Court reporting companies like Atkinson-Baker are essential in managing the sizable number of depositions and statements required to pursue class actions in the legal environment. These companies deliver flexible court reporting services that can help attorneys to manage the full range of depositions, statements, and evidence collection activities needed to achieve success in class actions and large-scale lawsuits, making them a valuable asset for legal professionals in obtaining settlements and awards for their clients.
Class suits, also known as representative actions, are cases in which a few plaintiffs stand in for a much larger group of affected individuals. The amount of money awarded in these cases can potentially amount to millions or billions of dollars and can represent a major financial loss on the part of the defendant or defendants. Product liability cases and large-scale disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are among the highest profile class actions and often attract significant attention from the press. To prove these cases in court, numerous depositions and sworn statements must typically be obtained from potential plaintiffs to demonstrate the degree of damages sustained by the average victim of the event or product.
Depositions and statements
Trained court reporters like those employed by Atkinson-Baker can travel to locations convenient for defendants and plaintiffs in class actions. This makes it easier for these individuals and businesses to provide evidence crucial to their cases.
The Deepwater Horizon class action
The explosion of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010, resulted in extensive damage to fishermen and small business owners along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. These injured parties experienced significant financial losses in the aftermath of the incident and sought compensation from BP, Halliburton Energy Services, Transocean, and other companies deemed to be responsible for the accident. The U.S. Department of Justice also filed a civil suit against BP and other companies involved in the drilling operations in the Gulf for violations of the Clean Water Act. On Sept. 4, 2014, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier found that BP was grossly negligent; this finding paved the way for private individuals and class action participants to recover punitive damages from the companies found responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Pursuing the case in court
While most class actions do not receive the attention given to the Deepwater Horizon case, the process is similar for all types of representative actions. To file a class action, four elements must be present:
- Commonality refers to the similarity of damages experienced by the individuals included in the same case. Cases with widely disparate types of damages sustained due to the same event may not be suited to resolution through class actions.
- Adequacy is achieved when the individuals chosen to represent the class are capable of doing so effectively.
- Numerosity is required to ensure that a sufficient number of potential plaintiffs exist to justify class action status.
- Typicality is ensured by choosing the most representative cases to stand in for the other plaintiffs in a class action.
These four requirements must be met to file a class action and provide useful guidelines for attorneys in determining whether a particular case can be managed in this way.
The role of the court reporter in assisting legal firms with class actions is a vital one. The court reporting services provided by Atkinson-Baker are designed specifically to provide optimal flexibility and maximum accuracy for depositions.