A class action lawsuit can take place “when the question is one of a common or general interest, of many persons, or when the parties are numerous, and it is impracticable to bring them all before the court, one or more may sue or defend for the benefit of all.” California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 382.
In the absence of California authorities governing the class actions, the California courts will look to federal law interpreting class action lawsuits. Under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 23(a), all of the following conditions must exist:
· Numerous parties: The class must be so numerous that joinder of all members individually would be impracticable;
· Common question: The action must involve questions of law or fact common to the class;
· Representative’s claim typical: The claims of the person representing the class must be typical of the class generally; and
· Adequacy of representation: The person representing the class must be able to fairly and adequately protect the interests of all members of the class.
Typical class action lawsuits are:
· Mass torts (e.g., a train derailed, injuring many passengers…);
· Product liability issues (i.e., a defective product, placed in the stream of commerce, caused injuries to consumers…);
· Antitrust law violation (i.e., companies engaging in unfair competition such as price fixing). For example, if several companies, within the same industry, gathered to formulate a plan to fix the pricing of a product, thus eliminating competition with one another;
· Consumer fraud or actions (e.g., a large telephone company illegally charged a fee to millions of consumers…);
· Employment matter (e.g., employment discrimination involving a significant number of employees, wage & hour violations, etc.).
If you believe that your claim concerns a potentially large group of people, you are invited and encouraged to consult this office to redress the wrongs committed.