Class Action

Class Action in the United States

A suit brought by several people on behalf of a larger group whose members have the same legal interest. A class action is indicated when a group is so large that individual suits are impractical. Group suits have been used frequently in recent years and are often the means by which civil rights, consumer, and environmental questions are litigated. A class action is sometimes called a representative action. It can be brought in either federal or state court. It must be certified by a trial court at the outset, and all class members must be made aware of the suit and given the opportunity to exclude themselves. Certification involves a determination that the asserted class actually exists and that the people bringing the action are members of the class.

See Also

Access to Courts (Civil Process) Justiciable Issue (Civil Process) Mootness (Civil Process).

Analysis and Relevance

A class action provides economy and efficiency in the adjudication of an issue. It allows a suit to continue even when some initial class members no longer have standing. The class action is thus an effective device to prevent a suit from becoming moot. It also measurably reduces the possibility of conflicting judgments resulting from numerous individual suits. Class actions overcome the requirement that a plaintiff in a suit must have a direct interest beyond that of the public good. The courts have thus been able to respond to substantial social questions in which the plaintiff was not the only one injured. Several limitations apply to a class action, however. In Zahn v. International Paper Company (414 U.S. 291: 1973), the Supreme Court held that, in order to use federal diversity jurisdiction for class actions, each member of the class must have suffered an injury amounting to at least $10,000 in value. The Court also said in Eisen v. Carlisle & Jacqueline (417 U.S. 156: 1974) that the initiators of a class action must notify, at their own expense, all members of the class. The impact of these decisions has been to reduce the number of large consumer and environmental suits. The more numerous smaller class actions have not been adversely affected.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Class Action from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Resources

See Also

  • Legal Topics.
  • Civil Procedure; Product Liability.

    Further Reading (Articles)

    Class actions benefit consumers.(Consumer Rights), Trial; April 1, 1997; Davis, Mark S. Grande, Thomas R.

    Class Actions And Quebec’s Draft Bill To Enact The New Code Of Civil Procedure. Mondaq Business Briefing; November 14, 2011

    Class actions: fundamentals of certification analysis. (Florida), Florida Bar Journal; May 1, 1998; Leventhal, Markham R.

    Class Actions in Canada: 2005 State of the Union: Growing, Expanding, and Developing, Defense Counsel Journal; January 1, 2006; McKee, S. Gordon Cook, Martha

    International Class Actions in the Canadian Context: Standing, Funding, Enforceability and Trial, Defense Counsel Journal; July 1, 2012; Zakaib, Glenn M. Martin, Jeremy M.

    Class Actions Undercut by Insurance, Mondaq Business Briefing; October 25, 2013; Hawke, Fred

    Public Class Actions in Italy, Mondaq Business Briefing; November 25, 2013; Schiona, Lamberto

    Class Actions in Australia: Surveying the Landscape, Mondaq Business Briefing; April 15, 2013

    Class Actions Are Dead. Long Live Class Actions?: The Implications Of AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion For Employers.(Case overview), Mondaq Business Briefing; May 18, 2011

    Class actions evolving to survive, conference concludes. Trial; May 1, 2008; Porter, Rebecca

    Class Actions in Australia. Mondaq Business Briefing; May 18, 2004

    Class actions and the attorneys’ fees conundrum. The Tax Adviser; July 1, 2004; Wood, Robert W. Daher, Dominic L.

    Class Actions against the Crown: A Substitution for Judicial Review on Administrative Law Grounds?, University of New Brunswick Law Journal; November 1, 2007; Sossin, Lorne

    CLASS ACTIONS, Journal – Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance; January 1, 2011; Boardman, Patrick

    Class Actions And The Insurance Industry. Mondaq Business Briefing; September 12, 2011

    Class Actions Target Financial Institutions. Mondaq Business Briefing; December 20, 2005

    Taming Class Actions: Keeping Best Practices in Mind, Risk Management; February 1, 2005; Feeney, James P. Gottlieb, Richard E.

    Removing Class Actions to Federal Court: A Better Way to Handle the Problem of Overlapping Class Actions, Stanford Law Review; April 1, 2005; Morrison, Alan B.

    Settling Class Actions – Some Strategic Issues For Pension Plan Sponsors And Administrators. Mondaq Business Briefing; August 6, 2004

    Consumer Class Actions: Texas Trends, The Review of Litigation; April 1, 2011; Pinson, Chad M. Hunt, David M.

    Class Action in Labor Law

    According to unr.edu, Class Action is defined as: A civil action brought by one or more individuals on behalf of themselves and “all others similarly situated” (or equivalent language). The purpose of a class action is to secure a judicial remedy which not only eliminates a wrong committed against an individual, and compensates him or her for the effects of that wrong, but which also provides such remedies for all others in a definable class who have suffered as a result of the same practice or practices. The technical legal requirements and definition of a class in federal court proceedings are contained in Rule 23 (b) of the Federal Rules of Procedure.

    Class Action in Labor Law

    According to unr.edu, Class Action is defined as: A civil action brought by one or more individuals on behalf of themselves and “all others similarly situated” (or equivalent language). The purpose of a class action is to secure a judicial remedy which not only eliminates a wrong committed against an individual, and compensates him or her for the effects of that wrong, but which also provides such remedies for all others in a definable class who have suffered as a result of the same practice or practices. The technical legal requirements and definition of a class in federal court proceedings are contained in Rule 23 (b) of the Federal Rules of Procedure.

    Class Action: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

    Federal Primary Materials

    The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Class Action. This part provides references, in relation to Class Action, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

    Federal primary materials about Class Action by content types:

    Laws and Regulations

    US Constitution
    Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

    Federal Case Law and Court Materials

    U.S. Courts of Appeals
    United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

    Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

    Presidential Materials

    Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

    Executive Materials

    Federal Legislative History Materials

    Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Class Action and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Class Action or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

    State Administrative Materials and Resources

    State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Class Action and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Class Action. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Class Action should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

    State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

    State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Class Action when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

    Tools and Forms

    Law in Other Regions

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