Boston, Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawyer, Consumer Class Actions, John Adams Courthouse

What is a class action?

Class action lawsuits are designed to advance several important public policy goals. A class action is often the sole means of enabling persons to remedy injustices committed by powerful, multi-million dollar corporations and institutions. As stated by former United States Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, "The class action is one of the few legal remedies the small claimant has against those who command the status quo."

A class action is a type of lawsuit in which one or several persons sue on behalf of a larger group of persons.  A class action begins when one consumer, with claims similar to the claims of other class members, has the courage and fortitude to step forward to prosecute litigation on behalf of the class.  Without a Class Representative, a class action cannot be pursued. 

For example, in a telemarketing case, a consumer who has received an unsolicited facsimile advertisement, text ad, or a robocall, or a consumer who continues to be called by live telemarketers although their number is listed on the Do Not Call Registry, can serve as the Class Representative in a class action aggregating the claims of all other recipients of the same or similar illegal telemarketing call.  The responsibilities of a Class Representative are similar as if the consumer were to prosecute their claim on their own.  The Class Representative would have to respond to discovery and to be questioned by defense counsel- just as if the Class Representative were to pursue a claim for themselves.  In addition, the Class Representative has a duty to work closely with the attorneys for the class (“Class Counsel”) to stay involved in the litigation, and to ensure that any resolution benefits the entire class.  A consumer who agrees to take on the additional responsibilities as Class Representative is entitled to the same class relief obtained by class members, and may be entitled to additional compensation (“Incentive Fee”) for the time and effort spent prosecuting the case on behalf of the entire class.  The amount of any Incentive Fee is subject to the review and approval by the Court.  Before any matter may proceed as a class action, and before any class settlement may occur, the judge presiding over a particular case must give notice of the settlement to the class, allow all who wish to be heard to state their positions and/or objections, and approve the settlement, including the attorneys' fees, only if the settlement and fees are fair and reasonable.

Class actions, and those who prosecute them, are frequently negatively portrayed in the media.  This negative image of class actions is often advanced by organizations and large corporations seeking to undermine the ability of consumers and small and mid-sized business owners who would otherwise be unprotected against corporate misconduct. Without private enforcement of our rights through the civil justice system, we would be dependent upon government regulation to prevent and remedy corporate misconduct.  In reality, particularly as to the enforcement of telemarketing laws, it is private consumers- and not the government- who are forcing the industry to comply with the law via effective use of the class action vehicle.

More information relating to Consumer Law, and the use of the Class Action vehicle to enforce Consumer Law, may be found on the web sites for Public Citizen ( and the National Consumer Law Center (


Boston, Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawyer, Consumer Class Actions, John Adams Courthouse