CLASS ACTION LITIGATION
A class action is a type of lawsuit in which one or several persons (the “Class Representative(s)”) seek to bring a claim on behalf of a larger group of persons (“the Class”). In certain circumstances, numerous class actions regarding the same course of conduct are filed in different federal district courts across the nation. When that occurs, those actions may be consolidated into a single multi-district litigation (“MDL”) proceeding, before a single judge. MDL proceedings regularly involve the most highly publicized, important litigation matters pending in the United States. Our attorneys have litigated class action claims involving state and federal securities laws, state and federal anti-trust matters, consumer protection statutes, including some of the most highly publicized MDL proceedings pending in the United States today.
Regardless of the subject matter, however, in order for a lawsuit to proceed as a class action, the court must determine whether:
- The persons affected are so numerous as to make it impracticable to bring them all before the Court;
- There are questions of law or fact common to each member of the Class;
- The Class Representatives claim is typical of the Class; and
- The Class Representative will adequately protect the Class.
Depending upon the type of class action, resolution of the lawsuit binds all members of the class certified by the Court.
Examples of class actions include claims by:
- investors who lost their savings due to securities fraud committed by senior executives of a publicly traded company;
- employees subject to improper payment practices as a result of misclassification (unpaid overtime, etc.);
- employees subjected to a pattern or practice of racial, age, or gender discrimination by their corporate employer;
- consumers and small business owners who paid an inflated price for a product after a group of corporations conspired to fix prices;
- consumers who purchased the same defective product or who were deceived by the same false advertising or manipulative business practices;
- patients prescribed a prescription drug with dangerous side effects that the manufacturer was aware of and failed to disclose; and
- home or business owners affected by an environmental disaster such as the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill;
Class action lawsuits are, by nature, complex, high stakes litigation designed to resolve large, far-reaching matters in a single proceeding. But participating as part of a class does not always make sense for every class member, especially a large institution grappling with separate, overarching business considerations. If you have been injured by misconduct, there may be several routes to recovery. We will help you analyze the options and choose the one that is best for your organization or company.
Know Your Options
In a direct action, an investor or small group of investors “opts-out” of a pending or potential class action against a publicly traded company, its officers or directors, and/or its advisors. Instead of being part of the class, your fund brings its own claim against the Defendant in its own action.
While the benefits of a direct action vary from case to case, they generally include: greater control over decisions about your case; the availability of a broader array of claims; the ability to name additional defendants; and a potentially greater recovery than a class action would provide.
Make the Right Choice
The decision whether to pursue a direct action is a complex one, requiring an understanding of the misconduct involved and its consequences, the relevant state and federal laws and legal precedents, and your individual objectives. Our lawyers have represented institutions from around the country in direct actions. We can help you weigh the pros and cons of bringing a direct action, the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and discuss the appropriate timing for a potential direct action.