|California and other states, as well as the federal court system, have rules of civil procedure allowing class actions. A class action is a procedural device whereby an aggrieved person sues on behalf of herself and all other persons who are similarly situated. For example, if a consumer purchases a product which turns out to be defective, the consumer can bring suit on behalf of herself and all other consumers who purchased the same defective product. If the case succeeds, all members of the class will receive the remedy.There are two primary purposes served by having class actions: (1) they promote efficiency by allowing a court to adjudicate the claims of many persons in one case, instead of in many separate cases (which would overload the court system); and (2) class actions make it possible for persons whose claims are too small to justify the cost of bringing an individual case still to have their day in court.
There are many kinds of class actions in today’s world, where products and services are marketed to consumers en mass. Defective products are one example. If a product such as a car or TV is defective in design such that a key component fails, then thousands of buyers will probably have exactly the same claim against the manufacturer–especially if the warranty has expired or does not cover the defect. In a slightly different scenario, if a manufactured product does not perform as advertised because the manufacturer has misrepresented its characteristics, the buyers will likely have a claim for false advertising or consumer fraud.
Similar claims apply to food products. If the ingredients of a processed food product sold in grocery stores nationwide are misrepresented or not disclosed truthfully, many thousands if not millions of consumers will likely have claims against the manufacturer of that food product.
Class actions are an important part of the American legal system, often providing the only effective redress for consumers who are injured by large commercial interests. Most class action plaintiffs are represented by law firms like Litigation Law Group that take such cases on contingency, advancing the costs of the litigation and receiving payment only if a successful result is obtained for the class.