Articles Posted in Class Actions

Class action lawsuits can be very useful in that they allow a large group of people with similar legal disputes to bring their claims in a single lawsuit, thus reducing litigation costs and encouraging judicial economy.

In order to proceed as a class, the would-be class representative(s) must obtain the permission of the court. In South Carolina state courts, a plaintiff must proceed under South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure 23, which establishes the requirements for class certification.

According to Rule 23, a class action may proceed if the court finds that the class contains so many members that joinder would be impractical, there are common questions of law or fact, the plaintiff’s claims are representative, the plaintiff would fairly and adequately represent the class, and the amount in controversy is at least $100 per class member (unless injunctive or declaratory relief is sought).

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In a class action lawsuit, the plaintiff attempts to seek justice against the defendant not only on his or her own behalf, but also on behalf of those similarly situated. Of course, it is up to the trial court to determine whether to certify the plaintiff’s suit as a class action and, if it does so, to decide exactly who is entitled to be part of the class.

Class action suits are important because they allow a large group of individuals to share litigation expenses in a suit that might not be viable if each plaintiff had to pay his or her own attorney fees, court costs, and other expenses.

In the case of Chestnut v. AVX Corporation, the plaintiffs were landowners who sued the defendant, an electronics manufacturer in the North Myrtle Beach area, on claims of nuisance, negligence, and strict liability arising from the manufacturer’s use of a degreasing chemical known as trichloroethylene (TCE). The manufacturer’s use of TCE began in 1980. In 1996, the manufacturer admitted to state authorities that it had violated certain state environmental laws and agreed to implement a clean-up plan.

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