We hear about class action lawsuits in the news quite often. But what are they and how do they work?
Class actions are lawsuits brought by one person on behalf of a group of people. For example, we all remember the BP oil spill in 2010. A number of people filed a class-action lawsuit against BP. Most of the plaintiffs (the people bringing the suit) were fishermen, hotel operators, landowners, restaurants, and seafood processors on the coast whose businesses suffered as a result of the oil spill. Instead of every person bringing their own lawsuit, these plaintiffs could combine their lawsuits into one—the class action suit against BP.
In class actions, there are “active” parties and “passive” parties. Out of all the people in the class action, a few will be named as representative parties. Their names will be on the lawsuit. The rest of the plaintiffs involved in the case are “passive” parties, meaning they are not directly involved in the case proceedings.
In Illinois, there are a number of requirements plaintiffs must meet before qualifying to file a class-action lawsuit. These requirements are:
The class of people must be so large that it would not make sense for each person to file their own separate claim;
The questions of fact or law involved in the case are the same for each person in the class;
The parties being named as representatives of the class will fairly represent everyone else in the class; and
A class-action would be a fair way to handle the controversy.
Class actions are an effective tool for holding companies accountable for wrongful actions that affect a large number of people. However, some class-action lawyers are criticized as self-serving and not having their clients’ best interests in mind. If you think you are entitled to participate in a class-action suit, and you have questions, contact us for a free consultation today at (217) 394-5885.