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class action suit

1st GM Ignition-Switch Defect Lawsuit Filed

GM is facing a potential class action lawsuit over an ignition switch defect linked to the recall of more than 1.6 million compact cars. The lawsuit was filed in Texas federal court on Friday, alleging that General Motors knew about the dangerous defect in 2004 but failed to fix it -- putting drivers' lives at risk and reducing the resale value of their vehicles, reports Reuters. What does this suit mean for GM? Federal Suit May Become Class Action Daryl and Maria Brandt filed the lawsuit because of safety risks posed by their 2007 Chevy Cobalt, one of the many models recalled by GM over the ignition switch defect. According to Reuters, the couple claims they "have driven their car less than otherwise" fearing an accident caused by the ignition switch issue. The Brandts do not claim that they were injured in an ignition switch-related accident, but they do want compensation for diminished resale value and the loss of use of their vehicle. Their suit is seeking class action certification, so that the Brandts can represent similarly situated individuals across the country who may have been injured by GM's alleged wrongdoing. In order to be certified as a class action, a federal court must find that: It is impractical for each plaintiff to sue on his or her own, There is a common complaint shared between class members, Class representatives (in this case, the Brandts) have the same claims and defenses as others in the class, and The lawyers and representatives will fairly represent the class. Payouts in class action lawsuits can be substantial. You'll recall a class action suit related to Toyota's sudden acceleration issue settled for more than $1 billion. Legal Troubles Mounting for GM This potential class action suit is yet another legal action on GM's plate over this ignition switch defect. Both Congress and the Justice Department are looking into criminal and civil charges against the car manufacturer for allegedly misleading government regulators by not giving notice of the defect. GM car owners will want to check to see if their vehicle is included in the ignition switch recall, and will also want to consider contacting an experienced motor vehicle defect lawyer if they feel they've been injured by their defective vehicles. Related Resources: Lawsuit Filed Against General Motors Over Ignition-Switch Recall Losses (Insurance Journal) GM Recalls 780K Cars After 6 Deaths (FindLaw's Injured) GM Recall Expands to 1.6M Vehicles; 13 Deaths Reported (FindLaw's Common Law) GM Recalling 1.5M Vehicles Over Fire Risk (FindLaw's Injured)
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How Does a Lawsuit Become a Class Action?

From claims of dangerous pharmaceutical drugs to allegations of falsely advertised products, we often hear about class action lawsuits in the news. A class action lawsuit is one that is brought against a defendant by one individual, or a few individuals, on behalf of a larger class of people who suffered the same or similar injuries from the defendant's product or action. But before a lawsuit becomes a class action, there are legal procedures that must be followed. Here is a general overview: Class Certification You cannot simply "file" a class action lawsuit. A lawsuit becomes a class action through a process called class certification. To obtain certification, the court must find that: It is impractical for the plaintiffs to sue individually; Proposed class members share a common complaint; The named plaintiffs -- called the class representatives -- have the same claims and defenses as the others in the class; and The class action lawyer and representative(s) will fairly represent the class. For efficiency's sake, claims needs to raise common legal and factual issues. For example, a court might deny certification if people have suffered different kinds of side effects from a defective drug. Differences in injuries could potentially require different types of evidence for different class members. Opt In or Out? In most cases, once a lawsuit is certified as a class action, the judge will order notice to be given to all potential class members. Those who are notified will usually have the opportunity to join in the action -- called "opting in" -- which means the outcome of the lawsuit will be binding on them. Those notified may also be given the opportunity not to participate as a member of the class -- that is, to "opt out." You may want to opt out, for example, if you want to bring your own lawsuit. However, in some cases, all victims similarly situated will automatically be deemed class members, and will have no opportunity to opt out. Because each class action is different, and because the decision to opt in or out may have binding consequences, you may want to consult an experienced class action attorney about your legal rights -- especially if you believe you have a lot of money at stake. Related Resources: CA Filipina Nurses File Class Action Suit (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Coca Cola Faces ERISA Class Action Lawsuit (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Red-Light Camera Settlement: $4.2M for N.J. Drivers (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Live Nation Settlement Could Mean Free Tickets, Discounts (FindLaw's Decided)
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Flushable Wipes Lawsuit Seeks Class-Action Status

The makers of Cottonelle and Costco-brand "flushable" wipes are facing a federal lawsuit that seeks class-action status. Dr. Joseph Kurtz, a New York dentist, is spearheading the flushable wipes lawsuit effort, claiming the wipes caused major plumbing and clogging issues in his home, ABC News reports. But what's the whole class action stink about? Flushable Wipes Lawsuit Kurtz claims the makers of Cottonelle and Costco-brand wipes should have known that the wipes' "flushable" claims were false and misleading, ABC News reports. In the suit, Kurtz claims consumers across the country have suffered clogged pipes, flooding, jammed sewers and issues with septic tanks due to the use of flushable wipes. The suit claims to represent 100 people who've faced those problems. But before Kurtz's lawsuit becomes a class action, there must be a hearing on class certification. Class Action Status A class action lawsuit is one in which a group of people with the same or similar injuries caused by the same product or action sue the defendant as a group. The flushable wipes lawsuit asserts that people across the country have faced the same or similar plumbing problems after flushing the wipes. If a court agrees, then it will issue an order that defines the class and appoints a class counsel to lead litigation efforts. However, the defendants -- in this case, the flushable wipe manufacturers -- can try to argue that the alleged class should not be certified. People often seek justice in class action lawsuits when their injuries have been caused by defective products. This case involves a marketing defect claim that the wipes don't degrade as advertised. It's possible many of the individuals' economic injuries (namely, plumbing and repair costs) were relatively minor. For them, pursuing a solo lawsuit would not have been worth the time and money of litigation. But as a class action, their claims can be thrown into the same pot, adding up to an alleged $5 million in damages. Suing as a class also cuts down on each class member's time and expense because the class consolidates the attorneys and court costs and the group files with a representative plaintiff, called a "named plaintiff" or "lead plaintiff." In this case, Dr. Kurtz hopes to be the named plaintiff. In response to the flushable wipes lawsuit, a spokesman for Kimberly Clark, the maker of Cottonelle, told ABC News that "extensive testing" has proven its product is flushable. A reprsentative for Costco declined to comment. Related Resources: Man sues moistened-wipes makers over plumbing bills; defendant stands by product's 'flushability' (ABA Journal) How Much Is Your Personal Injury Case Worth? (FindLaw's Injured) Class Action Suits: To Join or Opt Out? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Browse Class Actions Lawyers by Location (FindLaw)
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