Most personal injury actions involve an injury to one person or a small group of people. However, occasionally, a single personal injury action will involve a large number of injured persons. When a large number of people are injured, the plaintiffs may be able to bring a lawsuit called a “class action”. There are multiple prerequisites to brining a class action in Arizona. This blog post examines the requirement regarding the number of people, or the “Numerosity” requirement.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines “Class Action” as “A legal action involving a large group or class of people. Without having every member of the class join the action, a few individuals initiate a court case becoming representatives of the group.” In Arizona, Rule 23 of the Rules of Civil Procedure governs class actions. Specifically, Rule 23 establishes the following pre-requisites:
- (1) The class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable
- (2) There are questions of law or fact common to the class; and
- (3) The claims or defenses of the representatives are typical of the claims or defenses of the class.
[Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 23]
The Numerosity requirement isn’t governed by a specific bright line rule. (Ferrara v. 21st Century North America Insurance Company (2018) 245 Ariz. 377 (“Ferrara”). Put another way, there is no exact threshold requirement. However, Ferrara does offer some guidance. (Id.) For example, if less than 21 persons suffer an injury, the action will generally not meet the Numerosity requirement. Alternatively, if more than 40 people have been injured, the number will usually meet the numerosity requirement. (Id.)
For example, imagine chemical spill requiring the evacuation of a neighborhood of 200 people. In this situation, because 200 people were impacted, there is a good chance the Court would find the Numerosity requirement fulfilled. Alternatively, imagine there was a defective product that injured 15 people. Based on Ferrara, it is likely the Court would not find the Numerosity requirement fulfilled in this instance.
Numerosity is only one prerequisite. The others are “Typicality”, “Commonality” and “Adequacy”. We will examine each of these requirements in later blog posts.
The attorneys at Karnas Law have years of years of experience litigating class actions on behalf of clients. For example, Karnas Law won a multi-million dollar verdict on behalf of victims of a toxic chemical leak. If you and others have been injured arising from a single event or series of events, you may be able to pursue a class action lawsuit. Contact Karnas Law for your free consultation today.