In the past, residents of West Virginia who wished to file a class action suit, where multiple plaintiffs seek to sue an individual or business, may have found the path to litigation simpler than it recently became. JDSupra notes that West Virginia courts made changes to their class-action suit laws to tighten guidelines that those who wish to sue must meet before a lawsuit can proceed.
These new guidelines, created with the assistance of the federal government, are quite rigid, and prospective plaintiffs may want to understand what they are before attempting to proceed with any class action suit.
A multi-factor assessment
In the past, plaintiffs had the responsibility of following a civil law, known as Procedure 23. This rule included several qualifications, including:
- A large number of plaintiffs
- Shared features and interests common to the class
- Shared complaints from the class members
- Fair representation by the leader of the lawsuit
As such, the class had to meet these requirements, as well as any other guidelines set by the courts pertaining to individual cases, and prove that the class members’ complaints are predominant over the concerns of any individual.
A narrowing of guidelines
West Virginia’s new guidelines tighten the class action suit rules and reduce the presumption that the class bringing the lawsuit can meet them. The new test for such a lawsuit is now much more difficult for plaintiffs to pass, which could help reduce the number of suits West Virginia courts now hear.
Because the courts tend to view these cases with a much more conservative outlook, those bringing class-action suits can no longer assume their class will certify under the previous, looser guidelines.