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What Constitutes a Consumer Class Action Lawsuit?

What Constitutes a Consumer Class Action Lawsuit?

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When businesses harm consumers through fraud, illegal business practices, scamming, or physical injury, a consumer class action lawsuit is designed to hold them accountable. While many types of damages would qualify, at Morgan & Morgan, we frequently represent clients who have suffered harm from defective products like drugs, medical devices, and vehicles. We also have represented cases involving consumer and security fraud situations, including misconduct by corporations.  

Suppose you've been the victim of circumstances similar to those mentioned, no matter how minor. In that case, it may be worthwhile to join up with other consumers in your position and hold the liable company accountable. Often, claims that may not be worth the effort to pursue individually increase their viability and value when accompanied by others with similar claims.

Are There Advantages to Joining a Consumer Class Action Lawsuit? 

You may be wondering what advantages there are to not pursuing your case as an individual but as part of a larger class-action suit. The answer is that it is often a more efficient process for all involved. Additional advantages to creating or joining consumer class-action lawsuits include:

Class-actions Are Efficient

As mentioned earlier, class-actions are less complicated in some aspects. For instance, there is just a single set of experts, evidence, and issues to be resolved. This not only saves on the cost of taking legal action, but it can allow a single law firm to handle the case instead of needing multiple legal teams for multiple case actions. 

Singular Consumer Injury Cases Are Not Always Worth It

Sometimes, damages a consumer suffers by themselves aren't enough to justify a lawsuit against a manufacturer. For example, say a credit card company was illegally charging fees to its customers to the tune of millions of dollars a year in fraudulently gotten revenue. However, a single consumer may have only lost $200, and sue for that amount would cost much more in fees. 

As a group of 100,000 or more credit consumers affected by the credit card company's fraud, this could balloon into millions in losses that need to be paid back. However, one class-action case could easily claim the entire amount and then ensure each individual gets their damages from the final judgment. In addition, a single firm could represent the case, thus minimizing the legal costs to all involved, maximizing their recovery.

Courts Find Consumer Class-action Suits Practical

Simply put, a single lawsuit representing multiple parties is also practical and cost-saving for the court system. By only needing a single judge's time and space, the court docket doesn't get clogged up with multiple suits for the same issue. 

The Playing Field Is Level With Consumer Class-Action Lawsuits

Defendant corporations have a financial advantage when defending a single claim. However, when the attorneys of Morgan & Morgan bring this type of suit against them with hundreds of injured claimants, the playing field levels. Companies defending against multiple claims are more likely to settle, and further, they will be more open to changing how they do business in the future. 

Parties Eligible to Bring a Consumer Class-Action Lawsuit

Bringing a consumer class-action lawsuit is a relatively straightforward process so long as you have a valid claim. To file suit, you must have suffered injury or damages, and your attorney will need to take additional steps to get your case officially certified as this type of action. 

To illustrate, imagine you bought a car that turned out to have a defective airbag that injured you in a car accident. If you or your attorney believe other drivers have likely suffered a similar experience, you may have the option of doing the following:

  • File a consumer class-action suit
  • Meet the qualifications to receive certification
  • Have your attorney act as a representative for other plaintiffs in your complaint

There are occasions where regulatory penalties and criminal charges may be brought against the company in question. Your attorney will likely contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP), which governs consumer protections as a regulatory entity.

The Importance of Consumer Class-Action Lawsuits

Class-action lawsuits allow injured parties to hold greedy, powerful corporations and businesses accountable for their harmful actions. These legal actions are crucial in affecting needed change through entire industries and the regulatory processes that govern them.  

Victims who suffered minor injuries are also given a voice when they would otherwise be unable to be heard. For many suffering smaller damages, it's not about getting compensated as much as the principle behind their case. When companies act in bad faith and hurt their consumers, they should be held responsible, no matter how severe the harm caused. 

How to Get Your Consumer Class-Action Certified and Into Court 

Even though you can file paperwork that gets the ball rolling on a consumer class-action lawsuit, remember you do this on behalf of others who have also suffered damages in the same way as you. This makes up the "class" part of the suit. Before you can move forward, your class must be certified by a court, which will then turn it into a class-action lawsuit. 

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), the following criteria must be met to obtain class certification:

  • Your group must be large enough to qualify, typically 40 or more people, and the defendant must have caused you all harm.
  • Participants in your suit must have similar facts in their cases, share questions as to what caused their injuries, as well as who they believe caused them. 
  • The person representing the class must have a typical case situation, or someone else needs to be the representative.
  • The attorney you chose to represent your case needs to have the skill, experience, and training to handle your claim successfully.

At Morgan & Morgan, our consumer class-action attorneys are standing by to assist you in seeking class certification and manage every aspect of your case. 

Determine if There Is Already a Consumer Class-Action Against the Liable Party 

When consumer injuries involve a well-known or popular company or business, a class-action suit may already be taking place. You may be one of the millions hurt by their product and are now wanting justice and accountability. 

An excellent example of this would be the current airbag class-action suit against the manufacturer Takata. With over 50 million inflators and 37 million vehicles involved, this means that over 25 million people could be class members in this ongoing case. So again, this is why it's crucial that you consult with a knowledgeable consumer class-action attorney from Morgan & Morgan right away to determine what your options are and if a case is already pending.

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  • Is a Consumer Class-Action Lawsuit a Good Idea for My Situation?

    It really depends on the type of product defect involved and what damages or harm you suffered. For example, if your Apple watch face cracked because of a known manufacturing defect, it's cheaper to replace or repair the watch than hire an attorney to sue. But, since millions of others have suffered the same damages for the same reason, a consumer class-action lawsuit is ideal because you would only need one attorney, which minimizes legal costs spread amongst so many participants. In addition, being able to share this initial expense with others maximizes the value of your recovery. 

  • Is There a Difference Between Consumer Class-Action Lawsuits and Mass Torts?

    While these are similar actions in that large groups of injured individuals are involved, each participant remains autonomous in a mass tort suit. Also, damage awards are individualized in a mass tort where consumer class-action lawsuits evenly split the compensation among all involved. 

  • What does it mean to "Opt-In" or "Opt-Out"?

    This applies to those who are notified that a class-action lawsuit that might affect them has been filed. When you receive this type of notice, you have to decide if you want to participate or not. Many of these suits automatically have you join the lawsuit or "opted in." But, if you don't want to participate, you should "opt-out." 

    For those automatically added to a consumer-based suit for damages, you generally don't have to do anything. If and when a court orders compensation or the company settles, you'll receive your portion of the proceeds and waive your right to take further action.

    Should you opt-out, on the other hand, you wouldn't receive compensation from the lawsuit. You may choose this route because your attorney wants you to bring your own case against the liable company instead. This is appropriate in situations where your sustained injuries and/or losses exceed those in the other class action. 

  • Schedule a Free Case Evaluation to Learn More

    If you were physically, emotionally, or financially harmed by a company's fraudulent actions or product, you may have grounds to file a consumer class-action lawsuit if you believe others have suffered similarly. Speak with the skilled attorneys of Morgan & Morgan to find out what your options are and determine if a case is already underway that you might benefit from joining. 

    With over $10 billion won in settlement and jury awards for our clients, we are confident that our decades of experience and expertise in class-action law will benefit your case. Schedule a free case evaluation today with an attorney from Morgan & Morgan to determine the best course of legal action.

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