The time it takes for each class action lawsuit to resolve varies case to case. On average, it takes about two to three years, although it can take longer if appeals for a court ruling are called.
To avoid the long process and the negative publicity, defendants often choose to settle their respective lawsuits out of court. That’s where a class action settlement comes in.
An overview of class action lawsuits
A class action is filed by an individual or a group of people who have experienced similar injuries or damages by the same act or company. Common grounds for class actions include fraud, unlawful employment practices, and defective products.
There are several benefits to taking a class action. For one, it can be a faster process. It’s also relatively more affordable, as fees are typically shared by all class members.
How a class action lawsuit can affect you
When a class action lawsuit is filed, it can affect the legal rights of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Those who are affected are notified by a Notice of Class Action Lawsuit. This can be sent by mail or published in magazines and newspapers to notify unidentified class members.
A Notice of Class Action Lawsuit includes details about the class action, the defendant, those included in the class, and how to opt out of the class if they don’t want to be involved in the lawsuit. In the case of wage and hour class action lawsuits, lawyers may send notices to potential plaintiffs if they want to opt in and become a class member.
Notices can be sent twice: the first one is sent after the class action is certified, and the second one sent after a resolution has been reached. Learn more about the latter below.
Settling a class action
Preliminary approval of class settlement
After both parties have agreed to settle, it’s time for the court to approve of the settlement through a preliminary approval hearing.
According to Rule 23(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, class action settlements must be approved by the court before being finalized. This is done to protect the interests of the class members (especially the absent ones) and to ensure a fair and reasonable settlement.
In a preliminary approval hearing, the court will ask questions about the estimated class benefits and attorney fees, how they plan to allocate the funds, and the expected number of class members who will participate in the results. The court may also ask about plans in the event some of the settlement remains unclaimed.
The next steps
Once the settlement has been approved by the court, a Legal Notice of Class Action Settlement will be sent to all class members. This is one of the two notices you may receive. As with the Notice of Class Action Lawsuit, this document gives class members the choice to opt out.
Most class action cases will have a settlement website, which includes court hearing dates, details about the class action, important documents, as well as an online claim form for settlements.
Having this website isn’t mandatory, but it can help disseminate important information about the case. If there’s no website or claim form available, settlement funds are automatically sent to the class members.
What happens if you opt out?
Class members can choose to opt out before or after the lawsuit has been resolved. Some people choose to opt out because the compensation the lawsuit is seeking isn’t enough to cover the injuries or damages they suffered. Others are fine with not pursuing legal action. People who suffered a great deal more might also want to file individual claims.
When you opt out of a class action, you won’t be involved in the lawsuit at all. And in the event the court rules in favor of the class or the defendant chooses to settle out of court, you won’t be able to enjoy the results.
If you plan to formally opt out of the lawsuit, the Notice of Class Action Lawsuit you receive should come with instructions on how to do so. Make sure to opt out of the lawsuit before the given deadline. Those who do not opt out in time are automatically included in the class.
Are you thinking of pursuing a class action?
Hogue & Belong can help you. If you have any questions about wage and hour class action lawsuits and how to go about it, call experienced class action attorneys in San Diego.