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Prerequisites (FRCP 23(a))

A. Policy

Before certifying a class, the judge must determine that certain prerequisites have been met. The prerequisites for a class action mandate the principle that one cannot automatically file a class action unless there is a definable class with specific interests at issue in the controversy.

B. Elements

FRCP 23(a) requires that four conditions be satisfied before there is any possibility of a class action: Mnemonic: CAN’T

1. Commonality
The class must present common questions of law and fact.

2. Adequacy
The representatives must fairly and adequately represent the interests of the class.

3. Numerosity
The size of the class must be very large so that joinder is not possible (i.e., people are from different jurisdictions or cannot afford to join).

4. Typicality
The representatives must present claims and defenses typical of those of the class.

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