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During our years moving trough the education system, we were members of classes that varied in size. From the packed auditorium of freshman Introduction to English students in college to the handful of Calculus 2 classmates in high school, the size of our education classes mostly depended on the complexity of the subjects we took.
The same principle applies to members of class action lawsuits.
Some class action lawsuits involve thousands, if not millions of members that were negatively impacted by the negligence of a defendant. Large class action lawsuits are what we typically read and hear about in the news. Think class action lawsuits against the tobacco industry. Although multi-billion verdicts in favor of large groups of plaintiffs receive most of the class action publicity, the fact is that most class action lawsuits comprise a much smaller group of plaintiffs.
Whether it is a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company or litigation that seeks $1,000 in award money for two plaintiffs, you need to know the answer to the question, what does it take to be a class action lawsuit plaintiff.
The Influence of a Judge
One plaintiff typically files a class action lawsuit for a group of people that the law refers to as class members. Like the administrators of a grade school, a judge determines who is allowed to become a member of a class that files a lawsuit. Potential class members must convince a judge they belong in the plaintiff class. Moreover, the case must follow legal guidelines to qualify as class action and the lead plaintiff must be a legally appropriate leader of the class filing a lawsuit. Class action judges rule in favor of proceeding with class action litigation if there are enough plaintiffs to make it impractical to file individual cases, as well as the determination that class members share common violations of state and/or federal statutes.
Are You a Class Member?
After certifying a class action lawsuit, a judge rules on the definition of a class. The class definition describes who qualifies for membership in a class action lawsuit. For most class action lawsuits, it is easy to figure out who belongs in the exclusive legal club. For example, if an employee of the company you work for files a class action lawsuit for violating federal wage laws, you automatically join the class of victims that were deprived of legally defined income. On the other hand, class action lawsuits that involve the purchase of common consumer goods such as milk require the class action primary plaintiff to notify class members by creating advertisements that run on print and electronic media platforms.
How Many Class Action Members?
The easy answer to the question is you need at least two members to file a class action lawsuit. In a vast majority of cases, courts do not require a specific number of class members to join the primary plaintiff. However, the legal requirement for determining the number of class members falls under the statute that any class must be “so numerous that the joinder of all members is impractical.” In more concise language, the law mandates that a class action lawsuit involves too many people for cases to be litigated individually.
Most class action lawsuits do not require you to take any action to become class members, just like our early education years. To determine your eligibility for becoming a class action lawsuit member, contact a licensed attorney that specializes in class action law.