California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

115. “Class Action” Defined (Plaintiff Class)

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115.“Class Action” Defined (Plaintiff Class)
A class action is a lawsuit that has been brought by one or more
plaintiffs on behalf of a larger group of people who have similar legal
claims. All of these people together are called a “class.” [Name of
plaintiff] brings this action as the class representative.
In a class action, the claims of many individuals can be resolved at the
same time instead of requiring each member to sue separately. Because
of the large number of claims that are at issue in this case, not everyone
in the class will testify. You may assume that the evidence at this [stage
of the] trial applies to all class members [except as I specifically tell you
otherwise]. All members of the class will be bound by the result of this
trial.
In this case, the class(es) consist(s) of the following:
[Describe each class, e.g.,
Original Homebuyers: All current homeowners in the Happy Valley
subdivision in Pleasantville, California, who purchased homes that were
constructed and marketed by [name of defendant]. (“Class of Original
Purchasers”)
Subsequent Homebuyers: All current homeowners in the Happy Valley
subdivisions in Pleasantville, California, who purchased homes that were
constructed and marketed by [name of defendant] from another homeowner.
(“Class of Later Purchasers”)].
New June 2011
Directions for Use
The first paragraph may be modified for use with a defendant class. If in the course
of the trial the court decertifies the class or one of the classes as to some or all
issues, a concluding instruction explaining the effect of the decertification should be
given.
In the second paragraph, if class evidence and individual evidence will be received
in separate stages of the trial, include the first bracketed language. If both class
evidence and individual evidence will be received together, include the second
bracketed language and specify the class evidence in a separate instruction.
Sources and Authority
• Right to Bring Class Action. Code of Civil Procedure section 382.
“Courts long have acknowledged the importance of class actions as a means to
prevent a failure of justice in our judicial system. ‘ “By establishing a technique
whereby the claims of many individuals can be resolved at the same time, the
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class suit both eliminates the possibility of repetitious litigation and provides
small claimants with a method of obtaining redress . . . .” ’ Generally, a class
suit is appropriate ‘when numerous parties suffer injury of insufficient size to
warrant individual action and when denial of class relief would result in unjust
advantage to the wrongdoer.’ ‘But because group action also has the potential to
create injustice, trial courts are required to ‘ “carefully weigh respective benefits
and burdens and to allow maintenance of the class action only where substantial
benefits accrue both to litigants and the courts.” ’ ” (Linder v. Thrifty Oil Co.
(2000) 23 Cal.4th 429, 434–435 [97 Cal.Rptr.2d 179, 2 P.3d 27], internal
citations omitted.)
• “The cases uniformly hold that a plaintiff seeking to maintain a class action
must be a member of the class he claims to represent.” (La Sala v. American
Sav. & Loan Assn. (1971) 5 Cal.3d 864, 875 [97 Cal.Rptr 849, 489 P.2d 1113].)
Secondary Sources
4 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Pleading, § 267 et seq.
Cabraser, California Class Actions and Coordinated Proceedings (2d ed.), Ch. 3,
California’s Class Action Statute, § 3.03 (Matthew Bender)
Deskbook on the Management of Complex Civil Litigation, Ch. 3, Specialized
Areas, § 3.70 et seq. (Matthew Bender)
12 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 120, Class Actions, §§ 120.11,
120.14 (Matthew Bender)
4 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 41, Class and Representative Actions,
§ 41.30 et seq. (Matthew Bender)
3 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Pretrial Civil Procedure, Ch. 33,
Class Actions, 33.04
PRETRIAL INSTRUCTIONS CACI No. 115
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