Archive for February, 2010

How to Start a Class Action Lawsuit

A class action sounds rather complicated, and like any legal matter, it certainly is, for those who have to do the detail work. If you’re not a lawyer, however, it’s really not all that complex. There are very exact steps to take, but most of these will be handled by the attorney. This will give you a good idea of how to get the ball rolling, but first, before we look at the how, let’s look at the why. A class action is something that’s filed when there has been some kind of misconduct on the part of a larger entity, such as a business or corporation, that has adversely affected a large number of people. When it’s a large enough group, it makes sense for everyone involved to handle it as a large group rather than hearing all the individual stories. This makes for a class action.

To begin, then, there are a few criteria that need to be met for a class action lawsuit to be considered viable. These questions are important for you to ask yourself before interviewing attorneys to take your case. They will make the bulk of their money on the case if it wins, so they have as much interest as you in winning, and every reason to turn it down if it’s not thought out. Keep in mind that the lawyers usually get about 25% of the award on these, and sometimes more. This can leave very little left for the individuals. The criteria then include: a large enough group of people affected, commonality among all of them in terms of damage, the damage has to have come from the same event, and then there’s also concern for viability of the defendant along with viability of the legal representation.

They will necessarily want to make sure the damages are as uniform as possible, so that the need for class action is clear. If there are lots of individual variables and concerns, it is not a good candidate. A good example of a good candidate, then, would be a video store overcharging for late fees. This case would be easy to resolve if it were found in favor of the people, and the damages and rewards would be uniform. Once these criteria are met, then, you would be ready to take it to the lawyers that you feel would best represent you, and begin getting ready to go to court.

How to Join Class Action Lawsuits

Class action lawsuits are not uncommon in this day and age. It can be extremely helpful to know how to join them, not only because there is always a possibility that you might be directly or indirectly affected by a faulty product, but also because it’s important to be in touch with the currents that are going on around you. There are many reasons for a class action lawsuit, too. Some of these begin as an almost sideways attempt to take advantage of someone or something. There are those who feel that it’s their right to try to get something out of the system, because they feel as though they have been taken advantage of themselves.

It’s really important to examine the reasons for the lawsuit before getting too deeply involved. If it seems as though the claim is legitimate, however, then there’s no reason not to proceed. Of course, if you’re already obviously directly effected, due to a minor personal injury or inconvenience, then you can certainly proceed with a clear conscience. But it is very important to be cautious, because there are certainly many unscrupulous people in the world, hoping to make something for nothing. In the past, there were people who would be willing to injure themselves in order to collect insurance payments, and there’s really not much difference between that and a questionable lawsuit. In many instances, you may want to look into the lawyers involved, and determine if their reputation is something you can be comfortable standing behind.

In a class action lawsuit, then, there is always a law firm that is making the claim. The very first step is to make contact with the lawyers, and talk to them about your situation. In many cases, they will already have contacted all the victims of the case, and if you fell into that category, you would have already been notified. If this is not in operation here, and there are many unknown victims, then it is very likely that they will be happy to hear from you. The more they have on their side, the stronger the case. All of this assumes that you know who is responsible for the damages or harm you’ve suffered, and you’re already aware of the pending case. There are other options for joining a suit. A simple search on the web for pending class action suits will bring up several resources for lists that you can look through to determine if your particular damages are common to others as well.

How Many People For a Class Action Suit

Class Actions Law Suits are an interesting aspect of the legal process that are structured and intended to protect and empower consumers whose damages or losses may not be great enough to warrant the attention of standard process claims. Injury lawyers are typically looking for large money suits, which is understandable considering the time effort and cost in filing one. This is why minor or small financially based loses or damages might get ignored and fall through the cracks in legal protection and justice without a mechanism such as class action suits in place and available for consumers to file regardless of the amount of their personal damages or loss.

However, an interesting aspect of the class action suit is that more parties are needed for it to be effective. This is also how they become possible. They are an appropriate resource when there are numerous people who have become affected by the same negligent company and suffer a similar damage or loss as the individual who files the claim. This brings up the important question of how many people it would take to actually file a class action suit. The number is not actually fixed regarding total number of people overall though it may be applied to specific filings and as it is with most legal issues a lawyer is needed to assist with the process.

