5. What is a “class action” lawsuit?
A class action is a special type of lawsuit in which one or more plaintiffs file suit on their own behalf and on behalf of all other persons who have a similar claim against the defendant. The individuals represented by the lead plaintiff(s) are known as a “class” of plaintiffs. This type of lawsuit is popular when many individuals suffer the same type of harm by the defendant’s conduct. Frequently, it involves matters in which no one member of the class has suffered a sufficient loss or harm to justify bringing the lawsuit alone. Basically, the damage suffered by one person is not enough to support the expense of litigation. Class status allows plaintiffs to aggregate their claims into one trial. It also avoids multiple legal actions involving the same issue. It provides advantages to the class of plaintiffs when the cost of litigation high and the issues are complex.
• Discussion: Do you think that class actions are valuable or detrimental to US society? Do you think that class actions have an impact on corporate behavior with regard to consumers?