Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Class Representative?

What is a Class Representative?

In order for a lawsuit to proceed as a class action, it must have a class representative—also sometimes called a named plaintiff. A class representative is the legal representative of the class. With the assistance of class counsel, they prosecute the class action on behalf of themselves and the other class members. A class representative has authority to accept or reject a settlement offer.

Who Can be a Class Representative?

A class representative must be “typical” of class members. That means the class representative must have suffered the same injury as other class members. For example, if numerous consumers purchased or leased an automobile with a particular defect, the class representative must have also purchased or leased that automobile and experienced the same defect.

How to Become a Class Representative

A class representative is usually an individual who wants to remedy a wrong and is willing to do so not only for themselves, but also for others affected by the same problem. Typically, they will contact attorneys and enter into an agreement to proceed with a lawsuit. The attorneys will then file the lawsuit on behalf of the individual and all others who are “similarly situated.” Although a lawsuit may be filed with a putative class representative, that individual will not actually represent the class until the Court appoints them to be the class representative, which typically takes place at the class certification stage.

Duties of the Class Representative

The class representative is a figurehead for the class action and is involved throughout the lawsuit. At the initial investigation period, a class representative will typically collect documents relevant to the lawsuit, such as an automobile purchase agreement, estimates or receipts for repairs, and copies of any correspondence the individual may have had with the defendant.

Ultimately, the class representative will sign a client agreement with class counsel that authorizes the class attorneys to litigate the case. Once the agreement is in place, class counsel will then draft a complaint based on the class representative’s experience and alleged damages. The class attorneys will then prosecute the class action with the goal of obtaining a settlement or favorable decision for the class.

Class action attorneys should keep the class representative informed about major developments in the case. The class representative, in turn, should have a basic understanding of what the lawsuit is about and be available to provide information to class counsel when necessary. For example, a class representative may need to respond to discovery requests, attend depositions, provide further information about their defective vehicle, and participate in settlement discussions.