Do you and your friends want to sue an evil giant corporation? Do all of you share the same stories of hurt and betrayal caused by the dangers of capitalistic entities? Well, you’re in luck! Because I will tell you what you need to know on how to start a class action lawsuit. But first, let’s briefly run through what a class action lawsuit is.
Fundamentally, a class action lawsuit is several lawsuits by multiple individuals combined into one. Any group of individuals can file a class action lawsuit if they are harmed, injured, or had their rights violated by the wrongdoings of another entity or organization. However, the lawsuit that the group files must fulfill certain criteria before it officially becomes a class action lawsuit. The individuals of the group must also meet specific legal requirements in order for their group to be considered a class. The class then designates an individual or two to be their lead plaintiff or plaintiffs to work with their lawyers and represent them in court.
Got that? Now you have the basics down pat! You may immediately gather your friends (and their friends, if applicable). It’s time to get a handle on how to start your own class action lawsuit.
Starting Your Class Action
Step 1: Get A lawyer!
Well, duh. If you want to start a class action lawsuit, you know you need one… or two. Consult with lawyers right away, so you’ll know whether your legal complaint will be a valid class action. They will also ask you to submit documents that help support your case. The lawyer, or lawyers, assigned to your case will then evaluate your lawsuit and determine whether it satisfies the following criteria:
- Has a number of people that are injured in the same way
*Although no specific number of individuals are required for a class action, the recommended minimum is forty.
- Has a good success rate based on previous rulings and judicial opinions of lawsuits with similar claims
- There is the existence of similar lawsuits with similar allegations
- The plaintiff’s ability to comply with the time limit for filing under the applicable statute of limitations is good
- The defendant’s capacity to be sued is high
- The filing of a class-action lawsuit will be more effective than filing a regular lawsuit
Also, do know that a lawsuit’s ticket to class action status is dependent on whether there are common issues shared between the people making the claim, and whether it is easy to identify those who have been affected by the accused’s wrongdoings.
Step 2: Organize The Plaintiffs & File Away!
Once a class action lawsuit is decided to be the best means of resolving the legal issue, the lawyers and the plaintiffs must choose among the plaintiffs who would best represent the class in court. They will be the lead plaintiffs. Usually, in a class, there will be one or two lead plaintiffs representing all of the people who want to file the lawsuit. Lead plaintiff/s run the case with their lawyers and are the ones who appear in court on behalf of the class. They must not have any history of fraud or other forms of criminal dishonesty. It should be reiterated that individuals in the class of plaintiffs must have suffered the same injury or violation of rights caused by the defendant’s actions, and the lead plaintiff/s must exemplify those injuries or violations.
As soon as the lead plaintiffs have been chosen, the lawyers then draft a complaint. And together with the lead plaintiffs, they file it in court. The lead plaintiffs must then serve the complaint on the defendant. However, the real nitty-gritty step in this process is to have the class certified.
Step 3: Class Certification Is Key!
Once the class action complaint is filed and served on the defendant, a court must certify the class. No class certification, no case. More potential plaintiffs can be notified that a lawsuit will be taking place and could involve them as class members, after certification. The class must meet the following requirements for certification:
- Numerosity: The class members must be so numerous that it will be impractical for them to file separate lawsuits
- Commonality: The lead plaintiff or plaintiffs must present “questions of law or fact” that are common among all the cases of the class members (the questions must be based on the same problem or unlawful action)
- Typicality: The lead plaintiff or plaintiffs must have the same legal claims and defenses as all the class members, and any defenses to those claims would be the same or very typical (the claims and defenses of the lead plaintiff/s must be so typical of the class)
- Adequacy Of Representation: The lead plaintiff or plaintiffs’ ability to justly and adequately represent and protect the interests of the class members (the law firm representing the class will also be scrutinized, especially regarding lawyer compensation)
Getting a class certified is not just a matter of ticking off a checklist. A judge can exercise a fair amount of discretion with their decisions, and the arguments for and against certification can take a long while. If the class is certified, the legal case can move on to pre-trial procedures. A certified class does not mean the judge thinks the defendant is automatically at fault. It just means that the defendant is now facing a legitimate lawsuit.
Step 4: Know Your Choices!
If you become one of the lucky ones to be considered a class member in a class action lawsuit, you will be notified via mail. The mailed document should explain the lawsuit, how you came to be considered a class member, and your rights as a class member. You will then have the following choices to make:
- Do nothing
You shall remain a class member and will then share any judgment, award, or settlement that your class action earns in due time. Having said that, you may not be able to file a separate lawsuit based on the same complaints. This is because you become legally bound by the resolution of the class action.
- Opt out
You shall not move forward as a class member and will not share in any judgment, award, or settlement that the class action earns in due time. You may file a separate lawsuit based on the same complaints, however. You can do this when you feel like you have a higher chance of winning or winning more on your own. You won’t become legally bound by the resolution of the class action and can file your own lawsuit against the defendant (after the resolution of the class action that you opted out of).
- Get your own attorney
You will remain a class member but will have your own separate attorney represent your interests to ensure that the class action moves forward in a manner that is fair and just to all.
It is so important to hold people accountable for their actions. The ones with wealth, power, and influence, most especially. At the same time, one needs to know their rights in order to properly fight for them. Do you hear the people sing, singing the music of people who will not be slaves again? Do you now know how to start a class action lawsuit? Yes? Great. Then gather your friends and get to suing!
Deinah Storm used to work in the corporate world as a marketing affiliate. She quit her job to pursue her passion for writing, but to this day, Deinah is committed to educating consumers about the different marketing scams and how to avoid them.