Common Class Action Litigation Legal Terms And Their Meanings

Absent Class Member :

A person who by the class definition is a class member but is not actually named in the complaint, and does not generally actively participate in the litigation.

Adequacy :

A term used in determining whether class members are receiving proper legal representation by class counsel and the named class representative.

Common Class Action Litigation Legal Terms And Their Meanings

Certification :

The process a court goes through in deciding whether a case will be permitted to proceed as a class action.

Certification Hearing :

A court hearing where the judge hears arguments as to whether a case should be "certified" (allowed to proceed as a class action). Occasionally, testimony or evidence is presented at such hearings.

Class Counsel :

An attorney or group of attorneys appointed by the court to provide legal representation to the group of class members.

Class Representative :

A person named in the complaint as the plaintiff (the person doing the suing) and who has been determined by the court to be a legally "adequate" person to represent the interests of the class.

Clear Sailing Agreement :

An agreement made between counsel for plaintiffs and defendants during or after a settlement negotiations on the claims of a class whereby the defendant agrees not to object to a fee request of the counsel representing the plaintiff class.

Collusion :

An improper agreement, usually describing an agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant.

Commonality :

Some common material fact or question of law that is common to all potential class members.

Common Fund Class :

An action whereby the intended purpose of the case is to create a cash fund to be divided among the class members and from which class counsel's fees and expenses can be paid.

Compensatory Class :

A class action proceeding under Federal Civil Procedure Rule 23(b)(3) wherein money damages are sought for the class members.

De-certification :

An action taken by the court to reverse a previous decision which permitted a case to proceed as a class action.

Declaratory Judgment Class :

A class action attempting to get a court to clarify the rights and obligations of the parties to the litigation.

Defendant :

The person being sued in a lawsuit.

Exclusion Request :

A document filed with the court indicating that a class member doesnt want to participate in pending litigation.

Fairness Hearing :

A court hearing where the court evaluates the "fairness" of a proposed settlement and hears any objections to the proposed settlement.

Injunctive Relief Class Action :

A lawsuit filed for the purpose of getting an order from the court directing a person to do or to stop doing a certain act. For instance, in civil rights actions certified under Federal Civil Procedure Rule 23(b)(2), the court may order public officials to discontinue unconstitutional practices.

Interlocutory Appeal :

The process of a higher court reviewing a pending case to determine if a ruling made by the trial judge was correct. This type of appeal may occur in federal court under Federal Civil Procedure Rule 23(f), to allow an appellate court to determine whether a judges ruling on class certification was correct.

Intervene :

When someone who is not a named party to the litigation seeks court approval to join in the suit as a named party. Generally, absent class members do not need to intervene in a suit in order to share in any settlement or favorable judgment.

Lead Counsel :

An attorney approved by the court to be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the litigation for a party, usually the plaintiff.

Liaison Counsel :

An attorney responsible for easing communications between the parties and the court in complex litigation.

Limited Fund Class :

A class action where the assets of a defendant are inadequate to fully compensate all of the class members and the court is asked to distribute the funds received in the litigation.

Lodestar :

A term used in connection with an award of attorneys fees made by a court, which is based on time spent on the case and an hourly fee. In some instances, the "lodestar" may be adjusted according to circumstances underlying the services performed, such as the merit of the services.

Notice :

A court-ordered document informing class members of the nature of proceeding and their rights and responsibilities in the litigation.

Numerosity :

A finding by the court that so many potential class members are involved that it isnt practical to name them all in the complaint and have them all actively participate in the litigation.

Opt Out :

The act by which a class member excludes himself from a class proceeding. This action generally has the effect of not binding the class member who opts out to any judgment in the case. It also has the effect of excluding any such class member from being able to participate in any settlement or favorable judgment.

Objector :

An individual who opposes some aspect of the proposed settlement of a class action.

Representative Plaintiff :

A person who is actually named in a class action complaint as the plaintiff in the litigation, as contrasted with "absent" class members who are not individually named.

Publication :

Publishing a court-approved notice of class action in the newspapers or through television or radio ads.

Steering Committee :

A group of lawyers representing a party, usually the plaintiffs, who collectively meet, assign work, and make strategic decisions in complex litigation. Often Lead Counsel oversees or heads this committee.

Typicality :

A requirement that the class representatives claims are "typical" (but not necessarily identical) to those of the absent class members.

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