It is possible for a group of people or a community of individuals to file a lawsuit together against a single party. This kind of lawsuit is called a class action lawsuit and is usually filed against a corporation or company whose methods, processes, or products have damaged or injured a whole group or community. This collective lawsuit is more commonly done in the United States as it originated within this state.
When an individual becomes part of a class action lawsuit, he or she forfeits the right to file a claim against the same party as an individual. This is done through the signing of legal documents that affiliates the individual with the collective that is pursuing litigation. When a class lawsuit is successful, the plaintiffs or those who are members of the collective are entitled to damages as awarded by the judge. However, not every member is entitled to the same amount of damages. The damages awarded are commensurate to the injury or damage suffered by each individual member of the collective.
Damages awarded due to a class action lawsuit are categorized as punitive and compensatory damages. The former is a type of punishment that the defendant in the lawsuit must pay due to the harm caused by him or her. Such damages can be the great, especially if it has been proven that the defendant has greatly harmed the plaintiffs. The latter type of damages addresses the individual harm each member suffered. Thus, compensatory damages differ among members of the collective.