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 such as:
And in 2019, many of the victims and families connected to the One October massacre in Las Vegas joined a class action against the manufacturer of the shooter’s bump stock.1
1. How does a Nevada class action suit work?
In a class action, one or more plaintiffs (the “lead” plaintiff) bring a lawsuit on behalf of a larger group of people, collectively called a “class.”
The plaintiff must obtain approval from the court (“class certification“) in order to bring 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.2
Our Nevada 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.
2. What are the benefits of a class action?
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.
3. What are the 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.3
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 to have 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. But first, various elements 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 of 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.4
- John Treanor, Lawsuit against bump stock manufacturer could be One October’s lasting legacy, News3 LV (September 29, 2019).
- Nev. R. Civ. P. 23. See, for example, Beazer Homes Holding Corp. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of Nev. (Nevada Supreme Court, 2012) 128 Nev. 723; Sargeant v. Henderson Taxi (2017) 133 Nev. 196.
- See Califano v. Yamasaki, (1979) 442 U.S. 682; West v. Randall, (R.I. 1820) 29 F. Cas. 718.
- Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 23. See note 2.