A class action lawsuit occurs when many people with the same type of claim sue the same defendants for damages. For example, you may have been injured by a medical device like one of the women who suffered autoimmune disease after receiving a silicone breast implant. The women joined together to file a class action lawsuit. Major breast implant manufacturers paid $3.4 billion to settle the case.
Or you may have purchased a defective product like the 475,000 Americans who bought a Volkswagen or Audi with a faulty emission system. You may recall that in 2015 the Volkswagen admitted to cheating by installing software that falsified the emissions tests. According to a Fortune magazine article, the vehicle emissions exceeded legal pollution levels by up to 40 times.In October 2016 the car company entered into a class action settlement of the owners’ lawsuit and claims by the federal government and California for $14.7 billion, including $10.033 billion in owner buybacks and compensation to each owner of between $5,100 and $10,000.
What are the Benefits of a Class Action Lawsuit?
The giant car manufacturer’s case provides a good example of three of the benefits of a class action lawsuit.
- First, it allowed the individual car owners to make a claim the would have been costly and difficult to make individually.
- Second, it saved the court from administering 475,000 individual lawsuits.
- Third, it forced Volkswagen to admit to its mistake and to pay damages to those who were injured.
What Types of Cases Can Become Class Action Lawsuits?
Class action lawsuits commonly involve claims by many people for damages caused by one of the following:
- A defective or dangerous product, typically used by consumers
- An employment-related problem, such as unpaid overtime or background check errors
- Fraudulent information provided to investors
- Fraudulent business practices directed at consumers.
Class actions also can be used when many people jointo seek a change in public policy. For example, the residents of Hinkley, California, successfully sued Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for intentionally contaminating the town’s groundwater with carcinogenic wastewater. The case was settled for $333 million in 1996 and became the movie “Erin Brockovich.”
Can I Join a Class Action?
If you believe that you may have been damaged, here are two ways to learn whether others with similar damages have filed a class action lawsuit which you can join:
- Contact the non-profit org which provides consumers with an online list of open class action lawsuits and investigations.
- Do your own online check. For example, if you have a defective car, you can enter the year and model and the phrase “class action”. If a class action exists, you should find information about how to join the class.
How Do I Start My Own Class Action Lawsuit?
You will need to contact a class action attorney. Class action lawsuits are extremely complicated. After reviewing your case, she may file a lawsuit in either federal or state court and seek class action certification by the court.
- Class certification is not automatic. By federal rule, after a hearing the judge must first find that:
- the class is so numerous that joinder of all members isimpracticable;
- there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
- the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and
- the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.
- If the judge certified the class, as lead plaintiff you may be named as the representative party and become responsible for hiring the attorney, consulting with the attorney on the case, and agreeing to any settlement. You may be entitled to additional compensation out of any recovery.
- After certification, your attorney will send out notices, specified by the court, to all other possible class members. The notice will include a provision allowing class members to opt-out of the lawsuit. Those who opt-out will not share in any settlement.
- The court must approve any settlement, including the amount of class attorney fees to be paid by defendants and the amount of compensation for class members. The court also will require that all class members be given written notice of the terms of the settlement and be advised that they can object.
Contact an Experienced Class Action Law Attorney
To get the money you deserve, call Lemberg Law at 855-301-2100. Our class action lawyers will review your case and give you no-nonsense answers to your questions.