When Should You File a Class-Action Lawsuit?

by | Mar 15, 2024 | Product Liability

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The saying “United we stand, divided we fall” suits well a class-action lawsuit. A class-action lawsuit is often filed by one or more plaintiffs on behalf of a group of people who are injured or affected by the action of the same individual or manufacturer, or industry. When numerous litigations are filed against the same defendant for the same allegations, a class-action suit is advocated.

A class-action lawsuit claiming multiple million dollars involving hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs will be worthy of the time, money, and effort of the class of plaintiffs and litigators. Sometimes, the damages claimed by each individual are smaller for individual claims to make them worthy of litigation. When all these small claims are aggregated together and represented by one or more plaintiffs, the clogging of litigations in the courts can be prevented.

Injuries caused by defective products, pharmaceutical drugs, hand sanitizer, medical devices, defective auto parts, labor laws or deceptive practices by corporate negligence or misconduct stand a chance for class action lawsuits. Even if affected by false advertising of a consumer product, inflation of prices, investment fraud, or market manipulation, you can go for a class action with other affected plaintiffs.

This blog tries to enlighten you on how a class-action lawsuit works and the benefit of joining a class-action lawsuit.

How Does A Class-Action Lawsuit Work?

A class should be certified by a judge before proceeding to file a class-action lawsuit. One or more members or an entity, which is representing the class, must elucidate before the judge that all the class members have the same valid claims against the perpetrator.  After evaluation, the plaintiffs will be notified that the class is certified to continue with the legal proceedings.

All the plaintiffs who applied will be automatically included in the class. However, they are given a chance to opt out of the litigation if they follow the requisite procedures. If a plaintiff thinks that his damages are larger than the rest of the class and wishes to file an individual claim against the defendant, he/ she can opt-out. When the class wins against the defendant, the opted-out individual cannot get a part of that compensation.

In group litigations like the class actions, all the other class members will be passive as the representative is given the charge to communicate with the litigator and the class. The attorney also finds it easy as he needs to communicate the vital matters only to the lead rep. Most of the lawsuits are settled out of court. As there are numerous plaintiffs, the defendants are compelled to settle the case before going to court.

How Does It Differ From Mass Tort?

Class-action differs from mass tort mainly in how the court considers the plaintiffs. Both involve multiple plaintiffs suing one or more defendants or a company for the same type of physical or financial damages. Both include multiple smaller claims joined together to be filed as single litigation. In a mass tort, the court considers the plaintiffs not as an entity but as individuals considering each one’s injuries. Each individual is responsible for proving the liability of the defendant in causing each one’s injuries in mass tort, whereas the class action has to prove its case as a whole.

Responsibility of the Lead Plaintiff

The rep or the lead plaintiff acts as the communication bridge between the class and the litigator/court. He or she has the right to hire a lawyer. Represents the class and communicates and consults with the lawyer about the legal proceedings throughout the process. Becomes the public face of the class related to the litigation. The lead plaintiff plays an active role in the litigation until the end of the litigation, even if it takes years to complete. The lead plaintiff can decide whether to agree with the settlement amount or not. The lead plaintiff is responsible for protecting the interest of the class.

For playing an active role in the litigation, the lead plaintiff is given a larger percentage of the compensation or the settlement than the other members of the class. There are no special criteria to decide the percentage of the compensation for the lead. The judge decides the percentage considering the degree of injuries and the final settlement amount.

Pros and Cons of Class Action Lawsuit

Is it bad to join a class action lawsuit? Joining a class-action lawsuit has a lot of benefits for the plaintiffs. They need not go in search of a well-experienced attorney to plead their case. The pros and cons of joining a class action lawsuit are given below to clarify your doubts.

  • Unity is strength: When all the affected people stand together against the corporate titans, you get a fair chance to win your litigation. As an individual claimant, you cannot fight against well-qualified defense attorneys.
  • Less litigation cost: As more people are involved in the class action, the attorney charges get divided among the class members. For fewer charges, you can hire an experienced and qualified attorney to fight for you and can ensure the win.  If you stand alone, you may not recover much remuneration after deducing attorney charges.
  • No clogging of multiple cases in the courts: When numerous small claim suits are joined together as a class action, courts will be relieved of the backlogging of cases. One jury and one court are enough to handle the case.
  • Free of worries: As the representative takes care of the legal proceedings, others need not worry about the intricate legal matters. Claimants with similar injuries are treated equally.
  • Assured recovery: When a class-action case is settled, you will be assured of your indemnity, even if it takes eons to end. 

