Class action lawsuits are a specific type of case where a small group of named plaintiffs represent the interests of a broader group of class members. Class action cases may involve consumer claims, personal injury claims, or product defects, where a large number of people were impacted, but dealing with individual claims would be problematic. A case has to be certified before it can become a class action, and individual members of the class still have the option to opt-out of the settlement if they want to bring an individual claim.
Maryland Class Action Lawsuits
Depending on the type of case, plaintiffs and attorneys may be able to file the class action in Maryland's state courts, or in a U.S. federal court. In determining where to file the case, certain courts may offer more beneficial filing requirements, statutes of limitations, or make it easier to certify the case as a class action. If the case is to be filed in Maryland state court, it has to be certified as a class action under Maryland Rules 2-231.
Federal Class Action Lawsuits
If a class action is to be filed in federal court, it has to be certified as a class action under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The prerequisite to a class action provides that, “One or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all members 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, and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.”
Class Action Lawsuit Requirements
Not just any lawsuit can become a class action lawsuit. In order to become a class action lawsuit, the courts need to certify the case as a class action. This typically requires evaluation of four factors: numerosity; commonality; typicality; and fair and adequate representation. Since not every member of the class will get a chance to have their individual case heard before the court, the named members should represent most individuals in the class. The members named in the lawsuit should be representative of typical members of the class, to ensure that all class members will be protected.
Other considerations for certifying a class includes the risk that prosecuting separate actions would create a risk of inconsistent judgments and incompatible standards of conduct for the party opposing the class certification. Class actions are also appropriate in cases where the opposing party acts in a way generally towards the class so that final relief would appropriately apply to the class as a whole. The court should also consider whether the common questions of law or fact predominate over specific questions of individual class members, where a class action could more efficiently adjudicate the case.
Products Liability Class Actions
Product liability cases are often subject to class action certification. When a dangerous product is put out on the market, thousands or millions of consumers may have purchased the product unaware of the dangers involved. Individuals who are harmed by the dangerous or defective product may be able to file an individual personal injury or wrongful death claim. If enough people are injured, then there may be enough potential class members to certify the case as a class action.
Additionally, the millions of uninjured consumers may also have concerns about using the product. A product liability class action may allow them to be compensated, to have the defective product repaired, or seek a full or partial refund for the defective product.
Defective Medicine or Medical Device Class Action
Defective medicine and medical devices are also commonly certified as class action cases. When a new device or medication is put out on the market, the harmful impacts may not be fully realized. In some cases, the manufacturer may play down the dangers. However, when a pattern of injury, damage, or death begins to develop, it may reveal that millions of patients face similar injury.
Some of the many medical device class actions involve hip replacements, knee replacements, pacemakers, and vaginal mesh. A number of prescription medications have also been the subject of class action lawsuits, including Abilify, Depakote, Paxil, Pradaxa, Risperdal, and Seroquel.
Maryland Class Action Attorneys
If you or a loved one suffers an injury, you may not know if it was an isolated incident 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 Maryland 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.