What is a class action and how is one started?

Class action lawsuits relate to a specific area of law, and many people are not aware of how class actions work. Here let’s go over the basics.

Not just any case can be brought as a class action. Generally, for a lawsuit to be a class action, then the concerns of the class must outweigh the unique concerns of the individual class members. For example, consider the proposed class action against Takata Corp., whose exploding airbags are the subject of numerous lawsuits. Millions of vehicles have been recalled because of the airbags, which are believed to pose a threat to millions of motorists.

When a client approaches Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller and Shah with a potential class action, our attorneys consider the merits of seeking certification of the class. The case may then be filed as a proposed class action, and a court will decide whether the case meets certain requirements so that the class can be certified.

If a class of which you may be a member is certified, then you need not take any action to be included in the class, though you may stand to receive a portion of the settlement if the case is successful.

Essentially, class actions are a way of giving a collective voice to a group of individuals or smaller institutions that have been harmed in a similar way by a large corporation or other entity. Class actions level the playing field.

Our class action FAQ has more on matters related to class actions, including the naming of lead plaintiffs and how class actions relate to consumer issues, stocks and retirement plans.