California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)
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
- Code of Civil Procedure section 382 provides in part: “[W]hen the question is one of a common or general interest, of many persons, or when the parties are numerous, and it is impracticable to bring them all before the court, one or more may sue or defend for the benefit of all.”
- “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 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].)
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