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What’s a Class Action Lawsuit?

Whats a Class Action Lawsuit

What’s a class action lawsuit? It is a lawsuit in which a large number of plaintiffs bring similar claims against the same defendant. A class action lawsuit begins when one or more named plaintiffs files a claim against the defendant(s) on behalf of a proposed class, all of whom have suffered a common injury or damages.

What’s a Class Action Lawsuit?

Once the complaint is filed in a class action lawsuit, the named plaintiff(s) must obtain class certification.  In order for class certification to be granted, the size of the proposed class must be determined, and the proposed class must be evaluated for commonality of claims, among other factors. Generally, requirements for a class action lawsuit certifications are:

  • The class is so large that individual suits are impractical;
  • Common legal or factual claims exist;
  • The claims or defenses are typical of the plaintiffs or defendants; and
  • The representative parties adequately protect the interests of the class.

Oftentimes the plaintiff(s) must also show that common issues, rather than individual fact-specific conflicts, will dominate the litigation such that a class action is a better method for resolving the dispute.

What Is the Purpose of a Class Action Lawsuit?

Class actions strive to hold defendants accountable for any wrongdoing, with minimal burden on the plaintiffs. Class action lawsuits often benefit plaintiffs because they are more cost-effective and efficient. Class action lawsuits may also save plaintiffs in upfront legal costs associated with litigation because law firms frequently represent plaintiffs on a contingency basis, with plaintiffs paying their lawyers a percentage of the recovery upon conclusion of the case.

A class action lawsuit give plaintiffs much more power and leverage against large defendants than they would otherwise have. For example, an individual plaintiff would likely struggle to have the resources to effectively pursue a claim against a large pharmaceutical company. The pharmaceutical company would have money and experienced attorneys at their disposal to fight the individual’s claim, creating an almost impossible hurdle for one plaintiff to clear. However, many plaintiffs acting together in a class action lawsuit have much more power. Attorneys representing a class has access to resources and money that can stand up to powerful defendants.

Common Types of Class Action Lawsuits

Some of the more common types of class action lawsuits involve the following types of claims:

  • Antitrust Violations
  • Aviation Accidents
  • Consumer Protection Laws
  • Employment Claimssuch as wage and hour claims or employment discrimination allegations
  • Environmental Hazards and Toxic Torts
  • Product Liability
  • Unsafe Pharmaceuticals


Because class actions are complex legal matters, the legal representation of a skilled class action attorney is crucial. The Chicago class action attorneys at Ankin Law have considerable experienced representing plaintiffs in class action lawsuits involving automobile defects, consumer product liability claims, unsafe pharmaceuticals, employment disputes, and toxic tort matters.

Class Action Lawsuit Example

The largest class action lawsuit settlement in history was against Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, and two other tobacco companies in 1998. The settlement was for $206 Billion and was supposed to pay for medical bills related to illness that arose from smoking. The basis of the class action suit was that tobacco companies knew about health risks of using tobacco for years but, actively lied to the public about the risks.

Another class action lawsuit example is the case against baby formula companies. A class action lawsuit that is currently ongoing is against Similac and Enfamil baby formula companies. Many plaintiffs have children that developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis when their parents fed them Similac and Enfamil cow milk based formula as premature infants. The class is still open and it is unclear how many plaintiffs will be in the class or what the settlement will be.

Contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys to learn more about how we can help you collect your share of a class action damage award.

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