Technically, not a high number of people are needed for a class action suit. It is, however, difficult to find a successful class action suit with less than 40 individuals certified for the case. In most cases, only a single individual is needed to file the suit. However, a judge must verify that the class action suit is, in fact, a class action for the process to proceed. To do this, the judge has to go through the member’s names and verify that they were involved in the action suit and that they were involved with the company.
A class action suit may be filed by one person on behalf of many people who were harmed by the same company or individual. Sometimes, the number of class members will depend on the type of case you are dealing with. There are different types of lawsuits, and they help determine the number of people who are involved.
Environmental class lawsuits deal with factors affecting the environment such as pollution and maintaining clean water may affect a large number of people. For instance, a group of plaintiffs may choose to sue a manufacturing company because of polluting the environment, citing that contamination decreased the value of their properties. Such lawsuits will involve most of the property owners, both commercial and residential, within that area. There are, therefore, expected to be more than 40 people involved in the class lawsuit.
Breach of security laws are subject to class actions, especially if the members face financial losses. For instance, a bank may receive a class action suit where there are millions of members in the class because some financial activities will involve more than half the customers who do business at that particular institution. More people are expected if the bank’s problem involves more people from that particular organization in different branches countrywide.
There are instances where employees file lawsuits against their employers, and this often leads to confidential settlements. The changes suggested by the lawsuit do not affect other companies other than the one being sued. Because not all employees will receive the same type of harassment from their employers, these cases may involve fewer people, depending on the size of the company, and type of issue being reported. There are many more types of lawsuits and each depends on the case being filled. While the expected number is more than 40, there have been instances where a class action lawsuit was filled by fewer members, and they succeeded in getting their demands met.
What Is A Class Action Lawsuit?
A class-action lawsuit, also known as a representative action lawsuit is one where the party in the case is composed of a group of people who are collectively represented by one member. In this case, the plaintiff sues the defendant or some defendants or absent parties.
In the traditional lawsuits, one party sues another for a wrong done to them and all parties have to be present in court for the hearing. Class actions involve a huge number of people who have been injured by the same defendant in a similar way. Instead of each of the injured person bringing their lawsuit, the class action permits all the claims by members, regardless of whether or not they are aware of the fact that they were injured or not, to be determined in one proceeding through the efforts of the plaintiff’s representatives and the appointed class counsel.
For instance, when a company sells hazardous drugs to their customers and this drug causes harm to all the people who use it and their families, a class action suit may be required to get justice for all those individuals at the same time. This is, especially helpful to people who lack the resources to file a lawsuit on their own. They can also be used if, for instance, a company offers fraudulent financial statements. It is also helpful in the prevention of harmful business practices and the violation of labor laws when a company hires workers.
A lawsuit became a class action when the plaintiffs file a lawsuit and claim that they experienced some harm. They then request the court to certify the case as a class action lawsuit. There are several criteria that attorneys need to meet to ensure that their cases meet.
- There has to be a legal claim against the defendant
- There has to be a significant group of people who are injured in the same way by the defendant. The members of the class have to have similar issues of fact and law in the case of the lead plaintiffs. When the people suffer different injuries and need varying pieces of evidence, the case may be denied.
- The lead plaintiff has to be typical of the other class members and has to have a reasonable plan and the ability needed to represent the entire class. He must have no conflict with other members of the suit.
How to Join a Class Action Lawsuit?
As long as you have the right documents, joining a class action lawsuit is an easy matter. In most cases, you will not have to find a class action to join since you will be automatically included if you have been injured in the way that is described in the lawsuit. A court may require that order notices are sent out to every class member who can be identified at the time the class is certified and at the time the settlement is proposed. In many cases, the order will be sent by mail to the class members who can be located. The notice will also be published in the newspaper, television, internet, magazines, and radio. The court will require that the best possible way to issue the notice be used to ensure that all class members have been notified, so they are included in it.
