We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Class Action Status?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Class action status is a status awarded to a group of individuals involved in a lawsuit that establishes that suit as a class action lawsuit. This differentiates the lawsuit from a standard lawsuit in a number of ways, including the fact that many different defendants or plaintiffs are pursuing legal action in the course of a single suit. A number of different plaintiffs or defendants must be named in this type of suit and be brought together in a common interest. Class action status is typically awarded to a lawsuit by a judge after seeing the number of plaintiffs or defendants involved and considering how individual lawsuits would compare to a class action suit.

A class action lawsuit is a type of civil suit brought against a single defendant by many plaintiffs, or by a plaintiff against multiple defendants. The first type of class action suit, called a “plaintiff class action,” is somewhat more common and is the type typically represented in movies and other dramatic works. Class action suits involving multiple defendants are known as “defendant class action” suits and usually involve multiple defendants who represent the same product or service involved in the suit. A class action lawsuit only becomes a class action once it is awarded class action status by a judge.

Class action status is typically awarded to a lawsuit when it is determined that the number of plaintiffs or defendants is so great that individual lawsuits would be either impossible or detrimental to the legal system. In other words, if there are potentially hundreds of individual plaintiffs who may want to bring a civil suit against a company or government for perceived misdoing, then it is often in the best interest of those plaintiffs and the legal system to allow them all to be involved in a single suit. Class action status is generally considered and awarded by a judge to ensure that hundreds of different courts are not bogged down by the same case being seen repeatedly.

A single defendant may actually prefer a suit be awarded class action status for a number of reasons. If the details of the case are potentially harmful to the defendant’s reputation, a class action suit ensures that these details are only revealed and considered once, rather than dozens or hundreds of times in separate suits. The defendant also only has to defend against a single suit, and one strong defense in a class action can end hundreds of potential individual suits at once. On the other hand, plaintiffs in a class suit need only mount one strong “attack” against the defendant and prove culpability one time to see dozens or hundreds of claimants awarded.

Once a lawsuit is given class action status, any potential plaintiffs should be notified directly or through public posting regarding the suit. This is because anyone who may be a plaintiff is automatically a part of the class action and must “opt out” of the action if he or she wishes to pursue an individual suit. Otherwise he or she is represented by the class action suit and is bound to whatever settlement or action results.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.