How and When to File a Class Suit in US LawLegal Reference & Education
August 14, 2013
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One of the principles laid down in jurisprudence is class-action lawsuits. A class-action law suit allows a large number of people who are affected or have a common interest in a matter to sue or be sued as a group. Class action suits flow from English common law. There origin can be traced to the 17th century in England. These suites were heard in the Equity court and termed as bill of peace. In the United States; Justice Joseph Story, who served on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1811 to 1845, was the first person to recognize the importance of class action suits or bill of peace. The principle of a class action suit is similar to a normal suite. The only difference is that in a normal suite there is a single plaintiff, while in a class action suit there are many plaintiffs, all whom have a common legal redress. Class action suites are brought by a large group against a wrong doer or a company or an organization. All people who constitute a class action suit have a similar remedy and have been harmed in a similar manner. Class action suit can be filed by a single person of behalf of others. Before filing the person will need sworn affidavits from all other who wish to constitute the class action group. For the initial filing an attorney is a must. No class action suit can be admitted in court without an attorney. Persons who join the group later do not need an attorney. A class action by its very nature is a voluminous exercise and more time consuming. The legal requirements of keeping the group informed and seek their concurrence in the later legal steps to be initiated can be a prodigious task. The logistics involved will have to be taken care off. The court will also have to sift through greater volume of evidence and the damages will always be considerably higher than a suit filed by a single plaintiff. As far as work of the class action attorney is concerned, it is quite similar to a single plaintiff case. He or she will have to evaluate the evidence and interview witnesses who will be under oath. It is generally a long drawn affair. In a class action suit, opponent will bring in motions which will have to be answered. Due to the time involved, class action suites are many times settled out of court. This is an important part of a class action attorney's duty. The American justice system allows the plaintiffs to seek relief through a settlement which will be recognized by the court. Payments for class action suits can run into millions of dollars. At one time class action suits were thought to be a part of affirmative action on behalf of the middle class plaintiffs. Now many lawyers and government officials are of the opinion that class action suits are not serving their purpose and are just means for lawyers to pocket substantial amounts of money. Class action suits will involve the following steps a)Establishment of a wrong or tort against many people b)Contacting a attorney c)Issuing legal notice to the involved party d)Filing suit in appropriate court e)Hearing of the suit f)Decision or out of court settlement Lastly it must be understood that class action suits are similar to single plaintiff suits and follow the same principles of natural justice and jurisprudence.