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Can I Start a Class Action Lawsuit?

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. | Last updated on

You can start a class action lawsuit under certain circumstances. But you need a class of people with similar injuries that need representation, and a court will have to approve that class.

Class action lawsuits are consolidated cases. They exist for efficiency's sake. But they can be intense and complex. These cases involve an inordinate amount of administration and can be taxing on resources. You will need the assistance of an attorney who is knowledgeable in class actions.

Process for Getting Certified

Counsel's first moves will be to seek class certification. Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure outlines the requirements for creating a class, as follows:

  1. Class is so big too many members to all join in a standard suit.
  2. There are questions of law or fact common to all parties.
  3. The claims or defenses of the representative party are typical of the claims or defenses of the class.
  4. The representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

If all four of the above requirements are met, the court will also consider the following:

  1. Where individual litigation would require the opposing party to act inconsistently to different class members or to those not party to the individual action.
  2. Where the opposing party has refused to act on grounds that can be applied to the whole class such that the same relief for the whole class would be appropriate.
  3. Where questions of law or fact common to the whole class outweigh issues impacting only individual plaintiffs so that a class action is the best way to determine respective rights and liabilities.

Why Bring a Class Action

A class action is brought when a group of people have the same or similar injuries and it makes more sense to bring a single claim on behalf of multiple plaintiffs. One such suit was filed against Apple recently when a couple in San Jose sued on behalf of all iOS9 users who were not warned that having a Wi-Fi assist service on default yielded exorbitant cell phone bills.

The couple in California does not know every single user impacted as they were by the service. But they were able to tell -- based on news reports and research -- that the default setting was a problem that impacted many consumers.

Class actions are often a good vehicle for cases where damages are relatively minimal but plaintiffs are many. The named plaintiff or lead plaintiff has the representative claim. All other plaintiffs' claims are decided based on the decision regarding the named plaintiff.

Consult With an Attorney

Given the complexity of class actions, you absolutely need an attorney if you intend to sue and want to do so on behalf of a group of plaintiffs. Class actions are important and can be very effective. Whether you want to sue on behalf of a group of employees who were discriminated against or on behalf of a group of people harmed by a product or service, speak to an attorney.

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