We often hear about class action lawsuits in the news, on TV, or in the movies, but when the need for one arises (versus an individual lawsuit) is a mystery to many people—even though many have likely received a postcard or some other form of notice in the mail indicating that they qualify to be part of a “class action.”
Simply put, a class action lawsuit allows a group of people who have a common interest (aka “members of a class”)—for example, if all of them were injured by the same person or company—to sue as a group. Generally one or more people who have been aggrieved will file suit and, with the assistance of their attorneys, will investigate to determine if there are others who have similarly been aggrieved.
Under the federal rules and Pennsylvania law, one or more members of a class may sue as representative parties on behalf of all “members of a class” action only if there exists:
- Numerosity: The class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable (for example, having 100 people separately join an established lawsuit would be inefficient for the courts);
- Commonality: There are questions of law or fact common to the class;
- Typicality: The claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the class;
- Adequacy: The representative parties will fairly and adequately assert and protect the interests of the class; and
- Fair and efficient method (for adjudication of the controversy): A class action provides a fair and efficient method for adjudication of the controversy.
In other words, these actions make sense when you have a sizeable number of people who have been harmed by a single event, product, person, or company. Although courts typically have to certify—or provide permission—for a class action lawsuit to proceed, it behooves the system to allow for these claims because it promotes judicial efficiency.
Example in Pennsylvania
One example of a class action lawsuit in Pennsylvania is the case brought by current and former employees of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Plaintiffs filed the case on behalf of themselves and others to seek redress for missed rest and meal breaks and work done off-the-clock by their employer Wal-Mart. Specifically, they allege that the company violated their employment contracts, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Law, and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Act. The court certified the action as a class action and found that the requirements (numerosity, commonality, typicality, adequacy, and fair and efficient method for adjudication of the controversy) were met.
Put Solnick & Associates on your side
Time is of the essence in legal issues involving personal injury. Consulting with an experienced attorney as soon as possible increases your ability to protect your rights (and potentially the rights of others in a class action lawsuit) in your case. The experienced attorneys at Solnick & Associates LLC can help. Call us today for a free initial consultation. We look forward to discussing your case.