Class Action Lawsuits

Class Action Lawsuits

by on July 16th, 2020 in Business & Corporate Law, Labor and Employment, Litigation

A class action is generally defined as a lawsuit filed or defended by an individual or small group acting on behalf of a large group. There are certain rules that apply to class actions filed in state court in Florida.

Florida Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 1.220 governs class actions.

Prerequisites to Class Representation

Rule 1.220 provides that there are certain prerequisites to bringing and maintaining a class action. Before any claim or defense may be maintained on behalf of a class by one party or more suing or being sued as the representative of all the members of a class, the court shall first conclude that (1) the members of the class are so numerous that separate joinder of each member is impracticable, (2) the claim or defense of the representative party raises questions of law or fact common to the questions of law or fact raised by the claim or defense of each member of the class, (3) the claim or defense of the representative party is typical of the claim or defense of each member of the class, and (4) the representative party can fairly and adequately protect and represent the interests of each member of the class. These principles are generally known as numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy.

Claims and Defenses Maintainable

In terms of what claims and/or defenses can be maintainable by a class action, Rule 1.220 provides that a claim or defense may be maintained on behalf of a class if the court concludes that numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy are satisfied, and that:

  1. the prosecution of separate claims or defenses by or against individual members of the class would create a risk of either: (a) inconsistent or varying adjudications concerning individual members of the class which would establish incompatible standards of conduct for the party opposing the class; or (b) adjudications concerning individual members of the class which would, as a practical matter, be dispositive of the interests of other members of the class who are not parties to the adjudications, or substantially impair or impede the ability of other members of the class who are not parties to the adjudications to protect their interests; or
  2. the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds generally applicable to all the members of the class, thereby making final injunctive relief or declaratory relief concerning the class as a whole appropriate; or
  3. the claim or defense is not maintainable under either of the two prongs referenced above, but the questions of law or fact common to the claim or defense of the representative party and the claim or defense of each member of the class predominate over any question of law or fact affecting only individual members of the class, and class representation is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy. The conclusions shall be derived from consideration of all relevant facts and circumstances, including (a) the respective interests of each member of the class in individually controlling the prosecution of separate claims or defenses, (b) the nature and extent of any pending litigation to which any member of the class is a party and in which any question of law or fact controverted in the subject action is to be adjudicated, (c) the desirability or undesirability of concentrating the litigation in the forum where the subject action is instituted, and (d) the difficulties likely to be encountered in the management of the claim or defense on behalf of a class.

Pleading Requirements

There are also pleading requirements to keep in mind when pleading a class action.

Determination of Class Representation; Notice; Judgment; Claim or Defense Maintained Partly on Behalf of a Class

Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.220 provides that as soon as practicable after service of any pleading alleging the existence of a class under this rule and before service of an order for pretrial conference or a notice for trial, after a hearing, the court shall enter an order determining whether the claim or defense is maintainable on behalf of a class on the application of any party or on the court’s initiative.

Irrespective of whether the court determines that the claim or defense is maintainable on behalf of a class, the order shall separately state the findings of fact and conclusions of law upon which the determination is based.

In making the determination the court (a) may allow the claim or defense to be so maintained, and, if so, shall state under which pertinent subsection the claim or defense is to be maintained, (b) may disallow the class representation and strike the class representation allegations, or (c) may order postponement of the determination pending the completion of discovery concerning whether the claim or defense is maintainable on behalf of a class.

If the court rules that the claim or defense shall be maintained on behalf of a class, the order shall also generally provide for the notice required. As soon as is practicable after the court determines that a claim or defense is maintainable on behalf of a class, notice of the pendency of the claim or defense shall be given by the party asserting the existence of the class to all the members of the class. The notice shall be given to each member of the class who can be identified and located through reasonable effort and shall be given to the other members of the class in the manner determined by the court to be most practicable under the circumstances. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the party asserting the existence of the class shall initially pay for the cost of giving notice.

The notice shall inform each member of the class that (a) any member of the class who files a statement with the court by the date specified in the notice asking to be excluded shall be excluded from the class, (b) the judgment, whether favorable or not, will include all members who do not request exclusion, and (c) any member who does not request exclusion may make a separate appearance within the time specified in the notice.

Contact the Attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

This article does not address all the requirements set forth in Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.220 or Florida case law concerning class actions.

The employment attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. are experienced in the defense of class action litigation. If you are defending a class litigation, contact the civil litigation and commercial litigation attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. today.

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