The lawyer is also there to answer these important questions along the way and guide the suit filer through a less stressful legal process. In considering numbers of people required for class action suits its easier to think in terms of dollars and consider the larger financial aspect of these types of suits which is broken down and then based on the individuals involved. Another aspect of these suits to remember is that a single person can and usually does bring the law suit against a particular company though they are doing so on behalf of all the other individuals that have been injured or suffered a loss in the process. And all of these individuals will need to be contacted in the process.

How to Initiate a Class Action Suit

Requirements to initiate a Class Action Suit are having an adequate number of plaintiffs who have common damages and legal issues. Each class member’s claim must come from the same occurrence, and must have the same legal argument. The representative for the plaintiff should adequately protect and represent the interest of the class members. If the defendant doesn’t have the means to compensate the class members for the alleged damages and all the legal costs, then it might be very difficult to get a law firm to represent the class action lawsuit.

So, it’s important to research the scope of the problem. The web is a great resource to gather information. Visit online support groups or chat rooms in order to find information that will relate directly to the lawsuit. Consider placing an ad in the newspaper for finding class members, but only after the class action has been certified by a court. Information may be also found at government agencies or with congressional representatives.

Finding the right attorney to represent the class members is most important, they should specialize in class action lawsuits and also specializes in the type of lawsuit that’s being pursued. For example, suing current employer or even a former employer for discrimination, pick a lawyer who specializes in labor laws and class action lawsuits. Don’t pay a lawyer upfront, most class action lawyers work on a contingency basis, but be prepared that 30 percent will be taken from the settlement funds to pay the lawyers fees.

Once the above has been established, then a motion of class certification needs to be filed. To qualify, there must be proof of a sufficient amount of plaintiffs whom were also subject to the same misconduct. Each class members must have the same allegations. The lawyer picked to represent the case must prove that he or she will handle the common questions predominate in the suit rather than the individual issues. Once this is established, then the lawyer is responsible to send notices to all potential members of the class suit and publish notices nationwide, like in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Then it’s time to get ready for court.

Class Action Lawsuits Won Against Continental Can Company

The Continental Can Company is one of the many large companies throughout history to be brought to trial in a class action law suit. They are one of the many companies that have been accused of taking advantage of people for monetary gain. The history of this suit began in 1970. While the company was doing well, and while profits and revenue continued to climb, the company was looking to cut costs in order to give their investors higher returns.

Looking to ensure the company’s growth and looking for ways to cut their bottom line, they turned to what has been called immoral and unethical acts. Members of the Steelworkers Union from Los Angeles to St. Louis came together in a class action lawsuit stated that the Continental Can Company took those cuts in their budget by taking the pensions of workers who had given their entire lives to the company.

Due to the protection of the Union, the administrators found it necessary to find a creative way to cut their costs by the cutting of pensions. The pension plan was intended to encourage this life long service, as once a worker had reached retirement age, they would be eligible to receive the pension payments for the rest of their lives. Those who left the company early would forfeit that pension. The name for a computer program that tracked the length of the worker’s employment was devised and titled “BELL” This was a backwards acronym for “Let’s Limit Employee Benefits”. The computer program kept track of those employees who were approaching their retirement, and when that would happen, those employees would be laid off or fired.

This was taking place for ten years before anyone realized what was going on. It was not until the 1980’s that evidence that this was taking place was revealed. There have been many cases since then, of companies taking advantage of or defrauding their own employees for a higher monetary gain. Continental Can Company was found guilty, and they were required to pay each and every employee who was wrongfully terminated over the years. This was one case where justice was served.

How to File a Class Action Lawsuit

Almost everyone has heard of class action lawsuits and many have wondered what exactly they entail though they never actually look into it. They always seem to be something you hear about after they have been settled and there always seems to be large numbers of people involved. But that’s as far was what most people go in understanding exactly what they are and how they function in today’s society and legal system. Another way many people tend to find out about them is to realize that they are in the population of people that are intended to be satisfied by initiating suit. Almost everyone has at some point wondered what they are and how and why to file them.

