Perhaps you have heard of class action lawsuits involving asbestos, hip replacement devices, or even to help people hurt by the BP oil spill. However, class action lawsuits can involve just about any type of claim as long as there are enough people who were similarly affected. Class actions are a special type of legal claim that involves multiple plaintiffs who have similar claims against the same group of defendants. They are a common way to address harms or injuries that would be more difficult or complicated for a single plaintiff to bring.
Class action lawsuits may involve defective medical devices, defective drugs, harmful products, product liability, mass torts, consumer protection violations, financial or securities violations, labor law violations, toxic torts, vehicle defects, and false advertising claims.
There are a number of benefits to filing a claim as a member of a class action lawsuit. In some actions, the individual damages may be low, such as a faulty toy or cleaning product that is not as advertised. While the damages to one person may be small, the total damage can be in the millions of dollars when taking into account the number of consumers who were affected.
Without class action lawsuits, some companies may be able to get away with deceptive practices because it would not be worth the time and effort to file a single lawsuit for a few dollars. However, when thousands or millions of plaintiffs join in a class action, the company must take notice and may be found liable for their unlawful actions.
Even where a single plaintiff does want to file a claim against a company for a defective product that caused harm, the company has the money and resources to fight that claim. However, when a class action is filed against the company, the plaintiffs' attorneys have the resources to take on even the biggest companies and hold them accountable for their wrongdoing.
Conditions of Class Action Lawsuits
Not just any lawsuit can be filed as a class action. First, a judge has to certify the case as a class action. This generally requires meeting certain requirements in order to go forward as a class action lawsuit. In Pennsylvania, under Rule 1702, “one or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all members in a class action only if:
(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class;
(4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately assert and protect the interests of the class under the criteria set forth in Rule 1709; and
(5) a class action provides a fair and efficient method for adjudication of the controversy under the criteria set forth in Rule 1708.”
Class actions also reduce the problems that may be associated with hundreds or thousands of separate lawsuits. This could result in tying up judicial resources with a number of cases that share similar facts and claims. A single class action lawsuit could also avoid the problem of inconsistent judgments among different judges and different courts.
Examples of Class Action Lawsuits
A number of class action cases involve product defects. Due to a design defect, manufacturing defect, or a problem with the warning label, everyday products can cause harm to innocent victims. In some cases, the company may have known about the dangers, but deemed them too costly to repair. Some corporations even do a cost/benefit analysis to determine whether the cost of paying out to settle lawsuits that injure or kill consumers is lower than the profits the company can make.
Other common class action lawsuits involve defective drugs or medical devices. These cases may be more complicated because often the damage is not apparent until months or years later. There are many drugs prescribed to patients that have dangerous side-effects that the patient was never warned about. They may end up taking the dangerous drugs until they suffer injury or death. Only later may it come out that the drug was harmful and possibly the cause of the injury or death.
Defective medical devices have similar issues. Pacemakers, or artificial joints may have problems that the patient is not aware of at the time they have the surgery. However, by the time the danger is noted, another surgery to repair or replace the defective product could be more dangerous to an ill patient and they may have to live with the defective product, causing them pain or risk of death.
Philadelphia Class Action Attorneys
If you or a loved one suffers an injury, you may not know if you are the only victim or if others have suffered a similar injury. Whether your claim is an individual personal injury claim or could be certified as a class action lawsuit, you should talk to an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will investigate your case and make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the team at Gilman & Bedigian today. We offer a free consultation and will fight for you, to make sure you are fully compensated for your injuries.