Class action lawsuits serve an important purpose in the United States legal system and our broader society by giving a voice to groups of individuals who wish to take legal action against an individual, business, or larger entity for harmful or illegal conduct.
There are a couple of ways an individual might be introduced to the prospect of joining a class action lawsuit. One scenario involves receiving a “Notice of Class Action Lawsuit” by mail.
Individuals might also begin researching class action lawsuits as a result of their own negative experience with workplace discrimination, drug recalls, data breaches, or another form of illegal conduct—and wish to learn if anyone else has experienced the same issue.
In any case, unless you’re a legal scholar or professional, you likely have questions regarding:
- what a class action lawsuit is
- the different types of class action lawsuits
- how a class action lawsuit works
- how to find a class action attorney near you
If you’ve been harmed by unlawful behavior or a defective product and want to know if there are others in your situation, time is of the essence—and we can help you get started.
The class action attorneys of Florin|Roebig are dedicated to helping individuals who have been affected by large-scale harms initiate or join a class action lawsuit to seek compensation for suffered damages.
What Is A Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit is a type of lawsuit that involves a group, or “class” of people pursuing legal recourse for identical or similar injuries caused by a harmful or otherwise unlawful product, service, or action.
In this context, the term injuries can refer to actual, physical injury, as well as damage to one’s reputation, or rights violations.
Class actions are formed when there are too many potential plaintiffs to file a single personal injury or product liability lawsuit and filing multiple individual cases is determined to be impractical.
Who’s Involved In A Class Action Lawsuit?
When it comes to understanding the different sides represented within class action lawsuits, it’s important to know these two important terms—the named plaintiff and the defendant.
The named plaintiff, sometimes referred to as as the lead or representative plaintiff, is an individual appointed by the court to represent those who have been harmed by the product, individual, or entity—acting as the “voice” of the group.
This person will take a more active role in the lawsuit proceedings compared to the rest of the plaintiffs, and is often responsible for:
- hiring a class action attorney
- consulting with the attorney throughout the process
- fairly representing the entire class of plaintiffs
- serving as the public face for the class
- making decisions concerning the settlement
The defendant, or defendants, are those named responsible in the lawsuit for the harmful product, service, or action. This can be a single individual, multiple individuals, or one or more larger entities—such as a company, manufacturer, or broader institution.
Different Types Of Class Action Lawsuits
Class actions arise in response to various instances in which individuals have been harmed or have otherwise had their rights infringed upon due to the negligence or unlawful behavior of the defendant.
That is, there are many different types of class actions.
The most common types of class action lawsuits are as follows:
Environmental issues, such as air pollution or contaminated water, are not problems that typically affect just one or two people.
These issues affect groups of people—communities—and can, therefore, involve a number of potential plaintiffs in the event that these affected individuals decide to pursue legal action.
Examples of environmental issues that might spur a class action lawsuit include:
- oil spills
- contaminated water supply
- toxic chemicals released from a local chemical plant or factory
A prominent example of an environmental class action lawsuit is the 1979 class action filed by U.S. veterans against the manufacturers of the toxic wartime chemical, Agent Orange.
This chemical, which was exposed to numerous U.S. servicemen during the Vietnam War, was later discovered to have damaging environmental effects and cause major health problems among those exposed, including leukemia, various types of cancer, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Class actions formed on account of consumer fraud concern any situation in which an individual, business, or entity has willfully deceived their consumers for monetary gain.
Examples of consumer fraud might include:
- misleading or false advertising
- violation of consumer protection laws
- defective products
Antitrust class actions are filed against an entity that has violated antitrust laws, thereby resulting in the unlawful and collective economic loss of a group of consumers (plaintiffs).
Antitrust violations that might provoke class action include:
- artificially raising prices for products or services
- fixing prices for products or services in order to prevent competition
United States antitrust laws serve to protect American consumers and their economic interests through the regulation of business practices. Antitrust laws also prevent the development of a monopoly, where a single business might fix their prices to rid the market of its competitors.
Defective products can become the subject of an individual as well as class action lawsuits, depending on the scope of the issue and how many people are affected.
If a single product is defective, and that defectiveness leads to the personal injury of a single individual, that individual may be able to seek compensation through an individual claims process.
However, if it’s an entire product line that’s defective, impacting a large number of people, a class action suit might be more practical to address the scope of the impact.
