Putative Class Actions: Seeking Justice for the Many


When a group of individuals experiences a common injury, they may have the option to pursue a putative class action. Instead of each person filing an individual lawsuit, one or more named plaintiffs represent the entire class. Let’s explore the concept of putative class actions and their significance in achieving justice for a larger group.

Understanding Class Actions

Class action lawsuits involve a collective effort by a group of people seeking legal recourse against a single defendant. Lead plaintiffs act as representatives for everyone involved in the class action. These lawsuits arise when multiple individuals have suffered similar injuries as a result of the defendant’s actions.

Class actions serve a crucial purpose when the damages claimed by each plaintiff are too small to justify individual lawsuits. By pooling their resources and hiring an attorney, the group can effectively obtain compensation for their injuries. In addition, class action lawsuits alleviate the burden on courts, as they prevent an overload of numerous small claims cases.

Federal vs. State Class Actions

Depending on the circumstances, class action lawsuits can be filed in either federal or state courts. If the case involves federal laws, jurisdiction lies with a federal court. The Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) of 2005 has facilitated the movement of cases to federal courts, making it easier for defendants.

Under CAFA, a case can be transferred to federal court if at least one person from both the defendant’s side and the plaintiff’s side are citizens of different states or countries. However, defendants can only move their cases to federal court if the plaintiffs are seeking damages exceeding $5 million, and the class consists of at least 100 individuals.

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Certification of Class Actions

Before a class action lawsuit can proceed, the court must certify the class. Certification is granted after careful consideration of several key factors, including similarity of claims among representatives, adequate representation of the entire class, competent plaintiffs, absence of conflicts of interest, and a common question of fact stemming from the defendant’s actions.

The Many Faces of Class Actions

Class action lawsuits cover a broad spectrum of legal cases and follow a distinct path compared to other types of lawsuits. It is crucial to work with a personal injury attorney who understands the nuances of filing class action lawsuits in the appropriate jurisdiction, considering both federal and state requirements.

Class actions commonly target government entities, financial institutions, manufacturers, retailers, and employers. They encompass scenarios such as false advertising leading to injury, discriminatory business practices, unfair pricing, defective products, unsafe drugs, and securities fraud. Some specific examples include:

  • Patterns of discrimination by large corporations based on race, age, gender, or sexual orientation.
  • Employees harmed by unfair business practices.
  • Consumers and merchants affected by exorbitant product prices.
  • Individuals impacted by defective products.
  • Patients harmed by unsafe drugs.
  • Investors who fell victim to securities fraud.

Discrimination claims hold particular prominence in employment class actions, although proving such cases in court can be challenging. To be successful, defendants must present compelling evidence of bias, demonstrating the presence of discrimination.

Cases involving antitrust class actions are investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice, with assistance from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Clayton Antitrust Act allows injured defendants to seek damages three times the actual harm suffered due to antitrust violations.

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The Power of Putative Class Actions

In the legal realm, “putative” refers to something presumed, alleged, or supposed. Both federal and state courts consider the process of initiating a class action lawsuit as filing a proposed or putative class action. Named plaintiffs seek damages on behalf of a potential class of individuals who have allegedly suffered a common injury.

If you have experienced harm or damages due to discrimination, unfair business practices, excessive pricing, defective products, unsafe drugs, or securities fraud, pursuing a putative class action lawsuit against the responsible party may be a viable option. To assess the suitability of a class action for your circumstances, consulting a personal injury attorney experienced in handling such cases is crucial.

Filing a putative class action can provide restitution for your damages without incurring exorbitant legal fees. It also reduces the overall cost of litigation and incentivizes other defendants to participate in the restitution process. Typically, attorney’s fees are deducted from the awarded damages rather than paid upfront. The amount received by individual class members may be relatively minimal in a putative class action involving multiple defendants.

Usually, defendants receive their damages in the form of class-action refund checks. The total damages awarded are divided equally among participating defendants. If these checks remain uncashed, the funds may be returned to the plaintiff. In some cases, defendants may receive compensation in the form of free services, replacement products, or company rebates.


Putative class actions offer a way for individuals who share a common injury to join forces and seek justice as a collective. By leveraging the power of a unified group, class actions can hold accountable those who have caused harm on a larger scale. If you find yourself in a situation where a class action may be appropriate, consulting with a personal injury attorney will help you navigate the complexities of the legal process. Remember, the strength of the many can be a catalyst for change and a means to obtain fair compensation.

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