Class Actions 101
What Is A Class Action?
A class action is a type of civil lawsuit that allows one or several people or organizations to file a lawsuit on behalf of a larger group of people with the same claim of damages (the “class”) against the same person or organization.
Class actions were originally introduced to fix issues with the historically longstanding “necessary parties” rule, which stated that all parties who are materially invested in a case should be made parties to that case (i.e., have to be present in court), no matter how many of them there may be. Logistically, a strict reading of the “necessary parties” rule would make it virtually impossible for large groups of people located all over the country (or even the world) who had been damaged in the same way by a single defendant to ever bring their claims to court.
Why Are The Advantages Of A Class Action Lawsuit?
There are a number of reasons why someone might want to join a class action lawsuit instead of pursuing their own individual lawsuit about the same matter. Joining a class action has a number of advantages. Class action lawsuits are often appealing to plaintiffs because:
- They Are Financially Accessible: Filing a lawsuit and pursuing litigation can be incredibly expensive. This is especially true when the potential defendant is a wealthy individual or corporation with far more resources than the plaintiff. Many plaintiffs who opt into class action lawsuits would not have otherwise had the resources to pursue a lawsuit at all. Class actions offer them a financially accessible chance at legal recompense.
- They Are Logistically Practical: Filing a class action lawsuit, with just one set of documents and just one court proceeding, is far more logistically manageable for both plaintiffs and their attorney(s) than filing many separate individual lawsuits, each with its own set of documents and its own trial to orchestrate and proceed through. It is also far more logistically manageable for the court system, which means that cases are less likely to get tied up in the system for exceedingly long amounts of time, or even indefinitely.
- They Allow For Equal Distribution Of Damages: If individual plaintiffs with the same damages pursue their own lawsuits against the same defendant, the defendant will eventually–and likely quite quickly–run out of money to distribute to plaintiffs. This means that the first plaintiff or at most the first few plaintiffs to file suit against the defendant would get all of the damages, while the rest of the victims of the same malfeasance would be left high and dry. In collective class actions, damages are equally distributed among all plaintiffs at the same time.
- They Are Sometimes The Only Possible Way To Pursue A Lawsuit Against A Defendant: In some cases, class action damages may be relatively small on an individual scale. For instance, let’s say a company caused a small amount of financial damage–say, $50 worth–to each of the plaintiffs. This would make litigation impossible to pursue individually, since the cost of the lawsuit would immediately outweigh any potential award. However, if the company caused $50 worth of damage to 100,000 people, the potential award would be significant enough to justify the cost of the suit.
What Types Of Cases Become Class Action Suits?
Unfortunately, there are many types of widescale harm that can result in class action lawsuits. These include:
- Environmental: Cases where large amounts of people are harmed by pollution or contamination of the environment by a defendant, such as oil spills, chemical plant leaks, and fracking-related issues.
- Antitrust: Antitrust laws exist to protect the public from monopolies, which do not allow for fair competition in business. Antitrust class actions address cases where a large group of consumers have been collectively disadvantaged or economically harmed because a defendant violated antitrust laws, such as the laws against artificially fixing or raising prices through monopoly control.
- Data Breaches: Data breaches are an increasingly prevalent threat wherein large companies do not adequately protect their consumers’ data, leading to large-scale breaches.
- Consumer Fraud And Product Defects: Cases where a defendant willfully deceived their customers/consumers, often with false advertising and/or by knowingly selling defective products.
- Worker’s Rights And Employment Law: Cases where a large group of employees had their rights violated by an employer.
- Pharmaceutical And Medical Devices: Cases where a defendant knowingly sold a dangerous drug or medical device that went on to harm a large group of consumers (for instance, by not adequately warning consumers about potentially harmful effects or manipulating studies to understate harmful effects).
- Civil Rights: Cases that address the violation of civil rights that often have far-reaching social, political, and legislative ramifications. Examples include Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education.
Do You Think You May Be Eligible For A Class Action Lawsuit?
Texarkana Class Action Attorney Peter Corcoran is here to help. Attorney Corcoran is a skilled, experienced civil litigation attorney who knows what it takes to make class action cases work for his clients. For over 20 years, Attorney Corcoran has been serving the Texarkana community through civil litigation in Texas State Courts, as well as on the national stage in Federal Courts.
If you are pursuing a class action lawsuit in the Texarkana, TX area, Attorney Peter Corcoran and the team at The Corcoran Law Firm are ready to get started. Give yourself the best chance at success by calling Attorney Peter Corcoran today at (903) 945-6808.