Understanding Class Action Lawsuits
A “class action” lawsuit is really nothing more than the consolidation of several related lawsuits into one. Not all lawsuits are eligible to become class actions, in fact, most cannot. However, if there are numerous plaintiffs (or possibly defendants), all with common legal issues to resolve, then a judge may allow them to join together as a class.
When feasible, a class action can be an efficient alternative to individual lawsuits. Rather than several hundred, or even several thousand individual cases clogging up the judicial system, a class action can be handled in one courtroom, in front of one judge.
Class action lawsuits have a “class representative.” The class representative is best thought of as the “main” plaintiff (or possibly defendant). The class representative represents the interests of all of the members of the class. So while there may be hundreds of class members spread throughout the country, only one, i.e., the class representative, needs to show up in court.