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n. in legal (not sociological) terms, all those persons in the same category, level of rights (e.g. heirs of dead person who are related by the same degree), or who have suffered from the same incident. Whether a person is part of a class is often crucial in determining who can sue on behalf of the people who have been similarly damaged or collect his/her share if a class action judgment is given. (See: class action)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

CLASS. The order according to which are arranged or distributed, or are supposed to be arranged or distributed, divers persons or things; thus we say, a class of legatees.
     2. When a legacy is given to a class of individuals, all who answer the description at the time the will takes effect, are entitled; and though the expression be in the plural, yet if there be but one, he shall take the whole. 3 M'Cord, Ch. R. 440.
     3. When a bond is given to a class of persons, it is good, and all composing that class are entitled to sue upon it; but if the obligor be a member of such class, the bond is void, because a man cannot be obligor and obligee at the same time; as, if a bond be given to the justices of the county court, and at the time the obligor is himself one of said justices. 3 Dev. 284, 287,289; 4 Dev. 882.
     4. When a charge is made against a class of society, a profession, an order or body of men, and cannot possibly import a personal application to private injury, no action lies; but if any one of the class have sustained special damages in consequence of such charge, he may maintain an action. 17 Wend. 52, 23, 186. See 12 John. 475. When the charge is against one of a class, without designating which, no action lies; as, where three persons had been examined as witnesses, and the defendant said in addressing himself to them, "one of you three is perjured." 1 Roll. Ab. 81; Cro. Jac. 107; 16 Pick. 132.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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