Class Action Lawsuits and Multidistrict Litigation
When a large number of people are similarly injured by the same defendant(s), a class action lawsuit may result. For example, if hundreds or thousands of people develop a serious illness after taking a prescription medication, they will likely want to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer. However, hundreds of claims all being filed in a short period of time would be a nightmare for the claimants, attorneys, and courts alike. A class action lawsuit is the answer to that problem.
Acting as representatives of the larger group, one or a few plaintiffs file a lawsuit against a person, multiple people, a corporation, or another entity. Potential plaintiffs are contacted in case they wish to opt out of the lawsuit. Otherwise, they don’t need to do anything. That is, unless the lawsuit results in a settlement, in which case the plaintiffs will be given information on how to receive their share of the funds.
If a settlement is reached with the defendant, all injured parties will be awarded a percentage. However, if the number of potential injuries is too large to contact every plaintiff individually, a fund will be created. Any person able to demonstrate that the defendant’s actions caused them harm will likely be entitled to damages.
How Can I File a Class Action Lawsuit?
Filing a class action lawsuit is a complex process that requires the help of a highly skilled attorney. Between the procedural requirements involved and the probable wealth of the defendant in a class action lawsuit, your chance of success without an experienced attorney is not good. Your attorney will help you file the initial paperwork and serve the complaint on the defendant. The next step involves certifying the class. This procedure varies from state to state. In some states, the court initiates the certification process, while other states require the plaintiff to file a motion before the case can move forward. Without certification, the case will be dismissed.
For a lawsuit to be certified as a class action, the following requirements typically have to be met:
- The representative plaintiff is alleging the same injuries as the rest of the proposed class.
- There is a clearly defined class indicating who is, and who is not, a member.
- There is a large enough group that a combined lawsuit, including each member individually, is impractical.
- Each group member’s alleged injuries have a common set of facts.
- The representative plaintiff’s claims are sufficiently representative of the group as a whole.
- A class action lawsuit is the most efficient resolution available, for the plaintiffs, the defendant, or both.
Benefits of Filing a Class Action Lawsuit
- Lower legal expenses
- Lower expenses make it worthwhile to seek smaller damages
- Greater efficiency
- Consistency in plaintiffs’ recoveries
- All plaintiffs can recover damages in proportion to their injuries
What is Multidistrict Litigation?
Multidistrict litigation (MDL) is similar to class action lawsuits in that it involves a group of people who have been harmed by the same defendant or defendants. However, the difference is that plaintiffs in MDL cases have been injured in uniquely different ways. In a class action lawsuit, plaintiffs are injured in the same way, or a similar way.
The Goldwater Law Firm – Nationwide Class Action Attorneys
If you are considering filing a class action lawsuit, or you have questions about how an existing class action or MDL affects you, the Goldwater Law Firm can help. Our team of product liability lawyers can help you understand your rights and options before moving forward. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.