Class certification is the legal process by which a court grants a group of plaintiffs the status of a “class.” This allows the plaintiffs to collectively pursue their legal claims against the defendants. The process of class certification is governed by federal and state law. In order to obtain class certification, the plaintiffs must first prove that their claims meet the requirements of a particular rule or statute. The most common rule used to obtain class certification is Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In order to meet the requirements of Rule 23, the plaintiffs must demonstrate that the class is sufficiently numerous, that there are common claims or questions of law or fact among the members of the class, that the claims or defenses of the class representatives are typical of the claims or defenses of the class, and that the class representatives will adequately represent the interests of the class. If the plaintiffs are able to meet these requirements, the court will then consider whether class certification is appropriate under the particular facts and circumstances of the case. The court will consider a number of factors, including whether the class is sufficiently cohesive, whether the interests of the class members are best served by proceeding as a class, and whether class certification will promote efficiency and fairness. Once the court grants class certification, the plaintiffs and defendants are bound by the court’s decision and may not opt out of the class. The class representatives will then proceed with their claims on behalf of the class. If the plaintiffs are successful, the court may award damages to the class as a whole. Alternatively, the court may enter an injunction ordering the defendants to take or refrain from taking some action.
There are a few key things to remember when it comes to class certification:
- The class must be clearly defined and delimited. This means that there must be a clear description of who is included in the class, and who is not. The class must also be reasonably sized – it cannot be so large that it becomes unmanageable.
- There must be commonality of issues among class members. This means that the issues facing the class must be the same or similar. If there are too many disparate issues, it may be difficult to manage the class as a whole.
- There must be typicality of claims. This means that the claims of the class representative must be typical of those of the class as a whole. If the representative’s claims are not typical, it may call into question their ability to adequately represent the class.
- The class representative must have adequate representation. This means that the class representative must have a lawyer who is experienced in handling class action lawsuits. The representative must also be willing and able to devote the necessary time and resources to the case.
- The class must be certified by a judge. This is a formal process in which the judge reviews the proposed class and makes a determination as to whether it meets the above criteria. If the judge finds that the class does not meet the criteria, it will not be certified.
Here are additional resources to learn more about Class Certification: