class action

Class Action Lawsuits

Class action lawsuits in Chicagoland frequently arise from corporate misconduct, unfair business practices, investor fraud, and other wrongdoing. Litigating cases of this complexity requires the skills, determination, and resources of an accomplished class action attorney. This blog post is a brief discussion of class action lawsuits.

What is a class action lawsuit?

A class action lawsuit can be brought when (1) a number of individuals sustain the same or similar losses and (2) the damages sustained by one individual may not be significant enough to justify a lawsuit. A class action combines the claims of hundreds, thousands, or even more individuals into a single legal action and provides leverage that would be missing from one person’s individual claim. 

By pursuing a class action, the claims of many can be combined into a single, cost-effective legal action. Ultimately, the combined value of their claims allows the participants in a class action to recover damages collectively. 

The Class Action Process in Chicago

A class action lawsuit is initiated by an individual (or a few persons) on behalf of a larger group of similarly situated people. Before the lawsuit can progress as a class action, however, the court must approve the class. If the court does so, and the plaintiffs prevail, the defendant will be held liable for the entire class’ injuries. 

A class or collective action requires far more preparation than an individual lawsuit. Success ultimately depends on proving that the defendant similarly harmed the class. Any monetary award will be divided among the class participants. 

The Benefits of a Class Action Lawsuit

By combining numerous claims that may not be practical to litigate individually, a class action lawsuit allows people to hold wrongdoers accountable. Also, combining claims into a class action can reduce the cost of litigation. Most of all, a class action lawsuit can ensure that the group obtains some compensation, regardless of whether the award covers all of their damages. 

Judgments and Settlements in a Class Action Lawsuit

Unless a class member opts out of the class, the court’s final judgment or approval of a settlement generally applies to all members of the class, and all are bound by the decision, regardless of whether they participated in the proceeding. If the class prevails, the members are paid according to a plan of distribution approved by the judge in collaboration with the parties and their attorneys. The participants may either receive:

  1. A specific dollar amount; 
  2. A percentage of the total award fund
  3. Other forms of relief.

If the plaintiffs agree to settle, the court must approve the settlement to ensure that it is fair to all parties. 

The Takeaway

A class action lawsuit is more complicated and time-consuming than an individual lawsuit. However, it allows a group of people who have suffered the same losses to recover damages that may not be available individually. If you have been the victim of a deceptive business or other corporate misconduct, talk to an experienced Chicago class action attorney.