FACTOID # 19: Cheap sloppy joes: Looking for reduced-price lunches for schoolchildren? Head for Oklahoma!
 
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 
   
 
WHAT'S NEW
RELATED ARTICLES
People who viewed "Class action" also viewed:
 

SEARCH ALL

FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 

 

(* = Graphable)

 

 


Encyclopedia > Class action

In law, the class action is a procedural device used in litigation to determine the rights of and remedies, if any, for large numbers of people whose cases involve common questions of law and fact. In law, a class action is an equitable procedural device used in litigation for determining the rights of and remedies, if any, for large numbers of people whose cases involve common questions of law and fact. ... Equality and the balancing of interests under law is symbolised by a blindfold and weighing scales For other senses of this word, see Law (disambiguation). ... A lawsuit is a civil action brought before a court in order to recover a right, obtain damages for an injury, obtain an injunction to prevent an injury, or obtain a declaratory judgment to prevent future legal disputes. ...

Contents

Class actions in individual jurisdictions

Austria

The Austrian Code of Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung – ZPO) does not provide for a special proceeding for complex class action litigation. However, Austrian consumer organizations (Verein für Konsumenteninformation/VKI and the Federal Chamber of Labour/Bundesarbeitskammer) have, in recent years, brought claims on behalf of hundreds or even thousands of consumers. This technique, soon labelled as “class action Austrian style”, allows for a significant reduction of overall costs. The Austrian Supreme Court, in a recent judgment, has confirmed the legal admissibility of these lawsuits under the condition that all claims are essentially based on the same grounds.


The Austrian Parliament has unanimously requested the Austrian Federal Minister for Justice to examine the possibility of new legislation providing for a cost-effective and appropriate way to deal with mass claims. Together with the Austrian Ministry for Social Security, Generations and Consumer Protection, the Justice Ministry opened the discussion with a conference held in Vienna in June, 2005. With the aid of a group of experts from many fields, the Justice Ministry began drafting the new law in September, 2005. With the individual positions varying greatly, the process is still pending.(.pdf file)


France

Under French law, an association can represent the collective interests of consumers; however, each claimant must be individually named in the lawsuit. On January 4, 2005, President Chirac urged changes that would provide greater consumer protection. A draft bill was proposed in April 2006. Under the proposals the court will be able to decide whether to allow an action brought by an association on behalf of consumers (which must comprise at least two individuals). After such an action is brought, the association would be entitled to identify additional consumers for a one-month period. The court would determine the damages that must be awarded to the consumers who have opted-in to the proceedings. The president of the French Supreme Court recently declared that "class actions are inescapable." (.pdf file)


Germany

On November 1, 2005, Germany enacted the “Act on Model Case Proceedings in Disputes under Capital Markets Law (Capital Markets Model Case Act)” allowing sample proceedings to be brought before the courts in litigation arising from mass capital markets transactions. It does not apply to any other civil law proceeding. It is not like class actions in the United States -- it only applies to parties who have already filed suit and does not allow a claim to be brought in the name of an unknown group of claimants. The effects of the new law will be monitored over the next five years. It contains a ‘sunset clause’, and it will automatically cease to have effect on November 1, 2010, unless the legislature decides to prolong the law, or extend it to other mass civil case proceedings. “Capital Markets Model Case Act” Der Bund Retrieved July 16, 2006


Italy

Italy has no class action legislation. However, consumer associations can file claims on behalf of groups of consumers to obtain judicial orders against corporations that cause injury or damage to consumers. These types of claims are increasing and Italian courts have recently allowed them against banks that continue to apply compound interest on retail clients’ current account overdrafts. The introduction of class actions is on the new government’s agenda. In 2004, the Italian parliament considered the introduction of a type of class action lawsuit, specifically in the area of consumers’ law. To date, no such law has been enacted, however. [1]


The Netherlands

Dutch law allows collective actions brought by associations on behalf of injured parties seeking a judicial declaration that the company is liable for the damage it has caused. [2]


Spain

Spanish law allows nominated consumer associations to take action to protect the interests of consumers. A number of groups already have the power to bring collective or class actions: certain consumer associations, bodies legally constituted to defend the ‘collective interest’ and groups of injured parties. [3]


Recent changes to Spanish civil procedure rules include the introduction of a quasi-class action right for certain consumer associations to claim damages on behalf of unidentified classes of consumers. The rules require consumer associations to represent an adequate number of affected parties who have suffered the same harm. Also any judgment made by the Spanish court will list the individual beneficiaries or, if that is not possible, conditions that need to be fulfilled for a party to benefit from a judgment.