If you did not receive the notice directly through your mail, you might have to contact the class action attorney of the class to add your name to their registry. Registration will ensure that you will receive future notices on information on how you will participate and how the settlement will be reached. If you have information that is useful for the class action, submit them to the attorneys. Also, tell them about any information you may have that may be useful.
For instance, if a company sells phony stock to their customers and they end up experiencing massive losses, a class lawsuit can include all people who bought the commodities from the company. To join such a class action lawsuit, you would be required to present evidence and documentation that you bought stock and experienced losses as a result. Without such documents, you will not be allowed to join the lawsuit, and you will not be eligible for any compensation payment in case the case is won. You need to ensure that you know what the case is about. Just because it is a lawsuit about a company that caused you losses or harm does not mean that you are included in the class action. Ensure that you read the notice to prevent misunderstandings and for you not to mess up the chances of the other people getting compensation for the losses they suffered and their injuries because you caused their case to be thrown out.
What Can You Win In Class Action Lawsuit?
So, you have finally received the notice to become a participant in a class action lawsuit. In most cases, the individuals or companies involved have deep pockets. You have started imagining just how much money you may end up pocketing if the action is successful. Do not be so fast with the imaginations because class actions rarely amount to significant amounts of money. In many cases, only two sets of participants will get awards from such cases- the represented plaintiffs and the attorneys. While that notification you received in the mail is significant, it is not important enough. You are one in possibly thousands of participants. Once you have received the notice, you have to read it carefully to ensure that it applies to you. You also need to read to determine whether it is an action lawsuit where you will get a coupon for further services or one where you get paid a certain amount of money. The notice will also tell you where the amount you are expecting is minimal or substantial. Payouts from such cases can vary from a couple of dollars to thousands. It all depends on who the plaintiff is, what the case involves, and how much the aggrieved parties are asking for in compensation. The amount of money you get individually will also depend on the number of class members involved in the case.
There is also the case of who gets what in the lawsuit. In many cases, you will have to pay the attorneys if the case is successful. You have to know that the amount of money the attorney will get will also be deducted from the money paid from the lawsuit. In many cases, people complain that the attorneys get too much and the class members get too little. Even so, you are more likely to get a huge cut if you hire a great attorney. This will also cut into the amount of money you have to pay. Unknown attorneys tend to be cheaper, and they also lose most of their lawsuits. Well-known attorneys charge high amounts but assure you a win. You also have to put in mind that the costs of the lawsuit will be passed on to the customer, and that means you and the other class members.
How Long Does a Class Action Lawsuit Take?
The length of your class action suit will depend on the type of case at hand and the amount of evidence you have. Some are resolved in a matter of months while most take one to three years to be completed. However, you also have to be ready to wait for a longer period if the court ruling is appealed. The easiest and the fastest way to close a class action is by settling. This happens out-of-court court and is relatively faster. In most cases, it happens when the cases filled are embarrassing to the defendant company. For instance, if the class action involves misconduct or sexual harassment or in cases whereby going forward with the case will create doubt about the product sold by the company, causing them to lose their customers. It may also happen where a company’s products were defective and injured a large number of people. In such cases, the company may choose to settle the case in less than a year to prevent word from getting out on the issues with the products they sell since they may result in negative publicity and unwanted attention on the organization and its products.
In 1989, a case was filled after the Exxon Valdez oil spill that caused issues. This class action went for nearly 20 years before the members finally got a settlement amounting to $2.5 billion in December 2008. Multiple cases were filled in the lawsuit until it went to the United States Supreme court. The class members thought that the case would take a couple of years at most, but it ended up taking more time than they had anticipated. It is, therefore, safe to assume that you will never really know how long your case will last. It will all depend on the defendant and how much they will lose if the case is made public. Another factor that will determine this issue is how much evidence the plaintiffs have to present to court. Where there is overwhelming evidence, cases tend to move quickly and end with class members getting a substantial amount of money. In instances there is no evidence, the cases tend to drag and may end up taking too long. Payouts in such cases are also too little here, making the cases unworthy of the efforts required to push them to court. Members have to decide if they want to continue their participation or not and need to be informed on how long their cases may take.