What is Class Action? What Does it Mean for the People?
The idea of a Class Action lawsuit may be familiar to many people due to the constant inundation of television commercials touting the phrase "have you been injured by Drug Name Here?" However, many of us aren't familiar with what, exactly, a Class Action lawsuit entails, and how complicated it can get when there are multiple defendants AND multiple plaintiffs. Class Action, for the most part, was created to make a lawsuit easier when there are too many "plaintiffs" to be included in the standard Personal Injury lawsuit. The group of plaintiffs named in a Class Action lawsuit are commonly known as a "class" and all of them must allege the same thing: the defendant(s) were the cause of irreparable harm caused to them or their loved ones.
on behalf of the entire class
At the point in which a defendant or defendants settle the Class Action case or they're found to have violated law and lose at trial, every member of the "class" who sustained injury due to the negligence of the defendant(s) is given a set percent of the damages to be distributed. These damages are decided by a judge and reflect the same considerations made in smaller, single-person Personal Injury lawsuits.
- What is the age range of the plaintiffs? Are any elderly or minors named in the lawsuit?
- Life expectancy of the plaintiffs (had they not sustained injury due to the defendant(s) actions or defective product or pharmaceutical)
- The quality of life victims had prior to the pain and suffering sustained due to the actions of the defendant(s) or the harmful product they produced; did the victims lose significant income due to their injuries–incurring medical expenses or lost wages?
How a Class Action lawsuit gets started
The only way to successfully file a Class Action lawsuit is to hire a Personal Injury attorney that is board-certified and has experience in trying these types of cases. An attorney who is unfamiliar with the territory and cannot handle a lawsuit with an often extreme amount of plaintiffs involved cannot be trusted to take on these cases. Many times, it takes years of litigation before a Class Action suit can see any resolution in favor of the injured plaintiffs. While many plaintiffs are willing to wait out the process to see justice, the attorney must be able to follow through on their promise that they know how to proceed.
The requirements set forth by a Class Action lawsuit can overwhelm an attorney in this uncharted territory. A board-certified attorney is a must when it comes to a "class" of plaintiffs who attempt to seek justice after each one sustains the same type of injury from the same product, service, or physical actions of another. It should be noted that a great deal of Class Action lawsuits are filed against companies who produce a defective product or harmful drug without disclosing the risks. Drug and defective product Class Action lawsuits are the most common litigation in the Class Action arena.
physical and financial injuries abound
For those who may wonder what the scope of these lawsuits covers, Personal Injury is the biggest, but not the only wrong-doing they cover. There are other Class Action lawsuits in recent memory where none of the plaintiffs were physically injured but sustained financial losses (Ticketmaster was forced to pay a large settlement to consumers who suffered financial losses due to their business practices).
The Class Action lawsuits that draw the most attention are those in which a great deal of victims came to harm due to lack of disclosure that a drug was capable of producing dangerous side effects, even though the pharmaceutical company was well aware that there was potential for them.
One ongoing Class Action lawsuit that Personal Injury attorneys are now seeing an influx of clients due to is the drug known as Taxotere. Recent litigation experts have determined that Sanofi-Aventis the maker of the chemotherapy drug Taxotere only began to warn patients about the risk of permanent Alopecia (hair loss) after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forced their hand. The FDA should not have to force the hand of a drug company to disclose potentially fatal or negative side effects of their drugs.
This practice of withholding scientifically proven information is not only unacceptable, but violates the law of "foreseeability". "Foreseeability" is the legal theory that should a defendant have known better (by foreseeing potential harm in their actions) but acted regardless, and harm or wrongful death was caused, they become liable in a court of law for their actions. Pharmaceutical companies have allowed themselves to fall prey to this liability both due to their own greed and their carelessness for the patients whom their companies were established to treat. Pharmaceutical companies must be transparent with patients about the potentially life-altering side effects of their drugs.
In our follow-up to this article, the Shaked Law Blog will delve into specifics about what sets Class Action lawsuits apart from individual Personal Injury lawsuits; namely the necessity of Class Certified by a judge after the defendants are served the official complaint. We'll look at the multi-step process that surrounds a Class Action lawsuit and break down the reasons why this type of litigation can drag on for many years.
Remember: never try to navigate the legal system alone. If you feel you've become the victim of someone else's negligence, the most important thing to do is seek the expert advice of board-certified legal counsel.
Learn more about Class Action claims by visiting our Class Action website at classactionlawsuit.legal