It may seem like class action lawsuits are everywhere. Can you benefit from a class action lawsuit? Without knowing how they work or what they hope to accomplish, it can be hard to know what’s right for you. Our Colorado class action attorneys explain class action lawsuits and share examples of high-profile cases.
What’s a Class Action Suit?
A class action suit is a lawsuit brought by a group of people together. Individually, they all have the same or similar legal claims. They join together as a group of plaintiffs in order to decide their cases together, sharing lawyers, court dates, evidence and legal arguments.
Why Do We Have Class Action Lawsuits?
We have class action lawsuits because they are practical. Individually, it doesn’t make sense for thousands of people to bring a legal claim worth $100 to each of them, for example. It is too expensive and time-consuming to gather evidence, work with lawyers and pay legal fees. However, working together can make it possible. Even if the amount is small, those affected may achieve justice by pooling their resources.
Another reason we have class action lawsuits is to conserve legal resources. It takes courtroom space, judges, juries and support staff to have trials, and we all pay these costs through our taxes. It’s more cost-effective to have one trial instead of thousands.
Victims may have access to justice more efficiently by joining their claims together. Class action lawsuits allow for faster and more efficient access to justice.
Examples of Class Action Lawsuits in Recent News
- Chlorpyrifos – Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide that may cause brain and nerve damage in children. In August 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its intentions to stop the use of chlorpyrifos1 on human food products.
- 3M earplugs – Military service members who used issued 3M earplugs may suffer from tinnitus or hearing loss. The design of the earplugs is too small for some users. Bellwether trials conducted through multi-district litigation proceedings have resulted in multi-million dollar verdicts for victims2.
- Essure – Manufacturer Bayer agreed to stop selling birth control device Essure3 after reports of organ perforation, fragmentation, unintended pregnancy and pain. They have agreed to pay $1.6 billion to resolve thousands of claims.
- TDF drugs – Victims allege that manufacturers of HIV products4 such as Truvada and Complera may have delayed advancements that made the medication safer. They say manufacturers hid developments to continue selling old formulas of the drug.
- NDMA – Users of the smoking cessation drug Chantix5 say that the drugs exposed them to harmful levels of carcinogen N-nitrosodimethylamine.
- CPAP Machines – Although users depend on CPAP breathing machines to treat sleep apnea, foam installed in the devices to reduce noise may break off. When users inhale the foam, it may cause respiratory difficulties6, cancer and other health problems.
- NEC baby formula – Premature infants using baby formula may develop an extremely dangerous condition called necrotizing enterocolitis7. The infant may have trouble tolerating and digesting the formula causing severe infection.
- Sunscreen – Some brands of sunscreen may contain harmful levels of carcinogens 8.
These are just a few examples of the thousands of class action claims filed in the United States each year.
Class Action Lawsuits and Product Liability Claims
Many class action lawsuits are product liability claims. That’s because of the high likelihood that an issue affecting the safety of a product has impacted a lot of people.
If you’re in a car accident, there are usually only a handful of people involved. But with a product, it’s possible that thousands – or even millions – of people have used the product. That’s why you often see dangerous and harmful product claims brought as class action lawsuits.
Are Class Action Lawsuits Just a Way for Lawyers To Make Money?
Class action lawsuits are an important way for consumers to have their voices heard. In fact, they are calculated to result in more compensation going to the consumer. By pooling their resources, litigants can save on attorney fees and litigation expenses. In the end, they receive more compensation for themselves.
In addition, class action lawsuits perform a valuable service in keeping products safer for all of us. Through class action claims, product manufacturers have accountability. They may remove dangerous products altogether or take steps to make their products safer. Class action suits help victims have recourse for legal wrongs, both large and small.
Should I Exclude Myself From a Class Action Lawsuit?
Whether you should exclude yourself from a class action lawsuit depends on the nature of the case. For a small claim where you expect to receive a small amount, you should be a part of the class. It makes sense from a time and resources perspective to pursue the claim along with the group.
However, if you have suffered serious damages that total thousands of dollars or more, it may be appropriate to exclude yourself from a class action lawsuit. In addition, if your legal issues are unique and your damages are significantly more than other members of the class, opting out may be the best course of action.
Our lawyers for class action lawsuits can help you understand the pros and cons of excluding yourself from a class action claim.
Is There a Time Limit to Opt-Out of a Class Action Lawsuit?
If there is a pending class action claim, your time to opt-out is limited. Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 23(c)(2)9 requires the class representative to notify you of your right to opt-out of the class by a specific date. Be sure to take action before the deadline.
How To Find a Class Action Lawyer To File a Lawsuit?
When you’re trying to find a class action lawyer to file a lawsuit, look for a personal injury attorney. At its core, a class action lawsuit is a personal injury claim. However, the lawyer must be highly experienced in complex litigation in order to understand and implement the rules of legal procedure for class action claims.
To learn more about class action lawsuits in Colorado, contact our team of injury lawyers for a free consultation on your case.
1U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (18 August 2021). EPA Takes Action to Address Risk from Chlorpyrifos and Protect Children’s Health. Retrieved 14 October 2021 from https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-takes-action-address-risk-chlorpyrifos-and-protect-childrens-health
2The National Law Review. (21 September 2021). 3M Company’s Military Earplug Multi-District Litigation. Retrieved 14 October 2021 from https://www.natlawreview.com/article/3m-company-s-military-earplug-multi-district-litigation
3Saker, Anne. (7 September 2021). Bayer offers $1.6 billion to end thousands of lawsuits over Essure birth control implant. Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 14 October 2021 from https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2020/09/07/essure-lawsuits-bayer-fda-1-6-billion-women-birth-control/5708709002/
4Clinical Info. National Institutes of Health (NIH). (27 April 2020). Drug Database: Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate. Retrieved 14 October 2021 from https://clinicalinfo.hiv.gov/en/drugs/tenofovir-disoproxil-fumarate/patient
5Ellis, Ralph. (25 June 2021). Pfizer Halts Distribution of Stop-Smoking Pill Chantix. WebMD. Retrieved 14 October 2021 from https://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20210625/chantix-distribution-halted-pfizer
6The National Law Review. (15 July 2021). A Simple Guide to CPAP Lawsuits and Settlements. Retrieved 14 October 2021 from https://www.natlawreview.com/article/simple-guide-to-cpap-lawsuits-and-settlements
7Bair, John. (16 August 2021). A Warning to Parents of Preemie Infants. The Milestone Press. Retrieved 14 October 2021 from https://milestone.legalexaminer.com/legal/a-warning-to-parents-of-preemie-infants/
8Grzincic, Barbara. (29 September 2021). MDL Watch: Panel to weigh CPAP, sunscreen actions. Reuters. Retrieved 14 October 2021 from https://www.reuters.com/legal/litigation/mdl-watch-panel-weigh-cpap-sunscreen-actions-2021-09-29/