Class action lawsuits are a legal device that allows one or more plaintiffs to file and process a lawsuit on behalf of a larger group or class. This type of lawsuit seeks to rectify the damages suffered by individuals in the group, generally through monetary gain. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, enacted in 1938, set in motion the class action mechanism in accordance with the original version of Rule 23. Class action lawsuits provide legal relief to large numbers of people who were harmed by a corporation and suffered only relatively small monetary losses. The purpose of a class action lawsuit is to provide compensation to a large number of people who suffered similar harm, whether financial or physical, as a result of an illegal or unlawful act.
When large numbers of people lose money due to a wrongful act by a company, a class action lawsuit may be the only way for these people to get legal help. Settlements and verdicts in class action lawsuits can be quite important, which is why experienced lawyers are often hired to represent people in these types of lawsuits. Generally, most class action lawsuits are resolved within two to three years, although they may take longer if an appeal is filed by the defendant. If there are 20 plaintiffs or fewer, it is likely that the class action lawsuit will not meet the numerosity rule for certifying a class action. When filing a class action lawsuit, it is important to hire an attorney who specializes in this area or in a specific type of class action lawsuit. The document you receive will explain why the class action lawsuit is being initiated and how you can participate.
You should also discuss with your lawyer whether you should be the lead plaintiff. Class action lawsuits can be divided into subclasses when certain members of the group want different types of redress, such as compensation for one group or medical follow-up for another group. Therefore, while it has its origin in fairness, a class action lawsuit is now a useful procedural litigation device that allows a small number of plaintiffs to represent and legally compel an entire group through a single lawsuit.