Class Actions and Class Action Lawsuits
Whenever a large group of individuals collectively file a claim in court or sue a class of defendants, this is referred to as a class action or representative action lawsuit. This particular type of suit originated in the U.S. and is considered a type of U.S. legal action. Where civil law differs from English common law in certain European countries, changes in recent years now allow consumer organizations to file lawsuits on behalf of that large consumer group.
Class action lawsuits offer several advantages to plaintiffs. For one, joining in one lawsuit creates judicial efficiency and lowers litigation costs. The reason is simple — where the cases involve common questions of law and fact, joining the claims into a class avoids unnecessary repetition of witnesses, exhibits and issues in multiple trials. A class action also allows plaintiffs with small damage claims to band together to pursue damages that would otherwise be unfeasible to collect, given the high cost of litigation.
Class actions are used in a variety of settings, including: breach of warranty claims on items such as cars; employment claims for employees facing workplace discrimination, unpaid unemployment benefits or other wrongdoing by employers; insurance claims for companies that misrepresent policies or refuse to pay valid claims; medical device failure claims for medical products that are defective and cause injury or death; product liability claims for injuries caused by unsafe consumer products; securities class action involving stock and securities cases; and pharmaceutical litigation over unsafe drugs and medicines.
Class Action Lawsuits in State and Federal Courts
In the U.S., class action lawsuits can be filed at both federal and state courts. In U.S. federal courts, class actions are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and 28 U.S.C.A. § 1332(d). If the claim arises under federal law, a federal court will handle these lawsuits. The U.S. District Court has jurisdiction over civil actions where the amount of damages exceeds a certain amount and certain diversity of citizenship requirements are met.
A nationwide class action suit is possible provided that there is a commonality of the issues involved and that they span different state lines.
Damages in class actions typically include compensatory damages or punitive damages where egregious conduct by the defendant or defendants can be proven.
Contact a Class Action Lawyer
If you believe that your claim may belong to a class action, contact an experienced class action lawsuit attorney today. You have only a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so you must act quickly.