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When many different people are affected by similar illegal conduct, one or more of them may choose to bring a single lawsuit against the parties responsible for the illegal conduct. Generally, 40 is a sufficient number to have a class action, although there have been classes of 12.

A class action is  necessary where many people have claims against a business, but the claims are modest, so  that bringing a single lawsuit is not economical.  A class action allows one person to file a lawsuit as a “class representative,” bringing a claim on behalf of  other people who have similar claims. The lawyers will file a motion with the court to allow the case to proceed as a class action.

If the defendant only had to face individual claims, knowing that most aggrieved persons would not file suit, illegal conduct can be profitable.  Class actions are important because they insure that the defendant will not profit from illegal conduct.  

A person who files a potential class action case typically does not pay anything to the attorneys who seek to represent the class. Rather, the fees are either paid directly by the defendant or are paid out of the what the defendant has to pay to the class.

A class action lawsuit may be filed in a state court or federal court. In either case, the court must authorize the “class representatives” or “named plaintiffs” and their lawyers to proceed on behalf of the “class members.” If the relief sought is money damages, the class members are given individual notice and an opportunity to “opt out” before being bound to the outcome of the class action.

In addition, any settlement that binds the class members has to be approved by the court. If the relief is money damages, individual notice of the settlement has to be sent to each class member.

Notice is frequently given by mail. If the defendant communicated with the class members by other means in connection with the violation – email or fax – often that is the best method for giving notice.

Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC has brought hundreds of class action against debt collectors, collection attorneys, mortgage lenders and servicers, junk faxers and telemarketers, manufacturers of defective products, and others.