Class Action Lawyers: Guide To Open Investigations
Settlements and Active Mass Tort Litigation

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    Class Action Lawsuit List & Settlements Information

    Last updated 2015-6-22.
    Name Status Settlement Details

     

    Class actions are lawsuits that are filed on behalf of a large group of affected plaintiffs. Beyond that, though, the specifics of a class action suit are often misunderstood. Class actions can be complicated, both legally and financially, and most Americans don't need to deal with the process, until they need to pursue a claim. With class action litigation garnering more media attention than ever before, however, understanding the process behind these group suits is important to understanding how legal news affects you and your family, and when a potential settlement may be waiting for you to claim.

    What Is A Class Action?

    A class action brings a number of plaintiffs together under a single lawsuit, trying them in a single trial at the same time. Class actions in the U.S. may be heard in state or federal court, and could represent as few as two dozen plaintiffs or several thousand. Each plaintiff will receive the same amount of damages if the case is successful or if it is settled out of court (class actions are resolved collectively as opposed to mass tort).

    These suits benefit the affected consumers because they can share a class action lawyer, discovery materials and other costs. Class actions are good for the judiciary because they consolidate litigation that would otherwise overwhelm the courts and quickly become unmanageable.

    While many are filed at the state level, the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 changed the criteria, moving many of the most prominent cases to federal court. Since 2005, any class action where the claims have risen above $5 million, or where plaintiffs and defendants hailed from a number of different states, fall under federal jurisdiction. A judicial study found class action lawyers preferring to hear cases via the federal district court and has led to an increase in class action suits.

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    The Class Action Process: Understanding Rule 23

    While the legal system often seems complicated, one of the most misunderstood concepts is the process of class action lawsuit. A lawyer cannot simply collect the information from a number of clients affected by the same product defect, medication side effect, or other issue and sue a corporation their behalf.

    Instead, there is a strict procedure laid out by Rule 23 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. This rule outlines the step-by-step process judges and legal representatives must follow in order to conduct a civil action in federal court. Each state has its own version of these rules for procedures in state court, although each law is very similar to Rule 23.

    Duke law has written a very comprehensive paper on Class Action procedure if you are interested in learning more, it's available here. The following visual guide attempts to simplify the Rule 23 procedure below.

    rule 23 process for class actions

    A key component of class actions is that all of the the separate plaintiffs must be certified as a unified class. While there are a large number of suits filed as class action each year, the majority are dropped, withdrawn or not certified.

    In fact, only between 20 and 40 percent of cases filed as class actions are certified each year. For those interested how judges manage class action litigation, see the guide from the Federal Judicial Center here.

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    rule-23 class actions

    What Cases Qualify: How Many People Are Needed for a Class Action suit?

    There are a wide variety of class action litigations and mass tort filed each year with a number of active investigations at any given time. While there is no general number required to file a class action lawsuit, less than 20 is generally considered too few, while more than 50 individuals is usually enough affected participants to qualify.

    While personal injury suits stemming from vehicle accidents rarely have enough potential plaintiffs to qualify to form a class action, almost any other type of litigation can qualify if many people have been harmed and wish to sue an entity.

    Your class action lawyer team can seek damages due to:

    • Defective products with serious repercussions, including bodily injury or property damage
    • False advertising, and other manipulative business practices
    • Employer discrimination by a large corporation
    • Large corporations who fail to follow employment laws
    • Environmental disasters such as oil spills that affect homes and businesses
    • Prescription drugs with harmful side effects, often including death
    • Side effects to medications or treatments that were minimized in drug marketing
    • Defective medical products that cause dangerous complications
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    joining together to sue

    Joining Claims Together: Defining Scope of the Class

    The next step in the process is to legally define the class. In most cases, this is done concurrently with certification. The judge will determine the exact scope of the class, based on the facts of the case. A class is often defined by date, and sometimes by location. Essentially, it's determining the parameters of what attributes constitute inclusion, and what is excluded.

    If the class is defined as a group who underwent a specific procedure at a specific hospital between January 1 and December 31, 2013, someone who had the procedure at a nearby hospital not specified at that time would not qualify to add their claim. Similarly, someone who had the surgery (outside of the specified dates) at the hospital during 2011 would not be included. In some cases, the judge can also establish subclasses that may be awarded differing damages.

    Before proceeding, the judge may first choose to intercede in the case by appointing counsel if he or she does not feel the lawyer who filed the case has the experience necessary to proceed in the class action. Class action law firms with claimants still stand as counsel for their clients, they just may not be the attorney team going to trial.

    These proceedings are very different from individual litigation, so the judge is tasked with ensuring the plaintiffs are well-represented by a quality legal team.

    Finally, after the case is heard, there is the matter of damages. In many cases, class action suits are settled out of court. This happens in as many as 90 percent of class actions, according to some reports the Federal Judicial Center report.

    When a class action settlement is reached out of court, the judge is still responsible for ensuring all plaintiffs receive a fair compensation. This includes announcing damages as well as having the power of approving the settlement, and determining in what manner and how much the plaintiffs' attorneys will be paid.

