FAQ: How a Class Action Can Hold the Bad Actors Accountable
FeganScott is built on the notion that everyone deserves the opportunity to have their voice heard. One of our most powerful tools in speaking up against injustices to hold the powerful accountable can be class action litigation. We know that the decision to become a part of (or lead) a class action can feel unfamiliar, so we compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help guide you through the process.
What is a class action?
A class action lawsuit occurs when an organization or person has wronged multiple people (or entities) through a pattern or course of conduct. Examples of this include corporate corruption, financial malfeasance, product failures, false advertising, medical negligence, and other conduct. Usually, this process begins with one person connecting with a law firm to investigate an issue where they were personally wronged. The person who files the lawsuit is often known as the lead plaintiff.
If the lawyer or plaintiff believes that the initial allegations may point to a larger issue where multiple people have been wronged, the law firm will file a proposed class action lawsuit. The Court is ultimately responsible for determining whether the case may proceed as a class action.
All those who are similarly situated are called class members. While the lead plaintiff or class representative is frequently the one who first filed the lawsuit, class actions typically include multiple people who serve as class representatives (some may join after the initial filing) and act as fiduciaries for the class.
“Eligible” class members are those that share certain characteristics – like driving the same make and model of a car with a defect or working as employees under the same boss accused of sexual harassment.
What does a class representative do?
The class representative has a special role in the class action suit. While class members are not required to show up in court (or do anything until the claims process begins), the class representative works closely with the lead attorneys to respond to discovery and ensure that the class’s interests are being represented zealously.
Do class members receive money if there is a settlement?
Typically. Once a settlement has been reached and a common fund representing the class’ losses has been created, all members of the class including the class representative, will be eligible to receive their share of the common fund. Sometimes, courts will award the class representatives a small, additional amount, to compensate them for their time in prosecuting the class action.
Do class representatives have to pay any fees from their individual awards?
No. In the event that the class action resolves successfully for the class, the lawyers will request that the court award them their fees and costs from the common fund, or alternatively, the defendants will pay the fees and costs.
How can I join a class action?
If you have a potential case, you can contact us here. Or, if our firm is prosecuting a class action that has affected you, you can ask that we save your information as a class member to participate in any distribution in the event of a successful resolution. Sometimes, you may receive notice in the mail or via social media. If a particular practice or product has affected you, be sure to follow the instructions in the notice to participate.
Okay, I submitted my contact info to an attorney. What happens next?
Once you’ve shared your contact information, we will be in touch with you. If the class action is already prosecuting claims on behalf of a class in which you are a member, we will keep you updated throughout the litigation process, and let you know if there is a verdict or settlement.
Why should I join a class action?
There are many reasons why someone may choose to join a class action, and ultimately it is your decision whether to get involved with any given lawsuit. Our mission at FeganScott centers solely on pursuing justice for our clients. If you feel that you have been wronged and want insight into possible legal options, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a complimentary, no-obligation phone call by filling out a contact form on our site or by giving us a call at 844-399-5171.