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Understanding class action lawsuits

Product liability cases often involve large groups of injured victims. As such, class action lawsuits are often used to pursue claims against the manufacturers and distributors responsible for defective products. Tennessee residents hurt by dangerous drugs may wish to learn more about pursuing compensation through class action litigation.

According to the Cornell University Law School's Legal Information Institute, class action lawsuits are available for certain types of civil litigation. In these actions, one or more plaintiffs are allowed to pursue legal claims as representatives of a group.

Class actions filed in federal courts are governed by Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  This rule explains that there are four requirements in order for plaintiffs to pursue class action litigation. The first is that the class is large enough to make joinder of all its members impractical. The second is the existence of common factual or legal questions. These must apply to every member of the class. The third is that the claims or defenses of the representatives must be characteristic of the whole class. The fourth is that the representatives protect the interests of the class adequately and fairly.

To maintain a class action, the plaintiffs must satisfy additional requirements. According to Rule 23(b), acceptable grounds for maintaining class action suits include the following:

  • Pursuing consistent adjudications for all members of the group
  • The opposition behaved in a manner that make it appropriate to equally apply relief to everyone as a group
  • Protecting the individual members' interests

It is important to keep in mind that the FRCP only applies to cases before federal courts. The requirements of state courts may differ.    

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