Missouri courts lay out various requirements for class action lawsuits that are pretty consistent with what you would find in the rest of the country.
Class actions might be allowed when:
- There are so many people in a class that having each one participate in the lawsuit is impracticable
- The case has common questions of law and fact for all of the class members
- The claims and defenses of the representative parties are typical of the rest of the class
- The representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interest of the class
Even if all those prerequisites are met, the court still has to decide if it will “certify” a class action. The court must consider whether separate actions by all of the allegedly harmed parties would create a risk of inconsistent court decisions or block the opportunity for other parties to move forward with their case. The court can also consider whether questions in common for each of the allegedly harmed parties predominate over any individual differences.
The court also has to decide if party members will opt out or opt in. In an opt-in case, the lawyers can only represent people that chooses to be a part of the lawsuit. This is not usually preferred for cases where each individual would receive a very small payout, because it may cost more to sign up people for claims then the claims would be worth.
Instead, most lawyers seek an opt-out class where anyone in the class is automatically part of the lawsuit unless they take a specific action to opt out.
If you look in the news you can always see examples of ongoing class action lawsuits in the U.S. and in Missouri. For example, in 2017, a group of farmers sued Monsanto for allegedly selling herbicide that they should have known would drift and cause damage to surrounding farms.
A group of consumers also sued a number of companies in the milk industry for allegedly killing off dairy cows as part of a scheme to keep milk prices up. The milk producers said that the kill off was simply to allow some producers to sell their farms. That case was eventually settled, and in a recent update, the lawyers pursuing the case said they expect to make payouts of $6.79 to each person that made a valid claim. So, that milk case may not have a serious impact on a consumer’s bottom line, but those types of lawsuits are important to preventing corporate misbehavior.
Class actions also frequently involve:
- Defective products, such as auto defects
- Dangerous pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices
- Toxic exposure/chemical exposure
- Environmental contamination
- Employment discrimination and other unlawful practices
If you believe you have been affected by a company or entity’s negligence, and you believe that many others may also have been affected, we encourage you to reach out to our St. Louis class action lawyers to learn more about your right to take legal action. Even if a class action lawsuit has already been filed, you should feel free to contact The Dixon Injury Firm if you are part of the injured class.
We provide free consultations and can help you decide the best course of action for your case. In some situations, it may make sense to have your own lawyer or even to remove yourself from the class and pursue a case individually.
Schedule a free initial consultation by calling our office at (314) 208-2808. We are available to assist you 24/7.