What is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A Class action lawsuit typically arises when a group of people (possibly hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands) have sustained the same or similar injuries or have suffered an otherwise unlawful action that was caused by the same person, organization, product or unlawful action of another. 

If certain procedural requirements are met, those individuals can form a “class” of plaintiffs in one lawsuit as opposed to filing hundreds or thousands of individual cases. This kind of lawsuit is called a class action.

Who are Class Action Plaintiffs?

Class action plaintiffs can be defined as a group of individuals who have suffered the same or similar injuries caused by an event, person, company or product. 

Examples of class action plaintiffs include:

  • Patients who were injured from a prescription drug; 
  • residents whose homes or families were injured by an oil spill;
  • employees who were subjected to unlawful employment practices;
  • consumers who purchased a defective product that caused them an injury; or
  • investors who suffered fraud in the purchase or sale of stocks and other securities.  

Additional examples include consumer fraud, corporate misconduct, and unfair business practices.  These examples are by no means exhaustive. generally, if several dozen people were similarly injured, it may be appropriate to file a class action lawsuit.

Why Class Actions?

The purpose of a class action lawsuit is to seek relief for the people who have suffered the same or similar injuries. In some cases, the individuals’ injuries were relatively minor such that they might not want to file a lawsuit on their own.  Together, however, the value of the claims of the class add up and making, therefore, can be advantageous to the injured to file a class action lawsuit.  

Doing so means consolidating the attorneys, defendants, evidence, witnesses, and most other aspects of the litigation. If the number of people affected by the product or conduct is high, filing individual lawsuits becomes impracticable.  When the court allows, however, the group can file a class action lawsuit with a representative plaintiff first named in the lawsuit, or the “lead plaintiff” or “named plaintiff.”  

After a lawsuit has been filed, a judge will evaluate whether enough people have been injured in the same way, among other factors, and determine whether the case can move forward as a class action.  


Class Action vs Mass Tort

Another type of lawsuit brought by a group of people who suffered similar harm or losses is called a mass tort lawsuit. A Mass tort is a multi-party lawsuit based on a massive accident, such a hotel fire or an airplane crash, in which many people were injured or where there were widespread personal injuries caused by a defective product, including pharmaceutical drugs (opiates), motor vehicles (defective air bag), medical devices (Epinephrine Pen) and other consumer products.

A mass tort lawsuit differs from a class action lawsuit because the injuries suffered by the plaintiffs are too dissimilar to be considered a class. For example, a large group of people attend a concert. While the attendees are at the concert, a fire occurs. Some attendees suffer burns, some suffer broken bones and others suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. While they all suffered an injury from the fire, their injuries vary, which would classify their lawsuit as a mass tort. 

In a class action lawsuit, plaintiffs must suffer from the same injury or injustice caused by a product, individual or company. For example, if 1000 people purchase a product from an online store and are later notified that the store was selling their personal information to make extra money, those 1000 people would qualify to form a class for a class action lawsuit. This is because those 1000 people all suffered the same injustice, having their personal information sold without their knowledge or consent.  


Class Action Lawyers

If you have been injured or have suffered from an unlawful action caused by a product, person, organization, business, or a foreign entity regularly conducting business in the U.S., and you think there are others in your situation, you should seek legal counsel from a catastrophic injury lawyer in Las Vegas, NV who is experienced in representing classes of injured people in this specific type of lawsuit.

A class action attorney can begin the process of determining the parameters of a class and begin research into your claim. 


Thanks to Eglet Adams, for their explanation on class action lawsuits.