You’ve undoubtedly heard of class action lawsuits, but you may not fully understand the power the class action option gives consumers. When consumers are harmed by the unfair or negligent practices of a large company, the damages are often too small to support an individual lawsuit. Imagine, for example, that a business sold a service for a small monthly fee. Although the contract did not contain a late fee provision, the company illegally charged customers whose payments were late a $7 fee. Most consumers would never realize that the fee was illegal. But, what if they did? Few people would be inclined to go to the trouble of filing a lawsuit to get their $7 back—the filing fee would far exceed the money at stake. Unfortunately, that leaves the business free to continue applying illegal charges. A class action lawsuit changes the analysis, since thousands or tens of thousands of people who were illegally charged $7 (or $14, or $21) can join forces to fight back.
Common Types of Class Action Lawsuits
A class action lawsuit can address any type of legal wrong that impacts a large number of people in a very similar way. Some of the most common examples include:
- Violations of consumer financial protection laws
- Defective products that impact a large number of people, such as:
- Faulty design of an automobile part
- Defective drugs or failure to warn of risks
- Labor law violations, such as widespread overtime pay violations within a company
CONNECTING WITH THE RIGHT ATTORNEY FOR A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
When you seek legal help because you’ve been harmed by a defective product or treated unfairly by a service provider or employer, you likely won’t be thinking in terms of a class action lawsuit. But, if your claim is common to a large number of people, a class action may be the best way to approach the case. However, not every attorney can handle a class action lawsuit. Class actions must be certified by the court, and one of the determinations a judge must make is whether the attorney representing the named plaintiff has the skills, experience, and resources necessarily to effectively represent the class. Therefore, if you believe that your claim could be the basis for a class action, it is in your best interest to seek out a lawyer with extensive litigation experience.
CALIFORNIA PRIVATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL ACT
The California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) empowers workers to bring certain types of employment claims on behalf of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA). When an employee or former employee brings a claim under PAGA, LWDA receives 75% of the award or settlement, with the remaining 25% going to compensate the impacted workers. The statute also provides for attorney fees and reimbursement of costs incurred by the successful plaintiff. Bringing a PAGA suit is procedurally different from other types of civil lawsuits, so it is best to consult an attorney early and to work with a lawyer who is experienced with PAGA claims.
Get More Information About California Class Actions
If you believe that your claim could form the basis of a class action lawsuit, or if you have a claim under the Labor Code that might give rise to a PAGA suit, consulting with an experienced class action lawyer should be your next step. You can schedule a free consultation right now—just dial (818) 914-3433.