A class action is a specific type of lawsuit filed by a party who seeks individual relief as well as relief on behalf of a specifically designated class of people or businesses. In this type of lawsuit, a party may have only suffered damages of amounts even as low as just a few dollars, however, the damages are much more when the total damages suffered by the class are calculated. Although it usually seeks monetary damages, a class action can also be brought to enjoin the actions of another party or seeking specific performance of a contract. The damages incurred must form the basis for common questions of law or fact. While a party may usually represent himself in a legal action, a class action may only be brought to court through an attorney. Notice to all members of the specified class must be given, which usually requires publication of a notice of the class action in a newspaper or via direct mail.
Understand that existence of a wrong which forms the basis for a lawsuit affecting a specific group of individuals or businesses is required in order to file a class action lawsuit.
Locate an attorney who handles class action lawsuits. Attorneys may be located using the Martindale Hubbell website. This website allows you to search for attorneys either geographically or by the category of type of lawsuits handled by that attorney.
Sign an agreement with an attorney to represent you in the class action. You may be required to pay a retainer fee such as a deposit against any attorney's fees and/or costs incurred by the attorney in handling your case.
File the class action lawsuit. One of the most often used reasons for filing a class action is to recover damages incurred based on products liability theory or relative to defective products. Unless you are granted a deferral or waiver of filing fees, you will be required to pay a filing fee which varies among the courts.
Serve a summons and complaint on the appropriate defendant(s). You may need to hire a professional process server to perform this task.
Send or publish the notice to all members of the specific class of members as per the order of the court. The court generally decides how proper notice should be given to the plaintiffs. Generally, notice is given either through publication of a notice in a major newspaper or magazine, or via service by mail or by personally serving notice. You will then need to provide the court and the opposing party/parties with a copy of the certificate of compliance with the court's order.
- final judgment image by Keith Frith from Fotolia.com