The 2024 Guide: How To File A Class Action Lawsuit

You might be interested in learning how to file a class action lawsuit if you think that you have been mistreated in a manner that is similar to that of many other individuals. A class action is a sort of legal remedy that enables several parties to combine their claims into one large one in order to get damages recompense.

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This page provides further information about class action lawsuits, including how they operate, how to file one, and if you should file one.

What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A class action lawsuit is a sizable legal action brought on behalf of several plaintiffs against a defendant. Each of the plaintiffs in the class must have experienced comparable losses that the defendant is said to have caused.

Class actions are permitted only in civil situations where plaintiffs seek monetary damages, and they may be filed in state or federal courts.

How Do Class Action Lawsuits Work?

One or more identified plaintiffs represent a sizable group in a class action case. The plaintiffs identified above initiate the lawsuit and take an active part in the judicial process. The listed plaintiffs and a far bigger number of anonymous litigants have common legal claims. They have the option to opt out and bring individual lawsuits to make up for the wrongs done to them, or they can decide to join the class and have the class handle their claims.

A class action lawsuit requires the court to certify, which indicates that it has determined that there is a large pool of potential plaintiffs, that the named plaintiffs have claims that are representative of the entire class, and that all of the unnamed plaintiffs share a common claim with the named plaintiffs. Together with the class’s legal representatives, the listed plaintiffs submit evidence to the court overseeing the claim.

After a class action lawsuit is launched, a defendant will frequently settle. This indicates that the defendant will provide a legal remedy of some kind that will be accessible to every member of the class. Should the matter go to trial rather than be settled out of court, the ruling made by the judge will have universal applicability.

What Is Required for a Class Action Lawsuit?

Both federal and state courts are venues for class action lawsuits. Rules of state courts might vary. Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure lays forth federal obligations. Under Rule 23, there are a few explicit and implicit criteria. Rule 23 requires each of the following to be present in a class action lawsuit.

An Actual Legal Controversy or Dispute

In order to proceed with the formation of a class action lawsuit and the pursuit of damages, the listed plaintiffs must possess a legitimate legal case or legal justification. Every student in the class must be able to answer the factual or legal question.

Empirical Standards for Characterizing the Plaintiff Class

Determining the precise individuals who may belong to the class of unidentified plaintiffs whose claims are going to be settled in the class action lawsuit has to be simple and straightforward. Because the court must be able to discover or determine who is a member of the class of plaintiffs, this is also referred to as “ascertainability.”

A multitude

This implies that there must be several parties who have the right to jointly pursue a claim and who have all purportedly suffered from the same legal violation. In most cases, a lawsuit must have a common claim from at least 40 parties in order to be eligible for class action status. Nonetheless, there are considerably more possible anonymous plaintiffs in many class actions.


The legal disagreement must entail common questions to which the court can provide an answer.


The named plaintiffs have to be representative of all the unidentified plaintiffs whose claims may be settled through the class action, or they should be typical of all of them.

Sufficient Representation

The attorneys representing each named class member must have sufficient expertise handling comparable high-profile legal cases, and the named class members must not have any conflicts of interest with other prospective class members.

Answers to Common Questions (FAQs)

The process of launching a class action lawsuit is not without difficulties. The class has to be certified by the court. A real legal dispute, a predetermined minimum number of common claims, and the capacity to identify class members are among the prerequisites that must be fulfilled. The process of bringing a class action lawsuit and being certified can be handled by a qualified class actor attorney.

You will not be in control of the case’s result if you file a class action lawsuit as an anonymous plaintiff. Your compensation will be limited to whatever remedies the court or a settlement decides are reasonable. You will receive a negligible portion of the total prize money. If you’re not content with the settlement, you won’t be able to reject the offer or engage in further negotiations.

Only in cases where a sizable number of plaintiffs have experienced a comparable kind of injury are class actions acceptable. Typically, 40 people are required to be plaintiffs, even though most class actions involve much more participants.

Class Action Definition, Types of Lawsuits, Advantages, and Sample

A Class Action: What Is It?

In a class action, one or more plaintiffs file a lawsuit on behalf of a larger group of people, referred to as the class. All class members share in any money gained from a class-action lawsuit after paying legal costs, whether in the form of a settlement or a judgment.

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Comprehending a Class Action

Groups of people having comparable legal claims against one or more defendants—who might be clients, staff members, investors, or patients—are represented in class-action lawsuits. If a lawsuit satisfies the requirements outlined in a legal rule known as Rule 23, it may be certified as a class action by the courts having jurisdiction over it.

One of the requirements is the presence of a class of claimants big enough that it would be unfair or impossible to assess their claims separately from the class action. A court order designating class counsel and outlining the class, class claims, problems, or defenses is required when certifying a class action.1

Class Action History

In 1966, American courts enlarged the purview of class action lawsuits and standardized them in order to support the implementation of court decisions that ruled racial segregation in public places and schools to be illegal.1

Advantages of Class Actions

Litigation can progress more quickly and economically with class certification, especially when it comes to lawsuits involving huge businesses. Class actions sometimes be the only way for certain plaintiffs to proceed with their cases since they reduce the expense of filing lawsuits.