Children's group Accion Por La Justicia (AXJ) will soon present the first class action in Spain. [4]


Switzerland

Swiss law does not provide for any form of class action. When the government proposed a new federal code of civil procedure in 2006, replacing the cantonal codes of civil procedure, it rejected the introduction of class actions, arguing that:

[It] is alien to European legal thought to allow somebody to exercise rights on the behalf of a large number of people if these do not participate as parties in the action. ... Moreover, the class action is controversial even in its country of origin, the U.S., because it can result in significant procedural problems. ... Finally, the class action can be abused. The sums sued for are usually enormous, so that the respondent can be forced to concede, if they do not want to face sudden overindebtedness and insolvency (so-called legal blackmail).[1] Insolvency is a financial condition experienced by a person or business entity when their assets no longer exceed their liabilities (commonly referred to as balance-sheet insolvency) or when the person or entity can no longer meet its debt obligations when they come due (commonly referred to as cash-flow...

United States

Federal class actions

In the United States federal courts, class actions are governed by Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) govern civil procedure in the United States district courts, or more simply, court procedures for civil suits. ...


Class action lawsuits may be brought in federal court if the claim arises under federal law, or if all named representative members of the potential plaintiff class are from a different state than the defendant. Nationwide plaintiff classes are possible, but such suits must have a commonality of issues across state lines. This may be difficult as the civil law in the various states has significant differences and thus each state's set of claims may have to be handled separately or through the device of multi-district litigation (MDL). It is also possible to bring class action lawsuits under state law, and in some cases the court may extend its jurisdiction to all the members of the class, including out of state (or even internationally) as the key element is the jurisdiction that the court has over the defendant. Map of the boundaries of the United States Courts of Appeals and United States District Courts The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. ... In the common law, civil law refers to the area of law governing relations between private individuals. ...


Typically, federal courts are thought to be more favorable for defendants, and state courts more favorable for plaintiffs. Most class action cases are filed initially in state court. The defendant will frequently try to remove the case to federal court. The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 increases defendants' ability to remove cases to federal court. It should be noted, however, that the Class Action Fairness Act contains carve-outs for, inter alia, shareholder class action lawsuits covered by the PSLRA and those concerning internal corporate governance issues (the latter typically being brought as shareholder derivative actions in the state courts of Delaware, the state of incorporation of most large corporations).[2] In the United States, removal jurisdiction refers to the power of a defendant to move a lawsuit filed in state court to the Federal district court of the original courts district. ... The U.S. Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, 28 U.S.C. Sections 1332(d), 1453, and 1711-1715, grants federal courts original jurisdiction over certain mass actions and class actions (forms of civil action) in which the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, and any of the members... The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA) implemented several significant substantive changes affecting certain cases brought under the federal securities laws, including changes related to pleading, discovery, liability, class representation and awards fees and expenses. ...


The procedure for filing a class action is to file suit with one or several named plaintiffs on behalf of a putative class. The putative class must consist of a group of individuals or business entities that have suffered a common wrong. Usually, these kinds of cases are connected to some standard action on the part of a business, or some particular product defect or policy that was applied to all potential class members in a uniform manner. After the summons and complaint is filed, the plaintiff usually has to bring a motion (sometimes at the same time as filing the summons and complaint) to have the class certified. In some jurisdictions class certification may require additional discovery in order to determine if the proposed class is sufficiently cohesive. In law, discovery is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit in which each party through the law of civil procedure can request documents and other evidence from other parties or can compel the production of evidence by using a subpoena or through other discovery devices, such as requests for...