Is there a downside to joining a class-action lawsuit? Definitely, there are some disadvantages to joining a class action. They are discussed in detail below.

  • Litigations prolonged years: As class action lawsuits have complicated procedures, they will take ages to settle.
  • No voice in the proceedings: The individual claimants will not have any voice in the legal proceedings or the decision-making about the settlement, as the lead plaintiff is the authority.
  • Recovery not under control: The individual plaintiffs do not have any control over the compensation they are aiming at. When the reimbursement is settled, it is divided among the members of the class.
  • Coupons or rebates instead of cash: Sometimes, the claimants will receive only coupons or rebates instead of cash settlements.
  • Poor litigator, no recovery: Hiring an inexperienced attorney by the lead will affect all the members of the class and may end up with less/no compensation.
  • Cannot reapply: In case the plaintiff’s side or the class action fails, one cannot reapply against the same contender for the same case.

Class Action Fairness Act

Congress enacted the Class Action Fairness Act on February 18, 2005, amending Title 28 of the U.S code. Class Action Fairness Act, signed by President Bush, was enacted mainly to expand the federal diversity jurisdiction over most class actions and mass actions. CAFA allowed the federal court to preside over certain class-action lawsuits in diverse jurisdictions when the aggregated compensation exceeded $5 million, the class consisted of a minimum of 100 claimants, and at least one of the class members is from a different state or country. CAFA pertains to all the class-action lawsuits filed on or after its ratification of it.

CAFA permits the district courts to deny jurisdiction when more than 1/3 of the plaintiffs, and the primary defendants, are citizens of the state in which the action was brought, using a mélange of things to guide the district court’s decision. Moreover, the district court should deny jurisdiction when more than 2/3 of the plaintiffs are citizens of the state in which the class filed the action, and at least one respondent belongs to that state. This theoretically helps CAFA maintain the structure of diversity in suits with plaintiffs or defendants from other states.

How much does a class action lawsuit cost?

There is no fee associated with filing a class action lawsuit. As an individual, joining is free, but you should examine whether to file a claim alone or join a class action.

People may become aware that they have a claim when they receive notice of an ongoing class action lawsuit.

However, think about not joining the class action lawsuit or opting out and bringing a claim of your own if your losses exceed those of the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit. It is important to remember that once a class action lawsuit is resolved, you will not be permitted to bring additional lawsuits for the same reason. Your damages may be limited as a result.

How Can you Choose a Dexterous Lawyer?

The guidance of competent class-action lawyers can do wonders in understanding the severity of grievances of not one but all the plaintiffs.  They can make the litigation more plausible and effective to recover the maximum restitution. The lead plaintiff is responsible for winning the claim suit for the sake of all the plaintiffs. Therefore, when you choose a lawyer to take your litigation forward, keep the following in mind. The class-action attorney must

  • Be well-experienced in class-action lawsuits to ensure victory in your litigation.
  • Belong to a law firm with requisite resources to analyze and administer the lawsuit.
  • Have handled and won similar cases like yours.
  • Be adept in the appropriate jurisdiction to handle nationwide cases.
  • Be amicable and easily approachable to convey what you want.
  • Have a feasible fee structure for you to afford.

How do Class-action Settlements Work?

Most of the class action claims are settled out of court. Once the defendants agree to a certain settlement, the lead plaintiffs decide whether to consent to it or not. The absent class members will be notified about the details. If the members have any objection to the proposed settlement, they can notify their objection or opt-out of the claim. Though they could not claim when the class action settles, they would retain the chance of filing future litigation against the defendants.

Settling a class action claim gives rise to many challenges and obligations in protecting the interests of all the plaintiffs. Once both parties agree to the settlement amount, the court should be notified about it. The judge then reviews the offer to check if the settlement is fair and requisite. Once he approves, the settlement will be divided among the class members.

Based on the active participation and the degree of damages, the lead plaintiff or plaintiffs will be given more percentage of the compensation. Then the attorney’s reasonable fee is deducted since most of them work on contingency. The remaining class-action payout will be dispensed among the other class members.

Class-action lawsuits 2022

Many class-action lawsuits are going to trial in 2022, and some others have a claim form deadline in 2022. here we are going to see some of the product liability class-action lawsuits that are expected to be settled in 2022 or 2023.

