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37. Class Action

Class Action

A class action lawsuit is one that is filed jointly by more than one person on behalf of themselves and a larger group of people "who are similarly situated." Examples of such cases might be: employees who were not paid overtime by a particular employer, all customers who were overcharged by a public utility during a particular period, or all of those who took a particular medication that was later deemed harmful.

If a class action is successful, a period of time is given for those who can prove they fit the class to file claims to participate in the judgment amount. Class actions are difficult and expensive to file and follow through, but the results can be helpful to people who could not afford to carry a suit alone, and can force businesses that have caused broad damage to stop practices pay for damages for harm they have caused. A victory in a class action could possibly result in high fees for the winning attorneys. Often attorneys do not collect a fee at the beginning of a class action suit but might charge a contingent fee (such as 1/3 of the final judgment) which, occasionally, can be millions of dollars.

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