Why Hire a Class Action Lawyer
Sometimes, companies take advantage of you and con you out of your hard-earned money. You spend $15 on a toy for your child that breaks immediately. You pay extra for a product that says “Made in France” when, in reality, it was made in New Jersey. You find out that the “healthy” food you’ve been buying is actually made with a lot more sugar than advertised. These moments are frustrating, but is it worth filing a lawsuit for $20 or $30? Maybe you’ve been hurt much worse–you find out that the baby powder product or weed killer you’ve been using may have caused your cancer–but you’re not sure about bringing a case on your own against a powerful corporation. These are situations where a class action attorney comes into play.
Class actions are meant for situations in which a lot of people have suffered the same harm, and they can amplify their power by pursuing a collective action. Continue reading to learn how you can benefit from hiring a class action attorney. If you have been hurt by deceptive marketing, consumer fraud, or other unfair competition practices, call an experienced California consumer protection and antitrust attorney for advice and assistance.
What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?
In the typical lawsuit, a single plaintiff files a complaint against one or a small number of defendants. For example, a person injured in a car accident files a lawsuit against the negligent driver that caused the accident. The plaintiff seeks relief on their own behalf, and any other party with a claim against that defendant must file their own complaint.
In a class action, one or a limited number of “named” or “lead” plaintiffs file an action intended to benefit not just themselves, but a large number of similarly-situated people (the “class”). The named plaintiffs seek relief on behalf of everyone who was harmed by the same defendants in a similar way. If the court agrees that a class action is appropriate, the lead plaintiffs will be appointed as “representatives” of the class.
For example, if a bank was secretly taking $5 out of every customer’s bank account each month, a customer might file a class action seeking relief on behalf of every customer who lost money. The lawsuit would seek to force the bank to repay everyone who was robbed and stop the bank from stealing money in the future.
How Does a Class Action Benefit Me?
Class action lawsuits make sense when there are a large number of people who were hurt in a similar way by a singular course of action committed by a defendant (or by a group of connected defendants, such as a company and its parent corporation). Class actions are especially important when any given member of the class would have a claim that may be too small to justify the time and expense of a lawsuit, but together, their claims are worth pursuing.
In the example given above, it might not feel worth the effort for one plaintiff to sue the bank for $20 or $30, but if a million customers were all affected, a lawsuit for $20 million or $30 million certainly makes sense. Class actions are important not only to compensate the people who were hurt but also to make sure the defendant stops their harmful conduct.
There are many different types of claims that commonly serve as the basis for class actions. Class actions often cover claims involving, for example:
- Antitrust and unfair competition claims
- False advertising or misleading marketing
- Employee discrimination
- Defective medications
- Dangerous consumer products
- Unfair debt collection practices
- Consumer fraud
What Can I Recover in a Class Action Lawsuit?
Class actions typically result in settlement. Settlements usually include injunctive relief–the defendant agrees to do something or to stop doing something (e.g., to stop falsely marketing a product)–as well as a settlement fund. The settlement proceeds will be distributed to all members of the class who either opt into the settlement or, depending on the nature of the claim, choose not to opt-out. If the case proceeds to trial and the plaintiffs prevail, the results will be similar–injunctive or equitable relief as well as a monetary award to split among the class members.
The named or lead plaintiffs often get an incentive award for spearheading the case. Depending on the nature of the claims and the size of the jury verdict or settlement award, class representatives can receive thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. The incentive award is meant to compensate the lead plaintiffs for coming forward, doing the extra work, and obtaining justice for all the people hurt by the defendant’s actions.
If you have reason to believe that you have been harmed in a similar way to a large number of other people, such as other customers who were deceived into buying a similar product, you could have grounds to file a class action. Even if there’s already a class action against that defendant proceeding in another state, you might be able to bring a separate action in your state according to your state’s laws. Talk to a knowledgeable class action attorney to discuss your options and evaluate your case.
For help pursuing a consumer protection claim in California or nationwide, including fraud, unfair debt collection, privacy violations and more, call the Kalfayan Law Firm in Del Mar (San Diego) for a free consultation. Our seasoned class action law firm serves local residents and nationwide classes with diligence and passion. We’ll see your case through to the end.