class action
class action n: an action in which a representative plaintiff sues or a representative defendant is sued on behalf of a class of plaintiffs or defendants who have the same interests in the litigation as their representative and whose rights or liabilities can be more efficiently determined as a group than in a series of individual suits – called also class action suit, class suit; see also certification compare consolidate, joinder; test case at case
◇ Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets out the prerequisites for having an action certified as a class action in federal court. Section (a) permits a class action if “(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable, (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class, (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class, and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.” If the action satisfies these requirements, it must then fit into one of three categories: (1) where individual litigation would have varying results requiring the opposing party to act inconsistently toward the class members or would affect the interests of class members who are not parties to the individual action; (2) where the opposing party has acted or refused to act on grounds that are applicable to the class members as a whole and therefore injunctive or declaratory relief with respect to the class members as a whole is appropriate; or, (3) where the questions of law or fact common to the class members outweigh questions that apply to only particular individuals so that a class action is the best method to determine respective rights and liabilities. Using these guidelines, the judge will decide if an action should be certified as a class action.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law. . 1996.

class action
n.
A lawsuit brought by one or a few members of a group on behalf of all the members, specially certified by the court to confirm that all the members share a concern and meet other requirements.

The Essential Law Dictionary. — Sphinx Publishing, An imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. . 2008.


class action
1. in company law, an action by or on behalf of shareholders of a company.
2. generally, an action by one or more nominal plaintiffs for others. The idea is long established in the USA but is not yet widespread in the UK, where often a case is selected as a test case or a lead case and other similar cases are settled on the same basis. The practice of the legal aid Board facilitates a group approach in certain cases, such as disaster cases or pharmaceutical cases.

Collins dictionary of law. . 2001.


class action
A lawsuit in which a large number of people with similar legal claims join together in a group (the class) to sue someone, usually a company or organization. Common class actions involve cases in which a product has injured many people, or a group of people has suffered discrimination at the hands of an organization.
Category: Small Claims Court & Lawsuits

Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. . 2009.

class action
USA
A procedural mechanism by which a group of similarly-situated plaintiffs (or defendants) may prosecute (or defend) a lawsuit as a class, instead of as individuals. Class actions in federal courts are governed by Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP).
Federal courts may certify lawsuits as class actions only if there is an identifiable class of plaintiffs or defendants that satisfies the criteria set out in Rules 23(a) and 23(b) of the FRCP.
Rule 23(a) provides that one or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all members only if:
• The class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable.
• There are questions of law or fact common to the class.
• The claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class.
• The representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.
If the class meets all of Rule 23(a)'s criteria, it may be maintained under Rule 23(b) if any of the following three conditions are satisfied:
• Prosecuting separate actions by or against individual class members would create a risk of:
o inconsistent or varying adjudications concerning individual class members that would create incompatible standards of conduct for the party opposing the class; or
o adjudications concerning individual class members that, as a practical matter, would be dispositive of the interests of the other members not parties to the individual adjudications or would substantially impair or impede their ability to protect their interests (FRCP 23(b)(1)).
• The party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds that apply generally to the class, so that final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate respecting the class as a whole (FRCP 23(b)(2)).
• The court finds that the questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy (FRCP 23(b)(3)).
If a final judgment is entered after the class is certified, all of the class members are bound by the judgment unless they opt out of the class. Normally, only members of classes certified under Rule 23(b)(3) are given the opportunity to opt out of class actions.
Related links

Practical Law Dictionary. Glossary of UK, US and international legal terms. . 2010.


class action
A lawsuit that allows a large number of people with a common interest in a matter to sue or be sued as a group.

Dictionary from West's Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005.


class action
I
A lawsuit that allows a large number of people with a common interest in a matter to sue or be sued as a group.
II A lawsuit brought by one or more persons on behalf of a larger group.

Short Dictionary of (mostly American) Legal Terms and Abbreviations.

class action
n.
   a lawsuit filed by one or more people on behalf of themselves and a larger group of people "who are similarly situated." Examples might include: all women who have suffered from defective contraceptive devices or breast implants, all those overcharged by a public utility during a particular period, or all those who were underpaid by an employer in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. If a class action is successful, a period of time is given for those who can prove they fit the class to file claims to participate in the judgment amount. Class actions are difficult and expensive to file and follow through, but the results can be helpful to people who could not afford to carry a suit alone. They can force businesses that have caused broad damage or have a "public be damned" attitude to change their practices and/or pay for damages. They often result in high fees for the winning attorneys, although often attorneys do not collect a fee at the beginning of a class action suit but might charge a contingent fee (such as one-third of the final judgment), which, occasionally, can be millions of dollars. Such fees usually require court approval.

Law dictionary. . 2013.

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