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The Basics of Class Action Lawsuits

When you receive a notice in the mail about a potential settlement for a defective product or hear a television announcement for people who were harmed by a medication, you are most likely hearing about some form of class action lawsuit. Class action lawsuits allow several people who suffered harm to join together in a class and hold a single defendant liable.

What Is a Class Action Suit?

A class action lawsuit enables individuals to file a claim and recover damages in a case they may not have had the ability to pursue on an individual basis. A court must certify a class for an attorney or group of attorneys to file a class action lawsuit. To obtain class certification within the state, the class must meet the following criteria:

  • The class is too large to file another form of lawsuit.
  • The class has a common interest in pursuing the facts and laws associated with the case.
  • The class representatives’ claims accurately reflect other class members’ experiences.
  • The representative is capable of fairly protecting and pursuing the entire class’s interests.

If certified, the plaintiff (the class representative) will move forward with the case on behalf of all class members. Examples of cases types the courts might approve for a class action lawsuit include:

  • Cases where several employees experience the same employment law violation (wage and overtime, discrimination, and other cases affecting a large group of people)
  • Cases involving a defective product (the Takata airbag or hoverboard lawsuits)
  • Cases involving a large, single accident (an airplane, bus, or train crash)
  • Cases involving a large group of people whose civil rights were violated

You may hear your attorney refer to a mass tort action or an MDL (multi-district legislation). These are both types of class action cases that follow slightly different procedural rules. One of these claims may make more sense if individuals suffered a wide range of injuries or if several jurisdictions play a role in the case.

Benefits of Joining in a Class Action Lawsuit

Attorneys may recommend filing or joining a class action lawsuit if:

  • Many people suffered a similar type of harm.
  • A class action is the only option for fair compensation based on the size of an individual claim and the cost of litigation versus the settlement return. Some claims are too small to file on an individual basis.

Filing a class action lawsuit offers many benefits for those who qualify, including:

  • Allowing class members to opt-out of the class action filing. If you were not harmed or you want to pursue an individual action against the defendant, you can opt out of the class action. You cannot file an individual lawsuit if you agree to the terms of the class action.
  • Providing class members with more power against a defendant. Filing an individual claim against a company for a mislabeled product, for instance, may not go anywhere in court. If 1,000 people have the same claim, however, they have a better chance of securing a fair outcome.
  • Allowing consumers and groups of people to enact meaningful change. Often, class action litigation is responsible for initiating change in large corporations for improved safety and practices.

Litigating a case via a class action often lowers the legal costs of a claim and maximizes the return for all class members. While these cases can take time to resolve, they are the most efficient way to handle certain legal matters. Depending on your injuries, the type of case, and other class members, a class action may make the most sense.

For more information, call our law office at (617)-391-9001. Or if you would prefer to email us, then please visit our contact page.

6 responses to “The Basics of Class Action Lawsuits”

  1. Maria Soone says:

    Hello, i am in the middle of recovery from a displaced fracture of my distal fibula. During my rehabilitation period i have been wearing the cam boot . After 6 weeks in boot and crutches with no weight bearing i was allowed to walk in boot. During this time walking with boot i gradually began to have excruciating back pain which soon developed in just a short period into severe with sciatic pain. Pain is currently so debilitaing i am unable to function. When i told my orthopedic Dr. about this pain he knew immediately it was from boot, i felt as if it was something he has seen before. I was taken immediately out of the boot and pain continues. I spoke to a friend about it and she told me the same problem occurred with her mother, 3 yrs ago. She still continues to suffer from irreversible back damages due to boot!!! So i did my research…….and the more i read up on it i found there are many many others like myself who suffer. I have found many people have hip problems as well. We are all healing/healed from our fractures, but continue to suffer damages from the cam boot. The damage is related to the imbalance in height. The sole being 2-3inches which causes an uneven gait thus causing shifts in weight bearing while walking , which then in turn causes these problems. The product does not come with any warning label regarding this. I was never educated to the fact that this could happen and that buying even a simple shoe with an elevated sole could prevent this. I have now read that there is a product on the market you wear to avoid this. PLEASE HELP. I am suffering in pain to the point i cannot function, i have to lie down or even sit until pain subsides and not change position. Standing is unbearable. Im not sure if this is a case , but this company needs to at least put warning labels on their product to educate consumers. PLEASE HELP.

    • MMM says:

      We encourage you to contact us directly so an attorney can discuss all the facts related to your case and help you understand your legal rights. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation at (617) 391-9001.

  2. Shannon Wyatt says:

    I am an advocate, friend and authorized agent for a young man with an anoxic brain injury and was placed in a nursing facility for recovery in May of 2016. Within 3 days of being admitted to his “new Home” he contracted a uti, extremely dehydrated and was in septic shock. He had a fever of over 103 degrees and was near death. He since has had sepsis 3 more times and he has received very poor care and as far as I can tell there has never been a care plan in place for an exit. I have over 4000 page of his medical records. I have called APS twice. I have written the Health dept, disability law, the attorney generals office, OLC, and a few other offices. I reported the first time on January 26, 2018. Aps came out and did not due their due diligence and closed the case saying there were no findings to continue the case. There is clear evidence that his oral care was beyond unsanitary and not consistent. They did not brush his teeth for over 2 years, did not disinfect the instruments they used to suck yuck from his mouth. There is another patient there that was sexually molested by another patient. Her son has hundreds of photos of other abuse and neglect. We has turned to every authoritative resource and no justice or change has occurred. I have been documenting and doing some undercover investigation myself. My person is actually in the hospital as we speak do to the neglect from the hands of those whom are suppose to be taking care of him. We have tried to get these matters that are too much to type handled on our own and no changes. We are asking that you consider our case after getting all the information. Thank you for your time in this matter. Shannon Wyatt

    • MMM says:

      We encourage you to contact us directly so an attorney can discuss all the facts related to your case and help you understand your legal rights. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation at (617) 391-9001.

  3. Rebecca Lipnick says:

    Are you responsible for any fees as the plaintiff in a class action law suit?

    • MMM says:

      We encourage you to contact us directly so an attorney can discuss all the facts related to your case and help you understand your legal rights. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation at (617) 391-9001.

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