What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit is filed by an individual or small group of people on behalf of a larger group that has been harmed by the same party in the same way. This group — known as the class — must meet certain requirements, which can differ between state and federal courts. Some of these requirements include:
- The class is so large that it would impractical for individual members to file separate lawsuits
- Members of the class must all have suffered in the same manner
- The claims of those representing the class (known as named defendants), are the same as the rest of the class (known as unnamed defendants)
- Those representing the class must be qualified and able to fairly protect its interests
If these requirements are met, the court will certify the class and the lawsuit will be allowed to proceed.
Class Action Lawsuit Examples
Class action lawsuits are common across a variety of torts. Examples include the case brought against Exxon Mobile following the Valdez oil spill, in which substantial payouts were made to local workers and fisherman. A class action lawsuit was also brought against Enron after the company declared bankruptcy in 2001, which was made to pay more than seven billion dollars to its shareholders.
How Does a Class Action Mesothelioma Lawsuit Work?
Notification of Potential Members: Once the class is certified, the named defendants are required to attempt to notify everyone who could potentially be included in the class. These attempts can take many forms, including television commercials, newspaper and magazine ads, direct mail, email and phone calls. Once notified, potential members have the opportunity to opt out of the lawsuit. This means they will not be bound by the decision the court ultimately comes to, and will have the opportunity to file their own claim in the future. In most class action lawsuits, individuals must specifically opt out, or will be considered a part of the class and bound to the court’s decision.
Settlement: In most lawsuits, the plaintiff and defendant may settle a claim before it goes to court. In class action cases, any settlement must first be approved by the court before being implemented. This is to ensure that any settlement is fair to members of the class. If a judge finds that a settlement does not provide sufficient compensation to members of the class, they can reject it.
Court: If a settlement cannot be reached, the lawsuit would then proceed to a jury trial.
Is A Mesothelioma Class Action Lawsuit Right For Me?
While class action lawsuits can sometimes help those who otherwise may find it difficult to obtain compensation for their mesothelioma claim, there are several reasons to seek out an experienced mesothelioma lawyer and file a claim on your own.
Compensation: While the amount of compensation awarded to those filing a class action mesothelioma lawsuit can be substantial, remember that this amount is shared between hundreds, sometimes thousands of people. Filing a separate claim may be more beneficial to you.
Time: Class action lawsuits are massive undertakings which require coordination between many people. This means it may be years before the case is resolved. These are years that those suffering from mesothelioma may not have.
The Claim: It’s important to remember that the attorneys handling a class action mesothelioma lawsuit are representing the interests of a large group of people. Individuals participating in the claim have less control of the case than if they had pursued their own, separate claims. If a judge or jury rules against the members of the class, individual members may lose their ability to file their own claims in the future.
There are several factors to consider when deciding whether or not to join a class action mesothelioma lawsuit. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer will be able to examine the specifics of your case and help you determine which course of action is best for you.