If you have been harmed or treated unfairly at the hands of a major corporation, there are potentially a number of different options available for asserting your legal rights. If you believe that others have experienced similar harm or mistreatment, one of these options may be to initiate a class action lawsuit.
A class action is a unique type of lawsuit in which numerous similarly-situated individuals (referred to as "plaintiffs") take collective action against a corporation instead of pursuing their claims individually. Class actions allow aggrieved individuals to seek legal remedies when it would be impractical for them each to assert individual claims on their own.
For example, while it would be cost-prohibitive for someone to file a lawsuit to recover hundreds or even a few thousand dollars in unlawful bank or credit card fees, a class of individuals who have collectively suffered millions of dollars in losses can come together and file a class action that allows them to obtain refunds while holding their financial institution accountable for its misdeeds.
Examples of Possible Class Action Claims
In order to initiate a class action, the members of the class must have all suffered similar types of harm from a unifying cause. As a result, class action claims commonly involve issues such as:
- Antitrust Violations - Under the laws of Florida and the United States, companies are prohibited from engaging in a wide range of anticompetitive practices that are deemed harmful to consumers.
- Consumer Fraud - From misleading advertising to outright scams, consumer fraud is a rampant issue that often affects thousands or millions of similarly-situated individuals.
- Defective Products - Under the law of products liability, designers, manufacturers and retailers can be held liable when defects in their products lead to injuries or financial loss.
- Director and Officer Misconduct - Corporate officers and directors owe certain duties to the shareholders they serve. Shareholders in public companies who have suffered financial losses due to directors' or officers' misconduct may be able to form a class to recover their investments.
Class Actions: The Requirement for "Certification"
Due to the complexities and the time, effort and resources involved in class action litigation, both Florida and federal law require classes to be "certified" before they can pursue their claims in court. In broad terms, there are four requirements for a class to obtain certification:
- Numerosity - The members of the class must be "so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable."
- Commonality - There must be "questions of law or fact common to the class."
- Typicality - The representative plaintiffs must have claims that are "typical of the claims . . . of the class."
- Adequacy - Pursuit of the class action must "fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class."
Of course, as a practical matter, there is much more involved in initiating and pursuing a class action claim. If you believe you may have grounds to open a class action, you should speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Contact Fort Lauderdale Trial Litigation Attorney Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein is a Fort Lauderdale trial litigation attorney with 30 years' experience representing clients in state and federal court. If you would like more information about pursuing a class action claim in Florida, contact Michael L. Feinstein, P.A. online or call (954) 767-9662 to schedule an initial consultation today.