  • Petersburgh contaminated water lawsuit: A contaminated water class-action lawsuit was recently settled for $23 million. People who drank water from the Petersburgh, New York, public water system were affected because the water was contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
  • Roundup Class action lawsuit: Many gardeners and farmers sued Monsanto, the popular weed killer manufacturer, alleging that Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weed killer, caused non-lymphoma Hodgkin’s or other types of cancer after using it. Monsanto has faced over 100,000 Roundup class-action lawsuits and has paid approximately $11 billion in settlements as of May 2022.
  • Baby formula class-action lawsuit: Similac and Enfamil baby formulae have been linked to a condition known as necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, which can be lethal to newborns. Parents who gave their premature children Similac or Enfamil baby formula and later had their children diagnosed with NEC issues may be eligible to join a baby formula class action lawsuit inquiry.
  • Talcum powder lawsuits: Johnson & Johnson is facing a slew of baby powder cancer lawsuits from women and their families who claim the product caused them ovarian cancer. The Missouri Supreme Court recently bolstered a $2.12 billion verdict against J&J after around two dozen plaintiffs claimed asbestos-contaminated baby powder spawned their ovarian cancer. Many plaintiffs have received substantial compensation for their injuries.
  • Zantac lawsuits: The United States Food and Drug Administration ordered the immediate recall of Zantac, a ranitidine product, due to contamination with potentially carcinogenic N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in 2020. NDMA is alleged to cause stomach, esophageal, bladder, liver, and pancreatic cancer. The California class-action suit against Zantac manufacturers is the first to have a trial date set. Judge Evelio Grillo of the Superior Court of Alameda has scheduled October 10, 2022, as the opening date for the California Ranitidine Product Cases JCCP 5150. Other cases are set for trial in February, May, and August of 2023.
  • Juul lawsuits: The vaping behemoth Juul is facing a whole slew of lawsuits alleging that it misled the American youth by claiming that Juul vaping pods are safer to use than traditional cigarettes. Lung damage, nicotine addiction, seizures, poisoning, and an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes have all been linked to fruit-flavored vape pods. So far, Juul has settled a few class-action lawsuits that were filed against them. Many more bellwether cases are scheduled to go to trial in 2022 and 2023.
  • Philips CPAP ventilator recall lawsuits: The FDA described potential health risks associated with a foam (referred to as PE-PUR, or polyester-based polyurethane foam) found in Philips CPAP, BiPAP, and ventilator machines that were recalled in 2021. It is intended to reduce noise and vibration, but the FDA discovered that it could degrade, enter the device’s air tubes, and be swallowed. Currently, Philips is facing around 262 pending lawsuits.
  • SoClean CPAP cleaner lawsuits: A lawsuit has been filed against the SoClean CPAP cleaner’s manufacturer for allegedly failing to warn that the devices can emit ozone, an unstable and dangerous gas. People who used CPAP machines cleaned with SoClean reported asthma attacks, breathing difficulties, chest discomfort, and other respiratory issues. As of February 2022, 11 pending SoClean CPAP class-action lawsuits were consolidated into a new SoClean MDL (MDL No. 3021). Join Soclean lawsuit if you are affected.

  • Deodorant lawsuits: After an independent lab called Valisure notified the FDA of the presence of benzene in the body sprays, many antiperspirants and spray deodorants were recalled. Due to the presence of the cancer-causing chemical benzene, Procter & Gamble Company recalled 32 different dry shampoo and conditioner products from the brands Aussie, Hair Food, Herbal Essences, Old Spice, Pantene, and Waterl<s in December 2021. Old Spice class action lawsuits 2022 for benzene contamination and causing rashes and burns will possibly have some momentum in 2022. In April 2022, the affected victims filed an Old Spice class-action lawsuit against Proctor & Gamble, seeking more than $5 million in damages.
  • Art Naturals hand sanitizer lawsuits: Art Naturals or Virgin scent inc lawsuits arose from the harmful effects of the hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizers made by defendant Virgin Scent, Inc., doing business as Artnaturals, contain “dangerously high levels” of benzene, a toxic substance linked to leukemia and other cancers, says the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, any amount of benzene in liquid hand sanitizers is unacceptable. The presence of benzene in Artnaturals products renders them “unsafe and worthless,” not to mention illegal to sell under federal and state law.

Final Thoughts

If you are one among many who suffered or were injured by the intended action of a corporate, you can analyze the possibilities of being a part of a class action. Think well and consider the pros and cons of the class-action lawsuit before deciding to join one. When a class action lawsuit is filed for a certain issue that affected many, it will be announced or reported. To reduce the cost of filing an individual claim suit, you can look for such notices and join the same.

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