Most people have heard the term class action lawsuit, but many don’t understand what they are. Jeffrey Kaliel is an attorney who specializes in these types of cases. He explains a class action lawsuit and how to know if you may be involved in one.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
An individual lawsuit is when one person sues another person or company. A class action suit combines many individuals who believe a company’s actions have harmed them into one suit. The group of individuals who are bringing the lawsuit is known as the class, according to Jeff Kaliel.
Criteria for a Class Action Lawsuit
Class action suits are allowed based on Rule 23 in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures. This rule states that an individual or a group can bring a lawsuit.
A class action suit can be filed when the proper criteria are met.
The first criteria is that a large group of people were harmed. This makes individuals filing suits impractical.
For example, T-Mobile recently settled a suit due to a data breach. Millions of people had their data compromised, so it would be impractical or impossible for each individual to file a suit.
The claims of all the individuals bringing the lawsuit must be the same.
In the T-Mobile case, all individuals within the class had the same harm: compromising their personal information.
Lastly, the class representatives must protect the interests of the class. This means that a group of individuals must be appointed to act on behalf of the entire class and that these representatives must act in the class’s best interest.
Starting a Class Action Suit
Jeffrey Kaliel explains that a class action suit is typically started by a small group of people harmed by a company. These individuals meet with an attorney and state their case. If the attorney believes the case is valid, they will bring it before a judge.
The individuals who file the suit are the class representatives. At this point, the suit is a proposed class action suit.
If a judge rules that the suit is valid, the suit is certified. Then, plaintiffs, or those who were harmed by the company’s actions, are contacted.
If the plaintiffs are known, which is the case with a data breach case, they are notified individually. Public notices are made if they aren’t known, which is the case with Roundup weed killer. Roundup also has a website where individuals can opt into the suit.
Verdict or Settlement
Once the parties are notified, the case will be tried. A judge or jury will hear from the plaintiff’s attorney and the defendant’s representatives. Eventually, the case will be decided or settled.
A judge or jury hands down a verdict. In many cases, a settlement is reached before a verdict is determined. Settlements occur when the plaintiff and defendant agree on specific settlement terms.
Jeff Kaliel received his law degree from Yale in 2005. He has gained extensive experience in class action suits in his 10 years of practice. In 2015, he was given the Washington D.C. Rising Stars Super Lawyers award.