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Class Action Lawsuits - Individuals Against Corporations

Class action lawsuits give individuals the power to match up against corporations. Class actions can be really successful if there are a large group of class members who have all sustained a relatively small loss sustained as a result of corporate criminality. The legal costs for individual members to file separately would be high. And the heavy burden on the court system would be excessive. The purpose of class actions is to give a convenient and economic solution for mass tort lawsuits.
Class action lawsuits can be brought before the United States federal courts, as governed by Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, when the suit involves class members, with common issues, across state lines. They can also be brought before the federal court if the case is connected with federal law. Class action lawsuits can also be brought before state courts. Different states may have differences in civil law and so may need individual attention or through multi-district litigation. Federal courts are more hostile to class actions than their state counterparts.
The 'class' consists of the group that have incurred damage or have been wronged by a businesses illegal actions or products. Examples include faulty products such as medical device defects or antitrust and securities lawsuits.
To start a class-action suit, a group must first be first certified as a 'class' by the court. Before certifying the court will decide if there are a large number of plaintiffs that it would otherwise burden the court to try them individually. They must also decide whether this group has common issues and that the claims of the class members must be typical of those of the putative class. The group filing the class action must be adequately representing the class. If these criteria are successfully met then the class action can be certified. Upon certification all members are notified and have the opportunity to opt out. Usually only a few members of the class need be present at the trial. Upon conclusion any award will be divided up between all members of the class. Often these types of lawsuits are settled out of court. Class actions are rarely resolved quickly and can often take years to come to a conclusion.
The class action system is not without its detractors. The system is blamed for epidemic levels of litigation abuses in state courts. The detractors claim that juries and judges are in collusion and team up to award large settlements. The end result is an increase in consumer prices.
Class actions are a thorn in the side of large corporations. The help give the little guy a much needed voice. They also help reduce pressure on the legal system. However they do have their detractors who are against the systems and suggest that lawyers are the ones who are truly winning by abusing the system.
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