A class action is a type of lawsuit in which one or several persons sue on behalf of a larger group of persons.

While the subject matter of class action lawsuits can vary widely, two factors are almost always present for every class action:

  • the issues in dispute are common to all members of the class, and
  • the persons affected are so numerous as to make it impracticable to bring them all before the court.

Many class action lawsuits are often started as the result of complaints by one or a handful of persons that affect many other persons. If you have been harmed by a fraud or deceptive practice, please feel free to contact us.

What are some examples of class action lawsuits?

Examples of class action lawsuits include claims by:

  • employees of a corporation who have suffered from a pattern or practice of racial, age or gender discrimination;
  • homeowners and residents affected by a toxic spill or an environmental injury to their neighborhood;
    consumers who purchased the same defective product or were harmed by similar unfair business practices committed by a corporation;
  • patients prescribed a medicine with undisclosed, dangerous side-effects;
    merchants and consumers who pay inflated prices for products caused by the anti-competitive activities of large corporations; and
  • investors who are victimized by fraud committed in connection with the purchase or sale of stocks and other securities.

What are the public policy reasons supporting class action lawsuits?

Class action lawsuits are designed to advance several important public policy goals. A class action is often the sole means of enabling persons, even those with serious injuries, to remedy injustices committed by powerful, multi-million dollar corporations and institutions. As stated by former United States Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, “The class action is one of the few legal remedies the small claimant has against those who command the status quo.”

In other situations, each person within a large group may have suffered only limited damages and the cost of individual lawsuits would be far greater than the value of each claim. The total damages, however, to the class could be quite large. The wrongdoer would have the incentive to continue its fraudulent conduct but for a class action.

Finally, where the defendant has engaged in a pattern of wrongdoing, a class action can provide an effective remedy for the group without incurring the costs of thousands of separate lawsuits and risking inconsistent decisions by the courts.

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