A class action lawsuit occurs when a group of people with the same or similar injuries, which can be financial or physical, caused by the same product or action, sues the defendant as a group. Some examples of class action suits may include:
- Defective products such as pharmaceutical drugs
- Automotive defects such as airbags
- Misrepresentations or illegal product price fixing
- Securities fraud
- Damages resulting from environmental disasters such as oil spills or gas leaks
- Gender, age or racial discrimination
Class actions can involve thousands of people, and so one of the main reasons class action suits are brought about is efficiency. It can bring together large sums of claims that would otherwise be impractical to litigate. It also ensures that everyone involved in a suit receive some form of compensation.
Before a suit can be deemed a class action lawsuit, a court must determine that there is an adequate number of possible plaintiffs, that the claims raise common legal and factual issues, and that the claims and defenses will be similar to others who may be included in the class.
Class action suits are best brought or defended by lawyers who are particularly trained and have experience in dealing with these types of complicated lawsuits. Cases may drag on for years and be decided by a judge and jury, but in many cases, a class action ends with some form of settlement.
When both sides reach an agreement, the court must approve it and allow members of the class to decide if they want to opt for the settlement or decide to pursue a separate case. Upon review and approval, settlements are then disbursed to member plaintiffs.
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