There has been a rise in class action lawsuits for a variety of reasons including most recently class actions with respect to Covid-related issues like the duty to refund money to consumers when events are canceled, whether insurance coverage exists for Covid-related losses and whether students who are forced to participate in virtual learning are able to recover damages and/or get refunds because they were deprived of the opportunity to attend classes in person. As more and more consumers are receiving class action notices in the mail, more are filing claim forms and attempting to receive compensation for their losses.
What is a class action lawsuit?
Class action claims are legal actions that a lead plaintiff or plaintiffs file against one or more defendants. A class action will also ask the Court to certify a class of all class members who were damaged by the same course of conduct, and any person who suffered a loss is referred to as a class member.. Each class member will have suffered similar injuries to other class members due to the actions or inactions of the defendant(s). Injuries can include financial losses and physical injury, among others.
After a class action is filed, Plaintiffs’ counsel will petition the Court to certify a class of injured parties. When deciding whether to certify a class, the Court will analyze a variety of factors, including numerosity (whether there are enough class members to warrant certification), commonality (whether issues common to all class members exist and predominate over individual issues), typicality (whether the facts and claims alleged by the lead plaintiff or plaintiffs are typical of the claims of absent class members) and the adequacy of representation. If a judge decides that these factors are met and that it is appropriate to pursue relief on behalf of a class, the Court will certify the class.
Settlement or trial
Once the class is certified, and the discovery process (review of documents, taking of depositions of fact and expert witnesses and the like) is complete,the parties and their counsel will have to decide whether to settle the case or go to trial.
In the event a settlement is reached between the parties, they will ask the Court to approve the settlement. The Court will then undertake an analysis of whether the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate under the given circumstances. Once the Court approves a settlement on a preliminary basis, class members will be provided notice of the settlement and an opportunity to object to it. After this notice period, the Court will determine whether to approve the proposed settlement on a final basis. . If a settlement is not reached or if a proposed settlement conclusively rejected by the Court, the case will eventually go to trial.
Class action lawsuits are an efficient and manageable way to allow multiple plaintiffs who have suffered similar injuries to pursue their claims.