At Shebell & Shebell We Stand Up For the Rights of Consumers
Class action lawsuits allow one or more plaintiffs to file a lawsuit on behalf of a larger group, or “class.” Class actions begin with a complaint made by one or more individuals. Often these individuals have suffered such a minor economic injury that litigating would cost much more than they could ever hope to recover. However, by filing a class action lawsuit, injured consumers are able to harness the power of many and get justice against the corporation that has harmed them.
For example, if you contracted with a company, and agreed to pay $50 per month for a specified service, but every month they added a twenty-five cent surcharge to your bill that you did not agree to, it would not make sense to hire a lawyer and take the company to court. The cost of litigation, and the time and energy you would have to expend, would not make it worth your while. However, if this company has one million customers, and a single customer complains, the entire class can be notified and a single class action lawsuit can be filed on behalf of all the customers.
Prerequisites For a Class Action
Federal law establishes four prerequisites that must be met before litigation can proceed.
- The number of plaintiffs must be so numerous, that it would be impractical for each of them to pursue individual lawsuits. The law does not express a specific number.
- The plaintiffs all must have similar legal claims against the defendants, or, their claims must arise from the same factual circumstances. In other words, the plaintiffs must have suffered a similar injury.
- The claims or defenses of the class representative are typical of the claims or defenses of the other class members. Most class actions have a lead plaintiff and attorney, who represent the interests of the entire class.
- The representative (and the class action attorney) will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.
Incentives For the Class Representative
Class actions rely on one consumer to represent the interests of the entire class of injured consumers. In order to encourage people to step forward, courts often award an incentive payment to the lead plaintiff for expending their time and energy in standing up against the offending company.
The Class Action Process
Once a class action suit is filed, the court must “certify” it, meaning they carefully review the case to ensure the above described requirements are met. A ruling on certification is just the first hurdle in a class action case.
As a member of the class, you may be bound by the results of a settlement or trial, even though you were only a passive participant in the litigation process. In fact, many people aren’t even aware that they are part of a class action lawsuit until they receive notification of a settlement. Sometimes these notifications are given to consumers via the media, and not by mail or email. Some types of class actions give class members the option to exclude themselves and prosecute their cases individually.
If you have been harmed by fraud, deceptive practices or a defective product, you need an experienced consumer class action lawyer who can stand up against large corporations. If you think your case warrants investigation, contact a class action lawyer at Shebell & Shebell online, or call us at 866-957-5237 for a free consultation.