The Class Action Lawsuit Process
How a Case Moves from a Complaint to an Approved Settlement
A class action lawsuit can protect consumers who were wronged in similar manners by the same company. The cases typically handle small-scale losses shared by a significant number of customers. Though the process can be time-consuming, it offers relief to effected individuals while also promising corrective actions on behalf of the defendant to avoid similar problems in the future.
Evaluating and Investigating the Complaint
Class action lawsuits start with an individual and their personal complaint. Our lawyers will investigate the prevalence of the complaint among other consumers. We will discover:
- If a lawsuit alleging the same claims was already filed
- If multiple people have been injured or dissatisfied in comparable ways
- If there is any statute of limitations that could bar a lawsuit filing
- If the company or person who the complaint is being raised against is protected by a bankruptcy filing
- How similar cases were ruled and settled in the past
After a careful study of your specific case and the precedents set by other lawsuits, our attorneys will help you determine if you should pursue a class action suit or opt for an individual complaint.
Filing the Lawsuit
Once we determine that a class action can be filed, we will draft a formal complaint and submit it to the court. This document outlines the class covered by the lawsuit, the facts of the case, and the compensation being sought.
A case is considered to be a “putative class action” until a judge confirms its qualification as a proper class action lawsuit. To be granted this certification, the judge must find that the prevalence of the issue is significant enough to represent a considerable number of consumers, thus lessening the likelihood of multiple personal claims for the same issue.
Both parties’ attorneys will compile relevant evidence to support their cases. The defendant’s attorneys may question the lead plaintiff on their specific complaint, while the plaintiff’s attorneys could request company documents related to the focus of the lawsuit.
Cases that do not settle are tried before a jury. The parties may still negotiate a settlement during the trial period. However, if a settlement cannot be reached, the jury is tasked with deciding on the outcome.
Cases vary in the time they take to reach settlement conversations. Typically, the length between filing a class action lawsuit and the start of settlement talks is influenced by:
- Litigation costs
- The plaintiff’s case and the defendant’s ability to fight it
- Potential publicity a trial would bring
Settlements may precede official class certification. In the event that it does happen before a judge certifies the case as a class action, the parties will work together to reach an agreement regarding what constitutes the settlement class.
Compensation falls under the umbrella of settlement talks. At this stage, the plaintiff will fight for fair repayment to reconcile the issue they, and others in the class, endured.
In addition to offering this reimbursement to right past errors, the parties will settle on actions for the defendant to take to prevent similar subsequent issues. This injunction could require the defendant to stop, or start, doing something to directly address their offense and protect consumers.
Preliminary Court Approval
Once a solution has been reached between the parties, it will be presented to the judge handling the case. So long as it is fair to all those involved and shows no signs of collusion, it will typically achieve preliminary approval.
In order to reach as many effected consumers as possible, a class notice is publicized. A website will be created to facilitate claim filing so individuals may redeem their due compensation.
Those who have been impacted by the case have a few options to take action. Class members may elect to:
- Do nothing: The individual relinquishes the right to receive compensation or sue the company for the issues outlined in this case at a later time.
- Submit a claim: Individuals are usually asked to submit their personal information and details surrounding their own negative experience. Though a common requirement, claims are not always required to receive compensation in a case.
- Exclude yourself: By excluding yourself from the settlement, you surrender the right to any compensation. However, by specifically excluding yourself, rather than doing nothing, you may retain the right to submit your own personal claim against the defendant regarding the same complaints.
- Object: Class members who find the settlement unfair could file an objection with the court. These objections are reviewed and considered by the judge ruling on the case.
The final approval stage allows a judge to review the class members’ responses to the case. They will evaluate the extent of class participation and consider the objections and the number of those who excluded themselves. If they still believe that the settlement is fair and reasonable, then the settlement will be approved. After this final approval is granted, checks will be distributed to class members.
Attorneys Ready to Lead You Through the Process
Class action lawsuits are time-intensive cases. Recruit legal help from a team who is ready to be by your side throughout the entire process.
Whether you are seeking justice for yourself and others in your position or defending your business against allegations, our lawyers can help you navigate a class action lawsuit. Trust Scaringi Law with your case today. Contact us online or call us at (717) 775-7195 to get started.