Class Action FAQ > Class Action Procedures > Do all class members have to agree to participate in a class action?

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No.  The primary purpose of Class Actions is to permit a small number of plaintiffs (individuals or companies) to bring a single suit that will determine the rights of a much larger group that has suffered the same type of injury or has the same grievance. Before a Class Action is certified by the Court, the Class Representatives are usually the only class members actively involved in the litigation process. They will answer some written discovery questions, produce documents, and give their testimony under oath at a deposition.  In some cases, the Class Representatives may collect some information from class members willing to help out.  And in rare instances, a Court may allow a defendant to question a small sample of other persons from the class.

After a Class Action is certified, the Court-appointed Class Representative will continue to litigate the case on behalf of all class members.  Certain types of class actions include a provision where class members can exclude themselves from the class ("opt out") and either file their own individual suit or do nothing and have no involvement with the outcome of the class action.  As with the period of time prior to certification, some class members may agree to offer their testimony to assist the Class Representative's efforts to prevail at trial.

The law governing class actions is complex. This summary is not comprehensive.  Instead, it provides a basic overview of class actions.  This summary is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please read our disclaimer for additional important information about this web site.


Last updated on November 25, 2009 by Ira Spiro

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