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Your Legal Guide To Class-Action Lawsuits

If you have been harmed by a consumer fraud, a deceptive practice, a defective product or another illegal conduct please contact Minnillo & Jenkins Co., LPA. Attorneys Christian A. Jenkins and Robb S. Stokar assist clients in Kentucky and Ohio with their class-action lawsuits, helping determine whether a class action is right for them and answering their questions.

What Is A Class-Action Lawsuit?

A class action is a lawsuit in which one or a few people sue on behalf of a large group of people who have similar claims against a defendant. Claims in a class-action lawsuit involve the same kinds of claims as in any other lawsuit (i.e., breach of contract, fraud, violations of state or federal statutes, etc.), but they use a special procedure for approval to represent a larger group of interests. Class-action lawsuits give a large group of consumers a chance to recover damages when it might otherwise be too expensive to pursue them in an individual lawsuit.

The claims that can be brought in class-action lawsuits can vary widely, but two factors are almost always present for every class action:

  • The disputed issues are common to all members of the class.
  • So many people are affected that it would be impracticable to bring them all before the court.

There are different kinds of class-action lawsuits, but in most cases, resolution of the lawsuit by either settlement or judgment is binding on all members of the class certified by the court. If members of a class will be bound by the case’s outcome, they are given notice of the class-action lawsuit and an opportunity to decide whether to participate. The primary procedural rules governing class-action lawsuits are found in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.

Examples Of Class-Action Lawsuits

Some examples of class action lawsuits include claims by:

  • Consumers harmed by unfair business practices committed by a corporation such as fraudulent billing or misrepresentations about the terms of service
  • Employees wrongfully denied overtime pay as a matter of policy or practice
  • Employees discriminated against by their employer as part of a broad-based pattern or practice of racial, age or gender discrimination
  • Business and consumers who pay inflated prices for products caused by the anti-competitive activities of large corporations such as price fixing, and consumers who have been harassed or threatened by a debt collector

Several of the more significant class-action lawsuits cases our firm has worked on started as the result of complaints by just one or a few people.

Why Does The Law Provide For Class-Action Lawsuits?

A class-action lawsuit can sometimes be the only way to enable people to remedy injustices committed by large and powerful corporations and institutions. As one supreme court justice noted, “The class-action lawsuit is one of the few legal remedies the small claimant has against those who command the status quo.”

In many cases, each affected individual may have a relatively small amount of damage so that the cost of an individual lawsuit would be far greater than the value of the claim. Some corporations count on the fact that many consumers simply will not notice their deceptive and unfair practices or that even if they do notice those practices, the cost and hassle involved in seeking a remedy will discourage most consumers from pursuing a claim. Without the class-action mechanism, such companies have no incentive to refrain from fraudulent conduct. Thus, the class-action lawsuit provides an invaluable deterrent against corporate misconduct.

Don’t Believe The Myths Spread By Corporate Interests

There is an unfortunate perception among some in the public, sown by powerful corporate interests, that the lawyers in class actions, both the defense lawyers (who work for hourly fees regardless of the outcome) and plaintiffs’ lawyers (who work on contingency), are the real winners. Don’t believe it for a second.

This image is spread by organizations and large corporations that want to undermine the ability of consumers to fight corporate misconduct. To appreciate this fact, you need to only ask a simple question – am I better off due to the fact that all of the large companies I do business with (such as your cellphone provider, your bank, your insurance company, your power company) have a meaningful financial incentive to think twice about implementing a policy designed to rip me off? You most definitely are better off, because the fact is that companies routinely make such calculations about whether they will gain more by acting unethically or by following the law. The potential exposure from a class-action lawsuit is a serious factor in these calculations. Accordingly, it is important for all of us that we vigorously maintain the class-action mechanism and defend the ability of ordinary people to vindicate their rights against increasingly large and powerful companies.

Before any class-action lawsuit can be settled, the judge presiding over the case is required to give notice of the settlement to the class and allow anyone who wants to be heard to state their objections. Plus, the court must review and consider whether to approve any settlement, including the attorneys’ fees. Thus, a class-action settlement will only be approved if the settlement and fees are fair and reasonable.

Get The Facts About Class-Action Lawsuits

For skilled legal counsel on your class-action lawsuit filing, contact our attorneys online to arrange for a consultation.

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