A class action is a lawsuit where people join together in a single lawsuit because they have similar or the same injuries caused by actions or a product of a defendant. Normally it is started by one or a couple of representatives who recognize they have been harmed, and they bring a lawsuit not just on behalf of themselves, but on behalf of everybody else who they believe were treated similarly or the same.
Not all group injuries are class actions. For example, let’s say we have a group of people who are injured in a bus accident. Everybody’s hurt but it wouldn’t normally be a class action.
One of the requirements of a class action under both the Federal and State rules ofprocedure is that there needs to be numerosity. Generally, what the case law says is that it is anything in excess of forty. There have been class actions as small as 16, but that is rare. In the example of a bus rollover, the court may not find that numerosity of individuals because the individuals can file their own lawsuit against the bus company.
Basically, the courts are looking for economies of scale. The courts are thinking that if there is liability and you can decide it for one person, why do it over and over again?