Ask The County Law Librarian – What is a Class Action?

Q. I have received an email regarding a Class Action Settlement against a company I have done business with. It give dates to "Opt Out and Objection Deadlines" plus a Final Approval Hearing Date.

What is a Class Action and is this email legit?

Darryl H.

A. In a class action lawsuit, one or more people called “Class Representatives” sue on behalf of people whom they allege have similar claims. The people together are a “Class” or “Class Members.”

In a class action, one court decides the result of the lawsuit for everyone in the Class. The court in this case has made a preliminary determination that, for settlement purposes only, this case can proceed as class action.

Plaintiffs have made claims against the Defendants. The Defendants deny that they have done anything wrong or illegal and admit no liability. The Court has not made any determination regarding the Class Representatives’ claims, and by requiring this Notice, the Court expresses no opinion regarding liability. Plaintiffs and Defendants met with a mediator and have agreed to the Settlement in order to avoid the costs and risks of a trial and appeal.

Unless you affirmatively choose not to participate in the Settlement (which is called “excluding yourself” or “opting out”), you are part of the class. By staying part of the class, court orders will apply to you, and you will give the Defendant a “release.” A release means that you cannot sue or be part of any other lawsuit against the Defendant about the claims or issues raised in this litigation ever again.

It is up to the Court to decide how much Class Counsel and the Class Representatives will receive. This request will be made to the Court as part of the final approval process. A copy of Class Counsel’s motion for attorneys’ fees, costs, and incentive award will be posted on the Settlement website. All attorney’s fees and costs and incentive awards will be paid from the Settlement Fund.

One source of  legal news to see if your email is "legit" is a website that lists many Class Actions and Class Action Settlements providing some basic information as to nature of the lawsuit: http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/

Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email sacpress@saclaw.org. If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.

Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian
www.saclaw.org
 

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August 3, 2012 | 4:23 PM

If you have truly been harmed, and have a solid case, so it could be best to opt out of a class action, and pursue the matter as an individual. Most class actions never see the court room, but are resolved, with the lawyers of the class getting the single largest portion of the settlement. It’s a booming business, waging class actions against businesses of all sizes.

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