Why You May Be Part of a Class Action Lawsuit & Not Know It

February 19, 2012
by Kyle Taylor
Founder

A class action lawsuit is a form of lawsuit in which a large group of individuals collectively brings a lawsuit against another party. This group of individuals is generally referred to as “the class”. The class is a group of individuals that have suffered a common injury or injuries – such as medical negligence, workplace issues, environmental issues, or more.

Once the lawsuit is filed, the class has to be certified, which means that the class itself will be established and processes will occur to determine its size and if it meets the requirement for certification.

First Awareness

It is at this point in the process that you may become first aware that you are part of a class. During the certification phase, due process requires that, in most cases, a notice be sent, published, or broadcasted to all class members. That is why you sometimes see articles in the newspaper or advertisements on television.

Sometimes, several notices are required. First, you sometimes receive a notice that you can opt-out of the class (meaning you don’t want to participate or you want to seek your own lawsuit). Second, if there is a settlement, many times a notice is required informing all class members of the proposed settlement, as well as a place to comment.

Final Awareness

Many times, you don’t even realize you are part of a class action. Maybe you missed the letters, or thought they were junk mail? Maybe you didn’t see the ad in the paper? Whatever the case, you usually become aware you were part of a class action when the settlement actually comes.

If you ignored the opt-out notices, you stayed in by default. And once it was settled, you were entitled to your share. For most class actions, this is usually an extremely small sum. I know on several occasions, I’ve been part of a class action I didn’t know about only to receive a checks for less than $10. These suits are often negotiated by “no win no fee solicitors”, so the biggest part of the settlement usually goes to the lawyers. :)

Second, many companies usually settle to avoid larger monetary settlements later. These early settlements can even include coupons or discounts. For example, a local fast food company that was sued for false advertising settled and gave everyone (since everyone was the class) a free meal coupon.

Searching For Class Action Lawsuits

If you are wondering if you could be in a class action lawsuit, there are several websites that attempt to keep track of the various class action lawsuits that are pending which individuals may be a part of. You can go to sites such as ClassActionLitigation.com or ClassActionWorld.com.

These class action sites attempt to aggregate the various lawsuits that are pending nationwide and give individuals an opportunity to see if they are eligible to be a member of the class. Some of the major suits right now include a group of injury lawyers and football players suing the NFL for head injuries and a group of consumers suing Bank of America for unfair overdraft fees.

Beyond the sites, the best thing to do is just pay attention to the local newspaper or news. Most class action lawsuits make the news, one way or another. So, if you’re staying up to date, you can know if you’re in a class as well.

Good luck Penny Hoarders!

by Kyle Taylor
Kyle is the founder of ThePennyHoarder.com

Share Your Thoughts

Top Articles

What Makes a Good Accountant?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Occupational Outlook Handbook,” there are a few concrete traits and educational requirements that make up a good accountant. These include analytical skills, being detail oriented, possessing a great ability to compare, interpret, and analyze complex figures, and having keen organizational skills. Oh, and obtaining a bachelor’s degree […]

What Annuity Options Are Available Post-Retirement?

Retirement is something many of us will look forward to. Saying goodbye to the world of work, the daily grind and having to get up at 7am every weekday morning are just reward for decade after decade of turning up to our jobs on time, putting a good shift in and contributing to the economy […]

Are You Making This Budgeting Mistake?

If you’re like many Americans, you sit down every month and make a rough budget.  You estimate how much money will be coming in, and you write down what you will do with that money. Perhaps, like many Americans, when the end of the month comes, you find yourself looking at a negative number. What […]

Company Car or Car Allowance: Which one to choose?

One of the employment benefits most often talked about in Australia must be the company car. It’s a valued benefit, but with a variety of options due to tax law changes back in 2002, it’s hard to tell what is the right choice for you. Let’s walk through the two options, and explore some of […]

Are You Saving All Wrong?

With saving interest rates so low on most accounts, you may be depressed each month when you look at your bank statement.  It was only about 5 years ago that you could easily earn upwards of 5% in a money market fund.  That just isn’t the case now.  But if you’re stuck at 0.50% or […]

The 4 Best Lottery Winner Stories

Whether you go to the gas station or convenience store and pick up your lottery ticket or instead frequent a site like William Hill 49s, you likely play the lottery because you dream of winning it big.  Who doesn’t? It’s hard not to imagine what life would be like as a multimillionaire when you hear stories […]

How to Save Money By Bundling Your Services

There are many ways to be a Penny Hoarder:  find free money with bank and credit card offers, find ways to make extra money on the side, and find ways to save money.  The latter may not get discussed as much as the other two options, but it’s still important. Saving money without diminishing the […]

Setting Your College Student Up for Financial Success

Ah, the end of summer.  Time for the kids to go back to school, including the college students.  The first year of college can be quite a learning experience, not just academically, but socially and emotionally as well.  Unfortunately, for many college students, it’s also a financial learning experience.  I say unfortunately because many college […]