5 Things You May Not Know About Class Action Lawsuits

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Thousands of class action lawsuits are filed across the country every year, but they are still a very misunderstood segment of the legal process. A class action lawsuit is when multiple parties come together to take legal action against a party or multiple parties accused of the same type of wrongdoing. Examples of highly publicized class action lawsuits include pharmaceutical or medical companies, securities fraud, and defective products.


In this blog post, we’re going to discuss several key things you may not know about class action lawsuits.


#1. Each plaintiff must have a Plaintiff ID Number

Every plaintiff in a class action lawsuit must have an individual Plaintiff ID Number (sometimes referred to as a Unique Settlement ID). Without that number, the individual is not considered to be part of the plaintiff group. Issues can arise when lawyers are filing a lawsuit on behalf of a family or household and neglect to ensure each household member has their own plaintiff ID number.


#2. Class action lawsuits require a great deal of patience

It’s easy to get distracted by large settlement figures (often in the millions of dollars), but keep in mind that it can take months or even years before participants have a settlement check in hand. These are lengthy, complex actions, and they often take longer than expected.


#3. You can opt out of a class action lawsuit

If you receive a notice that you’ve been identified as a possible party to a class action lawsuit, you do have the option to opt out. If you decide to move forward with this, you won’t be included in any settlement agreement and you will have the option to file your own individual lawsuit.


#4. There is a difference between lead plaintiffs and participants

Lead plaintiffs are the individuals who are filing the lawsuit on behalf of all participants. Lead plaintiffs are much more involved in the process and they essentially represent the entire class. It falls on the lead plaintiffs to initiate the lawsuit, find attorneys, and make key decisions about settlements.


#5. The largest class action settlement was the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement

This agreement took place in 1998 between the four largest cigarette manufacturers in the U.S. and five U.S. territories, 46 states, and the District of Columbia. The tobacco companies were required to pay $206 billion to the states over 25 years, as well as $9 billion per year in perpetuity.


If you have questions about any possible class action lawsuits, reach out to our team. We have extensive experience assisting clients in these matters and can discuss your options.


The information contained herein is for general purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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