Why Some Class Actions Do Not Get Certified
Class actions are more complex than typical lawsuits. They require adherence to special rules and procedures, and they are better suited for certain types of claims. Failing to satisfy these requirements can lead to a denial of class certification which immediately leads to the case being dismissed. Below, we discuss some of the most common reasons why class action claims do not succeed. If you’ve been harmed by a defective product, false advertising, or other unlawful practices, call an experienced California consumer protection and class action attorney.
The Plaintiffs Were Not Actually Harmed
In order to have standing to sue, the plaintiffs in a case must have actually suffered some injury by the defendant’s actions. They must have suffered some monetary loss or other harm caused by the conduct allegedly committed by the defendant. Many class actions are dismissed because the plaintiff or plaintiffs cannot articulate a proper theory demonstrating that they were actually harmed.
For example, if the plaintiffs are suing about a deceptive advertisement for a product but the named plaintiffs never purchased the products or services, then they might not have suffered any harm. The defense might try to argue that the plaintiffs never even saw the advertisements and thus could not have been misled. Alternatively, the defense might show that the advertisements would not have actually affected anyone’s purchasing decisions–no one actually buys Red Bull because they believe they’ll grow wings–and thus no one was actually harmed.
The Claims Are Too Individualized
Many class action certifications are defeated because the claims of the proposed class are too individualized. Class actions are meant to resolve the claims of a large number of plaintiffs all at once, typically because litigating each claim individually would require much more time and effort and would be impracticable That premise only applies if the claims of the class members are all substantially similar, or if there is some relief the court can grant that will satisfy the whole class. As stated in the Federal Rule of Evidence pertaining to class action certification: There must be “questions of law or fact common to the class,” and those questions must “predominate over any questions affecting only individual members.”
For example, if a deceptive advertising campaign caused people to buy a product under false pretenses, every plaintiff has essentially the same claim: “I bought X product because of the deceptive ads.” The only real individualizing factor is how many of the products each plaintiff bought.
In contrast, if individual issues predominate, the motion for class certification may be denied. If a proposed class is based on breach of contract by the same defendant, but every plaintiff is harmed in different ways based on different agreements, and the language in each agreement is substantially different, then there might not be proper grounds for a class action.
The Plaintiff(s) Are Subject to an Arbitration Agreement
Arbitration agreements have become more and more popular in recent years. Arbitration is an out-of-court dispute resolution technique where a neutral third party hands down a decision binding decision on a case or issue. Arbitration was previously seen as a less expensive avenue for dispute resolution between more sophisticated parties – arbitration agreements are now standard in many employment and consumer service contracts that people might encounter every day.
Arbitration agreements may be separate agreements or clauses included as part of a contract. The agreement states that you and the other party agree not to go to court to resolve any disputes that may arise, and you will instead submit to private arbitration. You may have signed an arbitration agreement when you signed up for internet or phone service, when you signed up for a bank account, or as part of your employment contract.
Arbitration does not lend itself well to class action treatment because absent an agreement to allow class treatment, each arbitration is effectively one against one. If you are subject to a binding arbitration agreement that covers your claims, you should go to private arbitration. In practice, arbitration clauses defeat attempts to organize class-wide treatment of a claim, unless you have grounds to get outside of the agreement.
Any number of procedural issues can be fatal to a class action, just like any other lawsuit. If the claims are brought too late, past the statute of limitations, the case might be dismissed. The case could be dismissed because the plaintiff has not adequately pled enough facts in the complaint, or the plaintiff fails to allege facts to satisfy each of the elements of the claims. A federal class action may be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, for example, if the amount of money at stake is too low or other requirements are not meant. Make sure you hire an experienced class action lawyer who understands the law and understands your claims so that you do not miss out on your right to compensation due to a procedural error.
Don’t Be a Victim of Unfair Business Practices That Harm Consumers
For help pursuing a class action claim in California or nationwide, including antitrust violations, unfair competition, false advertising, fraud and more, call the Kalfayan Law Firm in Del Mar, California, just north of San Diego, for a free consultation. Our diligent class action law firm serves local residents and nationwide classes with diligence and passion. We’ll see your case through to the end and seek both justice and compensation for all victims of corporate misconduct.