Understanding Class Action Lawsuits

  July 06, 2014  ~    11.58 MB
Understanding Class Action Lawsuits




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Sommers Schwartz attorney Jason Thompson explains class action lawsuits, the benefits and efficiencies they off consumers and others whose rights have been impacted, and the important role class action litigation plays in our legal system.

Video Transcript:

Class actions are so
powerful because the numbers
get so big so fast.
And what I mean by that
are the number of clients
and the number of dollars that
the defendant has to deal with.
So for example,
a corporation who
manufactures a car or a
device or emits pollution,
there are a lot of
people that are affected
by that, a lot of dollars that
are at stake in those lawsuits.
And as a result, judges
pay a lot more attention
to those cases.
And when you combine a
large number of people
with a lot of money
and a judge that's
paying attention
to the case, you
can bring about
powerful changes.
Class actions do require
specialized attorneys.
Class actions
typically involve cases
where the stakes are very high.
And as a result, the
companies that are sued,
called defendants,
typically hire
some of the best
attorneys in the country.
Also, the judges look at
those cases a little different
than the run of
the mill lawsuit.
Because the stakes are
so high, the judges
demand a higher
caliber work product.
And so in a class
action lawsuit,
you typically have some
of the best lawyers
that specialize in that field.
And if you are in a
class action or have
a case that can be
certified as a class action,
you're going to
need a specialized
attorney who regularly
handles and wins those cases.
Certain types of cases make
for good class actions.
And the types of cases
that we're talking about
are where the
evidence or the facts
are basically the same for
all of the people involved.
Some examples would
be a defective car
or a defective product.
Everybody who bought
that product basically
has the same case.
And so they're going to
use the same evidence,
the same witnesses, the same
documents, to prove their case.
Another example would
be a wage an hour
case where people
aren't paid overtime.
If you're not
being paid overtime
it's likely that your
coemployees are also
not being paid overtime.
A third example is
called an antitrust case
or an anti-competitive case
where a couple businesses
conspire to rig the
market or price fix,
have a monopoly of some sort.
Well, everybody who's affected
by that in the marketplace
is essentially laboring
under the same problems.
Again, they're going to have the
same evidence, same witnesses.
The legal term that describes
all that is called commonality.
And in the class
action world, that's
the test for a class action.
Cases that have commonality
are good class actions.
Class actions
accomplish efficiency.
And that's really what
they're all about.
You can look at a class
action and its efficiency
from three perspectives, really.
From the class, the people
who are in the case,
from the courts, and from
the defendant's perspective.
So from the class's
perspective, if you
have 5,000 people who have
been harmed or alleged
to have been harmed by a product
or some type of an event that
applies to all of
them, they don't
have to all hire a lawyer they
don't have to all take off time
from work and go to court.
There's two, three,
maybe seven of them
that are the class
and they prosecute the
case with the lawyers.
From the defendant's
standpoint, it's
equally as efficient if it's all
wrapped up in a class action,
because they don't have to
sit down for a deposition
and put their people
through court hearings,
produce documents
5,000 separate times.
They do it once.
And from the
court's perspective,
they're very efficient.
Again, if you have 5000 lawsuits
that essentially involve
the same facts
and circumstances,
and you have them all going
through the same courthouse,
the court will grind to
a halt. And so efficiency
is really what a class
action is all about.
Not all cases make for
good class actions.
For example, a case where
we had individual reactions,
individual circumstances,
something unique
about the parties, those don't
make for good class actions
because the evidence
and witnesses
that will be used to resolve
that case are different.
It's not the same for everybody.
And that is what is
required for a class action.
And if you think about
it, when a judge or a jury
resolves a case, and it's