A class action lawsuit is a lawsuit instituted by more than one person or a group of persons claiming to have been wronged by the same Defendant. The plaintiffs or group of persons instituting the class action must have similar complaints. The courts will usually grant leave to all the plaintiffs to be joined together in order to litigate their disputes together.
The Purpose of Class Action Lawsuit
The Primary purpose of allowing a number or persons who were wronged by a particular Defendant to join together and institute litigation in their cases as one class action is to conserve time and resources. Instead of allowing a situation where each plaintiff retains the service of their own attorney to bring an action separately, the courts can permit a situation where all the plaintiffs joined together and work with one attorney or a team of attorneys that knows the issues as it pertains to everyone and on their behalf. A class action lawsuit will usually save time, resources and fees for the litigant. The Court also will not have to be stressed with multiple litigation or to duplicate the work that other lawyers have already done on similar issues.
Class Action Lawsuit in the United States
The Civil Procedure Rules of the Federal and State Courts makes provision for the procedure of how a class action lawsuit cases work are instituted. The Rules of Court clearly states the requirements and conditions that must be met before a Judges can grant leave or approve a class action case.
Before a class action can be instituted, prospective plaintiffs must seek for leave or permission of the Court through their attorney. The court reserves the discretion whether or not to certify a class action. All of the condition precedent must be satisfied before the court can consider the certification of the class action lawsuit. The court must also exercise its discretion to consider whether certifying a class action lawsuit will serve the interest and administration of justice, even if the condition precedent are present. This discretionary powers of the court are inalienable as it is only the court that “may” certify a class. The Requirement of Many Plaintiffs in a Class Action Lawsuit It is significant that for an action to be certified as a Class Action Lawsuit by a Court there must be a lot of plaintiffs. Several dozen plaintiffs or more usually makes it more appropriate. The second requirement is that all the plaintiffs (no matter how many) must have similar claims that are more practicable to be joined together to resolve them. The Requirement of Common Issues in a Class Action Lawsuit The requirement that all the plaintiffs (no matter how many) must have similar claims that are more practicable to be joined together to resolve them is also a foremost element or ingredient of a class action. A good class action case must be one where all the Plaintiffs have issues in common. For example, if the plaintiffs are all individuals who work in the same company, under the same employment terms that is terminated without terminal benefits. Such employees might be an appropriate group for a class action lawsuit. There might be diminutive differences in their circumstances, such as different dates of employment or duration of service but the underlying issues must similar for it to be certified as a class action lawsuit. Another scenario that will not fit in as a class action lawsuit is a situation where different persons buy different expired products from same departmental store. The plaintiffs are not a good case to be joined in a class action. Their issues are different for a single adjudication. The Requirement for the Lead Plaintiff to have a Typical Case A Class Action Lawsuit must have a lead Plaintiff. Who can also be called the Class representative with the ability to make decisions about settling the case. The Class Representative must be a Plaintiff with a typical case. His/her case must be classic and bearing the characteristics that can help in adjudicating the issues of other Plaintiffs or Class Members. The Requirement of a Class Action Lawsuit to be Adequate to Meet the Needs of the Class Members A Class Action Lawsuit will not be certified by a Judge if it cannot adequately represent the interests of all of the plaintiffs. Essentially, the circumstances of the case and its just determination must be fair to everyone involved and must serve the interest justice. Class Members Can Opt Out Members of a Class Action Lawsuit are not bound to a life contract. They are usually at liberty to decline in the participation of same whenever they choose. Class representatives must ensure that potential litigants are notified of the case, who will be at liberty to choose whether or not to participate in the class or decide to institute a lawsuit on their own. Determining Jurisdictional questions Court rules and extant laws generally defines the geographic jurisdiction of Courts. One of the factor may be to institute an action in within the municipality or State of residence of the Plaintiffs or Defendant. However, where there are multiple plaintiffs spread over a wide geographic area, ascertaining jurisdiction might be technical or tricky.