The lawsuits are structured to serve an individual party who seeks relief from a particular business for themselves as well as members of a larger population of affected individuals. This is frequently the type of suit filed when a particular party’s damages may be small or represent an insufficient dollar amount, though when it is considered within the context of the larger population who has suffered the same small amount or damages it becomes a great deal larger. They are filed when the damages or money amount is simply too small for an individual suit but when it is added to the multiple, sometimes hundreds, of others affected by the business it becomes a major financial lawsuit.

There are a few basic initial steps in filing a class action lawsuit that should be understood by the party who is seeking to pursue it. First, you should research the types of damages and losses that are considered appropriate for these cases and then contact an attorney who specializes in them. After signing a representative agreement with an attorney you may need to pay a retainer fee to them. You will likely need to pay a filing fee when you actually file the suit. You will then serve the defendant in the case and you must publish the names of all members of the particular suit, or mail the information to them. This is an effective manner of suing businesses that have faulted on product liability and other situations where an individual lawsuit may seem unsubstantial. You will need the services of a skilled lawyer and they will be able to answer many of your questions for you and provide some of the necessary services.

A class action suit can only be filed by a professional, so the first step will be to contact a lawyer, and explain your case. If there’s something to it, and you’ve thought it through well enough, you might have something on your hands.

How Many People Constitute a Class Action Lawsuit?

You only need a single ‘class representative’ in order to file a lawsuit on behalf of a putative class. But, you can not do this without a lawyer, because you can not legally serve as the ‘attorney-of-record’ for the absent class members and you wouldn’t be an adequate attorney to represent the class members. Nonetheless, there really is no bright line test to how many people must be in the class, but the general rule is the fewer the members of the putative class, it is more unlikely that it will be certified as a ‘class action lawsuit’. It’s been shown that it’s extremely difficult to win a ‘class action lawsuit’ with less than 30 class members.

To clarify, you only need one person to start a ‘class action lawsuit’, but for the court to certify it as a ‘class action lawsuit’, which is the court saying that your case actually can proceed as a ‘class action’, you have to have what the law calls ‘numerosity’. This means you have to have enough people who have been affected by the legally wrong act to make it more convenient for the court to treat it as an ‘all-in-one’ case instead of having each person file their own lawsuit.

Often, the quantity depends on the court, the state, the case and the circumstances. In a few states, there are cases that have given a general guideline, like in Ohio, a ‘class action lawsuit’ has to be at least 40 people, but in most of the other states, there is no specific number; it just depends on the circumstances of the case. Class action cases can be extremely difficult for the attorney to handle, and they can take an enormous amount of time to get through the courts to get settled. A majority of ‘class action lawsuits’ get settled without ever having gone to trial.

Can You Claim Mental Stress for VA Class Action Settlement?

Severe traumatic experiences may produce in many people, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In fact, most people who have experienced horrific situations, will experience some form of PTSD, however not everyone will be incapacitated by it. The first step to finding out if one’s symptoms are in fact those of PTSD is by answering a simple and short questionaire, and then further screening by a medical professional or mental health care provider is usually required. In the general public, situations that may produce symptoms of PTSD include, physical or sexual abuse, car accidents, earthquakes or floods and other natural disasters, and physical assault.

For those in the military who have experienced combat…this population is at the top of the list for danger in experiencing this kind of anxiety disorder. They live through traumatic and life threatening situations day in and day out while on their tours of duty. When they return home they often times have trouble adjusting to “regular” life, and may experience anger and confusion. There are various treatment options available, but in the current times that treatment has not been easy to come by for the Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

One organization has stepped up, and has filled a class action lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs, on behalf of the more than six hundred thousand soldiers retuning home who are not receiving their benefits and their necessary treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They call this a breakdown in the system, as many of the U.S. Veterans are suffering greatly but can not get the help that they need, after years of serving and protecting their country, it seems that no one is serving nor protecting them now that they are back home. Many cases have been documented of Veterans attempting to receive help, but instead are being put on waiting lists, which is just a little too late in many cases. The law suit is calling for immediate mental and physical health care for all the men and women returning from the war, help that is needed right away.

 

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