Class actions commonly arise when many employees were all victims of the same type of discrimination; when many consumers were victims of the same types of fraud; or when many consumers were injured by the same defective product. Class actions make it easier and simpler for people to obtain compensation because they can just join the class rather than having to go through the process of finding their own attorney and suing. However, class actions can also involve giving up control over your own case and leaving your claim in the hands of a named plaintiff.
It is important to understand how and when class actions are formed, both if you are considering joining a class action or if you believe that there have been many people who suffered a similar harm and you want to create your own class to file a mass tort claim. An action becomes a class action when an attorney representing a plaintiff asks the court to certify a class and the court grants the motion and creates the class. An experienced San Diego class action lawyer can help you if you want to start your own lawsuit or if you are considering joining an existing class of plaintiffs.
When an Action Becomes a Class Action
Many class actions have hundreds or thousands of different plaintiffs who are all members of the class. All of the members suffered some type of physical or financial harm or injustice and want to pursue a claim against the person or company that harmed them. However, class actions do not necessarily begin with hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs. In fact, it is common for class actions to initially start very small and to grow as more people find out about the lawsuit and join the class themselves.
An action starts when a lawsuit is filed by someone who has been victimized by a breach of legal duty. The victim’s attorney files court paperwork in an appropriate court that has jurisdiction over the case. The facts of the case are laid out and the plaintiff who has filed the initial lawsuit will provide legal grounds for the claim and information on the remedy being sought.
If there are many people who have all suffered a similar harm because of the same defendant and they are all interested in a similar remedy, then this may be a situation where the action becomes a class action. An attorney who is helping victims in the case will petition the court and ask to have a class of plaintiffs certified. Rule 23 of the Rules of Civil Procedure establishes guidelines for when a class should be certified.
The court will certify a class provided that:
- The class is large enough that separate cases are impractical
- Ther are common questions of law and fact that affect all members of the class
- The claims and the defenses of the parties who are representative plaintiffs are typical of the claims or defenses of the whole class.
- The named parties representing the class will “fairly and adequately” protect the interests of the class.
Provided that the judge believes that these Rule 23 conditions are met, the judge will certify the class. The action becomes a class action.
Sepahi Law Group, APC has represented many clients in class action cases. Our attorneys can help if you believe that you should be a representative plaintiff for a group of victims or if you are being asked to join a class. Call today to schedule a consultation with a San Diego class action lawyer to learn more.