Class Actions

What qualifies as a class action lawsuit?

In a typical class action, a plaintiff sues a defendant or a number of defendants on behalf of a group, or class, of absent parties, which is a group of people with the same or similar injuries caused by the same product or action. Other names for lawsuits brought by a number of people who suffered similar harm or losses are “mass tort litigation” and “multi-district litigation” (“MDL”). This differs from a traditional lawsuit, where one party sues another party for redress of a wrong, and all of the parties are present in court.

What is the difference between a lawsuit and a class action lawsuit?
When a group of people takes action against the same company for the same source of injury (typically a defective product), this is considered a class action lawsuit. This differs from a standard personal injury lawsuit in which one plaintiff files a case against a defendant. In a personal injury lawsuit all compensation awarded goes to the plaintiff.

How many plaintiffs are required for a class action lawsuit?
One of the very first issues that plaintiffs in a potential class action will have to establish is whether enough plaintiffs with sufficiently similar claims against a defendant exist and can be tracked down and brought into the class. The number of plantiffs needed will depend on several issues, including whether the claims are brought in state or federal court. While there is no set number required for a class action lawsuit, most cases that are approved have hundreds of plaintiffs.

How long does it take to settle a class action lawsuit?
Each class action lawsuit is different. While some are resolved in months, other can take several years. In general, the majority of class action lawsuits take between two and three years to resolve. Some can take even longer if a court ruling is appealed.