Upon the motion to certify the class, the defendants may object to whether the issues are appropriately handled as class litigation, to whether the named plaintiffs are sufficiently representative of the class, and to their relationship with the law firm or firms handling the case. The court will also examine the ability of the firm to prosecute the claim for the plaintiffs, and their resources for dealing with class actions; the court may, as due process requires, have complex notices sent, published, or broadcast to the public, in any place where the class members can be found. In United States law, adopted from English law, due process (more fully due process of law) is the principle that the government must normally respect all of a persons legal rights instead of just some or most of those legal rights when the government deprives a person of life...


As part of this notice procedure, there may have to be several notices, first a notice giving class members the opportunity to opt out of the class, i.e. if individuals wish to proceed with their own litigation they are entitled to do so, only to the extent that they give timely notice to the class counsel or the court that they are opting out. Second, if there is a settlement proposal, the court will usually direct the class counsel to send a settlement notice to all the members of the certified class and all the members of any subclasses (that might have slightly different but uniform claims), informing them of the settlement offer being made by the defendants, and the fact that the named plaintiffs have agreed to accept the settlement. Usually, the court will also state the legal fees being paid to the class counsel as part of the settlement, which may be considerable, making class actions appealing to many plaintiff law firms.


In federal civil procedure law, which has generally been accepted by most states (through adoption of rules paralleling the FRCP), the class action must have certain definite characteristics: (1) the class must be so large as to make individual suits impractical, (2) there must be legal or factual claims in common (3) the claims or defenses must be typical of the plaintiffs or defendants, and (4) the representative parties must adequately protect the interests of the class. In many cases, the party seeking certification must also show (5) that common issues between the class and the defendants will predominate the proceedings, as opposed to individual fact-specific conflicts between class members and the defendants and (6) that the class action, instead of individual litigation, is a superior vehicle for resolution of the disputes at hand. Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the process that courts will follow when hearing cases of a civil nature (a civil action, as opposed to a criminal action). ...


State class actions

Since 1938, many states have adopted rules similar to the FRCP. However, some states like California have homegrown civil procedure codes which they have been reluctant to abandon. The law of class actions in California developed in a rather chaotic fashion through judicial glosses on vaguely worded statutes (there are four key ones), and has never been cleaned up (in the way that the FRCP cleaned up the thicket of federal procedural law). As a result, there are entire treatises dedicated to the topic. Not every state permits class actions. Virginia, for example, does not provide for any class action vehicle. Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Area  Ranked 3rd  - Total 158,302 sq mi (410,000 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 770 miles (1,240 km)  - % water 4. ...


Pros and cons of class actions

Advantages of class actions

Class action lawsuits may offer a number of advantages because they aggregate a large number of individualized claims into one representational lawsuit. It has been suggested that civil trial be merged into this article or section. ...


First, aggregation may increase the efficiency of the legal process, and lower the costs of litigation.[5] In cases with common questions of law and fact, aggregation of claims into a class action may avoid the necessity of repeating "days of the same witnesses, exhibits and issues from trial to trial." Jenkins v. Raymark Indus., Inc., 782 F.2d 468, 473 (5th Cir. 1986) (granting certification of a class action involving asbestos). This page is about witnesses in law courts. ... In legal parlance, a trial is an event in which parties to a dispute present information (in the form of evidence) in a formal setting, usually a court, before a judge, jury, or other designated finder of fact, in order to achieve a resolution to their dispute. ... Fibrous asbestos on muscovite Asbestos Asbestos Asbestos (a misapplication of Latin: asbestos quicklime from Greek : a, not and sbestos, extinguishable) describes any of a group of minerals that can be fibrous, many of which are metamorphic and are hydrous magnesium silicates. ...


