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Understanding commonality in class action lawsuits


Class action lawsuits can be a powerful tool for those who suffer an injury at the hands of a corporation or organization. They provide a means for many victims to band together and gain strength in their numbers, potentially increasing the chances of obtaining compensation and holding a corporation accountable.

Class certification

For any class action lawsuit to move forward, it must satisfy a number of requirements found in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. There must be a sufficient number of victims in the class, they must share common issues, the plaintiff’s claim must be typical of others within the class and the class members’ interests must be adequately protected.


The requirement of commonality is sometimes blended with other requirements but it is distinct. Where the requirement of typicality looks to the relationship between the class members themselves, commonality tests the nature of the class itself. It asks whether there are common issues of law or fact.

However, commonality does not require that all class members make identical claims and arguments. Rather, even a single common issue of law or fact among all class members may satisfy the requirement. For instance, if the answer to a single question of law or fact could determine the outcome for all class participants, commonality is likely satisfied and certification can move forward.

The laws surrounding class action lawsuits, and the certification process, can be very complex. If you think initiating or taking part in a class action suit may be to your benefit, speak to a knowledgeable professional so that you can make an informed decision.