally occurs when a plaintiff, sometimes called a “class representative,” sues a defendant on behalf of a large group of others (“the class”). After the case is filed, courts determine whether the action should proceed as a class action. Among other requirements, courts frequently look at four factors when determining whether to certify the class and permit the action to proceed:

  • Numerosity – Whether there are enough individual claims or class members for the case to proceed as a class action.
  • Commonality – Whether the claims of all class members are sufficiently similar.
  • Typicality – Whether the claims of the class representatives are typical of the claims of the class members.
  • Adequacy – Whether the class representatives have the capability of representing the class fairly and well.

Advantages of Class Action Lawsuits

Once a class becomes certified, class action lawsuits provide many advantages for plaintiffs, the judicial system, and sometimes even defendants. Some common advantages of class action lawsuits include:

  • Plaintiff’s can seek relief for small amounts of money – A class action lawsuit can ensure that corporations compensate individuals for harms committed even if the individual injuries are relatively minor. For example, a corporation may add hidden fees to consumer bills. While it may not be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars for a single plaintiff to sue the corporation, a class action lawsuit permits such individuals to jointly sue that corporation. In turn, these suits may deter corporations from behavior that may only harm individual consumers in minimal ways.
  • Greater judicial efficiency – A class action lawsuit is generally determined by one judge in one court. This takes up less time than many similar claims tried at different times by different judges.
  • Experienced attorneys and legal representation – Often, lawyers representing plaintiffs in large class action cases are appointed by courts. Courts appoint these lawyers based on a variety of factors, including experience litigating past class action cases and experience litigating the type of case involved in the class action.
  • Uniformity in recoveries – Many separate lawsuits arising from a defendant’s conduct could create difficult standards for the defendant to follow or inconsistent application of the law to a vast amount of plaintiffs. A class action lawsuit prevents that from happening, since all claims are consolidated into a single lawsuit.
  • No risk of legal fees if the action is unsuccessful – Often, a class action lawyer is only paid if the plaintiffs win or settle. If the class loses, the class action attorneys generally do not receive anything.

Class Action Lawsuit Judgements

In a class action lawsuit, the court’s decision typically applies to every class member. All class members are bound by the final decision, even if they never actually attend a court hearing or participate in the class action lawsuit other than by joining the class.

With the help of class action attorneys, class representatives, and other participants, the judge develops a plan to distribute the amount that the class “wins” in the lawsuit in trial. If the class action lawsuit is settled between the class and the defendant, the judge must approve the settlement. Generally speaking, judges approve settlements if the judge believes the settlement to be fair to all parties.

Contact the Experienced BRE Law Class Action Attorneys

While working with other leading class action firms around the country, the class action lawyers at BRE Law have a successful track record of serving on leadership committees of various class actions. Some of these cases are locally focused with small groups of class members, while others are nationwide cases with thousands of class members.

If you believe you have been the victim of a scheme, fraud, or wrong that has affected multiple people, the best means of legal redress may be a class action lawsuit. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation.

Published June 6, 2017

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