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MAIN Arrow to Legal Advisor Home Legal Guide Arrow to Class Action Lawsuits Class Action Lawsuits

class action suit formClass actions are lawsuits brought against a company by a large group of people.

Those who join a class action suit may number anywhere from the thousands to millions, depending on the product or service and cause of damage.

Class action law suits are usually filed for damages caused by companies overcharging or failing to provide services; or for sexual harassment; illegal job hiring practices, or other forms of discrimination.

Defective products, or those later found to be dangerous - such as tobacco, asbestos, medical devices, or automobiles - have also been the subject of large class action suits.

If enough people are taken in by any type of illegal company activity, or become injured while using a shoddy, unhealthy or defective product, joining together in a class action suit may be the most cost-effective way of recouping loses.

Pros & cons of class action lawsuits

Results of legal battles involving large groups of people against big corporations have captured the popular imagination in Hollywood movies such as Erin Brockovich. which dramatized the millions paid out by California's Pacific Gas & Electric in 1993 to victims of toxic pollution and their families.

Proponents also say that suing through class actions can right many wrongs against people who could not otherwise afford to launch an individual lawsuit. The completion of a simple form, and a postage stamp, is usually the only cost of joining a class action suit.

However, the winning results of class action lawsuits awarded on the silver screen are far from the norm, say critics. Although it may seem as though petitioners come away with enough of a settlement to justify the time and effort it takes to go through the legal process, it is rarely worth it.

Fifty million dollars may sound like a very big award for a class action suit, but if it involves 50,000 claimants, individual payments may amount to only a few hundred dollars each after court costs and legal fees are deducted.

In some scenarios, settlements may only amount to discount coupons for future purchases of the shoddy product or service in question. (Yes, it happens.)

Meanwhile, law firms who file such suits walk away with millions in legal fees.

Finally, remember that if you agree to be part of a class action suit, you will normally waive your right to sue as an individual if you feel that the class action settlement was unfair.

Around the Web, find out more about other famous class action settlements, the latest news on law suits now underway, opinion on the moral implications of these legal cases, tips on participating in a class action suit (and when not to), and related information on consumer protection laws and product recalls ....

More information about class action lawsuits around the Web:

Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse
- Comprehensive information on federal class action securities fraud litigation, with thousands of records on current and archived cases, recent filings and settlements, and a Top Ten list of the largest settlements.

Class Action Law - Online tutorial detailing what it is, how it works, when to participate and when to opt out of a lawsuit, plus more on securities-related cases and California class action law. | Class Actions - A look at the negative aspects of class actions with more on specific suits, related resources, and suggested reading.

The information provided on these pages is intended as reference
only and does not constitute professional legal advice.

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