Divine Dining, Inc. v. Kompany, LLC.
fair and honest dealings. Breach of lease and
interference with business case. (status)
Fabian v. Loma Linda University Hospital
safety. Medical negligence
action alleging cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia from
Koch v. Markel Insurance Co.
Enforcing professional standards for insurance. Breach of insurance contract and bad faith.
Church | $980,000
Luksan v. Colvin | $306, 590
Kaufman v. Record Surplus | $425,000
Doe v. Luster
Doe HOA vs. Roe Ins. Co.
Doe Insured v. Doe
Disability Insurance Co. | $6,900,000
Mary Doe vs.
Pharmaceutical Company | $6,000,000
more cases &
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A Class Action Primer
1. Class Actions Help Address Common Problems.
Class actions are a way for groups of people with common
problems to seek a solution in a convenient format.
Class actions typically seek to solve simple questions that
impact large number of people. Whether all of an insurance
company’s claims personnel are entitled to overtime or
whether all of the bank’s credit card customers were
overcharged because of a single, unfair, interest
calculation are good examples of problems that class actions
2. Class Actions are a Unique Class of Case.
For purposes of news reporting, it is important to remember
that a class action is a process that is unique unto itself.
For example, a class action is different than a “mass tort,”
which tends to involve problems such as when a large number
of people are injured in different ways by a single type of
defective drug or product. Mass tort cases might involve one
common element – generally a single defective product – that
affects each affected individual in a unique manner.
Cases involving products like Vioxx or asbestos fall under
the mass tort label. These cases are not generally
prosecuted as class actions because, even though they
involve a common product, the injuries each consumer suffers
are individual to them. So, mass torts are generally
litigated in systems such as the federal Multi-District
Litigation system – where a single judge will preside over
hundreds or thousands of individual cases coordinated for
administrative purposes. While these systems allow large
numbers of people with one common problem to have their
claims resolved in an efficient fashion, they are not the
same as class actions and make different demands on the
The point is, when reporting on a large action involving
numerous individuals, always make sure that you know whether
it is a class action, or some other legal mechanism that
serves a similar, but different purpose. Then approach the
3. Understanding Class Action Procedure is Important in
Covering the Story.
|Class actions tend to be driven by legal procedure.
Understanding the procedural steps is key to accurately
capturing breaking class action stories.
Class actions can be brought in either state of federal
court. State courts remain an important forum for class
action litigation. Even so, recent federal legislation known
as the “Class Action Fairness Act” has tended to make Class
actions more of a federal area than it has ever been before.
A class action is different than a “mass
which tends to involve problems such as
when a large number of people are
injured in different ways by a single
type of defective drug or product.
The legislation was passed
after years of effort by business interests and was intended
to shrink the number of class actions filed across the
country. Early reports indicate that during the first six
months of the new legislation, there has been a “precipitous
decline” in class action activity. Even so, class actions
continue to make up an important part of legal landscape.
Unlike covering trials, class actions tend to take place
mostly on paper. This can be both a blessing and a curse. It
is blessing because, if a reporter is able to obtain a copy
of an interesting case complaint or pleading at the time it
is filed, it becomes relatively simple to write a story. On
the other hand, trying to follow day-to-day activity in a
class action can be quite difficult since legal filing
generally take place at the clerk’s counter without notice
or fanfare. Still, there are some constants in covering
class action stories.
Class actions start with the filing of a complaint.
Generally, the complaint will have specifics about what it
is that the class actions seek to address and what kind of
remedies the plaintiff class is looking for. The class
plaintiffs named in the complaint seek to be representatives
for the entire class, which may in turn total multiple
thousands of people.
The fact that a class action complaint has been filed can in
and of itself be a news event. Even so, a reporter needs to
remember that the allegations and complaint are just that:
they are the plaintiff’s counsel’s view of the best facts
supporting their side of the argument and there are always
two sides to every story.
After the complaint is filed, there will generally be some
sort of paper work filed with the court attacking the
complaint as deficient and asking the court to either knock
the complaint out completely or require that it be amended.
These pleadings are called demurrers and motions to strike
in state court and motions to dismiss in federal court.
If the judge rules that the complaint is dismissed, then
that could be a new story. On the other hand, if the judge
says the complaint is sufficient, that fact might be of
interest to a reporter following the story but may not prove
Two major events in a class action that are fertile fields
for potential stories are motions for class certification
and motions for summary judgment/adjudication.
A motion for class certification is one of the defining
events in a class action, because simply filing a complaint
does not by itself a class action make. In the class action
process, the judge acts as a gatekeeper for the case being
formally designated as a vehicle to resolve problems
applying to an entire class, and counsel for the plaintiff
must bring a motion asking that the class be certified as
The ruling on class certification is generally a newsworthy
event where there is interest in the underlying case.
Obtaining class certification is considered to a major
victory in the process for the plaintiff’s side. Conversely,
denial of certification is generally seen as a major victory
for the defense.
Either before or after class certification, a summary
judgment/adjudication motion is likely. These motions ask
the court to decide important parts of the case in favor of
one side or the other.
For example, the plaintiff may ask the court rule that the
defense is liable as a matter of law and that the only thing
in dispute is damages. Or, the defense may ask the court to
rule that the plaintiffs have no case as a matter of law and
the thing should be thrown out in its entirety. Either way,
rulings on summary judgment can generate news.
Just as important, the papers in support and in opposition
to both summary judgment motions and certification motions
can provide reporters with invaluable background information
as they prepare their stories. Since the papers are part of
the court file which is a public record, a reporter has a
valuable resource available if there is time to review it.
for class certification is one of the
defining events in a class action,
because simply filing a complaint does
not by itself a class action make.
4. Reporter Resources for Class Action Reporting.
More and more court systems are making court filings
available on the internet. Since class actions are so paper
intensive, subscribing to such a service can save quite a
bit of leg work. Even so, it may be days before a key filing
is scanned into the court system and available for
downloading. So, it is a good idea to contact the lawyers in
the case early on and ask if they are willing to provide
tips on when key filings will make their way into the public
As always, where a reporter is following a story regarding a
class action, it is critical to develop outside sources that
can help explain the details behind each step of the
process. While attorneys on both plaintiff and defense side
can be valuable sources, developing relationships with law
school professors or experts in the area can give the
reporter an important edge.
Organizations such as the Consumer Attorneys Association of
Los Angeles or the Association of Trial Lawyers of America
have resources both over the telephone and on the internet.
Also, a Google search on the subject matter of the class
action will often turn up leads for sources that are
familiar with the case subject matter. As always, the
internet is a powerful research tool.
Put the passion
and expertise of Bill Daniels | Law Offices on your side.
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publishes a variety of articles and videos to
keep you abreast of legal developments and case law that
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Tips to Understanding Class Actions
Tips to help both attorney and client understand
A Class Act
Class actions and complex litigation force you to be
disciplined. In class actions, you need a system or
things can get
out of hand
The contents of this website are
for informational purposes only.
It is not intended to serve as
legal advice. It is not an
invitation to establish an
and you should not rely upon any
information presented here
without first seeking legal
advice from an attorney licensed
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