Litigation can be complex. Facts can be numerous and challenging to decipher, there can be multiple parties with various interests, and the court’s and a jury’s interpretation and application of the law can be somewhat of a mystery. This can be especially true when it comes to class action lawsuit, which is why those who are seeking to certify a class, as well as those who are looking to defend against a class action lawsuit, need to understand the fundamental elements of the class.

Under the federal rules of trial procedure, a class action lawsuit can be brought only if certain characteristics exist. To start, the individuals affected by the issue in question must be so numerous that mere joinder, that is adding them as individual parties to the case, isn’t feasible. So, if the issue at hand only affects three or four people, then joinder and not class certification is the more appropriate procedure. If, on the hand, the issue affects 40 or more people, then pursuit of class certification is warranted.

Next, before a class action lawsuit can proceed, it must be demonstrated that the law or facts in question are common to everyone in the class. Additionally, the legal claims of the individual initiating the lawsuit must be representative of those in the class.  Therefore, if a defendant can show that the facts pertaining to the various individual’s claims are different enough to justify varying defenses, then it is less likely that the class will be certified.

Lastly, to meet the prerequisites of moving forward with a class action lawsuit, the plaintiff must show that he or she can adequately represent the interests of the class. Again, this may depend heavily on the facts at hand and the similarity of the claims involved amongst the members of the class.

This is just the beginning of a class action lawsuit, though, and these matters can be enormously complex, regardless of which side you are on. Given the challenging nature of these cases, those who find themselves involved in them should consider consulting with a legal team that is experienced in handling class action lawsuits. After all, there is usually a lot at stake in these cases. Failing to aggressively pursue or defend against these claims can lead to devastating consequences. Fortunately, aggressive legal allies are available to assist.