Class Action

A lawsuit in which one or more members of a large group, or class, of individuals or other entities sue on behalf of the entire class. The district court must find that the claims of the class members contain questions of law or fact in common before the lawsuit can proceed as a class action.

Additional Sources

Answers.com

A lawsuit brought by one or more plaintiffs on behalf of a large group of others who have a common legal claim.

Duhaime Legal Dictionary

When different persons combine their lawsuits because the facts and the defendant are so similar and where a single litigant's case is heard by the court as representative of all (together, called a "class").

This is designed to save Court time and to allow one judge to hear a representative case(s) once and to make one decision on the representative case which is binding on all the plaintiffs grouped in the class

Encyclopedia Britannica

In law, an action in which a representative plaintiff sues or a representative defendant is sued on behalf of a class of plaintiffs or defendants who have the same interests in the litigation as their representative and whose rights or liabilities can be better determined as a group than in a series of individual suits. Class-action suits that received national attention in the U.S. include a suit brought against manufacturers of Agent Orange by Vietnam veterans exposed to the herbicide (settled in 1984) and a suit concerning the effects of passive smoking brought against tobacco firms (settled in 1997).

FindLaw

An action in which a representative plaintiff sues or a representative defendant is sued on behalf of a class of plaintiffs or defendants who have the same interests in the litigation as their representative and whose rights or liabilities can be more efficiently determined as a group than in a series of individual suits.

Law.com Dictionary

A lawsuit filed by one or more people on behalf of themselves and a larger group of people "who are similarly situated." Examples might include: all women who have suffered from defective contraceptive devices or breast implants, all those overcharged by a public utility during a particular period, or all those who were underpaid by an employer in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. If a class action is successful, a period of time is given for those who can prove they fit the class to file claims to participate in the judgment amount. Class actions are difficult and expensive to file and follow through, but the results can be helpful to people who could not afford to carry a suit alone. They can force businesses that have caused broad damage or have a "public be damned" attitude to change their practices and/or pay for damages. They often result in high fees for the winning attorneys, although often attorneys do not collect a fee at the beginning of a class action suit but might charge a contingent fee (such as one-third of the final judgment), which, occasionally, can be millions of dollars. Such fees usually require court approval.

Lect Law Library

A lawsuit in which one or more parties file a complaint on behalf of themselves and all other people who are "similarly situated" (suffering from the same problem). Often used when a large number of people have comparable claims.

Legal-Dictionary.org

A civil court action in which one party consists of a group of people sharing a common legal position or suffering a common problem with respect to the opposing party.

Merriam Webster

A legal action undertaken by one or more plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and all other persons having an identical interest in the alleged wrong.

The Free (Legal) Dictionary

lawsuit that allows a large number of people with a common interest in a matter to sue or be sued as a group.

The class action suit began in the Equity courts of seventeenth-century England as a bill of peace. English courts would allow a bill of peace to be heard if the number of litigants was so large that joining their claims in a lawsuit was not possible or practical; the members of the group possessed a joint interest in the question to be adjudicated; and the parties named in the suit could adequately represent the interests of persons who were absent from the action but whose rights would be affected by the outcome. If a court allowed a bill of peace to proceed, the judgment that resulted would bind all members of the group.

Wikipedia

In law, a class action or a representative action is a form of lawsuit where a large group of people collectively bring a claim to court. This form of collective lawsuit originated in the United States and is still predominantly a U.S. phenomenon, at least the U.S. variant of it. However, in several European countries with civil law (as opposed to the English common law principle, which is used by US courts), changes have in recent years been made that allow consumer organizations to bring claims on behalf of large groups of consumers.