Ethics Representing Individuals When a Class Action Case

A class action lawsuit is one in which one or two plaintiffs represent a larger group of people who are suing for damages caused by a company, either monetary or physical damages.  There are many ethical issues that are to be considered in cases such as these.  There many ethical considerations that have to made in reference to such topics as the fees for the attorney and whether or not those fees are reasonable.  Other topics include the attorney’ssolicitation of services, and the attorney/witness rule.

The attorney/witness rule states that an attorney can not serve as a witness and an advocate in the same case.  This serves to protect the attorney from issues that may rise due to a conflict of interest, one created either for them or for their clients.  It also protects attorneys from having to cross examine other attorneys will the court cases are in session.  Attorneys can serve as witnesses, but only when their testimony does not have a bearing on their case.

It does not prohibit them from being witnesses, nor from acting as consultants to the witnesses.  The conflict of interest issue is the one which has caused the greatest concern, as the nature of a class action litigation is bringing varying interests into the case.  In these types of cases it has always been difficult to apply the rules that have existed.  This due in part to the confusion, to the fine line of the ways in which all parties involved must relate.

The counsel, the one or two plaintiffs who are representing the whole of the group, that many times is absent from the proceedings are involved in relationships that blur the lines of ethics.  Many steps have been taken to clear up the ethical issues.  In 2000, the Ethics Commission had proposed that the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct be amended to address these kinds of cases specifically.  And attorneys are looking for these issues to be resolved in the near future, for themselves and for the clients they represent.

This entry was posted on Monday, March 1st, 2010 at 2:21 pm and is filed under Legal. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

 

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