Every day, corporate greed harms people and communities in America. While not every business is a bad one, many companies engage in environmental damage, deceptive advertising, employee discrimination, and other harmful practices.
When these practices are against the law, the government may investigate and punish businesses for their bad actions, charging them with fines and other penalties. But these penalties don’t compensate the individual people who were harmed. In order to hold corporations fully accountable for their wrongdoing, they should be forced to directly compensate their victims through a class action lawsuit.
If you feel like you are not the only one who has been harmed by a business or organization, and that there may be other people with the same damages you have suffered, you may be wondering how to start a class action lawsuit. Here is what you need to know.
Anyone who has been harmed has the right to file a class action lawsuit after consulting with a class action attorney. However, a judge will review the case and determine whether it is eligible to proceed as a class action. In order to pass this review and receive class action certification, a class action attorney will work with the plaintiff to make sure the case meets class action requirements. A good class action complaint consists of the following elements:
- There must be a “live” claim or controversy. A case must have actual, ongoing controversy at the time of the complaint. Important elements of the case may change over time, rendering the complaint irrelevant.
- For example, if a business put up a billboard that blocked your view, but then removed it in response to your complaint, you may not have a “live” case.
- The class representatives must be members of the proposed class. Generally speaking, you cannot bring a lawsuit on behalf of other people if you did not suffer the damages yourself unless you are a parent or legal representative of the victim.
- For example, you may not file a class action lawsuit alleging discrimination unless you have been discriminated against.
- The class must be clearly defined. You should be able to clearly and specifically define who was in the class and who was harmed.
- For example, if everyone in a specific area was potentially harmed by toxic pollution, or everyone who was a customer was affected by a data breach, then you have clearly defined who is included in the class.
- The elements of numerosity, commonality, and typicality must exist. One of the main functions of a class action lawsuit is to make legal actions more efficient, without the court hearing the same evidence and arguments over and over again for a large number of individual cases. The person filing a class action lawsuit — the “lead plaintiff” — must demonstrate that (1) there are enough people affected that a class action lawsuit is appropriate, and (2) that they have sufficiently similar damages that the relevant legal issues and arguments can be applied to everyone in the class.
- For example, if dozens of people got sick from a harmful food ingredient, but one person had a rare reaction and died, then that person’s damages are not common and typical to the rest of the group. Their family may need to file their own individual lawsuit and not participate in the class action.
Because there are so many different types of class actions with different applicable regulations and damages, ranging from whistleblower litigation to royalty underpayment, there are also specific class action criteria relating to the type of case being filed, and the court hearing the case. While anyone is eligible to file a class action lawsuit, the guidance of an experienced attorney is needed to ensure that the claim has merit and is successful.
There is no specific numeric requirement for a class action lawsuit. However, as mentioned above, there needs to be enough people included to make a “class” certification meaningful and legally efficient. As a general rule, you need at least 40 class members for a class action. Often times, however, classes will consist of hundreds or thousands of members.
If you have suffered damages as a result of bad business practices or corporate rule-breaking, you may have grounds to start a class action lawsuit. Class action suits can be a powerful way to hold companies accountable for their wrongdoing, and to recover your damages while protecting the rights of others.
Winning a class action suit takes experience, persistence, and a commitment to fight for justice, and Nix Patterson has the courage, creativity, and resources to take on tough opponents and win. We have recovered over $25 billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients, who pay nothing until we win. Starting a class action lawsuit begins by speaking with an experienced attorney. For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact us online or call 512-328-5333 today.