Collective action lawsuit or collective lawsuit happens when a single individual or a small team of individuals to file a lawsuit on behalf of an entire group. This is normally done, because they have been victimised by a particular individual or an agency that does not want to be named in the lawsuit. The large class in such collective action lawsuit or class action lawsuit is the plaintiff. On behalf of the plaintiff, the lawsuit will be fought by the attorneys. Sometimes, the lawyers may represent both the plaintiff and the defendant.
In some cases, the plaintiffs do not represent themselves. A plaintiff in such situation must be careful because the court might dismiss the lawsuit if it finds that the plaintiff is representing herself. In this case, the lawsuit will fail to proceed. Therefore, it is advisable for the plaintiffs to hire the services of an attorney.
Apart from being expensive, there are many drawbacks of collective class actions and one of them is that these class actions often fail to give proper justice to the complainants.
This is because most of the complainants do not know that they have a right to opt out of the lawsuit. For instance, in the case of health care, the plaintiff must have access to timely health care and the complainants cannot be forced to go to hospitals where treatment is not possible. However, in the case of collective lawsuit, there is no provision for the plaintiffs to have their rights to opt out of the lawsuit.
Most of the time, victims of health care institutions or of asbestos manufacturers do not have the right to opt out of the lawsuit.
According to the law, collective actions cannot grant anyone the right to be self-defenceless. If the plaintiff lacks financial means to fight the lawsuit, then he is required to hire a lawyer or go for the collective action.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the class lawsuit and collective action lawsuit is that the victim is forced to join the lawsuit either voluntarily or involuntarily.
If he is forced to join the lawsuit, then he loses the right to opt out of the lawsuit. He has no other choice but to file the lawsuit with the help of an attorney. If the defendant refuses to hire an attorney, then the plaintiff can ask the court for an order compelling the defendant to provide an attorney. If the plaintiff fails to obtain such an order, then he has no other option but to file a class lawsuit against all the defendants.
The other major disadvantage is that when a defendant files a class lawsuit, it is like asking the whole population to come forward and help.
He is not allowed to ask the smaller or weaker class members to help him defeat the larger or stronger class. There is another problem associated with the collective lawsuit and opt-out method. Suppose there are three hundred plaintiffs and the defendant has a five thousand dollar budget. Now suppose that the entire society comes forward and provides five thousand dollars as an amount that the plaintiffs need to fight the case for.
If the defendant were to hire the five thousand dollar lawsuit fund, then all the plaintiffs would have to do is to contribute five thousand dollars as fees to the fund.
Now what happens is that if the plaintiffs were able to win their case and get the funds, then they would be able to pay for their expenses plus whatever the surplus was. But what happens if they lose the case and the funds are not sufficient for their expenses?
Suppose now that the plaintiffs do not succeed in getting a collective action lawsuit fund. Then they will have to go for a class action suit and opt-out lawsuit. This way they can get a higher settlement. However, in most of the cases, the plaintiffs do not succeed to opt out lawsuit and they end up being the victims of abusive lawsuits. Some plaintiffs may even end up losing their entire lawsuit because the defendant just uses the small claims court to harass them and to bully them into settling. If you are a plaintiff, you should know how to opt out of this lawsuit and how to avoid the vicious lawsuits and legal harassment.