Examples of product defects that might be seen in class action cases include:
- defective airbags
- contaminated food items
- faulty ignition switches in an automobile line
- hazardous asbestos building materials
Pharmaceutical (drug) class action cases have gained particular prominence in recent years as a result of the opioid crisis, leading to class action suits against large-scale pharmaceutical companies such as Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson.
Dangerous drug class action lawsuits may be filed under varying circumstances, as a result of:
the negligence of a drug company to provide a full list or adequately warn consumers of drug side effects
misconstruing research into the effects and potential hazards of drugs
and defective contraceptive or pharmaceutical devices
The effects of dangerous drugs or pharmaceutical devices can be far-reaching, leading to numerous potential plaintiffs and millions or even billions of dollars in settlements.
Recent examples of pharmaceutical class action lawsuits include:
- Zantac cancer lawsuits against drugmakers, Sanofi-Aventis LLC and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
- Opioid lawsuits against Purdue Pharma for failing to disclose the high addiction potential of their opioid drugs (e.g. OxyContin)
- Risperdal (risperidone) class action lawsuits for breast tissue growth side effects in young men
- Gilead Sciences TDF class action lawsuits for the drugs’ link to kidney disease and bone density loss
- Johnson & Johnson talcum powder lawsuits for carcinogenic effects
Class actions addressing social and civil rights have played a significant role in shaping and implementing civil protections for individuals in the United States on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other marginalized identities.
Civil rights cases may also address issues such as fair conduct of police departments and have historically been instrumental in addressing issues such as racial segregation in public schools and lack of accommodations for disabled populations.
Examples of landmark civil rights cases are as follows:
- Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
- Roe v. Wade (1973)
- Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (1998)
- Lois E. Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co. (1988)
Data breach class actions address breach of data concerns that affect anywhere from tens to millions of people, depending on the size of the breach and the scope of the user population.
Personal and payment information are the most crucial concerns in data breaches, as this can put individuals who are affected by the breach at serious risk for identity theft and financial security issues.
One recent example of a data breach lawsuit is the $117 million class action settlement resolving multiple Yahoo data breaches. Another notable example from recent years is the 2017 Equifax data breach, which affected an estimated 147 million people worldwide and led to the setup of a $425 million consumer fund to provide relief to those impacted.
Class actions that address issues in the workplace, such as discrimination, sexual harassment, failing to comply with wage and hour laws, and other unlawful practices may be classified as workers rights or employment suits.
Workers rights class actions can, in many cases, be more influential on a systemic level than individual lawsuits, which may result in a fruitful individual settlement but may fail to address the root cause of the issue.
Class action lawsuits, on the other hand, can force the defendant to change their practices and influence standards within other employment settings, in addition to doling out a satisfactory settlement.
Examples of recent and ongoing workers rights class actions include:
- Uber and Lyft driver lawsuits
- Bank of America overtime lawsuit
- DoorDash and Grubhub delivery drivers rights
How Class Action Lawsuits Work
All it takes is a single individual to initiate a class action lawsuit. This process begins with a single person contacting an attorney on behalf of themselves and others who have been unlawfully harmed by a product, action, or service.
From here, a group of members can form to join a class action, with the purpose of demanding compensation for identical or similar injuries suffered as a result of the harm.
Consumer-related class actions are typically governed by Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which outlines the process of a court ruling on whether class action is appropriate given the circumstances described in the filed complaint.
If and when the class action is certified, the court is then required to provide notice to all members of the affected class, alerting members of the proposed class action and the settlement. At this point, in most cases, those who receive this notice can then decide to “opt in” or “opt out” of the suit.
If you receive notice of being a member of a class action, you are not necessarily required to participate in the suit. Joining the class action will generally be your own decision to make as an individual member.
If you join the suit, unless you are the named plaintiff, little else will be required on your end. You will receive awarded compensation in the event that the suit is successful, and this will waive your right to file an individual lawsuit against the defendant.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Class-Action Lawsuits
Understanding your legal rights in a class action situation can be confusing without clear guidance from a legal professional.
Here are answers to some of the most common questions people have for our attorneys regarding the requirements and overall process of class action lawsuits:
How Many People Do You Need For A Class Action Lawsuit?
There is no specific number of members required for a class action lawsuit. The minimum recommendation for class actions, however, is at least forty plaintiffs—depending on the scope of the harm.