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    opting out

    Class Action Notification & Opt-Out Rights

    Notification and opting out are unique to class actions, but are a very important part of the process and play a key role in how these suits work. Based on how broad the participating class may be, the judge will determine how all potential plaintiffs should be notified about the pending litigation.

    This is most commonly by mail, although media advertisements such as television commercials may be used. All affected parties are automatically included in the case as long as they fall under the scope of the class that has been defined.

    If an individual has experienced significantly more damage than most, or simply prefers to file a separate suit, he or she must follow specific protocol to opt out of the class action in order to file an individual lawsuit separate from the group litigation.

    Doing so prevents the individual from benefiting from the action, but preserves their right to file litigation in the future. Additionally, there is typically a time limit set on how long potential plaintiffs have to opt out, helping to keep the case on schedule.

    Only once the established time period has passed and all potential plaintiffs have had the opportunity to opt out can the case continue.

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    Mass Tort vs. Class Action vs. MDL

     

    class actions vs. mass tort litigation


    When a judge does not certify a group of plaintiffs as a class, this does not mean the cases cannot continue. While class action cannot proceed, individual suits over the same defective product or other issue can instead be grouped together into a mass tort claim.

    Unlike a class action, mass tort lawsuits do eventually proceed individually, though all of the pre-trial proceedings are consolidated either in state court or in a federal Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). To streamline the process of litigating similar claims are grouped together and undergo a consolidated trial though each plaintiff retains their own individual lawsuit which will be resolved individually.

    The individual claims of a mass tort are bundled together for pre-trial proceedings to save time and money.

    This is either done in state court by consolidating the cases or in federal court through Multidistrict Litigation. The difference in class action and mass tort becomes clear after the pre-trial proceedings, however.

    While a class action suit would continue as a single trial, each plaintiff in mass tort receives separate hearings. They are also awarded distinct damages, which can vary widely depending on the details of the individual case.

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    pros and cons of litigation

    Pros and Cons of Joining a Class Action

    There are both advantages and disadvantages to class action lawsuits. Class action litigation give plaintiffs access to high powered, experienced lawyers they may not otherwise been able to afford to represent their case.

    Among the nation's leading trial lawyers are assigned to take the lead in such cases.

    Additinoally, class action suits ensure all plaintiffs receive equal, appropriate restitution if the case is won. Finally, they save both money and time for the courts, the plaintiffs and the accused company alike.

    Cases are able to reach resolution faster than if each of possibly hundreds of thousands of plaintiffs and their lawyers were to file and proceed with individual lawsuits in an already busy court system.

    On the other hand, participating in a class action suit prevents an individual from filing a suit on their own later if they are not happy with the outcome of the initial suit.

    Luckily, those who have suffered exponentially more harm than others can opt out of joining the active class action case and retain their rights to file an individual lawsuit wth their lawyer later to seek higher damages.

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    law and gavel

    How To File a Class Action Lawsuit

    When several consumers join together to seek financial damages sustained, the group with the help of a class action law firm seek to file a claim and via active class action. While under investigation other affected parties may be sought out to join the lawsuit while the plaintiffs' attorneys seek any recovery pre-trial and in court.

    Speaking with a class action lawyer will be able to quickly determine whether filing a claim as a group or individually will better serve under the circumstances.

    For active class action lawsuits, the first step is to find out if qualify under determined scope of class to join an active suit. In plain english, you can file to join if you have been affected and fall within the qualification standards set. If you fall outside of the group specified for the represented class, you may still have recourse filing an individual lawsuit in pursuit of damages.

    What compensation for damages may I ask for in a class action lawsuit?

    Compensation for a class action lawsuit varies based on the details of the case (harm suffered, loss incurred, injuries, etc.). Rewarded compensation which can be sought includes damages for personal injury, litigation and attorney fees, damages for economic loss.

    Your class action attorney will be able to review the details of your case and inform you on what compensation options may be rewarded if your lawsuit is successful.

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    Have More Questions About Active Class Action Litigation or Mass Tort?

    If you have been harmed by a defective product or entity that is either being investigated or has an active class action or the subject of a mass tort litigation, share the details with our class action attorneys to learn your options.

    If you have a potential lawsuit which falls under an active class action investigation or mass tort, you can get answers to the questions you have about the case.

    Our mass tort lawyers will be able to advise you whether joining an active class action or retaining your right to file an individual lawsuit makes more sense for you. They will be able to answer your questions and help you determine if you may be entitled to a settlement. Don't be silenced, don't stand for the injustice, our lawyers will be able to hellp put justice back on your side.

    If you have suffered unfairly were harmed by a pharmaceutical or or unsafe medical device, it is likely a mass tort lawsuit. Harm caused by a consumer product or fraud is likely to be classified as a class action. Review the open investigations and settlements list at the top of the page, and when you are ready to seek more information, share the details of your case to have an attorney review your details discuss what compensation you may be entitled.

    Get your legal options, and help to claim settlement compensation which may be waiting for you today.

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