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Tennessee Class Action Lawsuits: Do You Have a Case?

Learn who can file a class action lawsuit in Tennessee (and when)

Odds are that you've heard the legal term "class action lawsuit" — perhaps in passing or at least on your favorite television drama or documentary. If you’re like most people, you probably don't full understand what a class action lawsuit is and what they entail.

Here at Gilreath & Associates, we’ve been involved in several high profile class action lawsuits — including class actions involving price fixing, monopolization, consumer fraud, unauthorized fee charges by corporations, telecommunications companies, automobile manufacturers, wage and hour violations, and mortgage companies. We’ve also helped victims of defective medical devices file lawsuits against major manufacturers like Stryker, Biomet, DePuy, Smith & Nephew, Wright and Zimmer.

In light of this background, we want to share a few things that Tennessee residents and consumers should understand about class action lawsuits.

What is a class action lawsuit?

Class action lawsuits are legal actions pursued in court that involve hundreds or even thousands of injured plaintiffs. Rather than a myriad of individual lawsuits being filed in the courts and clogging up the system, class action plaintiffs are all brought together in one case to help streamline these cases. Provided certain procedural requirements are met, upwards to thousands of people can be made a part of a "class" for this type of lawsuit.

A considerable percentage of class action lawsuits involve medical device manufacturers such as the makers of defective hip implants.

Vaginal mesh medical device cases are another prime example. Thousands of women have been injured because of these defective products. While some did bring individual lawsuits, the majority of women injured have become part of a class action lawsuit.

Certifying Tennessee class action lawsuits

In order to proceed in court, a class action lawsuit must satisfy some specific prerequisites set forth in the Tennessee Code of Civil Procedure. These requirements include:

  • A particularly large number of potential plaintiffs or injured people

  • Common questions of law and fact must exist among the potential plaintiffs

  • The issues at the heart of a proposed lawsuit must stem from the same wrongdoing or problem

  • Plaintiffs must have sustained injuries, damages, and losses representative of other people in the class as a whole

  • The class representatives will fairly represent all other members of the larger group

Named plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit

The named plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit have particular responsibilities to all of the people making claims in the lawsuit.

For example, a group of women who were all injured by a vaginal mesh that was manufactured by a specific company can be one of the primary common issues that bring them together in one large class action case. Beyond this commonality, the women may have suffered different types of injuries as a result of the mesh. Thus, the named plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit must be women that represent the spectrum of specific types of injuries and harm suffered by the broader class as a whole.

How to join an existing class action lawsuit

A person cannot be forced to participate in a class action lawsuit.

With that said, as part of the certification process of a class action lawsuit, notification of a pending class action lawsuit will be sent to all similarly situated individuals. As with our example case, all women who were harmed by a particular defective vaginal mesh will be notified of a pending class action suit and of the fact that they might qualify to participate.

Typically, people identified as potential class members are included in a class action lawsuit unless they opt out. In other words, a person who doesn't want to be part of a class action lawsuit must notify the court.

Here at Gilreath & Associations, we’ve represented many clients in class action lawsuits.

If you were injured and would like to learn more about your legal rights in joining an existing class action case, feel free to contact us to schedule your free consultation.

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