When a group of people suffer an injury, illness or injustice all caused by the same company, product, or action, defendants may form a group. The group is referred to as the class. Together, this group files a class-action or mass-tort lawsuit.
Typically a mass tort is formed when a group of people in the same geographic area band together as a group. A class action includes a larger, more geographically disparate group of individuals.
Members of the class must have the same issues in dispute. And the number of people affected make it impractical to file individual lawsuits. Typically, one person represents the class. That person is known as the named plaintiff.
Class actions most often result when it is alleged that:
- Products that are defective or dangerous have harmed a great number of people
- A business or institution has acted fraudulently or conducted itself illegally.
- A company has not acted in the interest of its shareholders.
- An employer has discriminated against or otherwise abused or taken advantage of its employees.
A class action may seek compensation for:
- Personal injury, including illness, death and dismemberment.
- Economic losses, including lost wages or expenses incurred.
- Costs of litigation, including fees to lawyers, investigators, research and other costs.
How is a Class Formed?
When an action is filed, the attorney bringing the suit is obligated to make every reasonable effort to inform people who may be eligible to participate, including placing advertisements, directly contacting people who are known to have purchased the product or service in question and utilizing the news media to help spread the word about the action.
People who meet the requirements of the class may opt-in to join the action, or may opt-out and choose not to participate. Anyone who opts-out is not eligible to participate in any settlement.
Once a class has formed, it must be certified by a state judge. Requirements vary state-by-state Generally, certification requires the representative plaintiff to provide proof:
- Of the class’s injuries.
- That the class is reasonably and clearly defined.
- That everyone in the class has the same legal interests.
- And that a class action is the best way for the case to succeed.
Statutes of limitations do apply to consumer fraud class actions, and vary by type of claim. If you are considering participating in a class action, or forming a class of your own, please give us a call. A consultation costs nothing, and you’ll walk away knowing what your options are and what is and isn’t in your best interest.
How do I Find a Class Action Lawyer?
Class actions are legally complex, so it is critical that you find an attorney with expertise in class action law and a track record of prevailing in the class actions they’ve taken on. Make sure you hire an attorney that has experience in your particular type of case. If you are seeking claims for illnesses caused by improperly dumped toxic waste, an attorney whose experience is limited to shareholder fraud class actions may not be a good fit.
Find out what resources your prospective attorney has at their disposal. Will you need investigators, scientists, or a forensic accountant? Know, in advance, how your attorney will secure and pay for these resources, and how much of these potentially expensive fees you’ll have to pay for upfront.
Finally, check your prospective firm’s track record. It is important that you understand their success rate, how they measure success, what percentage of settlement dollars went to plaintiffs, and what percentage went to the firm. Don’t forget to ask which attorneys at a firm you would be working with, and to find out what their personal track records look like. It is not unreasonable to ask to speak with former class action clients. Call them and ask if they had a positive or negative experience working with the firm.
If you are filing a class action, it is likely that the defendant in your case is quite wealthy and has a lot of legal expertise at their disposal. Without a good team on your side, your chances of victory are almost nil. Legal tactics used to delay, deter, and dismiss your lawsuit can quickly exhaust your meager resources.
Class actions really are one of the most complex types of legal filings. With more than 20 years experience, Andry Law Group is uniquely qualified to help you with your class action. A consultation costs you nothing, so give us a call today.