Value of Class Action Cases
Under Rule 23 of the US Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, class action lawsuits may be brought to a federal court or elevated to the national level when a common issue is established across different states. When the jurisdiction over the respondent is beyond the state, federal or national level, an international class action lawsuit can also be filed against the defendant (Eisenberg and Miller, 2000). Typically, the group can name one or several persons on behalf of the entire class (Escamilla v. Asarco, 1994). The class must consist of a group of individuals or business entities suffering a common wrong committed by the defendant through a defective policy or product (Eisenberg and Miller). The class however needs to be certified by the court to determine its cohesive action in which defendants may have the chance to file their objection (Willging, 2005).
A highly documented lawsuit, Lois E. Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co. (2003) which was recently shown in film (North Country) was filed in Minnesota in 1992. The plaintiffs in the case and similarly in the movie were then subjected to a long exploratory process that exposed their personal lives to the limelight. A decision awarding $10,000 to each plaintiff was appealed and reversed in 1997 by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (North Country Movie). In the movie, although a hefty settlement was made prior to the new trial at the national level, the case made headlines as the first sexual harassment lawsuit in the United States.
Class action lawsuits is a valuable part of the American legal system that permits fair and efficient resolution of legitimate claims of numerous parties by allowing the claims to be aggregated into a single joint action against a defendant (Class Action Fairness Act) . However they may be subjected to state rules whose civil procedure codes may result to further confusion brought about by conflicting state laws according to Eisenberg and Miller (2000). Likewise, in several cases where class members receive little or no benefit from their actions, the effectiveness of the exercise is highly questioned. Federal courts are then enjoined to grant a judicial examination over the ability of the group and the firm to prosecute for the plaintiff, their resources and a possible settlements scenario as stipulated in the Class Action Fairness Act (2005).
The future of class action in my own point of view centralizes all claims into one venue where the court can decide to divide the assets of the defendant company among all the plaintiffs if they win the case. These lawsuits sometimes bind class members with receiving low settlements to limit major liabilities incurred by the defendant companies which in a way protect the economic interests and stability of the country (Weiser, 2001). Its major value though lies in the fact that companies now try their best to comply with the mandatory requirements implemented in the state to refrain from being subjected to stiff litigation cost and compensatory damage payments to claimants. Harassment which has been a complaint issue in the workplace is protected by state or local law that now sees major improvements benefiting people according to Thomas Henderson (2002). Likewise, attorney’s fees are minimal where class actions are correlated with client recovery (Eisenberg and Miller, 2004). Frauds committed by securities are now lowest on record (Willging, 2005), thereby proving the valuable stance of class action suits against defendant companies or individual who has caused unnecessary harm to the plaintiffs.
United States. Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, Pub. L. 109-2, 119 Stat. 4 (2005).
United States. Testimony of Thomas Henderson, Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Testimony, Class Action Litigation, United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, July 31, 2002.
Eisenberg, Theodore and Miller, Geoffrey P. (2004). Attorney Fees in Class Action Settlements: An Empirical Study. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 1, Issue 1 , March.
United States. Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case That Changed Sexual Harassment Law (2003)
United States. Escamilla v. Asarco Inc., [91-CV-5716] 1994.
Weiser, Benjamin. (2001). New York Will Pay $50 Million in 50,000 Illegal Strip-Searches. New York Times, January 10.
United States. Willging, Thomas E. (2005). The Impact of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. Second Interim Report to the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, Federal Judicial Center. September.