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Understanding Class Action Lawsuits in Florida

We’ve all heard the term “class action,” whether it be in light of the recent car manufacturing defects, on a commercial for a faulty medical device, or an e-mail from a big company telling us we can be part of a “class” if we so choose. You may have suddenly received an e-mail from Apple or Amazon giving you a credit toward your account, without even knowing you were entitled to it. These common lawsuits are between companies themselves, but if you have purchased the product at issue or are otherwise involved, you will likely reap the benefit if the case comes out in your favor.

Class Actions in Florida

A class action, at its core, is one lawsuit with many parties that have been similarly affected by alleged wrongdoing. This type of lawsuit requires tremendous judicial involvement, and savvy plaintiffs’ attorneys to know how to navigate the court system. The first step is getting a class “certified.” One cannot simply form a lawsuit just because people sustained similar injuries. The Florida courts require the following four elements to be satisfied before a class will be certified:

  1. Numerosity;
  2. Commonality;
  3. Typicality; and
  4. Adequacy.

Numerosity: There must be enough people in the class that would make other litigation strategies, such as joinder, impracticable. (Joinder involves adding individual parties one at a time.) Those bringing the suit, the plaintiffs, must state the approximate number of class members at the beginning of the lawsuit; certification has been granted to as few as 25 members in a class in Florida.

Commonality: There must be common issues of either fact or law that pertain to the whole class. Some individual members may not share characteristics or injuries with all of the others, but as long as there is at least one common issue of fact or law between them all, the case will likely be granted certification on these grounds.

Typicality: This essentially means that the representatives chosen from the class are representative of the rest of the class. This can relate to facts, nature of injury, and the type of relief sought.

Adequacy: The named party representatives and counsel representing the class must fairly and adequately be able to protect the class. This considers the fitness of the representative and counsel to represent those unnamed, absent plaintiffs that will be affected by the outcome of the litigation.

Once a class is certified, the litigation will continue based on this grouping, and the individuals involved will 1) represent absent, similarly situated parties, and 2) not have to seek their own individual lawsuits. The class system is designed to protect the injured plaintiff that might otherwise be able to seek recourse, usually against a large company. By pooling resources, and having the added leverage of many affected individuals, a class action lawsuit is very typical against large companies accused of wrongdoing.

Florida Trial Lawyers

A person that has suffered injury or wrongdoing from another may file a lawsuit and discover there are other similarly situated individuals that have been wronged in the same or similar way they have. If this is the case, a class action may be possible. Often, we become part of class actions without knowing it; the named representatives and counsel become advocates for us and we will receive the benefit. If you think you may be part of a class of wronged individuals, or if you have been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Our experienced trial attorneys at Alan Goldfarb P.A. have diversified experience in everything from products liability cases to auto accidents. Contact our Miami offices today to learn more about your legal rights.

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