Consumers who are cheated or misled by a business often face an uphill battle in getting compensation for their mistreatment. California and federal law prohibits companies from using deceptive and unsafe practices to exploit customers. However, individual consumers are often at a disadvantage when facing large corporations with superior financial and legal resources. 

Class action lawsuits are a powerful way for mistreated consumers to band together and demand justice for corporate wrongdoing. This article will provide an overview of class action lawsuits for consumers. We’ll explain who can file a class action lawsuit and answer common questions about the process.

What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?

Class action lawsuits are a way to hold a single defendant responsible for wrongdoing suffered by a group of people. A class action lawsuit happens when one or more individuals file a lawsuit on behalf of a larger body of people—all of whom experienced similar mistreatment. The cases are combined and presented to a single judge. If the lawsuit is successful, every member of the class can share in the settlement award. 

Class action lawsuits have several benefits. For one, they give consumers the strength in numbers to hold large companies accountable for their actions. The class action process can be an effective way of getting recovery for many plaintiffs at once without resorting to the time and expense of multiple lawsuits. Plus, because class action cases are often public and high-profile, corporations are incentivized to change their behavior or risk damage to their reputation.

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Who Is Eligible to File a Class Action Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit is filed by one or more representatives from the group of people harmed by the defendant. So, who can bring a consumer class action lawsuit? Someone who was hurt by:

The individuals filing the lawsuit are called the “named plaintiffs.” There are specific legal regulations to ensure that the named plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit legitimately represent the interests of a larger group of consumers. The person who can file a class action suit should be someone who suffered the same type of wrongdoing as the rest of the group. The named plaintiff also shouldn’t have any conflicts of interest or alternative motives for seeking collective legal action.

How to Initiate a Class Action Lawsuit

To start a class action lawsuit, you should first contact an attorney. A lawyer can evaluate your case and determine whether you have a viable claim. If there’s potential for collective legal action, your attorney can draft the complaint you need to file a lawsuit. 

Class Certification

Before the suit moves forward, you have to get class certification from a court. A judge will review your claim and decide if your group of plaintiffs meets the requirements for a class action. At this point, the judge isn’t evaluating the merits of your claims as injured consumers. They’re only evaluating whether these claims should be handled collectively.  

Under California law, a class action must involve a dispute of common or general interest shared by enough people that bringing individual suits would be impractical. To qualify as a class, the named plaintiffs must show the court that:

  • The class members have similar claims with shared legal and factual questions,
  • The plaintiffs are fair and typical representatives of the rest of the class members, and
  • Collective action is a more beneficial method for resolving the matter than individual litigation.

Your lawyer will present evidence to the judge, and named plaintiffs may be asked to testify.

If the class is certified, the suit can move to the next stage.

Notifying Class Members

Your attorney will contact other consumers who qualify as potential class members and inform them about the case and their rights. In most cases, class actions operate on an opt-out basis. Members who receive notice are considered part of a designated class unless they consciously choose otherwise. Why would someone opt out of a class action suit? Some consumers may have suffered more significant injuries than most of the class, and they may want to pursue a claim for compensation on their own. The procedure for opting out of a class action suit should be explained in the notice letter.


Most class action lawsuits end in a settlement. Your legal representative will investigate and gather evidence of the defendant’s wrongdoing. They will assess the plaintiffs’ losses and negotiate with the defendant’s legal counsel to agree on the damages owed. If the two sides can’t agree, then the case could go to trial. It can take months and sometimes years to resolve a class action lawsuit, even outside court. If a settlement is reached, the plaintiffs’ lawyer will inform the rest of the class members about their rights and potential compensation.

How Many People Does It Take to Make a Class Action Lawsuit?

There is no precise minimum number of people legally required for a class action lawsuit in California. Some consumer class actions involve hundreds of people, while others are made up of only a couple dozen. Generally, a court is unlikely to certify a class that’s made up of fewer than a dozen people. Class action lawsuits are complex and time-consuming, so it’s not worth the court’s effort if only a few plaintiffs are involved.

The appropriate size of a class will vary depending on the circumstances of the corporate wrongdoing. In any case, the named plaintiffs and their attorneys will have to prove that enough people have been harmed that it would be inefficient and impractical for them to take action separately.

Boucher LLP: Trusted Consumer Advocates 

Ultimately, a lawyer is the best person to answer specific questions about who can file a class action lawsuit and what you need to get started. At Boucher LLP, we understand that consumers often feel overwhelmed at the prospect of asserting their rights against a large corporation. But no corporation is big enough to be above the law. With our litigation skills and deep knowledge of California law, we can help you seek justice for the harm you’ve suffered at the hands of corporate greed and negligence. Since our firm’s founding, our advocates have spearheaded numerous complex class action suits on behalf of California citizens and consumers. Contact our office today to learn more about how we might be able to help with your potential case.