Opting Out of Class
In class action lawsuits, notices are sent at various times. The first notice is sent at the time the lawsuit is certified as a class action. In most cases, you will be included in the class automatically, if you fit within the description of the class and if you do nothing when you receive the notice.
If you receive a class action notice, you have three choices:
- Participate as a class member
- Opt out of participating in the lawsuit and do nothing.
- Opt out of the lawsuit and get your own lawyer.
Participating as a Class Member
Participating in the class action lawsuit means you are giving up any right you might have had to pursue a remedy for your injury in a private lawsuit. If you do not intend to file a lawsuit on your own, you usually have very little to lose by participating in a class action, but be careful if you have some type of claim against your employer which is different than the one the class action is based on.
If you don’t want to participate in the lawsuit as a member of a class, you will need to opt out of the class. The notice you receive will tell you how to do that. There will also be a cut-off date, and you must send your notice to opt out of the class by the date specified or you will be included in the class and lose any rights to file a lawsuit on your own. If you hear about a class action in the media that you think might affect you, you should search online to make sure you know the cut-off date to opt out.
Reasons to Opt Out of a Class Action
There are several reasons why you might want to opt out of a class action lawsuit. If you have a large amount of money or an important interest at stake and are prepared to proceed with a lawsuit on your own, you may not want to join a class. You may also feel that your situation is sufficiently different from most members of a class that your interests won’t be addressed by the class action. Even if your interests are similar to the rest of the class, you might not have confidence in the attorneys or Lead Plaintiffs who will be handling the lawsuit.
Opting Out of a Class Action and Getting Your Own Lawyer
You have one other option if you qualify as a class member. You can hire your own attorney and bring your own lawsuit. People who do this will usually get more money than if they had stayed in the class. This is because the employer generally gets a discount by settling with a very large number of people. The people who opt out and get their own attorneys can ask for more money than if they had been class members, and usually get it, for various reasons. Additionally, the attorneys doing a class action on behalf of a large number of people will usually be getting a very large legal fee, and may not be that concerned about your particular case enough to hold up their fees. Your own attorney, on the other hand, is only fighting for you, and the employer is not very likely to settle the class action lawsuit without settling your individual lawsuit also.
If you get a notice that you may be a member of class action, particularly a wage and hour or other employment related class action, you should consider calling The Law Offices of William Cafaro to see if it is worthwhile for you to opt out and file your own individual lawsuit You owe it to yourself and to your family to consult with an experienced class action attorney before you decide whether to participate as a class member, opt out, or participate as named plaintiff.
Notice of Settlement
You may also receive a class action notice at the time of settlement. You should carefully read the terms of the settlement and go to any website listed to get complete information. If you have a large amount at stake, again, you should consult a qualified class action attorney to advise you on whether to accept the settlement or to opt out.
If you decided to participate as a class member and do nothing, you will eventually be notified of any settlement or recovery and told how to collect your portion of the recovery. Read the notice carefully and follow the instructions.
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