Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What is a Class Action?
  2. What is a Class Period
  3. What is a Class Representative
  4. How long does it take to prosecute a Class Action?
  5. What does it cost to be involved in a Class Action?
  6. Should I retain more than one law firm?

1. What is a class action?

A class action is a way for people to join together to bring a lawsuit when they have all been injured by similar conduct. As an example of a class action, a person who lost money investing in a fraudulent company may bring a class action for himself and the hundreds or thousands of other investors who also lost money in the scheme. Another example is that a person who has been injured by a defective product may bring a class action for herself and all other people who have been injured by that product. One or two people can bring a class action for hundreds or thousands of other people. Because it can be expensive to bring a lawsuit, the class action procedure is a helpful way for a large number of people to pursue claims together that might be too expensive to pursue individually. The individual amount of the claims may be relatively small but together the claims could be very large. The judge ultimately must decide whether the case can proceed as a class action and will require the attorneys to show that it meets the requirements of the rules governing class actions.

2. What is a Class Period?

A class period is the time during which the company is engaged in improper conduct. It may the time during which a company and its officers misled investors about the company’s true financial condition or it may be the time during which a company was manufacturing a dangerous product. It is a time period during which something was happening that injured or damaged the class members. We usually suggest a class period when we file the lawsuit but the court decides the proper class period based upon evidence that we present during a hearing on class certification issues. It is possible that the class period will change while the case is pending or that the court will alter the class period based upon the evidence that is submitted to the court during the case.

3. What is a Class Representative?

A class representative is a person who sues on behalf of himself or herself as well as on behalf of other class members. The class representative is named in the lawsuit as a “Plaintiff” or “Lead Plaintiff” and should be someone who has a claim that is similar to the claims of the other class members. The claims do not have to be identical, just similar. For example, they should generally involve the same types of issues and be based upon the same type of wrongdoing by the company that is being sued. A representative is willing to pursue the claims for the remaining class members, interact with the attorneys for the class, and provide any documents and testimony that is necessary to properly pursue the claims.

4. How long does it take to prosecute a class action?

It varies. Some lawsuits are resolved quickly but it is more likely that a class action will take approximately three years to complete. Some will take longer and some will take less time but you should count on an average of approximately three years.

5. What will it cost to be involved in a class action?

In class actions, Squitieri & Fearon, LLP does not generally charge its clients attorneys’ fees or expenses. Instead, the firm typically handles class actions on a “contingent fee” basis. This means that our fees and expenses will come from any recovery that we obtain for the class. If we are able to create a fund for the benefit of a class, we will ask the court to award us reasonable fees and expenses from that fund, not from the individual class members. We typically don’t get paid anything until after the case is finished and the court holds a hearing to determine what we should receive as fees and expenses. The court will first require us to give notice to the class about the case and give all class members the chance to comment on our request for fees and expenses. It will then hold a hearing to determine what is reasonable and will consider any comments it receives from any class members. We ordinarily request that the court award 33 1/ 3% of the fund to the attorneys as a fee plus our reasonable expenses.

6. Should I Retain More Than One Law Firm?

When class actions are started there often will be numerous law firms that file similar lawsuits. Sometimes law firms will publish notices or press releases even when they haven’t yet filed a lawsuit. Usually if there are similar cases filed, the cases will be transferred to one court and assigned to one judge in order to avoid duplication and unnecessary expense. You are free to discuss your potential claims with anyone you want but it is generally a good idea to only retain one law firm to pursue those claims for you. Otherwise, there can be confusion and overlap.