Class Action Suits
Class action law suits provide a means whereby large numbers of claimants may have their causes involving common questions of fact or law adjudicated in a unitary proceeding. Prior to certification of a class, the court must find a sufficiently large number of class members exist to make joinder impractical. Therefore, since all claimants cannot be named parties in the lawsuit, the action is by its very nature a representative proceeding. The named class plaintiff representatives in addition to prosecuting their own claims serve on behalf of and pursue claims belonging to the absent class members. Further, the attorneys and named plaintiffs representing the ostensible plaintiff class assume fiduciary responsibilities to protect the interests of the absent class members.
Inherent in any class action is the potential for conflicting interests among the class representatives, class counsel, and absent class members. The interest of lawyer and class may diverge, as may the interests of different members of the class. Both class representatives and class counsel have responsibilities to absent members of the class .
The class action procedure represents an exception to the general rule that one cannot be bound to a judgment rendered in a proceeding wherein one was not joined as a party.