Class action lawsuits can provide legal relief to groups of people wronged by a business or other large organization. These types of suits are common – the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance states that in 2019, 74 class action settlements occurred, totaling $2 billion.
The main benefit of class action lawsuits is that they allow the class made up of people with similar complaints or injuries to seek restitution for a case. These lawsuits would otherwise be ineffective or unmanageable if each individual person in the class filed a separate lawsuit.
The involved parties
Every class action lawsuit involves a lead (or plaintiff), the class members and the defendant. The lead on the case is the person filing the suit, and his or her name will appear on the formal complaint. The class members can include hundreds or thousands of people affected by the allegations made in the lawsuit. The defendant is the person or company on the other end of the legal complaint.
The general process
Most class action lawsuits start by determining if there is a case by evaluating the situation and complaint brought forward by the plaintiff. If a class action lawsuit can occur, the plaintiff files the suit with the court.
The court can then rule whether it believes the lawsuit should receive class action status, a process known as class certification. The case then proceeds like a standard legal case and the members of the class receive notification regarding the settlement at the conclusion of the process.