Class action lawsuits are a type of litigation approach where a group of people conjure up together to sue an individual or a company. A good example is the Tylenol autism class-action lawsuit where manufacturers are facing a product liability suit for failing to warn parents, doctors, and the public of the potential risk of using the drug when pregnant. Class-action lawsuits are designed to help individuals consolidate their claims into one case and receive compensation with limited litigation resources. Think of it this way, if a company sold you a defective product, it might be costly to prosecute the case as an individual to seek justice. However, when you fight the case as a team, you have a higher chance of winning and holding big companies like manufacturers accountable. Let’s delve in deeper and tell you everything you should know about filing a class-action lawsuit.
How a class-action lawsuit works
A class-action lawsuit starts when one of the members reaches out to an attorney. Once the lawyer confirms the validity of their claim, they will find ways to reach out to other people who are eligible to join the case. Fortunately, you are often not required to pay any money to join a class-action lawsuit. This is just one advantage. Here are some advantages of joining a class-action lawsuit:
- Saves time by consolidating numerous cases into one.
- Increases the efficiency of the court system.
- Reduces stress and anxiety among the class members.
- Prevents companies and individuals from getting away with their misdeeds.
- Ensures the individuals involved receive fair compensation.
Who is the lead plaintiff?
The lead plaintiff is the individual who files the lawsuit on behalf of the rest of the members. This individual should have zero histories of dishonesty or fraud. It would also help to select someone with no conflict of interest. The lead plaintiff is responsible for the following:
- Starting the class-action lawsuit
- Public representation of the interests of each member in the class-action lawsuit
- Finding and hiring an attorney
- Active involvement and devotion to the case
- Using their judgment to accept reasonable settlements
Do you need a lawyer for a class-action lawsuit?
You are responsible for finding and hiring a lawyer if you have been appointed as the lead plaintiff. You can also join an ongoing class-action lawsuit. Keep in mind that you should first assess your eligibility to join the suit. For instance, if you think your child developed ASD due to prenatal exposure to Tylenol, you could reach out to a lawyer to see if you qualify for Tylenol autism lawsuit. A lawyer will assess and tell you how much your potential Tylenol autism settlement might be worth and the solidity of your claim.
Class certification in class-action lawsuits
Before a case attains class-action status, it is referred to as putative class-action, meaning it is assumed to exist. The judge has to assess the case and confirm that all the requirements have been met before he issues a class certification. Once the judge awards a class certification to a putative class action, it can be referred to as an action-class lawsuit.
Division of money after a class-action lawsuit
Ideally, the proceeds after a class-action lawsuit is approved are divided among the lead plaintiff, class members and the lawyers who helped work on the case. It is not uncommon for the lead plaintiff to be awarded more money since they devoted more time and effort to the case. It would also help to remember that nobody is directly responsible for compensating the lawyers, and they get their payment from the proceeds of a class-action lawsuit.
Sometimes, the members settle the class-action lawsuit before it goes to trial. A judge will examine the case in what is known as a fairness hearing to ensure the settlement terms are fair for all. During this hearing, members who felt the case was unfair could speak up and express their concerns. They can also object to the terms of the settlement to the judge.
Class-action common fund
Some members might not find out about the case until the court gives its verdict and issues payment. Therefore, an amount of money is set aside in what is known as a class-action common fund to pay class members.
What happens to leftover money after a class action?
After a certain amount of time lapses, the remaining money is returned to the defendant. In other cases, the funds may be divided among the class members. The court could also distribute the money to charity organizations through a cy pres doctrine or award. However, the charity organization has to be aligned with the class action lawsuit to be eligible for the donation.
The beauty about a class-action lawsuit is you can join hands to get justice for damages with limited resources. All you have to do is speak to the attorney filing the claim on behalf of those affected and you will be able to assess the strength of your claim.