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Putative Class Action Definition

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Putative Class Action Definition

A class action lawsuit is filed on behalf of a large group of plaintiffs, also referred to as a class. These plaintiffs claim that they have all suffered a similar injury because of a defendant’s wrongful conduct. Attorneys filing a class action claim do not need to have every potential plaintiff identified before they initially file a lawsuit. They only need to start with a putative class action. 

What Is a Putative Class Action?

A putative class action is a lawsuit based on a hypothetical class of people defined in the lawsuit the initial plaintiff asks to represent.

Why Is a Class of People Called “Putative”?

The reason the term “putative” is used is because the lawsuit is initially filed by one person without a large group of people already involved. The named plaintiff requests to represent more people than just themselves in the lawsuit. At the initial stage of the complaint, the lawsuit is not a class action claim. The class action claim occurs later.

When Does a Putative Class Action Become a Class Action Claim?

After the filed lawsuit, each party conducts discovery, which is the process where each side in a civil case tries to uncover facts and evidence that will help win or settle the case in their favor. During a putative class action, parties exchange documents and take depositions. Once the plaintiff’s attorney has enough information to create an actual class and move forward with a class action lawsuit, they file a class certification.

What Is a Class Certification?

A class certification is request made by a party to have the single claim become a class action claim. This request is not automatically granted. A judge must decide to grant the request, and that decision is usually based on:

  • Number of plaintiffs
  • Commonality, or type of damages the potential plaintiff suffered
  • Typicality, class members having the same event or legal argument
  • Adequate representation
  • Viability of defendant, with is the ability of a defendant to adequately compensate the plaintiffs if they lose

Should I Contact a Lawyer Regarding a Putative Class Action?

Class action lawsuits are the most complicated type of personal injury lawsuit out there, but winning one can result in substantial damages. If you believe you have a personal injury case that is a potential class action lawsuit, contact a personal injury lawyer to assist you in filing a class action lawsuit.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 04-30-2018 08:21 PM PDT

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