When Should I Bring a Class Action Lawsuit in Nevada?
Class action lawsuits are permitted when several or more plaintiffs have suffered similar injuries as the result of the same wrongful act by the same defendant(s).
Nevada class actions often occur when a group of people has been injured by exposure to a dangerous product in Nevada such as:
How does a Nevada class action suit work?
In a class action, one or more plaintiffs (the "lead" plaintiff) brings a lawsuit on behalf of a larger group of people, collectively called a “class.”
The plaintiff must obtain approval of the court ("class certification) in order to file a class action. Once the court has certified a class, all identified individuals who have been harmed by the defendant(s) will have their potential claims resolved by the lawsuit unless they elect affirmatively to "opt out" of the class.
Our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers can help you determine whether a class action is in your best interest, or whether you would be better off pursuing another form of relief. If a class action is warranted, we know how to present the best arguments for gaining class certification.
The benefits of a class action in Nevada
Class actions have potential benefits for plaintiffs, defendants and courts. The advantage for the courts is that they can preside over a single lawsuit with numerous plaintiffs instead of many small and similar lawsuits by individuals.
For plaintiffs, the advantage is that only one set of lawyers is needed. This can be of particular benefit where the harm to any individual is small (for instance, overcharging by a phone carrier), but there are many individuals in the class.
And, in theory, a class action can be beneficial to defendants who only need to defend one case instead of many. However, defendants will often resist class action status in order to make it more difficult and expensive for many people to sue them.
Legal requirements for a class action in Las Vegas
Class actions typically occur in cases when a large company allegedly injures several people, such as in the Vioxx drug case against the pharmaceutical company Merck. The key component to class actions is the “necessary parties rule.”
In Nevada, the “necessary parties rule" requires that “all persons materially interested, either as plaintiffs or defendants in the subject matter of the bill, ought to be made parties to the suit, however numerous they may be.” Class actions help protect these necessary parties from having to sue solo and getting inconsistent rulings.1
Class actions can be filed in either Nevada state or Nevada federal court. Because these cases usually involve large sums of money and a defendant or plaintiffs who do not all reside or do business in Nevada, many cases filed in state court are eventually transferred ("removed") to federal court based on "diversity jurisdiction." For this reason, it can be a tremendous benefit having a lawyer who has tried cases in both state and federal court.
Predictably, class action lawsuits often take several years before there is a resolution.2 But first, there are various elements that must be shown in order for the court to certify the class. Specifically, the court must make the following findings:
- That the number of class members renders it impracticable to join them in the action;
- That the class members' claims share common questions of law or fact;
- That the claims or defenses of the proposed class representative are typical of those for the rest of the class; and
- That the proposed class representatives will adequately protect the interests of the entire class.
In addition, If the suit is filed in federal district court, federal law mandates that the court make at least one of the following three findings:
- Requiring separate actions by or against the class members would possibly cause inconsistent rulings, or that a ruling with respect to individual class members may be dispositive of other class member claims, thereby “substantially impair[ing] or imped[ing] their ability to protect their interests”;
- The defendant “has acted or refused to act on grounds generally applicable to the class” so that injunctive or declaratory relief as to the entire class would be appropriate; or
- Common questions of law or fact common “predominate” over class member-specific questions, and that proceeding with a class action would be “superior to other available methods” for resolving the legal issues.
Considering a class action in Las Vegas? Call us for help...
Class action lawsuits are particularly detailed and nuanced. They often require more preliminary work that individual trials in order to show that a group of individuals have experienced similar harm.
Our Las Vegas PI attorneys work with the best investigators and expert witnesses in Nevada to uncover all the evidence in your favor, no matter how complicated the case.
In addition, because class action lawsuits can often take a long time to resolve, it is also important that you have a lawyer who knows how to communicate. We'll make sure you are informed and kept in the loop at all stages of suit.
To schedule a free consultation about starting or joining a class action lawsuit, or opting out of a certified class, call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) or fill out the form on this page.
One of our Nevada personal injury attorneys will get back to you promptly to discuss your case and the best way to see that you get the justice and compensation you need and deserve. For a discussion of the law in California or Colorado, please see our pages on filing a class action lawsuit in California and filing a class action lawsuit in Colorado.
- See Califano v. Yamasaki, 442 U.S. 682 (1979); West v. Randall, 29 F. Cas. 718 (R.I. 1820).
- Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 23.