Second, a class action overcomes "the problem that small recoveries do not provide the incentive for any individual to bring a solo action prosecuting his or her rights." Amchem Prods., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 617 (1997) (quoting Mace v. Van Ru Credit Corp., 109 F.3d 388, 344 (7th Cir. 1997)). "A class action solves this problem by aggregating the relatively paltry potential recoveries into something worth someone’s (usually an attorney’s) labor." Amchem Prods., Inc., 521 U.S. at 617 (quoting Mace, 109 F.3d at 344). In other words, a class action ensures that a defendant who engages in widespread harm -- but does so minimally against each individual plaintiff -- must compensate those individuals for their injuries. For example, thousands of shareholders of a public company may have losses too small to justify separate lawsuits, but a class action can be brought efficiently on behalf of all shareholders. Perhaps even more important than compensation is that class treatment of claims may be the only way to impose the costs of wrongdoing on the wrongdoer, thereby deterring future wrongdoing. A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute. ... A plaintiff, also known as a claimant or complainer, is the party who initiates a lawsuit (also known as an action) before a court. ...


Third, in "limited fund" cases, a class action ensures that all plaintiffs receive relief and that early-filing plaintiffs do not raid the fund (i.e., the defendant) of all its assets before other plaintiffs may be compensated. See Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp., 527 U.S. 815 (1999). A class action in such a situation centralizes all claims into one venue where a court can equitably divide the assets amongst all the plaintiffs if they win the case. A plaintiff, also known as a claimant or complainer, is the party who initiates a lawsuit (also known as an action) before a court. ... A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute. ... In business and accounting an asset is anything owned which can produce future economic benefit, whether in possession or by right to take possession, by a person or a group acting together, e. ... The plaintiff, claimant, or complainant is the party initiating a lawsuit, (also known as an action). ... Venue is the location where a case is heard. ... The plaintiff, claimant, or complainant is the party initiating a lawsuit, (also known as an action). ...


Finally, a class action avoids the situation where different court rulings could create "incompatible standards" of conduct for the defendant to follow. For example, a court might certify a case for class treatment where a number of individual bond-holders sue to determine whether they may convert their bonds to common stock. Refusing to litigate the case in one trial could result in different outcomes and inconsistent standards of conduct for the defendant corporation. Thus, courts will generally allow a class action in such a situation. See, e.g., Van Gemert v. Boeing Co., 259 F. Supp. 125 (S.D.N.Y. 1966). In finance, a bond is a debt security, in which the issuer owes the holders a debt and is obliged to repay the principal and interest (the coupon) at a later date, termed maturity. ... Common stock, also referred to as common shares, are, as the name implies, the most usual and commonly held form of stock in a corporation. ... In legal parlance, a trial is an event in which parties to a dispute present information (in the form of evidence) in a formal setting, usually a court, before a judge, jury, or other designated finder of fact, in order to achieve a resolution to their dispute. ... A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute. ... Corporate redirects here. ...


Whether a class action is superior to individual litigation depends on the case. The Advisory Committee Note to Rule 23, for example, states that mass torts are ordinarily "not appropriate" for class treatment. Class treatment generally does little to improve the efficiency of a mass tort because the claims almost always involve individualized issues of law and fact that will have to be re-tried on an individual basis. See Castano v. Am. Tobacco Co., 84 F.3d 734 (5th Cir. 1996) (rejecting nationwide class action against tobacco companies). Mass torts also involve high individual damage awards; thus, the absence of class treatment will not impede the ability of individual claimants to seek justice. See id. Other cases, however, may be more conducive to class treatment. A lawsuit is a civil action brought before a court in order to recover a right, obtain damages for an injury, obtain an injunction to prevent an injury, or obtain a declaratory judgment to prevent future legal disputes. ...


The preamble to the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, passed by the United States Congress, found: The U.S. Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, 28 U.S.C. Sections 1332(d), 1453, and 1711-1715, grants federal courts original jurisdiction over certain mass actions and class actions (forms of civil action) in which the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, and any of the members...

Class-action lawsuits are an important and valuable part of the legal system when they permit the fair and efficient resolution of legitimate claims of numerous parties by allowing the claims to be aggregated into a single action against a defendant that has allegedly caused harm.

Criticisms of class actions

There are several criticisms of class action lawsuits. The preamble to the Class Action Fairness Act stated that class actions harmed class members with legitimate claims and defendants that have acted responsibly; adversely affected interstate commerce; and undermined public respect for the country's judicial system.


