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Consolidating Similar Claims in a Class Action

Consolidating Similar Claims in a Class Action
A “class action” is a lawsuit brought by a representative plaintiff on behalf of a class of persons with similar claims. The class and the lawsuit must be certified by a judge as appropriate for class action treatment. If the case is certified, the lawsuit may proceed to resolve issues common to all class members. In general, notice of the lawsuit is mailed to all potential class members and, unless they “opt out,” all who fit within the class definition are automatically part of the lawsuit. 

Situations where class action treatment is typical and may be appropriate include:

A mass accident – usually a single event such as an airplane crash
Widespread personal injuries from defective products – e.g., tires or pharmaceuticals
Where action or refusal to comply with laws affects a group of people – e.g., racial discrimination / civil rights action
Requirements for Class Actions

 

Generally, in federal or state court, a single plaintiff may sue on behalf of a class if all of the following are met:

A definable class exists, that can be certified
The plaintiffs are members of this class
The class is so numerous that trying each case individually would be impractical
The class members’ claims have common issues of law and fact
The representative plaintiff’s claims and defenses are typical of the class
The representative plaintiff will ensure fair and adequate representation of the interests of the members of the class
Advantages of Class Action Litigation

A class action may provide the only means of judicial relief for individuals, especially for small claims involving complex issues that would be expensive to litigate
The benefits from a strengthened negotiating position
Generally there is no payment or risk of legal fees – if the class wins, the lawyer gets a contingency fee; if the class loses, the lawyer generally gets nothing
There is a tolling or suspension of the limitation periods during the lawsuit for asserted class members who have not opted out to file an individual lawsuit
It may serve to consolidate numerous court actions into one, thereby relieving the burden on courts and avoiding inconsistent judgments
Litigation costs can be lowered by aggregating small claims
It can attract superior legal talent to represent the representative plaintiff
Disadvantages of Class Action Litigation

Resolution of class actions generally take much longer than conventional lawsuits due to their procedural complexities
They must be resolved in a common manner such that differences between individual cases are typically not emphasized
Individuals who participate typically give up their right to file suit individually
Class members generally play a lesser role in directing the litigation
Even if successful, participating members of the class may only be compensated with a minimal recovery

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We’ve handled complex litigation for cases that involve multiple parties, a large number of witnesses, a substantial amount of evidence, and numerous experts. We’ve handled famous medical malpractice cases that have made headlines. We know how to navigate the complex legal landscape, where to find the right experts, and how to fight for your rights. No matter how complex your case, we’ll keep you informed, answer your questions, and allow you the time you need to recover from your injuries.