Class action suits allow one representative plaintiff to sue a defendant(s) for loss on behalf of a larger group of people who have all been similarly affected. This representative plaintiff is appointed by the court. In pursuing one claim instead of multiple, class actions are more cost effective for a group, and also allow for the privacy of the plaintiffs. However, as mentioned previously, a class action suit must deal with an issue common to all members of the group.
In order to move forward as a class action, a motion for certification must be put forth so that the action can be “certified” by a judge. The process of certification ascertains whether the case can be properly dealt with as a class action; the criteria for this are, there must be a cause for the action presented, a identified class or group, explicitly addressing matters of concern in common amongst this class or group, an explanation as to why a class action is the desirable procedure for remedying the issues, and finally is led by a suitable plaintiff. It is the plaintiff’s responsibility to show that there is a basis for the class action, and that the evidence compiled supports the relevance of the complaint.
Settlements to class action suits bind all members of the group, though members do have the option to opt out and pursue their own legal action.
A class action suit helps level the playing field with large corporations and governments, allowing access to justice for larger groups of people who are otherwise unable to proceed with cases on their own, such as groups of employees, pensioners, purchasers of a product, or consumers and residents of a municipality.
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