When groups of individuals suffer losses or damage as the result of company or organization negligence, they often form a class-action lawsuit as a means to recover their damages.
Cornell Law School notes that some larger class-action suits often choose representatives to speak for the entire group; however, any suit of this type requires several characteristics before it can move forward.
1. Class members all have the same damage claims
Class action suits must have so many members that they create one group that seeks damages as a result of perceived negligence. These claims may include several different types of damages, including:
- Serious illnesses, such as cancer
- Injuries from product defects
- Financial damages
Poor or unfair wage and employment practices may also cause the formation of class-action lawsuits.
2. More than 40 people claim similar damages
Class-action suits generally remove potential inequalities that may occur in court when multiple plaintiffs have the same complaint yet undergo individual court cases. In most class-action civil suits, 40 or more plaintiffs share their grievances with other individuals who claim damages that they believe stemmed from the same issue, such as if a product defect in a certain type of vehicle caused all the plaintiffs a similar injury.
3. Plaintiffs must waive rights to sue individually
Any individual who wishes to join a class-action lawsuit gives up his or her right to sue the defendant in a single-plaintiff courtroom proceeding. Individuals who join class-action lawsuits may want to understand how doing so may impact their rights.
Any prospective plaintiff of a class action lawsuit may withdraw from the case at any time.