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A class-action lawsuit is litigation brought by large groups of people who were injured, harmed, or defrauded by a service or product. A class-action lawsuit allows multiple victims to pool their resources together against a company or entity whose negligent or reckless actions resulted in measurable damage.
Understanding Class-Action Lawsuits
Instead of one plaintiff acting as a lone individual against a large corporation in their lawsuit, several people that suffered the same harm or injury come together and, using their strength in numbers, file a lawsuit to attempt to receive compensation and justice for a company’s wrong-doing. Class-action lawsuits can target defective products, fraudulently advertised products, employee discrimination, environmental disasters and other unlawful business practices.
Class-action lawsuits will have a lead plaintiff (or plaintiffs) that file a lawsuit on behalf of everyone in that group in the same or similar situation.
Benefits of Class-Action Lawsuits
There are several benefits to filing a class-action lawsuit. The first is that the cost is spread among all plaintiffs, and if the case is successful in court, the attorney receives payment from the recoveries. This is known as a contingency fee. In other cases, the court requires the defending corporation to pay the attorney fees of the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit.
Additionally, the members of the class are represented by a lead plaintiff or plaintiffs. This means that the rest of the plaintiffs do not have a great deal of work to do in order to receive a recovery for their injuries and losses.
Class-action lawsuits are greatly beneficial when the losses and injuries are minor and outweigh the actual cost of hiring an attorney, and going to trial. A class-action lawsuit gives these types of victims the ability to receive justice and compensation for their injuries without incurring substantial costs of time and money.
Types of Class-Action Lawsuits
According to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) Rule 23, only certain actions qualify to become a class-action lawsuit. Every class-action lawsuit must have multiple parties that have similar injuries against a common defendant.
There are many situations that may trigger a class-action lawsuit. A few examples might be:
- Multiple individuals have issues with a specific vehicle make, model and year. Even though the vehicles are new and still under warranty, the manufacturer will not or cannot fix the problem. Yet, it refuses to replace the vehicle or refund the purchase price. In this situation, lemon laws hold the manufacturer responsible.
- After a major storm, there is an insurance company refusing to pay claims related to storm damage, even though the claims are valid under active policies. This is an example of insurance fraud.
- The news often reports on security breaches where companies allow hackers to steal consumer personal information. If a company doesn’t take the right actions to protect consumers from further loss due to the breach, consumers have a right to fight back.
- There’s a home improvement company that starts projects and takes homeowners’ money but never completes the projects. They manage to scam multiple people before someone gets wise to the fraud.
Each of these situations is an example of companies breaking the law and causing consumers harm. They all make a case where you can evoke federal and state consumer protection laws to seek damages. Visiting with an experienced lawyer can help you understand if a class-action lawsuit already exists that you can join with respect to your injury or losses, or if a class-action lawsuit would be right in your particular circumstance.
Federal and New Jersey Laws That Apply to Consumers
The law has many different acts and statutes that aim to protect consumers from the illegal actions of companies. They offer safeguards against deceptive sales practices, defective products and inaccurate credit reporting. Laws come from both the federal and state governments:
- New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act
- Lemon Law
- Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act
- Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Fair Foreclosure Act
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- Telephone Consumer Protection Act
New Jersey’s consumer protection laws are very strict. They protect consumers against misrepresentations and omissions when buying a product or service. They also provide a consumer with three times the damages and make the other party pay all attorney fees.
The consumer protection law provides coverage and protections in specific industries and for certain types of purchases. New Jersey’s mandates prevent financial lenders from charging unlawful interest rates, stop telemarketers from making phone calls to those on the “Do Not Call List” and keep dishonest contractors and maintenance providers from taking advantage of consumers. Other areas of protection include:
- Home improvement
- Internet dating
- Auto sales
- Health clubs
- Personal information security
- Kosher and halal foods
- Home appliance repair and service
- Information services
Federal laws also provide extra remedies for consumers. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act states that if a person wins a lawsuit against a company for failing to honor a warranty, then the company must pay the person’s attorney fees.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act keeps companies from using underhanded and illegal tactics to collect debts. Consumers gain protection from harassment and other demeaning tactics that debt collectors often try to use.
The Schmierer Law Group is familiar with all the consumer protection laws can determine which law or laws apply in a case to seek the best possible compensation and remedies.
Learn How an Experienced Attorney Can Help You
You may feel that your injuries and losses were the direct results of a company’s negligence or recklessness. You may not be alone; there may be other consumers that also suffered losses, injuries, or harm. In these cases, a class-action lawsuit makes sense. Experienced attorneys at the Schmierer Law Group can answer all your questions related to this type of litigation. We have experience with nationwide class-action lawsuits and would welcome the opportunity to visit with you about your case. Contact us today!