Our Attorneys have handled well over a hundred class and representative actions representing consumers and employees. A Class Action is a lawsuit that allows the rights of a large number of people to be decided in one court action. See what requirements must be satisfied to bring a class action suit. A class action can be a means of making change. For example, if one person sues alone to allege they’ve been overcharged on bank fees, for example, then the bank can pay that person off and go right back to doing business as usual. However, if filed as a class action, the rights of a group of people are being defended, and it can sometimes be enough to make a company change their policies or method of doing business. In short, it can make a big company take notice and make meaningful change, in the way an individual suit cannot.
What is a Class Action?
A class action is a lawsuit that allows a large number of individual claims and the rights of a large number of people to be decided in one court action. Oftentimes, by combining many claims into a single class action suit, class members with relatively small claims can have their rights protected economically.
A class action plaintiff represents the interests of persons not before the court. As a result, not all potential class members must become parties to the lawsuit to have their rights decided. Typically, only a few representatives of the class actually appear in court.
In order to be certified as a class action, these general requirements should be satisfied:
- Numerous class members. There must be enough people to justify bringing the suit as a class, rather than having each person participate as a named plaintiff. Class actions have been brought with as few as 20 or 30 people and as many as millions.
- Common facts among the class members. There must be questions of law or facts common to the potential class members, meaning similar unlawful or unfair conduct by the defendants, such as violations of labor laws, failure to pay overtime compensation, etc.
- Similar claims or defenses. Each person in the class must be making allegations typical to the other class members. The plaintiffs must show that common questions predominate over individual questions. If there are a lot of individualized issues among the potential class members, a class action may not be the best way to proceed. The named class representatives will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class members.
- The named Plaintiff must have similar claims as the potential class members. The attorneys representing the case must also be adequate, and must be no conflicts of interest in representing the potential class members.
Please look at our office Case History for some of the cases our Attorneys have handled.
Common Misconceptions about Class Actions
- A large group of plaintiffs is not required to put their names on the lawsuit before the suit is even filed. If you know that, for example, the baby formula that you received was contaminated, you don’t need to know a lot of other people in the situation by name and telephone number. It’s your lawyer’s job, during the discovery practice, to get that information. In short, if you were a victim of a common practice or event that happened to others, you may be all that is needed to represent a class.
- You don’t need to have suffered a large amount of damages to bring a class action lawsuit. Often, lawyers can’t take cases with a small amount of damages to court because the filing fees and other costs are worth more than what the victim has a chance to recover. Not so with class actions. Just because your damages are small doesn’t mean a recovery isn’t possible through a lawsuit when that suit is filed as a class action. One of the chief benefits of these suits is that they allow people who normally could not get a lawyer to take their case (especially without paying lawyers fees upfront) to get experienced representation.
- You don’t have to pay the lawyer’s fees for your case upfront if you want to bring a class action. There are typically two types of fee arraignments for lawyers, generally speaking: contingency and those who charge upfront hourly fees and/or require retainers. Those with upfront fees can require a big check for thousands of dollars from their clients, out of which the lawyer takes his/her fees and costs as the case progresses, whether or not the client get results. Our office is a contingency fee office. That means we collect a share of what is recovered as part of the lawsuit. That means there are no upfront costs or fees for people who need legal help.
How do I know if I have a good case?
A lot of people who call our office just want to know if they have a good case or not. They don’t want to waste their precious time if there is no point. Because we are a contingency fee office, that means we’re investing in your case from the very beginning. We advance costs and filing fees, often amounting to thousands of dollars, on the belief that your case has merit. Because of our investment of time and money in your case, we are selective in filing a cases that we believe has a substantial chance of success. We only get paid if there is a positive result in the case. We only take select cases in the first place.