Some class actions may be filed with fewer members. For instance, the recent sexual assault class action filed against rideshare company, Lyft, contains a class of nineteen women and one man, each presenting allegations of rape or sexual assault by a Lyft driver.
According to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, an eligible case for class action must feature “numerosity,” requiring that the harm is extensive enough that filing individual lawsuits would be judged impractical.
How Much Does It Cost To Join A Class Action Lawsuit?
There is no cost requirement for joining a class action. If the lawsuit is successful, attorney fees are typically deducted from the court award or settlements. Lawyers and attorneys who handle class actions will only receive a fee in the event of a favorable outcome.
What Are The Advantages Of Class Actions?
Joining or initiating a class action lawsuit can offer several benefits. First, it can offer a sense of solidarity across the class of individuals who have been harmed by the unlawful product, action, or service.
Additional advantages of class action suits:
- no lawyer fees
- more viable for individuals with limited time and financial resources
- greater efficiency
- no responsibility for attorney fees, as these are typically paid out of the recoveries
- uniform judgments
- equal compensation across the class
- little action required on your end, unless you are the lead plaintiff
- streamlined process involving one judge, one court, and a single decision
- most viable option for legal recourse under circumstances where damages are too minor to litigate on an individual level, but may be litigated more successfully in light of the cumulative harm
What Can You Win From A Class Action Lawsuit?
If a class action results in a favorable outcome, you will receive winnings that are equal across the class, with the possible exception of the lead plaintiff. These winnings are typically awarded in the way of financial compensation.
One factor to consider when deciding whether to join a class action is the degree of harm you have suffered relative to the rest of the class. If you believe you’ve suffered losses that are greater than other members of the class, you may be able to receive more compensation by opting out of the class action and filing an individual claim.
What Does It Mean To Opt Out Of A Class Action Lawsuit?
Upon receiving a notice of the class action, under certain circumstances you may have the option to “opt out” of the class. Opting out of a class action lawsuit means you are deciding not to be a part of the suit—exempting you from any share of the awarded compensation.
There are several reasons why a person might choose to opt-out of a class action.
For instance, you might wish to opt out if:
- you want to bring your own individual charge against the defendant
- you wish to seek compensation for individual damages that are not specified in the class action case (i.e. your losses were greater than those of the average member, resulting in higher associated costs)
- you don’t wish to be a part of any legal action against the defendant
As a member of a class action, it’s in your best interest to speak to an attorney before making a decision to opt out. Consulting with an attorney can provide you with greater clarity on what your best course of action might be based on your individual losses and the details of the case.
Class Action Attorneys Serving The U.S.
If you’ve suffered an injury as a result of a harmful or unlawful product, service, or action—you may be eligible for compensation. And if you’re not the only person who has been harmed, this compensation may be sought through joining or initiating a class action lawsuit.
The class action attorneys of Florin|Roebig can help you get started, serving clients in several areas nationwide out of our offices in Florida, Texas, Minnesota, and Colorado.
Our team of results-driven class action attorneys include:
- Wil H. Florin, B.C.S.
- Tommy D. Roebig, B.C.S.
- Michael L. Walker, B.C.S.
- Chase P. Florin, B.C.S.
- Neil P. O’Brien, M.B.A.
- Shaun M. Cummings
- Luca G. Esposito
- Chad K. Florin, M.B.A., LL.M.
- Nicholas S. Costantino
- Josh T. Walker
- Jordan A. Kolinski
- Catherine J. Sams
- Parker Y. Florin, LL.M.
- Taylor D. Roebig
- Kavon P. Smith
- Matthew L. McMullen
- Michael A. Ossi, O.C.
- Lawrence J. Najem, O.C.
- Andrew M. Leone, O.C.
- Nollys R. Solarte, O.C.
- Brian R. Dettman, O.C.
Find An Experienced Class Action Attorney Near You
It’s estimated that more than 10,000 class action lawsuits are filed in U.S. federal and state courts each year, and the payout for these settlements can be substantial—in some cases, reaching upwards of billions of dollars.
The class action attorneys of Florin|Roebig can help you navigate the process of filing or joining a class action lawsuit and help you recover your losses. Our track record as one of the “Best Law Firms in America” earning nearly $1 billion in results for clients nationwide speaks for itself.
Don’t wait to learn more about your eligibility to recover compensation as part of a class action.
Call the offices of Florin|Roebig today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our award-winning class action attorneys to discuss your story and determine your eligibility for class action.