Frequently Asked Questions About Class Actions
What are examples of class action lawsuits?
Many class actions include claims by:
consumers who were billed unauthorized or undisclosed fees by a corporation;
employees who were not paid the minimum wage or overtime;
employees subjected to racial, age, or gender discrimination by their employer;
homeowners and residents affected by a toxic spill in their neighborhood;
consumers who purchased a defective product or were harmed by unfair business practices;
patients prescribed a medicine with dangerous side-effects;
prisoners who have been deprived of their constitutional rights; and
merchants and consumers who pay inflated prices for products caused by the anti-competitive activities of large corporations.
What is a class action?
A class action is a lawsuit in which one or several individuals sue on behalf of a larger group of similarly situated persons.
Many of our cases start as the result of complaints by one or a handful of persons. If you have been the victim of fraud, a defective product, a scam, or a deceptive practice, please feel free to contact us.
I am one person with a small claim. Can I bring a class action?
Yes. Class actions are specifically designed to be brought by one or more people with small claims on behalf of a larger group of people with similar claims.
How much does it cost to join a class action?
Nothing. Wittels Law works on a contingency fee basis and only gets paid by an order of the court if the case is successful. In addition, we will advance expenses and costs associated with prosecuting your class action.
What goals do class actions achieve?
Class actions advance several important goals. A class action is often the only way of enabling persons to remedy injustices committed by powerful corporations. In the words of United States Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, "the class action is one of the few legal remedies the small claimant has against those who command the status quo."
In most class actions, each individual within a large group has suffered only small monetary damages and the cost of an individual lawsuit would be far greater than the value of the claim. The wrongdoer’s gain, however, may be quite large, thus incentivizing the wrongdoer to continue its fraudulent conduct.
A class action counterbalances this incentive, while no single person would sue a corporation for a relatively small claim, a class action allows individuals to band together and challenge the corporate defendant on a level playing field.
Finally, where a wrongdoer has engaged in a pattern of wrongdoing, a class action can provide an effective remedy for society without incurring the costs of thousands of separate lawsuits and risking inconsistent decisions by the courts.
Why are class action lawsuits controversial?
Unfortunately, due to the propaganda of those opposed to the remedy of class actions, the public sees the lawyers, both the defense counsel who work for hourly fees regardless of the outcome and plaintiff's counsel who stand to obtain contingency fees if the class prevails, as the only winners in such a system.
This image of class actions is mostly advanced by large corporations (and the groups they fund) seeking to undermine the ability of consumers and small businesses to access the legal system.
Without private enforcement of our rights through the civil justice system, we depend on government regulation to prevent and remedy corporate misconduct. The ability of corporations to prevent effective government regulation, however, has been demonstrated all too often.
How are class actions settled?
Before a class action may be settled, the judge presiding over the case must give notice of the settlement to the class and allow all who wish to be heard to state their positions and/or objections. The judge will then approve the settlement, including the attorneys' fees, only if the settlement and fees are fair and reasonable. The judge’s decision is subject to review by an appeals court.
Where can I learn more about class actions?
Contact us to learn more about class actions.
Important note about the information on this page:
This summary is for informational purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice. Nor is this summary intended to create, and its receipt does not create, an attorney-client relationship. Please read our disclaimer.
"Either we are committed to make reasonable efforts to provide a forum for adjudication of disputes involving all our citizens—including those deprived of human rights, consumers who overpay for products because of antitrust violations and investors who are victimized by insider trading or misleading information—or we are not. There are those who will not ignore the irony of courts ready to imprison a man who steals some goods in interstate commerce while unwilling to grant a civil remedy against the corporation which has benefited, to the extent of many millions of dollars, from collusive, illegal pricing of its goods to the public.... When the organization of a modern society, such as ours, affords the possibility of illegal behavior accompanied by widespread, diffuse consequences, some procedural means must exist to remedy—or at least to deter—that conduct.”)
Eisen v. Carlisle and Jacquelin, 417 U.S. 156, 186 n. 8 (1974) (Douglas, J., joined by Brennan, J. and Marshall, J., concurring).