What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit is a type of civil claim filed by one person or party on behalf of a larger group that either has a similar claim or has suffered similar damages. These lawsuits may be filed in either state or federal courts.
Class action lawsuits are most common when there are too many people who were affected by one type of damaging action for them to each file separate lawsuits against the negligent party. For example, many dangerous and defective products cases involving drugs or other pharmaceutical products result in class action lawsuits. They are also common in securities cases, employment cases and other cases geared toward stopping harmful practices in various industries.
How do class action cases become certified?
A lawsuit will be classified as a class action suit when one or more plaintiffs, referred to as the “lead plaintiffs,” file a claim and request certification from the court as a class action lawsuit. To be certified, the case must meet the following requirements:
- There exists a legal claim made against the defendant(s)
- There is a large group of people who were injured in a similar fashion, and the cases of the members have similar issues of fact
- The lead plaintiff is a typical example of the members of the class and has a reasonable ability to adequately represent that class through a legal claim
Each state has its own set of rules about how class actions will proceed at the state level. For example, West Virginia has clear civil procedures for class action lawsuits.