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So, What Exactly Is a Class Action Lawsuit?

What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A "class action" lawsuit is one in which a group of people with the same or similar injuries caused by the same product or action sue the defendant as a group. People seek justice in class action lawsuits when their injuries have been caused by, among other things, defective products, including pharmaceutical drugs, motor vehicles and other consumer products, and medical devices. Other types of conduct over which people have sued as a class include consumer fraud, corporate misconduct, securities fraud, and employment practices.

If you have been harmed by a product or corporation and you think there are others in your situation, consult the lawyers at GRESHAM pc for a free case evaluation.

The class action vehicle is used generally when a number of people have suffered the same or similar injuries. Often many of the individuals' injuries were relatively minor, such that they might not pursue legal redress on their own. Together, however, the value of the claims of the class add up, and suing as a class means consolidating the attorneys, defendant, evidence, witnesses, and most other aspects of the litigation. If the number of people affected by the product or conduct is high, it becomes impractical or even impossible for them to file individual lawsuits. When a class action is permitted, the group files the lawsuit with a representative plaintiff, called a "named plaintiff" or "lead plaintiff," at the forefront.

There are many examples of class action lawsuits. A class may consist of a group of employees who were subjected to race discrimination, a number of patients who were prescribed a drug with injurious side effects, a neighborhood of residents whose homes or families were injured by a toxic spill, all the consumers who purchased a defective product that caused them injuries, or corporate investors who suffered fraud in the purchase or sale of stocks and other securities.

Notice to Potential Class Members

Every person who would be affected by the court's decision in the class action is entitled to notice that the action has started. Although it usually is not possible to give every such individual personal notice, all persons who might be affected are entitled to the best notice possible. The court will order that the class representative, through his or her attorneys, make reasonable attempts to notify any unknown class members by general media such as television, an advertisement in a magazine or newspaper, or a posted flyer. The court will tailor the type of notice required to the particular facts of the case. Those people who are notified then have the opportunity to join in the action-called "opting in"-or to decide not participate as a member of the class-that is, to "opt out." In some cases, individuals don't have the opportunity to opt out. For example, if a class action has been filed over particular injuries caused by a particular defendant, all people who are similarly situated are automatically in the class and must live with the outcome.

Why Class Actions?

A benefit of the class action format is its efficiency. The class action lawsuit brings together and disposes of thousands of claims at one time that are impractical to litigate individually. The judge decides the basic question of who wins with regard to the entire group. If the defendant wins, the class lawsuit is dismissed and the individuals in the group are prohibited from filing new or individual lawsuits over the same issue against the same defendant. If the class of plaintiffs wins, the court finds the defendant liable for the plaintiffs' injuries, and the amount of recovery is later divided among the plaintiffs.

Because it aggregates small claims, the class action format lowers the high cost of litigation. Also, class actions are usually brought by attorneys who are particularly trained and experienced in litigating and managing complicated lawsuits.

Another benefit of the class action is that it seeks to ensure that all injured plaintiffs receive something. It may be the case that the defendant is bankrupt or for some other reason cannot afford to pay each individual the full amount necessary to cover his or her losses. When the class wins the lawsuit, each participant receives some payment, even if it is not an amount to fully cover damages. Absent a class action, payment by the defendant would be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Class Action Judgments

In a class action, the court's decision applies to every participant who has opted into the class. All individuals who fit within the court's original definition of a class member are bound by the final court decision, even if they never actually go to court or otherwise participate in the lawsuit.

Payment to the participants in the class action usually follows a "plan of distribution." With the help of the parties and their attorneys, the judge develops the plan to distribute the amount that the plaintiff class won in the lawsuit minus the attorneys' fees and litigation costs. Each member of the class may receive certain percentage of the total amount fund, or may receive a certain dollar figure. In some cases, the attorneys seek and obtain permission for an individualized, in depth review of each participant's claim, so as to tailor the amount awarded to each class member to the "value" of his or her claim. This method is relatively rare, however, especially in large class actions.

When the parties in a class action lawsuit decide to settle, the presiding judge must approve the settlement, making sure it is fair to all parties.

Class actions are a highly effective and efficient form of civil litigation. If you have been injured by a product's side effects or an environmental spill in your neighborhood, the best means of redress is a class action. Accordingly, you should not hesitate to contact the firm of classaction.com in Los Angeles, California, to have one of its experienced attorneys evaluate the potential of your case as a class action.

So, why is a class action preferable?

Filing and fighting a lawsuit can cost a great deal of money. For the average person, that can place justice out of their reach. But if that person becomes a part of a class (a group of similarly situated people), if the class can find a lawyer willing to finance and litigate a lawsuit, then all members of the class have a chance to right a wrong.

That is a class action lawsuit - a lawsuit brought on behalf of many similarly situated people who have been harmed in the same way by the same entity.

Usually class action litigation will have very few named plaintiffs (one or two is common), but those plaintiffs represent many other people - hundreds, thousands, sometimes millions of people.

Do you have a case that might be a class action? If so, contact the attorneys at GRESHAM pc for a free case evaluation.

Class action lawsuits: Small claims multiplied by many people

The harm done to one person may amount to a relatively small amount of money - an extra $10 fee when you buy a product or service, for example. But if that $10 is multiplied by all the people who had to pay it, the amount could be a profit of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to the company that charged the bogus fee. A successful class action lawsuit can force the company to pay back all the members of the class plus pay a penalty.

ClassAction.com: A resource for righting the wrongs of others.

You may have a case that just isn't worth fighting on its own - an employer who doesn't pay the right amount of overtime, manufacturers who fix prices on products, a household product that fails in normal usage or is different than marketed. By joining with others in a class action, you will be helping yourself and others, and you will be sending a message that wrongdoing has a price.

ClassAction.com: Finding lawyers who fight for justice

Not many law firms have the resources to invest in class action lawsuits. Many firms that do have the resources do not want to use those resources to fight difficult cases. The lawyers at GRESHAM pc are ready to take on the difficult cases against some of the world's largest corporations, like Google. So, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

Class action lawsuits: Lawyers seeking justice for many people

Not every law firm or attorney has the resources to file a class action lawsuit. It takes a significant financial investment to investigate the wrongdoing, use the legal discovery process to obtain evidence, consult with expert witnesses, obtain class action certification, and fight the case in court - all against the formidable resources of a large corporation.

Dean Gresham served as co-lead class counsel in classactions against Google and other search engines, which resulted in a reform of the internet pay-per-click advertising industry; an electric blanket manufacturer, which resulted in getting some 20 million defective blankets out of the homes of unsuspecting consumers; and the gas piping industry for defectively designing and marketing a type of gas conduit installed in many new construction homes across the country.

Tell us about your case.

At GRESHAM pc, you can share your experiences and determination in the fight for justice. Fill out the form on this page or on the Contact Us page. There is no cost or obligation for us to evaluate the case. This is one of the few opportunities to hold businesses accountable for their actions.

Contact GRESHAM pc today to discuss a potential class action case.

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