As we discussed earlier this week, a press release by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of Nap Nanny recliners that were implicated in the deaths of five infants.
Due to the nature of product liability claims, such as those that may arise in connection with the Nap Nanny, they often affect large groups of people who have purchased or consumed the defective product. When a large group of individuals is injured by the actions of a person or company, it may be in their best interest to pursue their legal claims by means of a class action.
A class action is a type of lawsuit wherein a group of people bring their claims against a defendant as a collective. Before a class action can be commenced, however, the class must be certified by the court in which the action has been filed. In order for a class to be certified, it must possess certain characteristics:
1. Commonality. All members of the class must have legal or factual claims that are common to the entire class. For example, if multiple people were injured or became sick as the result of a chemical spill, they would have common factual and legal claims.
2. Adequacy. Certain parties are deemed representative for the entire class. These parties must adequately represent the interests of the entire class.
3. Numerosity. A class must be large enough so as to make the filing of individual lawsuits impractical. If four people are injured due to an improperly manufactured car, it would be feasible for them to file individual lawsuits, however, if four thousand people are injured by that same car, then a class action is more practical.
4. Typicality. The claims of the class representatives must be typical of all members of the class. According to the Supreme Court, the class representative must “possess the same interest and suffer the same injury as the class members.”
Once a class has been certified, litigation of the claims can commence mandates that a notice of the class action be sent to class members. This notice must describe the class action and give class members an opportunity to “opt out”, or not participate in the class. Once notice is given to the class members, litigation of the claims may proceed. If, at some point, a settlement is proposed, another notice must be sent to the members of the class that informs them of the specifics of the proposed settlement.
Due to the complexity and number of issues involved in class action lawsuits, it is important to have legal counsel experienced in the litigation of such actions. The attorneys at our firm are able to help in class action lawsuits, including those involving product liability, mass torts, among others. If you believe that you or someone you know has a class action claim, contact the injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti today.
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