1. A lawsuit in which the court authorizes a single person or a small group of people to represent the interests of a larger group; specifically a lawsuit in which the convenience cit lL‘l’ of the public or of the interested parties requires that the case be settled through litigation lay or against only a part of the group of similarly Situated persons and in which person whose interests are or may he affected does not have an opportunity to protect his or her interests by appearing personally or through a personally selected representative, or through a person specially appointed to act as a trustee or guardian. * Federal procedure has several prerequisites for maintaining a class action:
(1) the class must be so large that individual suits would be impracticable,
(2) there must be legal or factual questions common to the class,
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties must be typical of those of the class, and
(4) the representative parties must adequately protect the interests of the class. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23. -Also termed class suit; representative action.” 
Excerpt from Montgomery Ward & Co. v. Langer (1948):
“The class action was an invention of equity . . . mothered by the practical necessity of providing a procedural device so that mere numbers would not disable large groups of individuals, united in interest, from enforcing their equitable rights nor grant them immunity from their equitable wrongs. . . . By rule 23 the Supreme Court has extended the use of the class action device to the entire field of federal civil litigation by making it applicable to all civil actions.” 
Types of Class Actions:
hybrid class action – (1937) Hist. A type of action in which the rights to be enforced were several and varied, but the object was to adjudicate claims that affected or might have affected the specific property in the action.
Mandatory Class Action – a class action in which the court does not allow class members to opt out.
spurious class action – (1937) Hist. A former category of class action in which the interests of class members are several, not interdependent, and joinder is allowed to avoid multiplicity of suits.
class-action waiver – (2000) A contractual provision by which a party explicitly forgoes the right to take part 1n a class action.
class arbitration – (1977) An arbitration conducted on a representative basis similar to that of a class action in court, with a single person or small group of people representing the interests of a larger group. — aka classwide arbitration.
Class actions are governed under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6
: Montgomery Ward & Co. v. Langer, 168 F.2d 182, 187 (8th Cir. 1948)
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