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Certifying a Class Lawyers

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What is a Class Action?

A class action lawsuit is a lawsuit where different people combine their similar complaints.  This works to save court time and resources by allowing a single judge to hear the consolidated complaints.  A typical example of a class action lawsuit is a tobacco suit filed by a large number of smokers.  The lawsuit usually begins as a putative class action, meaning that there actually is not a class attached to the lawsuit, but just a group of people who are potential plaintiffs. Before a class action lawsuit can go ahead, a judge must certify this group of plaintiffs as a class.

What are the Requirements for Certifying a Class?

There are several requirements a court will consider when deciding on whether to certify a class.  The following are the factors considered by most courts in a class action lawsuit: 

  • Numerosity - there must be an adequate number of plaintiffs, usually over 30
  • Commonality - there must be common damages and legal issues
  • Typicality - each class member's claim must come from the same event, and must make the same legal argument
  • Adequacy of Representation - the representative plaintiff must adequately protect and represent the interests of the class
  • Viability of Defendant - the defendant should have sufficient finances to pay all the members of a class if the lawsuit is successful

Who Pays the Lawyers in a Class Action Lawsuit?

Lawyers who represent a class action usually work on a contingency basis, meaning they are paid a percentage of whatever damages are awarded.

Should I Contact a Lawyer if I Want to File or Join a Class Action Lawsuit?

Class action lawsuits are very complicated and require both an experienced and resourceful attorney.  An experienced personal injury attorney can help you decide whether filing or joining a class action lawsuit is right for you.  A personal injury lawyer can also represent you in court and file any necessary paperwork.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 10-14-2015 01:58 PM PDT

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