What are Class Action Suits?

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Scott Haworth
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Licensed to practice law in New York and New Jersey, Scott Haworth is the managing partner of Haworth Coleman & Gerstman, LLC. An experienced litigation attorney, Scott Haworth defends clients in product liability, intentional torts, and class action suits.

Class action suits arise when a group of people with similar injuries received from the same product, medical device, or action sue the same defendant together. A class action has the effect of bringing all plaintiffs together in one case rather than having each of them institute individual civil proceedings against a common defendant. For example, patients who were prescribed the same medication and later suffered unforeseen side effects may bring a suit against the manufacturer together, as can people living in the same neighborhood where a toxic spill contaminated their water system.

Class actions are a very effective means of instituting civil proceedings. On the court’s side, class actions enable it to hear dozens of claims at once and to dispose of them together, rather than having to listen to each of them individually. On the plaintiff’s side, class actions bring down litigation costs. By suing as a class, the plaintiffs consolidate their attorneys, evidence, and witnesses, bringing down the cost of the suit. Class action suits ensure that all injured plaintiffs receive a portion of awarded damages.

Scott Haworth: Recent Developments with No Injury Class Action Suits

Legal professional Scott Haworth possesses significant experience in national litigation and represents clients such as cosmetics manufacturers, medical device producers, and telecommunication firms. Published in many legal journals, Scott Haworth wrote “Stopped Before They Start–Dismissing the No-Injury Class Action” for the December 2010 edition of For the Defense.

No injury class action lawsuits involve many of the same elements as traditional class action suits. Generally a federal matter, they must feature a large enough number of plaintiffs that it would become impractical for all of them to try the case individually. The plaintiffs must share similar legal and factual issues, while the attorney chosen to defend their case must represent the class as a whole. Though most class action suits require some form of injury, no injury suits attempt to eliminate the injury-in-fact aspect of these cases.

In April 2013, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision regarding these claims based on the case Whirlpool Corp. v. Glazer. Commencing in the Sixth Circuit, the suit involved Ohio purchasers of Whirlpool washing machines who claimed breach of warranty, negligent design, and negligent failure to warn, and they sought class certification. The initial court approved, and Whirlpool filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court, arguing that the class would be overly broad and violate Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because most of the plaintiffs were not injured. The justices agreed with Whirlpool Corporation, vacated the Sixth Circuit’s decision, and remanded it to the lower court.