A class action lawsuit may seem intimidating and confusing because there are so many parties involved and because the legal procedures differ from traditional lawsuits. In many ways, however, a class action lawsuit is like any other legal proceeding. The following explains what can be expected in a class action lawsuit.
First, in order to initiate a class action lawsuit, a complaint must be filed in state or federal court, depending on the nature of the legal claims. In order to file a class action lawsuit in Illinois, one or more named plaintiffs files the complaint in the appropriate state or federal court against the defendant(s) on behalf of a proposed class, all of whom have suffered a common injury or damages.
Next, once the complaint is filed, the named plaintiff(s) must seek class certification by showing that the proposed class meets the following requirements: (i) The class is so large that individual suits are impractical; (ii) common legal or factual claims exist; (iii) the claims or defenses are typical of the plaintiffs or defendants; and (iv) the representative parties adequately protect the interests of the class.
If the court certifies the proposed class, the class action lawsuit will continue through the litigation process, with the parties engaging in discovery, pretrial motions, and potentially settlement negotiations – all of which can be time consuming and extend over the course of several months or years. Many times complex legal issues are involved so it is important to seek the advice of a knowledgeable class action lawyer like the Chicago class action law firm of Ankin Law Office, LLC.
After class certification, the judge presiding over the case will order that all potential plaintiffs be notified of the class action by mail, newspaper advertisements, or TV commercials, depending on the scope of the class. Individuals who meet the class definition are automatically included in the class and will be bound by the judgment unless they opt out of the lawsuit by the specified date. By becoming a member of the class, a person will relinquish his or her rights to pursue individual action against the defendant(s).
If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the class action dispute will be heard before a judge or jury. If a judge or jury determines that the defendant is liable, the appropriate damages will be assessed. Damage awards – whether a judgment or a settlement – in a class action lawsuit compensate the large group of plaintiffs with similar claims against the defendant. In most cases, if you have been named as part of the plaintiff class, your portion of the settlement or verdict will be mailed directly to you. If you do not receive your share of the damage award, you should immediately contact a class action lawyer.
Because class actions are complex legal matters, the legal representation of a skilled class action attorney is crucial. The Chicago class action attorneys at Ankin Law Offices, LLC have considerable experienced representing plaintiffs in class action lawsuits involving automobile defects, consumer product liability claims, unsafe pharmaceuticals, defective medical devices,employment disputes, and toxic tort matters.
Contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys to learn more about what to expect in a class action lawsuit.