There are a number of questions that arise with regards to how class actions work. This article will discuss a number of frequently asked questions with regards to class actions and the appropriate answers provided by the Crowson Law Group.
Q. How do I know if a settlement is unfair or the representation improper? Most cases in which courts find a problem with the class action settlement or with the class representation is unique but usually share one or more common traits. Some of these traits include the following:
1.Coupon settlements - this is whereby manufacturers and other defendants opt to settle transactions by offering coupons to class members in lieu of paying money damages. In the meantime class action attorneys get real money for their services not coupons. As a result coupon settlements are closely examined by the courts and then examined on the fairness of the corresponding attorney’s fee agreement.
2.Intangible benefits - if class members suffered clear financial losses as a result of the defendant’s product or conduct, any settlement that is offered for something other than money will be closely scrutinized. Such intangible benefits will be assessed and valued appropriately by the court “and then weighed against the propriety of the class action lawyer’s fees.”
3.Broad releases of unrelated conduct - in the event that a class action claims that the defendant was engaged in very specific illegal action and the settlement agreement contains a clause of release by which members give up their rights to bring any future legal action with regards to every other conceivable action taken by the defendant this is likely to raise alarms.
4.Insufficient investigation of the case - some class actions may settle very quickly especially if the defendant is motivated to limit liability. However, by doing so this first settlement offer might discourage the class attorneys from fully investigating the defendant’s liability which will result in harm to the class.
5.Clear sailing agreements - according to the Indiana University Maurer School of Law [https://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/facpub/343/], “a clear sailing agreement is a compromise in which a class action defendant agrees not to contest the class lawyer’s petition for attorney’s fees.” This is if the settlement appears too large on its face and the defendant has agreed not to object to it, plaintiffs or some class members may enquire into the reasonableness of the corresponding lawyer’s fees.
Q. What kinds of relief are possible in a class action? The attorney from the Crowson Law Group stated that “the same kinds of relief that are available to the plaintiff in an individual civil lawsuit are basically the ones that are on the table in most class action lawsuits. Most class action lawsuits seek some form of financial relief which is an award of monetary damages to each class member. These are known as ‘common fund’ cases. In other cases where the potential claims are too numerous or too large for the defendant to pay in full, the class action seeks relief by obtaining the largest possible payment and this payment is to be split fairly among the class, such an action is referred to as a ‘limited fund’ class action.”
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