What is a Class Action?
Class actions in Alabama are governed by the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 23. Class action lawsuits are where a few individuals (“class representatives”) represent the interests of a larger group of plaintiffs. The class representatives must provide consent because they will have specific responsibilities in regard to the lawsuit. The class as a whole must be certified by a judge.
How to File a Class Action Lawsuit
A class action lawsuit begins with the filing of a case, similar to any other civil lawsuit. However, a class action lawsuit needs to have class certification. Without class certification, the claim will be dismissed.
To obtain certification, the plaintiff must prove:
The representative(s) suffered harm sufficiently similar to the class
The class must be clearly defined
The class members have a common set of facts in their case
The class is so substantial that a joinder of all members would be impracticable
The representative plaintiff’s case is adequate to decide the absent class members’ cases
That a class action is the most appropriate and efficient way to resolve the claims
Pros and Cons of a Class Action Lawsuit
The projected jury award for the plaintiff may not be financially reasonable for one plaintiff to choose to pursue litigation. However, when combined with other plaintiffs’ cases, the reduced litigation cost per plaintiff may relieve the financial burden and make litigation more appealing. A class action also gives the plaintiffs a stronger position because there is more evidence to support their claims.
However, a class action lawsuit may not always result in an equal payout amongst the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs are also bound by their class representatives, meaning that individual plaintiffs lack control regarding settlements. Furthermore, the class is limited to financial compensation rather than other forms of reparations.