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What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A class action is a powerful legal tool that allows individuals with similar injuries to combine their legal claims into one lawsuit.  In a class action, the plaintiffs are able to avoid the high cost of litigation and extensive time commitments by pooling their resources. Class actions also help promote judicial efficiency by reducing the number of cases the courts must hear.  In product liability cases, class action lawsuits are often filed when numerous people have been harmed by the same defective product.

How Class Action Lawsuits Work

In a federal class action lawsuit, the class must be certified under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In order to receive certification, a class must meet the following requirements:

  • Commonality: the class members’ claims share common issues of fact or law.
  • Adequacy: the class representatives will adequately and fairly protect the class members’ interests.
  • Numerosity: the class members are so large that it would be unfeasible to bring individual lawsuits.
  • Typicality: the class representatives’ claims reflect the typical claims of the class members.

After this test is met, the court will decide what type of class certification the class meets. Once this occurs, the class action may proceed. In many cases, the class action is settled out of court. If this occurs, the court must approve the settlement. Depending on the type of class certification, the settlement may bind all class members – meaning the members of the class will be unable to sue the defendant again for the same injury. While most states have adopted rules that are similar to the federal rules for class actions, a few states do not allow class actions.

Transvaginal Mesh Class Action Cases

Thousands of women have been harmed by defective transvaginal mesh implants. These implants were intended to help women suffering from pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or stress urinary incontinence (SUI). However, many women have experienced terrible health consequences after receiving the mesh implants.

As a result, numerous lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of transvaginal mesh. Currently, no class actions have been certified. However, this could change in the future, as thousands of women have experienced common issues related to defective transvaginal mesh implants, and the number continues to grow.

Many transvaginal mesh lawsuits have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) matters in the federal courts. Under MDL law, federal lawsuits that share at least one common issue of fact are combined and transferred to one federal court for pretrial proceedings. The transvaginal mesh lawsuits do not become class action matters. Instead, once pretrial proceedings are completed, any pending lawsuits will be transferred back to the original courts in order to be heard individually.