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How to File a Class Action Lawsuit

Class action lawsuits are sometimes an effective way to get legal redress for a group of people who have suffered from the same problem with a company.


  • Step 1: Define complaint Define your complaint against the entity you intend to sue. In order to make an effective class action suit, the same legal harm must have been done to all participants in the suit.
  • TIP: Don't dismiss the validity of your complaint just because of a small expected individual return. Even if the harm caused was small, such as an overcharge on a retail item, the case may still be a good candidate for a class action lawsuit.
  • Step 2: Define the proposed class Figure out if there are enough potential members of the proposed class. There isn't a defined number required, but it must be enough that each could not reasonably bring their cases to court individually.
  • Step 3: Get a legal review Have a lawyer who specializes in class actions review the viability of your case.
  • TIP: Some organizations may offer free online legal reviews as a preliminary step. Before hiring a lawyer, be sure to ask what their fees are and how they will be paid if the suit goes forward.
  • Step 4: Name representatives Name one or more people or companies as plaintiffs to represent the proposed class in the lawsuit.
  • Step 5: Define settlement type Determine what type of settlement is appropriate for your case. Usually, the settlement is in the form of money, but it can be compensatory services, an injunction to cease an offending action, or a judgment about each party's rights and responsibilities.
  • Step 6: File your suit File your class action in the appropriate state or federal court with the guidance of your lawyer or legal team. Congratulations, you've taken the first steps toward getting relief for your case.
  • FACT: Julia Roberts won an Oscar for her portrayal of Erin Brockovich, a California paralegal who successfully initiated a class action lawsuit against a polluting electric company.

You Will Need

  • Complaint
  • Class members
  • Representatives of the class
  • Legal review
  • Settlement type
  • State or federal court
  • Knowledge of legal fees (optional)

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