5 Tips for Understanding Class Actions
1. Class Actions Help Address Common
A notice in the mail is usually how we learn that we might
be connected to a class action. The notice might say that a
claim has been made on our behalf, or that we can receive
some benefit by mailing back a form. So, what is it all
about, this "class action" thing and is it a good thing or a
2. Class Actions are a Unique Class of Case.
In simplest terms, class actions
are a way for groups of people with common problems to seek
a common solution. Class actions typically seek to solve
simple questions that impact large number of people.
So, that notice that comes in the mail is
worth reading, because it means that someone is trying to
determine if you have been harmed by a third party and, if
so, how you might have been damaged.
3. Understanding Class Action Procedure is
Class actions can be brought in either state of federal
court. Though state courts remain an important forum for
class action litigation, recent federal legislation has
tended to make Class actions more of a federal area than
Class actions start with the filing of a
complaint. Generally, the complaint will have specifics
about what it is that the class actions seek to address and
what kind of remedies the plaintiff class is looking for.
The class plaintiffs named in the complaint seek to be
representatives for the entire class.
4. Resources for researching Class Actions.
When you get a class action notice in the mail, it will
always contain certain types of information. Most
importantly, the notice will include the names of the
lawyers of both sides of the case. If you have questions,
simply pick up the phone and call or, if available, use the
Internet to find the informational website that is often set
up to give class members the lastest scope on what is
happening with the case.
The notice will also tell you where the case
is being litigated and include the case name and docket
number. With this information and a web browser, you can
often log onto the court's website and get detailed
information about when the complaint was filed, what has
happened in the case and any critical dates you should know
5. Deciding whether to respond.
In the not so distant past, class actions might settle for a
small discount or non-cash benefit to the class members,
known as a "coupon settlement," along with a fee for the
attorneys. These coupon settlements have been criticized as
not providing a real benefit to the class members.
The law has changed so the judges are now
supposed to look hard at settlements to make sure the class
is receiving something of substance where there is a
legitimate legal claim. So read the notice closely. You may
be pleasantly surprised that the legal system is working for
you, just as it should.
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A Class Action Primer
Class action basics explained. Understanding class
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A Class Act
Class actions and complex litigation force you to be
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things can get
out of hand
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