You have seen the commercials. A narrator explains that if you suffer from mesothelioma, you might be able to receive compensation for your prolonged exposure to asbestos. Other commercials discuss legal action taken against drug manufacturers because of the adverse side effects of taking certain medications.
In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to cutting corners by installing software in its vehicles that altered emission reports. According to an article in Fortune magazine, emission readings exceeded the EPA-mandated guidelines by a whopping 40 times. Volkswagen customers banded together to take legal action against Volkswagen, which eventually ended with claims paid out of more than $14 billion.
Legal actions that have been taken against Volkswagen, pharmaceutical companies, and against the companies that have yet to remove dangerous asbestos from their buildings are known as class action lawsuits.
A class action lawsuit represents a type of legal action that draws many people together that have the same type of claim for the purpose of suing a defendant. Let’s say a medical device caused you harm or injury and you discover the same medical device has injured hundreds of other people living in the United States. You can form a coalition of plaintiffs to file one lawsuit against the manufacturer of the faulty medical device.
What Are the Two Types of Class Action Lawsuits
Deciding to file a class action lawsuit is just the start of the legal process. You also have to decide whether you want to file a closed or an open class action lawsuit.
A lead plaintiff files a closed class action lawsuit on behalf of the people that signed a retainer agreement with the solicitors that act for the lead plaintiff. The retainer agreement also reveals the funder of the closed class action. The people that are eligible to join the closed class action must sign both the funding and retainer agreements. Otherwise, they will not receive compensation from a judgment or settlement.
On the other hand, an open class action lawsuit covers the people that have signed both agreements and the people that have not signed the agreements. Open class actions remain open for as long as it takes to resolve the contested legal issue. Some open class actions take just a couple of months, while more complicated cases can take years before they reach a conclusion.
What Are the Advantages of Joining an Open Class Action Lawsuit?
Let’s say you want to file a lawsuit against an automobile manufacturer for designing a defective airbag. Do you go it alone or search for an open class action lawsuit that is suing the same auto manufacturer for the same defective airbag. If you have a limited amount of time and you do not want to drain your bank account, filing a lawsuit that is open to other plaintiffs is the way to go.
Here’s why filing an open class action lawsuit makes sense:
- An efficient legal process that involves just one judge and one decision that covers hundreds of co-plaintiffs
- Opportunity to receive just compensation
- No attorney fees
- Legal responsibilities no longer your responsibilities
- The outcome can impact previous legal actions
- No deadline for other people to join
Because most attorneys operate on a contingency basis, you do not have to pay upfront fees for legal services. The lawyer who handles a case for you gets paid when the plaintiffs get paid.
What Are the Common Types of Open Class Action Lawsuits?
Julia Roberts’ Oscar-worthy performance in Erin Brockovich highlighted the importance of taking legal action against a company for harming people and the environment. Residents of Hinckley, California filed an open class action lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for purposely allowing harmful chemicals to penetrate the city’s groundwater. The lawsuit against the utility is just one of the common types of legal action taken against a company for gross negligence.
- Defective consumer product
- Dangerous consume product
- Wage theft
- Discrimination in the workplace
- Fraudulent investment reports
- Fraudulent business practices
- False advertising claims
- Exposure to harmful substances