class action

noun

Definition of class action 

: a legal action undertaken by one or more plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and all other persons having an identical interest in the alleged wrong

Examples of class action in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

In March Uber agreed to pay $10 million to settle the class action and promised to revamp its pay practices and provide mentoring to female employees and workers of color. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "Uber’s HR chief steps down after reportedly ignoring racial discrimination complaints," 11 July 2018 Some of Uber’s previous settlements with customers and drivers have been faulted by judges as inadequate, forcing the company back to the drawing board to re-negotiate or continue litigating with the attorneys who brought the class actions. Bloomberg.com, "Women Harassed at Uber May Finally Get a Payday. But How Much?," 10 Apr. 2018 Paul Wright, executive director of Human Rights Defense Center, said the class action is meant to represent all children who have been or will be placed in solitary confinement. Meryl Kornfield, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Palm Beach County Jail did not provide education for teens, lawsuit says," 22 June 2018 The attorneys in the prior class action have asked the bankruptcy judge for relief from an automatic stay that is imposed on civil litigation upon the filing of a company's bankruptcy. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Weinstein Co. Board Members Targeted in Racketeering Class Action," 1 June 2018 This has been made disturbingly clear through the class action brought by retired NHL players against the league over long-term neurological injuries. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "A Look at the Possible Consequences of Brad Marchand's Tactic of Licking Opponents," 6 May 2018 Smith is seeking $5 million in damages on behalf of the class action. Erin Arvedlund, Philly.com, "#Inflategate? After losing its #1 U.S. News ranking, Temple's online MBA program faces many challenges," 22 Mar. 2018 Common Ground Healthcare’s lawsuit and another class action lawsuit have been on hold until the appellate court ruled. Guy Boulton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Health insurers file suit for billions of dollars from federal government over Affordable Care Act commitments," 2 July 2018 The suits are not a class action lawsuit, where a single lawsuit is filed to represent the interest of many affected parties. Kelsey Ryan And Andy Marso, kansascity, "Local government suits accuse opioid makers of turning 'patients into drug addicts'," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'class action.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of class action

1909, in the meaning defined above

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23 Aug 2018

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class action

noun

Financial Definition of class action

What It Is

Class action is a type of civil lawsuit brought by a group of people who are "similarly situated" -- that is, they have been harmed in a similar way. In the business world, this group is most often shareholders, customers or employees.

How It Works

A class action suit begins as a written complaint that identifies a problem and the class of people involved. The person or entity (usually a law firm) bringing the complaint to the attention of the court on behalf of the class is called the class representative. If the court determines that the complaint and the class meet certain legal requirements, the class is "certified" and anyone meeting the class definition is automatically a member of the class. If the court does not certify the class, plaintiffs are left to pursue their cases individually.

Class members usually have little or no role in the proceedings. If the members don't like the outcome of the suit, they can usually opt out of the class and pursue the defendant on their own (unless the defendant is already bankrupt -- then the court might prohibit this). Not all class action suits seek monetary damages; some seek injunctive relief, whereby a company is instructed to stop an unconstitutional practice.

The class representative is usually paid on a contingency basis, meaning that they are not paid until there is an adequate settlement or judgment. The court approves and awards the compensation to the representative and orders the distribution of the remainder to the members of the class.

Why It Matters

Class action suits are controversial. On one hand, they serve an important legal function by allowing a large group of people to affordably seek justice and share the various legal expenses. This levels the playing field between deep-pocketed defendants and less wealthy claimants. Class actions also save the court system time and money by not having to try each person's case individually.

Critics argue that class action suits foster a litigious society because attorneys often make more from a judgment or settlement than the people they represent. Many times there are tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, but after the attorney is paid, the remaining amount is distributed among hundreds or thousands of class members. Spreading the proceeds between so many class members may result in token payments.

Source: Investing Answers

class action

noun

English Language Learners Definition of class action

law : a lawsuit in which many people join together to sue because they all say they were harmed by the same person or group

class action

noun

Legal Definition of class action 

: an action in which a representative plaintiff sues or a representative defendant is sued on behalf of a class of plaintiffs or defendants who have the same interests in the litigation as their representative and whose rights or liabilities can be more efficiently determined as a group than in a series of individual suits

called also class action suit, class suit

— see also certification — compare consolidate, joinder, test case at case

Note: Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets out the prerequisites for having an action certified as a class action in federal court. Section (a) permits a class action if “(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members 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.” If the action satisfies these requirements, it must then fit into one of three categories: (1) where individual litigation would have varying results requiring the opposing party to act inconsistently toward the class members or would affect the interests of class members who are not parties to the individual action; (2) where the opposing party has acted or refused to act on grounds that are applicable to the class members as a whole and therefore injunctive or declaratory relief with respect to the class members as a whole is appropriate; or, (3) where the questions of law or fact common to the class members outweigh questions that apply to only particular individuals so that a class action is the best method to determine respective rights and liabilities. Using these guidelines, the judge will decide if an action should be certified as a class action.

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