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In federal courts, plaintiffs can sue in class actions as representatives of numerous unnamed similar victims, or in collective actions as one of numerous named similar victims joined together. In Virginia state courts, six or more similar plaintiffs can sue in multi-claimant actions akin to federal collective actions.
The key unifying factor in all such class action variants is that all plaintiffs be similarly situated with one another – have suffered similar injuries from similar misconduct under similar circumstances. Their situations need not be identical, just substantially similar.
So-called “mass torts” – big single or multiple serial incidents in which numerous persons are injured – are suited to class action variants. Examples are prescription drug recalls, mass transit crashes, and major facility catastrophes.
Common misconduct that results in primarily and even purely economic injuries may be suited for class actions variants too. Examples include widespread improper employment, credit and other sales practices of an entity.
Successfully maintaining such a class action variant requires knowledge of the substantive law underlying the claims and of the manifold procedural requirements of the various class action vehicles. Significantly, they also require special drafting, organizational, and negotiation skills.
During 2005-2008, Mr. Waterman litigated to conclusion two independent collective actions in federal courts in Newport News and Norfolk, one for more than 100 plaintiffs. In 2009, he settled a multi-party suit for 8 plaintiffs in state court in Hampton.