What is A Class-Action Lawsuit?

What is A Class-Action Lawsuit?

A class-action lawsuit is a lawsuit filed on behalf of a large group of people who share similar circumstances, injuries, and damages. In order to participate in a class-action lawsuit, an individual must show that his or her complaint against the defendant resembles that of other people in the class.

When bringing a class-action lawsuit, the plaintiff’s lawyers must demonstrate that everyone in the class has similar evidence against the defendant, and therefore that hearing each complaint separately would not be an efficient or cost-effective use of the court’s time. In addition to making the most efficient use of the court’s time, a class-action lawsuit also enables a regular person to participate in a suit against a large corporate or private entity that likely has more resources and expertise at its disposal than the average individual.

In a class-action lawsuit, the court generally appoints a lead plaintiff. The lead plaintiff takes a principal role in the suit, communicating with lawyers and in some cases, offering testimony to the court about the harm he or she suffered as a result of the defendant’s actions. Even though the actual damages done to an individual plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit may be small, if the same harm was done to hundreds or thousands of other people, the company’s gain at the expense of others may ultimately have been quite large.

Civil Versus Criminal Law

One thing that it is important to remember is that a class-action lawsuit is a civil, not a criminal action. Civil and criminal cases have different intended outcomes and require a different burden of proof. The intended result of a civil case is to make the plaintiff “whole” again when the other party is determined to have acted improperly. Civil law is meant to decide disputes between two private parties where one party is legally responsible for harm done to the other. Thus, in civil law, an individual files a lawsuit against another individual, or in the case of a class-action suit, a group of individuals files a lawsuit against another individual.

class action lawsuit

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In a criminal case, on the other hand, the government files charges against an individual who has committed a crime against society. The goal of a criminal lawsuit, unlike a civil suit, is to punish the wrongdoer, usually through a combination of fines and jail time, and to reform him or her if possible.

Types of Class-Action Lawsuits

There are several different types of civil lawsuits that may be filed as class-action cases. The statute of limitations for filing each type of lawsuit can vary. The term “statute of limitations” refers to the time frame during which it is possible to file a legal claim. Generally in civil court, the clock begins running either at the time when harm occurs or at the time when the victim realized or should have realized that harm occurred. If it can be proved that a lawsuit is filed outside the applicable statute of limitations, either the court or the defendant can move to have the case dismissed.

Here are few examples of the different types of class-action lawsuits. A fairly common type of civil case is the personal injury lawsuit. In this type of lawsuit, the plaintiff sues another party because that party’s recklessness or negligence has injured the victim. A related type of lawsuit is the medical malpractice lawsuit. In this type of case, the plaintiff sues a party in the healthcare profession for negligent, untrained, or inappropriate treatment. Defendants in this type of case may include doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, or any other healthcare professional. Two other types of class-action lawsuit are also quite common. These are known as consumer fraud and defective product lawsuits. In a consumer fraud suit, plaintiffs request damages as the result of harm caused by a defective product. The product must be proved to be unreasonably dangerous in a way that could not have been anticipated by a reasonable consumer. The danger could be related to flaws in the product’s design, manufacturing, or lack of appropriate warning labels. In a consumer fraud suit, a company is sued for violating any number of laws designed for the consumer’s protection.

The Douglas and London Law Firm represents clients across the entire US. Bringing decades of experience to the courtroom, they are the premier attorneys in New York. Contact Douglas and London for a free case assessment.

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