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In a previous legal guide, we explained the why class actions matter and the important part they play in the legal system. We further emphasized that the goal of a class action lawsuit is to seek fair compensation for the loss of the people who have been wronged and make sure that the company responsible for the bad behavior is held accountable for its actions. In response, we received quite a few questions of class action cases, particularly with respect the class action procedure.
Read on for authoritative answers to some frequently asked questions about class action litigation.
What Is a Class Action?
A civil lawsuit brought by a person or a few people on behalf of a larger group, or class of people, who it is alleged suffered injuries common with the plaintiff. The larger group is referred to as the class, while the plaintiff who brough the suit if referred to as the lead plaintiff or class representative.
How Many People Does It Take to Have a Class Action?
While there is no set number, and classes have been certified with fewer, the general consensus is that forty members will suffice to meet the numerosity requirement.
How Long Does a Class Action Take?
Every case is different depending of the facts and some class actions may settle in a few months, while others may linger on in the federal court system for years or even decades. However, as a general rule it usually takes between two and three years.
Do I Have to Participate in a Class Action?
No. If the case is certified as a class action, a court ordered notice will be send to all class members. You can do nothing and stay in the case or you can opt-out and no further be a part of the class action. You can opt-out and do nothing, or if you have large enough losses to justify it, bring an individual action against the defendant. Also, if you opt-opt you will not participate in any settlement or receive any money as a result of a settlement of the class action.
What Is a "Putative" Class Action?
We want to ensure that our clients are well informed on their legal rights. Therefore, we offer free consultations to our clients and potential clients.
What is the Class Action Fairness Act?
The Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) became a law when signed by President George W. Bush on February 18, 2005.
Under CAFA, federal courts now have exclusive jurisdiction in all class actions where the amount in controversy exceeds five million dollars. Under CAFA, if a class action is filed in state court and the total damages will likely exceed five million dolllars, the defendant has the right to ask that the case be transferred to federal court.
What is a common fund?
A common fund is a pool of money created to compensate class members. It may be established through settlement, judgement or court order. Class members are usually required to file claims in writing to receive their portion of the common fund.
What Is the Difference in a Class Action and a Mass Tort?
The primary difference is that a mass tort is filed only on behalf of a single individual, while a class action is filed on behalf and could affect thousands of people.
Are There Any States That Do Not Allow Class Actions?
Yes, one. Virginia has a ban on all class actions. Virginia residents have no choice but to file a class action in federal court.
Can You Dismiss a Class Action at Any Time?
A case that has been certified as a class or proposed to be certified for settlement purposes may not be voluntarily dismissed without court order. A case yet to be certified may, with a couple exceptions, be voluntarily dismissed.
What Is a Representative Plaintiff?
A class action may also be referred to as a representative action. A representative plaintiff is just another term for lead plaintiff or the named plaintiff.
What Are Sub-Classes?
When appropriate, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow for the creation of sub-classes. Sub-classes may be appropriate when certain members of the class want different kinds of relief, such as damages for one group or injunctive for another group. Sub-classes can also be created to deal with state laws that apply substantially different requirements to different groups of class members.
How do I Submit a Claim?
Class action settlements that offer compensation usually require Class Members to submit Claim Forms. Claim Forms are normally mailed directly to Class Members but in some cases Class Members must contact the Settlement Administrator to get a Claim Form or file a claim on a settlement website.
What Do I Do if I Receive a Class Action Notice?
The first thing to do if you receive a class action notice is to read the notice very carefully. Notices are sent at various times in a class action lawsuit. The first notice is sent at the time the lawsuit is certified as a class action. In most cases you will be automatically included in the class if you fit within the description of the class and if you do nothing when you receive the notice. You have essentially 3 possible options when you receive a class action notice: (1) Participate as a class member; (2) Not participate in the lawsuit at all (Opt out); or (3) Participate as a named plaintiff in the lawsuit.
How Do I Opt-Out?
If you do not want to participate in the lawsuit as a member of a class, you will need to opt out of the class. The notice you receive will explain how to do that. There will also be a cut-off date, and you must send your notice to opt out of the class by the date specified or you will be included in the class and lose any rights to file a lawsuit on your own. However, timely opting out means that you can sue the defendant on your own, instead of being part of a class, something you may want to discuss with an attorney. In deciding whether to opt out and pursue the defendant on your own, there are many factors to consider, like the potential cost of litigation and whether your damages are different than the rest of the class.
How Do I Get Paid in a Class Action Settlement?
Participating Class Members who submit valid and timely Claim Forms as described in the All Notice of Class Action Settlement are entitled to receive settlement payments. If you return the Claim Form, but it is defective, you will be mailed a cure letter by the Claims Administrator within a certain time.
What Are the Requirements for a Class Action Notice?
Class action notice is required to be given to all persons who would be affected by the court’s decision. Although it usually is not possible to give every such individual personal notice, all persons who might be affected are entitled to the best notice possible.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Class Representative?
Class representatives represent the interests of all class members who have been affected by the conduct challenged in a lawsuit. They owe a fiduciary duty to the class and cannot put their own interests ahead of those of the other class members.
Will I incur any costs if I Join a Class Action?
No. The lead plaintiff in a class action might incur some out-of-pocket expenses, although these are typically reimbursed. Class members, however, incur no costs. At most, they sacrifice a small portion of their award to finance the attorneys that helped them win the case.
What is a Contingency Fee Agreement?
In a contingent fee arrangement, a lawyer receives a percentage of the monetary amount he obtains for his client in a settlement or judgment. In other words, with a contingency fee agreement, the lawyer only receives compensation if he successfully represents his client and obtains a judgment or settlement. The client is not responsible for any attorney's fees, and if the attorney loses the case, he receives no compensation.
If you need an experience class action lawyer, contact Timothy L Miles today. Mr. Miles has extensive litigation experience in class actions and mass torts, and since 2014 has maintained av AV Rating by Martidale-Hubble in Class Actions, Securities Law and Litigation. Mr. Miles was recognized as one of the top plaintiff’s attorneys in the country by The Top 100 Magazine (2022), as well as a Top Ranked Lawyer; Top Rated Litigator; and an Elite Lawyer of the South while maintaining exclusive membership in the Top 100 Civil Trial Lawyers.
For answers to more frequently asked questions on other legal topics, please visit our Resources Center. We are here to help 24/7 just complete the form for a free case evaluation.
Timothy L, Miles, Eeq.
Timothy L. Miles is a nationally recognized shareholder rights attorney raised in Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Miles was recentely selected by Martindale-Hubbell® and ALM as a 2022 Top Ranked Lawyer, 2022 Top Rated Litigator. and a 2022 Elite Lawyer of the South. Mr. Miles also maintains the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbell®, their highest rating for both legal ability and ethics. Mr. Miles is a member of the prestigious Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Trial Lawyers: The National Trial Lawyers Association, a superb rated attorney by Avvo, a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by Premier Lawyers of America (2019) and recognized as a Distinguished Lawyer, Recognizing Excellence in Securities Law, by Lawyers of Distinction (2019). Mr. Miles has published over sixty articles on various issues of the law, including class actions, whistleblower cases, products liability, and more.
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Timothy L. Miles
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