A class action lawsuit is a type of legal proceeding in which a large group of people (the “class”) files a lawsuit against another party (the “defendant”) on behalf of all members of the class. The class is usually represented by one or more lead plaintiffs, who are chosen because they have suffered the most harm from the defendant’s actions.
Class action lawsuits in California are typically used when there is a large group of people who have been harmed in a similar way by the same defendant. They allow these individuals to pool their resources and share the costs of litigation, which can be prohibitively expensive for an individual to pursue on their own. Class action lawsuits also provide a vehicle for holding defendants accountable for their actions and obtaining relief for the class as a whole.
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What Happens After a Class Action Lawsuit is Filed?
After a class action lawsuit is filed in California, the court will issue an order directing the parties to appear for a “class certification” hearing. At this hearing, the court will consider whether the case should proceed as a class action. If the court finds that the case meets certain legal requirements, it will “certify” the class and allow the lawsuit to proceed.
Once a class is certified, the lead plaintiff(s) will be responsible for representing the interests of the entire class. The lead plaintiff(s) will work with their attorney to develop a “class action plan” that outlines the legal strategy for the case. This plan will be submitted to the court for approval.
After the class action plan is approved by the court, discovery will begin. This is the process whereby each side gathers evidence from the other side and from third parties. Discovery can be extensive in a class action lawsuit and can take months or even years to complete.
Once discovery is completed, the parties will file motions with the court. These motions will ask the court to rule on various legal issues in the case. The parties will then appear for a “trial” or “evidentiary hearing,” at which time they will present their evidence and arguments to the court. After considering all of the evidence and arguments, the court will issue a decision.
If you are a member of a class that has been certified by the court, you will be bound by the court’s decision. You will not be able to pursue your own individual lawsuit against the defendant. However, you may be eligible to receive compensation if the class action is successful.
If you are considering pursuing or joining a class action lawsuit, please contact the experienced class action attorneys at MSD LLP.