The purpose behind filing class action is to allow many people similarly situated to sue in court and share legal costs as well as damage awards. After meeting procedural standards, the common-man plaintiffs—i.e., those lacking in influence and power compared to a multinational corporation—may file a class action suit against a powerful defendant.
Besides offering a means to assert a claim in court against an affluent, influential, or otherwise resourceful defendant, filing a class action eases the procedural burden on courts. If the court were asked to hear each individual case by those similarly affected by the same fact pattern, the judicial system would be further encumbered.
In mid-January, West Virginia residents experienced an environmental disaster when leaky chemical storage tanks owned by two major chemical manufacturers were discovered to have tainted the state’s drinking water supply. Individual parties have started filing claims, but, none of the 18 cases filed against Freedom Industries, which owned the leaky chemical storage tanks, and a water processing plant upstream, have been certified yet as class actions, according to a court clerk.
In order to certify the class action, Missouri rule of civil procedure 52.08 states the following conditions must be met:
“(1) The class is so numerous that (joining all individual parties) is impracticable;
(2) There are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) The claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and
(4) The representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class…”
In addition to these requirements, the standard includes consideration of possible inconsistent or varying results from plaintiff to plaintiff.
Class action litigation can begin with individual lawsuits, such as those filed in the West Virginia chemical spill cases. If you believe you have suffered personal injury resulting from a corporation act of recklessness or negligence, contact a St. Louis personal injury attorney to discuss your possible legal remedies.