Class members often receive little or no benefit from class actions. Examples cited for this include large fees for the attorneys, while leaving class members with coupons or other awards of little or no value; unjustified awards are made to certain plaintiffs at the expense of other class members; and confusing notices are published that prevent class members from being able to fully understand and effectively exercise their rights.


For example, in the United States, class lawsuits sometimes bind all class members with a low settlement. These "coupon settlements" (which usually allow the plaintiffs to receive minimal benefit such as a small check or a coupon for future services or products with the defendant company) are a way for a defendant to forestall major liability by precluding a large number of people from litigating their claims separately, to recover reasonable compensation for the damages. However, existing law requires judicial approval of settlement and class members may opt out of settlements. In law there are two main meanings of the word settlement. ...


Defendant class action

Although normally plaintiffs are the class, defendant class actions are also possible. For example, in 2005, the Archidiocese of Portland was sued as part of the Catholic priest sex-abuse scandal. All parishioners of the Archdiocese's churches were cited as a defendant class. This was done to include their assets (local churches) in any settlement.[6] Where both the plaintiffs and the defendants have been organized into court-approved classes, the action is called a bilateral class action. Nickname: City of Roses, Stumptown, Bridgetown, PDX Location in Multnomah County and the state of Oregon Coordinates: Country United States State Oregon County Multnomah County Incorporated February 8, 1851  - Mayor Tom Potter Area    - City 376. ...


Class actions vs. mass actions

In a class action, the plaintiff seeks court approval to litigate on behalf of a group of similarly-situated persons. Not every plaintiff looks for, or could obtain, such approval. As a procedural alternative, plaintiff's counsel may attempt to sign up every similarly-situated person that counsel can find as a client. Plaintiff's counsel can then join the claims of all of these persons in one complaint, a so-called "mass action," hoping to have the same efficiencies and economic leverage as if a class had been certified.


Because mass actions operate outside the detailed procedures laid out for class actions, they can pose special difficulties for both plaintiffs, defendants, and the court. For example, settlement of class actions follows a predictable path of negotiation with class counsel and representatives, court scrutiny, and notice. There may not be a way to uniformly settle all of the many claims brought via a mass action. Some states permit plaintiff's counsel to settle for all the mass action plaintiffs according to a majority vote, for example. Other states, such as New Jersey, require each plaintiff to approve the settlement of that plaintiff's own individual claims.


See also

  • Joinder (from which the class action was born)
  • Dukes v. Wal-Mart (the largest class-action lawsuit to date)

To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Dukes v. ...

External links

U.S. law

Criticism of U.S. class action law

Michael Greve is the John G. Searle Scholar and Director of the Federalism Project at the American Enterprise Institute. ... Richard Epstein Richard A. Epstein, born in 1943, is currently the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. ...

Notes

  1. ^ Message to Parliament on the Swiss Code of Civil Procedure, Federal Journal 2006 p. 7221 et seq. The quote, p. 7290, is the author's translation.
  2. ^ William B. Rubenstein, "Understanding the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005" (briefing paper)

  Results from FactBites:
 
Class Action World (1289 words)
The sole objective of Class Action World is to serve as an independent and objective resource dedicated to providing free and timely securities class action, antitrust class action, and consumer class action related news and information to the public.
Class Action World also maintains a law firm rating area which enables you to provide feedback regarding your experience with a specific class action attorney or a specific class action law firm.
Class Action World is not owned, operated, or under the control of any attorney of any law firm, or any other business that has a direct or indirect financial interest in the prosecution or outcome of any class action litigation.
Class action - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1681 words)
Class action lawsuits may be brought in Federal court if the case involves issues that affect potential class members in different states or has a nexus with federal law.
Upon the motion to certify the class, the defendants may object to whether the issues are appropriately handled as class litigation, the named plaintiffs as insufficiently representative of the class, and their relationship with the law firm or firms handling the case.
Class treatment generally does little to improve the efficiency of a mass tort because the claims almost always involve individualized issues of law and fact that will have to be re-tried on an individual basis.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

COMMENTARY     


Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m