Lawyers for Class Action Cases in South Carolina
A class action lawsuit is a civil suit brought against a defendant by a group of people who have suffered injury or other harm by the actions, service, or product from that defendant. When a case is awarded class action status, it means that an individual or small group of plaintiffs will act as representatives for a larger group (or class) who have suffered injuries similar to theirs.
If the plaintiff class, through their attorneys, wins the lawsuit, then all members of the class will receive compensation for the harm they have suffered. On the other hand, if the defendant succeeds, no member of the class will receive compensation for the alleged injury and cannot bring a new lawsuit against the defendant for the same issues.
The attorneys at Strom Law Firm, LLC understand the complexities surrounding class action cases. Contact our law firm today for a free review of the facts of your case. Call 803.252.4800 to schedule a face-to-face meeting at our Columbia, SC office or we can discuss the details of your case over the phone.
Class Action Suits: What You Need to Know
Before a class action lawsuit can proceed, a judge must certify that the claims against the defendant are valid and that each member of the class has a similar claim. When the judge classifies a case as a class action, he or she is not ruling on the merits of an action. It expands the scope of who is bound by a later decision.
The main reason for making something a class action is efficiency. If a large group of people have the same injury, it is easier to decide whether they are entitled to compensation in one area, rather than on a case-by-case basis. This puts less strain on the courts who do not have to try many individual cases and it allows individuals to initiate a lawsuit who may not otherwise have the resources. In the case of smaller damages, a single claim may not be worthwhile, but, if many people have the same claim of damages, the suit becomes more substantial.
How to Start a Class Action
If you have been injured or financially harmed by an entity, generally a company or corporation, and you have reason to believe that others have been harmed in a similar manner, you can file a class action lawsuit. Your first step is to talk with an attorney who has a background in class actions. He or she will assess the merits of your claim, then take the next steps to investigate whether enough people have been affected to warrant a case that a judge will classify as a class action.
What Class Actions Are Not
Large businesses have generally waged massive campaigns against class actions. The main line of attack has been that “class actions place undue pressure on defendants to settle because of the exposure to high dollar amounts in liability.” They believe a class action is an act of extortion.
Class action suits are not an act of extortion. Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a majority opinion wrote when she was a circuit court judge that such concerns have no basis in the law and
“underestimate the powerful policy considerations that favor class certification….”
– In re Visa Check / Mastermoney Antitrust Litig., 280 F.3d 124, 145-46 (2d Cir. 2001)
Further, there is no empirical evidence to substantiate the assertion that businesses routinely settle class actions simply out of fear, rather than because individuals have suffered a real injury and are entitled to relief under the law.
Following class certification, if corporations believe they have done no wrong, they should be confident they will prevail on the merits of the suit through a motion for summary judgment or at trial, clearing them of all liability in one stroke. As scholars have written,
Meritless filings are not met with payoff money; they are met with motion practice, and sometimes sanctions.”
– Myriam Gilles & Gary B. Friedman, Exploding the Class Action Agency Costs Myth: The Social Utility of Entrepreneurial Lawyers, 155 U.Pa. L. Rev. 103, 159 (2006).
Common Types of Class Action Proceedings
Class actions bring together many individuals who have been harmed by an entity, usually a company or corporation. While an individual bringing a case may be cost-prohibitive or have little effect, the number of plaintiffs in a class makes the lawsuit more tenable. Some common types of class action are:
Products may malfunction in a specific way, products may not function or perform as advertised, products may cause harm to its users, or may have been defective when sold. If there are enough cases of a product being defective, it may warrant a class action suit.
Pharmaceuticals or Medical Devices
Over the counter and prescription drugs and medications can become part of a class action for reasons including: exposing users to unsafe chemicals, if the companies make unsubstantiated claims about the drugs, or if the medications cause harmful reactions.
Class action suits can be brought against an employer for violations of labor laws, discrimination, unpaid wages or overtime, unsafe working conditions, and many more issues.
Cars that are sold with safety defects or manufacturing flaws are often subject to class action suits. Deceptive marketing and classification practices can also warrant class action.
As environmental issues generally affect more than just one person, class action suits are commonly brought against companies who are responsible for polluting groundwater, riverways, air, and exposing the community to toxic or carcinogenic chemicals and other pollutants.
The Class Action Cases Strom Law, LLC Has Handled
Our team understands the legal complexities involved in class action cases. The following is just a few of the cases that our lawyers have handled on behalf of our clients:
- A case against the managed care industry on behalf of physicians for systematically undercutting physician claims for payment for seeing patients
- Race-based life insurance cases against life insurance companies for charging African Americans higher rates for industrial life insurance
- Consumer cases including suing finance companies for adding credit life insurance on to consumer loans
- A predatory lending case against the title loan industry
- A predatory lending case against the payday loan industry
- A predatory lending case against the mortgage industry for systematically steering clients into subprime lending
- A racketeering case where lenders were alleged to have improperly billed homeowners inspection fees for homeowners facing foreclosure
- A case against a national tax settlement firm for misrepresenting taxpayers ability to qualify for reduced back tax payments to the government
- A case against a real estate developer for failing to finish amenities promised to purchasers
- A case against a group of doctors for allegedly overprescribing narcotics
- A case against a pharmaceutical manufacturer alleged to have over-marketed narcotic pain medication
- Breach of warranty cases involving defective washing machines, electrical receptacles, and pharmaceutical products
Class Action Fees
Many people want to know how class action attorneys are paid. The plaintiffs’ firms work on a contingency basis. This means payment for their services is contingent on a positive outcome. They only receive money if they’re able to obtain financial compensation for the class action. This gives them the incentive to file lawsuits that have merit and resolve them as quickly as possible, both of which benefit all members of the class.
Taking Part in a Class Action Suit: Opting In
In most class actions, you don’t need to do anything to become part of the class of plaintiffs. If you have been affected by the complaints of the class action, you will be automatically entered into the pool of people pursuing the lawsuit. If the case is decided in favor of the plaintiffs, you will need to submit a claim to get your part of the settlement. It does not cost you anything to be part of a class action, the attorneys are usually paid from the settlement.
Certain types of class action suits require plaintiffs to opt-in. While this is not as common as being automatically included in a suit, it does happen. When you are notified of the class action, you will be told how to opt-in.
Opting Out of a Class Action
When a class action suit has been certified, any potential plaintiffs are notified, either in writing or by posting the existence of the lawsuit online or in other media. A potential plaintiff includes anyone who has suffered the injury or harm specified by the case. In some cases a lawsuit can affect thousands of potential plaintiffs. When they are notified of the suit, they are also notified of their right to “opt out” of the lawsuit.
While there is no cost to remain in a class action, in certain circumstances an individual may decide to opt out of a class action. The main reason for this is so the individual may pursue his or her own lawsuit against the company or entity believed to be at fault. This would be done if the person believes their damages far exceed the injuries incurred by the other plaintiffs. When you are named as a plaintiff in a class action, regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, you are afterwards barred from filing your own suit against the company for the same complaint.
If you have questions about whether you should remain part of a class action or opt out, call our attorneys today for a free consultation to discuss your case.
Experienced Class Action Suit Lawyers
Call us today for a free class action consultation. Founded in 1996 by former United States Attorney and assistant solicitor, Pete Strom, the Strom Law Firm, LLC aggressively pursues class action cases. Our team enjoys a distinct statewide and national reputation for excellence in the area of consumer protection litigation and class actions. Call us today at 803.252.4800 for your free case evaluation.