What is A Class Action Lawsuit in Kentucky?

When a  large group of people suffered the same injury or intend to sue one or several people, corporations or other entities, a  legal action known as a class action lawsuit can be filed on their behalf. Class actions can be filed in either federal or state courts. However, because of the federal law, the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, it is now easier for defendants to move class action lawsuits from state to federal courts.

A class action is the best move to sue one or a few defendants when there are a lot of people harmed and there are simply too many of them to include in a standard personal injury lawsuit. Filing a class action lawsuit consolidates many people’s claims against a company into a single case that is heard in Kentucky court, another state’s court or federal court. A class action lawyer can tell you if you have a case qualified to be a class action lawsuit.

Class action litigation is most frequently used to resolve disputes related to:

  • Labor and employment issues (e.g. mass dismissals, wage/hour laws violations, sexual harassment in the workplace)
  • Investor or Securities fraud (e.g. manipulating stock prices, lying on SEC filings, misleading statements about the company’s stock performance or discloses confidential information related to its stock, and committing accounting fraud)
  • Defective products (e.g. defective drugs and medical devices)
  • Environmental toxic torts (e.g. harm caused by emissions to the air, discharges to water, or releases on land, that affected the environment including  wildlife habitats or wetlands)
  • Financial Fraud (eg. mortgage fraud, predatory lending, credit card fraud, identity theft, Ponzi schemes, and other illegal actions that are designed to wrongfully take your money)

What are the Requirements to File A  Class Action Lawsuit?

Having the class certified is the most important step. In order for a class action in Kentucky to be certified or permitted to proceed, certain conditions must be complied with. According to the Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure, “one or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all only if the following conditions are met:

  • The number of class members makes joining all of them to the lawsuit impractical (40 or more is almost always enough, 21 or less is almost always not enough)
  • A common set of facts or legal interest underlies all of the members’ alleged injuries
  • The claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class and have no conflicts with them, and
  • The representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class must also be willing to fight for the best possible outcome for the entire class and not just look out for their own personal interests..”

It does not always follow that the initiator of the class action lawsuit will be the representative party who will be present in court to testify. The court will still have the last say if you are qualified to represent the group. There may be instances where you may not be allowed if the court deems your claims are not similar to those of the other members in the class. Overall, the judge is allowed to exercise a fair amount of discretion, and the arguments for and against certification can be quite complex and protracted.

If the class is not certified, the case is dismissed. If the class is certified, the case can move on to pre-trial procedures. A certified class does not mean the judge has decided that the defendant is liable, or that a jury is likely to find the defendant liable, but it does mean there is sufficient grounds for the case to proceed and there is a threat of a  legitimate lawsuit.

How Are Potential Class Members Informed?

As soon as the judge has certified the lawsuit as a class action, the court will order that the potential members of the class be notified through direct mail, although, television announcements and Internet postings are also utilized. All members of a class are automatically included in the action unless they specifically opt out of the case.

Class members do not take part in the case directly unless they have additional evidence to present in court. They are also not involved in the decision of whether or not to accept a class action settlement offer.  On the other hand, the class representative works with the class action attorneys to plan the strategy of the case and to accept or reject class action settlement offers.

How Is The Recovery Divided Among The Class?

Once the class action settlement was reached or the defendant loses at trial, the court decides how to divide any recovery at the end of a class action suit. Attorney fees and court costs are usually taken off the top before anything is given to the plaintiffs. In some cases, the fees and costs are simply determined by taking a specific percentage of the entire compensation amount. The class representative will be compensated based on the participation and time spent on handling the lawsuit. The rest of the recovery is divided among the class members. Sometimes, because of the logistics involved in reaching out to all victims, a fund is made available through which damages are paid out, provided that claimants can prove they were harmed by the defendant’s actions.

Do I Need A Class Action Attorney?

Not every legal dispute qualifies for class action status, and not every lawyer is qualified to represent plaintiffs in a class action. Class actions are very complicated and, if money is no object with the defendant, highly-skilled attorneys will be defending the other side. The best way to file a class action lawsuit is to work with an experienced class action lawyer. In this way, you will be better guided in building up your case for a greater chance of having the class action suit certified by the court. Call us at Mehr, Fairbanks, and Peterson Trial Lawyers and we will be happy to evaluate your case through a free in