In a class action, individuals could also have a better chance of winning their lawsuits against a defendant or defendants. Members have the option to pursue their claims individually and decline any final settlement, even if they are represented as a class.

Class Action Types

Class action lawsuits can be classified as either securities litigation, consumer product liability claims, or civil rights procedures like school finance. With the passage of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA) in 1995, Congress established new guidelines for securities class-action lawsuits.2

Pre-trial settlements for class action lawsuits that are successful are frequently large. The $7.2 billion settlement came from the lawsuit that the shareholders of Enron brought following the company’s demise.3. The class action lawsuit alleging product responsibility against Toyota for defective brakes is another well-known example. It led to an expensive recall and settlement of more than $1 billion.4

Rather than focusing on financial claims, civil rights class action lawsuits usually entail requests for injunctive relief, or legal remedies. The Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which declared school segregation to be unconstitutional, is among the most well-known civil rights class actions. There may be more legal limitations on these kinds of class lawsuits now than there were in the past.5.

Attorneys generally accept class action lawsuits on a contingency fee basis, keeping a portion of any awards or settlement money awarded to plaintiffs. Over the years, this practice has come under scrutiny since, in certain instances, the sums paid to legal teams often surpass the sums awarded to plaintiffs.

Example: Tesla CEO Elon Musk vs. Shareholders of TSLA

Two class-action lawsuits were filed against Tesla Inc. (TSLA) and its vocal CEO Elon Musk in response to his series of tweets in the summer of 2018, in which he announced his intention to take the company private. His tweets, which startled Wall Street and caused Tesla stock to soar, revealed that he was thinking of taking the producer of electric cars private for a $420 share price.Six

After the sequence of Tweets and a letter to staff in which Musk laid out his thought process, there was silence on the matter from both Musk and the firm. As a result, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opened investigations into the matter, and investors filed two class-action lawsuits, which USA Today stated claimed the corporation had broken federal securities laws by posting the tweets.

The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, which was reached in 1998 and resulted in a $206 billion payout with a $9 billion annual perpetuity, was the biggest class action settlement.7.

In one of the two claims, Musk and Tesla “embarked on a scheme and course of conduct to completely decimate the company’s short-sellers,” according to the plaintiff, Kalman Isaacs, who filed the case in federal court in San Francisco.8

The complaint claimed that the tweets caused the stock to rise $45.47 over the day’s closing price, resulting in billion-dollar mark-to-market losses for short-sellers—those who wager that a company would decline using borrowed shares.

The complaints further alleged that Musk had made misleading claims because he had not secured the funding required to take Tesla private. William Chamberlain claims Musk “materially” deceived investors between August 7 and August 10, asserting that investor approval for the purchase was secured and that the money was in place. The class-action lawsuit is part of a larger legal case that was also filed in federal court in San Francisco.9.

Regarding the tweet, Musk was really the subject of nine lawsuits, which have since been combined into one. Tesla and Musk’s plea to have the case dismissed in 2020 was turned down by U.S. District Judge Edward Chen, and it is currently pending without a settlement. Although Musk was forced to pay the SEC a $20 million fine, the class-action lawsuits are still ongoing.10

How Can a Class-Action Lawsuit Be Started?

Have a lawyer review your case to see whether it is legitimate and if you have a possibility of winning before filing a class-action lawsuit. This will be useful in figuring out whether there are other instances with the same issue, analyzing previous cases of a similar kind to predict the result, if a statute of limitations applies, whether other people have also been impacted, and whether this is the best course of action overall.

Filing the complaint would be the next step. All of the information pertaining to the class action, including the parties involved, the requests, the particular issue, and so on, will be included in the complaint. A judge would then need to approve the class action in light of all the evidence presented.

How Much Money Can You Get From a Class-Action Lawsuit?

In a class-action lawsuit, the amount of money you might get varies greatly. It is contingent upon the quantity of parties involved in the action and the amount the courts determine to be reasonable. The settlement’s revenues are not distributed equitably. A sizable portion goes to attorneys, followed by individuals who were most affected. Depending on a variety of conditions, the amount of money you get may vary from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars.

How Many Parties Are Required in a Class-Action Suit?

A court is unlikely to proceed with certification of a class-action case unless there are at least a few dozen participants, albeit the exact number is unknown. The more parties involved, the better, but depending on the circumstances, even 20 might be sufficient for a class-action lawsuit.11

A Class-Action Waiver: What Is It?

A class-action waiver is a written agreement that aims to shield a party from having the ability to bring a class action lawsuit. Large firms may utilize class-action waivers in a variety of contracts, including those with customers and employees, to shield themselves from potential class-action lawsuits.

A Class-Action Lawsuit Settlement: What Is It?

Proceeds from winning a class-action lawsuit are known as a class-action settlement. It is the sum of money awarded to each plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit.

The Final Word

Class actions are legal proceedings filed by plaintiffs on behalf of a wider group of people against specific persons or businesses. Class actions aim to compensate plaintiffs for losses they have suffered, typically with financial compensation. In most class actions, hundreds of people are involved, and the settlement is split, if not always equally, among all of them.

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