A class action is a lawsuit brought on behalf of one or a few individuals on behalf of a much larger group of people who have all been injured in the same way by the same conduct of a corporation, government agency, or other defendant.
In order for a case to go ahead as a class action, the person filing the lawsuit must ask the court’s permission for the case to be “certified” as a class. Usually this happens after an initial round of discovery, or exchange of information, between the parties to the lawsuit. Sometimes the court will make its decision based on written arguments by the parties, while other times it will hold an evidentiary hearing.
Usually, after the court certifies a case as a class action, it will order notice to all class members informing them of the claims in the case and its certification as a class action. Class members will then have an opportunity to “opt out” of the class action, in which case they will neither benefit from any recovery in the case nor be bound by any judgment in the action. Class members who do not opt out will be bound by any further decisions in the case, whether favorable or unfavorable to the class. Class members are generally not obligated to do anything in order to remain in and benefit from the class action. They usually do not have to respond to any discovery, nor are they financially obligated in any way. Of course, some class members may choose to take a more active role and provide support to the class action by supplying information to the attorneys for the class or even testifying during discovery or at trial. However, this active participation is usually strictly voluntary.
If a class action goes all the way through trial, a jury or judge will decide the case and award damages, if favorable, to the entire class. However, like most civil lawsuits, most class actions settle before trial. In that case, the parties will propose a settlement to the court, and all class members will receive notice of the proposed settlement and an opportunity to comment. Any class action settlement must be approved by the court, and the court will only approve a settlement if it is reasonable, fair and adequate.
The lawyers in a class action only get paid if they are successful in obtaining a recovery for the class. Then, they may be awarded a percentage of the money recovered for the class. Alternatively, in many consumer and employment cases, the court may order the defendant to pay the attorneys’ fees and costs. In either event, the attorneys’ fees are subject to oversight and approval by the court. Similarly, the costs of litigating a class action are advanced by the lawyers, who are only reimbursed if the case is successful. Again, the court must approve any reimbursement of the costs incurred by the lawyers.

Team Members

“Great attention to detail, compassion and dedication”

“I just received the notice of settlement letter in our favor in the Pellino v. Brink's Incorporated class action lawsuit and I would like to express my deep appreciation for Adam Berger. His attention to detail, compassion and dedication to providing the best possible representation for the plaintiffs in this case was outstanding and deserves to be recognized. I would not hesitate to recommend his services to anyone. Many thanks and many blessings!”

Michael, Class Action Client - Seattle, WA