What is a class action lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit allows a number of individuals who have experienced common damages to assert their claims in an affordable and efficient manner. A class action is a helpful tool for individuals who have been wronged but cannot afford to take on a large, wealthy, powerful companyand all its available resources on their own.
In a class action lawsuit, a large number of people join together to sue one entity or several companies. This is a representative action naming only one or a few individual plaintiffs in the complaint, who sue as class representatives on behalf of the defined class against one or more defendants. The claims of the class representatives must arise from facts or law common to their other class members.
In federal court, the procedures for certifying a class and the requisite elements for certification are governed by Rule 23, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A class action lawsuit may also be brought in many state courts. Each state’s laws on class actions will govern these cases. Most states that allow state class actions use rules similar to the federal rules.
How is a class action lawsuit different from a mass tort?
The main difference between a mass tort and a class action lawsuit has to do with how the courts treat the group of plaintiffs.
In a mass tort, each plaintiff files his or her own lawsuit individually. Even though the plaintiff is part of a large group, he or she is still treated as an individual by the courts. In a class action, a class representative is the only named party in the actual lawsuit. The class representative alone represents the entire “class,” a large group of plaintiffs, and no individual lawsuits are filed.
What does it cost me to join a class action lawsuit?
You will pay no money out-of-pocket as a class action lawsuit class member, regardless of the outcome. In class actions at Watts Guerra, our attorneys work on a contingent fee basis, where the firm pays all costs and expenses. If we are successful in obtaining a recovery on behalf of the class members, our law firm will ask the court to award attorney fees and costs incurred in the litigation from the recovery.