Class actions are a practical way of getting recovery for a group of people who suffer injury or loss as the result of a defendant’s actions. A class action lawsuit can be helpful in seeking compensation without high expenses and uncertainty. Class actions also serve as a restraining force for a big corporation to keep them from misdoings. In most cases, you do not have to do anything but sign up to be a class member. You do not even need to testify in court as a class member. Yet, being a lead plaintiff is a different story with all its benefits and obligations.
Taking into account the great number of individuals involved in a class action lawsuit, it becomes necessary for the courts to choose a plaintiff or a small group of plaintiffs, known as lead plaintiffs, to represent the class and make decisions for the class action members. The number of lead plaintiffs in a class action depends on such factors as the type of the injury, the extent of involvement of the plaintiff in the case, the size of recovery and so on. Usually, the first plaintiff who brings the case to the court will be chosen as the lead plaintiff and will be responsible for moving the case forward. Lead plaintiffs have a decisive and significant role in class actions, as they have to adequately represent the interests of each class member.
What are the Obligations of a Lead Plaintiff?
It is said that power comes with great obligations. The lead plaintiffs have a number of obligations beyond those of other class members. Being named as a lead plaintiff, one is primarily obliged to successfully represent the entire class of individuals who suffered the same or similar injuries. Thus, before you agree to be the lead plaintiff in a class action, here are some things you should know about the obligations the role entails:
- Hiring a class action attorney: Taking into consideration that class action litigation is complex and tangled process, it is of a lead plaintiff’s obligation to hire an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who will successfully represent the interests of a large group of plaintiffs.
- Filing a lawsuit: The lead plaintiffs are the ones who initiate the case on behalf of all the people who suffered the same and similar damages at the hands of the same guilty party.
- Providing evidence and consulting on the case: A lead plaintiff must be familiar with the litigation. Unlike other class members, lead plaintiffs are involved in the consulting on the case and providing evidence.
- Providing notice to the class: As a rule, a lead plaintiff is responsible for providing notice to other class members, depending on whether the federal rules or the judge requires such notice.
What are the Benefits of a Lead Plaintiff?
Being a lead plaintiff can offer a number of benefits along with obligations and responsibilities. Besides the honor of taking a stand against wrongdoings of corporations and fighting for justice, there are also some material benefits. Here is what one can benefit from being a lead plaintiff:
- Pursuing justice for others: The moral aspect of being a lead plaintiff is that you are entrusted to pursue justice not only for you but for all others similarly damaged. So, you are offered an advantage of making an expressive difference in other people’s life.
- Taking part in the litigation process directly: The lead plaintiffs have the privilege of participating in the whole class action litigation process directly. This involves consulting with the attorney, answering written questions, producing evidence and other documents. The lead plaintiffs also attend hearings, trials, and other court proceedings.
- Making a decision on a settlement: The majority of class action lawsuits settle just after being certified. The lead plaintiffs are given the power to accept or reject the settlement on behalf of all members of the class action. The key point is to choose a settlement that will represent the interests of the whole group and not only his own.
- Extra compensation: As much as lead plaintiffs play an active role in a class action lawsuit, they are usually provided with an incentive award for their efforts at the end. When a case is settled or won, the court decides how the recovery is to be divided. The court allocates a significant amount of the recovery for attorney fees and expenses and awards some amount to the lead plaintiffs. Then, what is left of the recovery is divided among all the class members.
Regardless of the great desire to win and the authenticity of evidence, lead plaintiffs can hardly win a case or get an adequate settlement without proper legal representation. The class action attorneys at the Margarian Law firm have deep knowledge, necessary skills, as well as successful experience in prosecuting and protecting class action members’ rights both in and out of court.