What are the steps in resolving a class action?

Posted on: July 20th, 2010 by Steve Larson

After the class action lawsuit is filed, class counsel will move to have the case certified as a class action.  If the court certifies the case as a class action, class counsel will have to send a notice to everyone that the court rules is similarly situated and therefore part of the class.  Those people that are sent notices are called class members.  Class members then have the opportunity to opt-out if they do not want to participate in the class action.  Once the class certification issue is resolved, then a lot more depositions of defendant’s witnesses are taken, and a lot of motions are filed by the defendant.  At any time, the plaintiff and defendant might agree to settle the case. The judge has to approve of any class action settlement.  Class members can object if they don’t think the settlement is fair.  If the judge does not think the settlement is fair, he or she will not approve it. If the parties cannot settle the case, it will go to trial.  If it goes to trial, the plaintiff will have to attend the trial, and may have to testify.  However, 95% of class actions settle, so class representatives typically do not testify at trial.  If the class is successful in settling the case, either before or after trial, then money will be distributed to class members.