Class action lawsuits are brought by named plaintiffs, usually one or two, whose alleged injuries are the same as those of a large number of other parties. The plaintiffs do not have to be individuals; businesses may also be plaintiffs in class action lawsuits. The cause of the common injury could be from any number of sources, such as from violations of federal regulations, product defects, securities fraud or environmental issues. If you have questions about class action lawsuits, contact W.R. Stewart & Associates, S.C. in Madison, WI, today to schedule a consultation with a business litigation attorney.
In a class action, potential plaintiffs are contacted by public notification. The notification is usually accomplished by mail, newspaper and/or online, and includes instructions on how to become a plaintiff. The class action itself begins like any other trial; there are initial proceedings, motion hearings and pretrial conferences with the judge. However, the unique part of a class action is the motion to certify the class, usually filed either with the initial complaint or shortly thereafter.
A plaintiff eligible for membership in the class is not required to join, and may choose to opt out of the class and any future settlement or award. Occasionally, plaintiffs will opt out of a class in order to pursue the case on their own, believing that a better result could be obtained outside the class action. Any judgment in the class action is binding on both the named plaintiff and all others included in the class.
Securities Class Actions
Although there is no specific business class action category (a business could be a plaintiff or defendant in a class action), securities class actions have gained prominence in recent years. A securities class action usually involves a lawsuit brought by investor-plaintiffs who have suffered economic loss from the devaluation of a stock or security. The loss in the stock or security’s value typically results from the artificial inflation of its value. If individuals purchased stock during a period when the value of the stock was fraudulently inflated, then they are likely eligible to be class plaintiffs.
Class action lawyers most often work on contingency, which means that they will not receive payment unless there is recovery from the defendant. Legal costs in class actions can be quite high, and under a contingency fee arrangement, the plaintiffs’ attorneys usually cover the costs of litigation until conclusion of the suit. The cost of class actions suits is higher because the amount of preparation, research and investigation required is ordinarily much higher than in an individual lawsuit.
Speak to a Business Litigation Lawyer
Class actions are very complex matters and consultation with an attorney experienced in class action lawsuits can make them easier to understand. Contact W.R. Stewart & Associates, S.C. in Madison, WI, today to schedule a consultation with a business litigation lawyer.
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