class actionA lawsuit in which the court authorizes a single person or a small group of people to represent the interests of a larger group; specif., a lawsuit in which the convenience either of the public or of the interested parties requires that the case be settled through litigation by or against only a part of the group of similarly situated persons and in which a person whose interests are or may be affected does not have an opportunity to protect his or her interests by appearing personally or through a personally selected representative, or through a person specially appointed to act as a trustee or guardian.
? Federal procedure has several prerequisites for maintaining a class action: (1) the class must be so large that individual suits would be impracticable, (2) there must be legal or factual questions common to the class, (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties must be typical of those of the class, and (4) the representative parties must adequately protect the interests of the class. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23.
¡ª Also termed class suit; representative action. [Cases: Federal Civil Procedure 161¨C189; Parties 35.1¨C35.89. C.J.S. Parties ¡ì¡ì 28¨C38, 40, 55.]