Class certification is a process in which a court determines whether a group of individuals, referred to as a “class,” may bring a lawsuit as a group. In the United States, class certification is governed by Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which sets forth the requirements for bringing a class action lawsuit.
Class actions are often used in cases involving consumer protection, employment discrimination, and mass torts, where the claims of individual class members may be relatively small, but the aggregate damages could be significant. Class actions can also provide a more efficient and cost-effective way for plaintiffs to seek relief, as they allow the claims of many individuals to be resolved in a single lawsuit rather than in multiple individual lawsuits.
To be certified as a class, the proposed class must meet certain requirements under Rule 23. The first requirement is that the class must be so numerous that it would be impractical for all members to individually bring their own lawsuit. The second requirement is that there must be common questions of law or fact among the class members, such that the claims of the class members can be effectively resolved in a single lawsuit. The third requirement is that the claims of the class representative (the person or people bringing the lawsuit on behalf of the class) are typical of the claims of the class as a whole. Finally, the class representative must be able to adequately represent the interests of the class.
The process of class certification begins when a plaintiff files a motion with the court seeking certification of the class. The defendant may then file an opposition to the motion. The court will then hold a hearing to consider the motion and any opposition, and will ultimately issue a ruling on whether to certify the class. If the class is certified, the court will appoint a class representative and class counsel to represent the interests of the class.
If the class is not certified, the individual class members may still bring their own lawsuits, but they will not be able to do so as a group. However, the court’s decision on class certification is not final and can be appealed.
Class certification can be a complex and contentious process, as the stakes are often high for both the plaintiffs and the defendants. However, it is a crucial step in the class action process, as it determines whether the case will proceed as a class action or whether the individual class members must bring their own separate lawsuits