Questions and Answers about Class Actions

What is a class action?

A class action is a type of lawsuit in which one or several persons sue on behalf of a larger group of similarly-situated persons.

What is a class representative?

Class representatives are plaintiffs named in the lawsuit who assert the claims of the entire class so that everyone with the same claim or injury does not have to file his or her own separate lawsuit.

What are the duties of class representative?

A plaintiff must meet certain basic requirements in order to be certified by the court as a class representative. The representative’s situation must be typical of the situation in which other class members find themselves and the representative must be generally familiar with the litigation. A class representative must cooperate in the preparation of the case, and be present on reasonable notice for any necessary appearances. In addition, a class representative may be asked to produce documents and/or give deposition testimony throughout the litigation process.

Are class representatives entitled to additional compensation?

If a class action is successful in winning relief for the class, some courts will provide class representatives with “service awards.” Judges are typically given broad discretion in deciding whether these awards are appropriate and in setting the amounts of the awards. In deciding how much, if anything, to award to the class representatives, courts look at factors such as the amount of involvement of the class representative and the size of the recovery for the class. The duties of class representatives may require an effort deserving of a service premium in addition to any recovery the representative may obtain by virtue of his or her membership in the class. Therefore, the attorneys may attempt to recover an appropriate amount for the class representative’s service, but make no promise or guaranty that the attorneys will seek a service award or that the Court will award any service premium.

What are the costs to me?

Most class action law firms work on a contingency-fee basis. This means that, to the extent provided by law, you do not pay any costs or expenses of litigation upfront, and lawyers do not collect any fees from you unless the firms working on the case obtain a recovery on your behalf.

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