Do I Have a Class Action Lawsuit?
Class action lawsuits are filed when more than one person suffers harm and, together, they file a lawsuit. This is done because the harm suffered by each of them individually is likely not enough to bring a lawsuit, but as a group, it is. So, the plaintiffs, or class, can come together to assert their rights.
There are certain criteria that must first be met in order to "certify" the class. That means the court will allow the lawsuit to proceed as a class action. The criteria are:
1. Numerous people are affected. This means that there are enough possible plaintiffs that it would not be feasible to name them each and every one of them as plaintiffs in the complaint. Usually, once a class action is filed, other injured parties will join the suit. The minimum number of plaintiffs is typically 30, but it's often in the thousands.
2. There are questions of law or fact common to the class. This means that the possible plaintiffs all suffered a similar harm, usually based on a similar set of facts and circumstances. For example, all of the members in a class were charged the same bogus charge on their phone bills.
3. The claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class. This means that the named plaintiffs, the ones who will be representing the rest of the class in the lawsuit, suffered a similar harm as the class they are representing. So, usually, if the 'common question of law or fact' criteria above was met, then the class representatives' claims are likely typical of the rest of the class. If everyone basically has the same case it wouldn't make sense for everyone to have to sue individually. A class action decides all of the cases at once although you can usually opt out of a decision if you want.
4. The representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. This means that the class representatives discussed in the criteria above will fight for the interests of the whole class and not just their own interests.
Examples of class action lawsuits include: credit card fraud (such as hidden fees), telemarketing fraud (such as a bogus sweepstakes or prize promotion), lending fraud (predatory lending exploits those in debt at vulnerable times) and defective products, to name a few.
If you have questions about whether or not you have a case or would like an attorney referral, please contact us at any time. One of our staff attorneys will speak with you for free, answer your questions and if needed recommend a law firm that we feel is best suited for your claim. We can't guarantee a result, but do promise to give you the same advice and service we would provide to a family member or friend.