Class Action Procedures

Class action litigation is “the last barricade of consumer protection,” according to the Illinois Appellate Court in Eshaghi v. Hanley Dawson Cadillac Co. , 574 N.E.2d 760, 766 (Ill. 1991). It offers a way for victims of consumer fraud to consolidate their claims into a single lawsuit. This is a critical benefit for consumers whose claims, taken individually, might be too small to justify the time and expense of litigation. By combining numerous small claims into a single large claim, class actions present businesses that have engaged in consumer fraud with something they cannot minimize or ignore. Class action lawsuits also ease the burden on the court system, which can handle a relatively small number of large lawsuits much better than a tremendous number of small suits. Our team of Chicago class action lawyers has extensive experience helping groups of consumers assert their rights and recover damages for their losses.

Four Elements of Class Actions

To qualify for certification as a class action, a case must meet four criteria:

  1. The class must be numerous enough that it would not be practical to join all members as plaintiffs;
  2. All class members’ claims must have common questions of law or fact;
  3. The class representatives must have claims or defenses that are typical of the rest of the class; and
  4. These representatives must be able to fairly and adequately assert the claims of the rest of the class.
Class Representatives and Class Members

To initiate a class action lawsuit, one or more plaintiffs must file suit and plead the grounds for certifying the case as a class action. The plaintiffs must demonstrate to the court that the lawsuit meets the requirements set out by law, and the court will rule on whether or not to grant certification. This requires a careful presentation to the court of the proposed class and the claims that class members have in common. The court’s order must define the class by describing the class members and identifying the claims brought by the class. Plaintiffs’ counsel must then locate and notify prospective class members of the lawsuit. In most class action suits, class members must take action to “opt out” of the case if they do not wish to participate. In some circumstances, however, potential members must “opt in” to the class.

State and Federal Class Actions

Class action lawsuits may be filed in state or federal court, depending on the types of claims and the parties involved. Federal law allows defendants in certain circumstances to remove a state class action lawsuit to federal court, even if the lawsuit does not meet all of the usual requirements for federal jurisdiction. This applies to cases in which some plaintiffs reside in a different state than the defendants, and the amount in controversy is greater than $5 million.

Serving clients in the Chicago area, the class action lawyers at Nationwide Consumer Rights bring decades of experience with class action litigation relating to consumer rights and other civil claims. We have dedicated our practice to protecting the rights of consumers around the country. Contact us today online or at (630) 333-0000 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our Chicago class action attorneys.