How a Class Action Judgment is Distributed
The compensation options that Illinois class members stand to receiveBy S.M. Oliva | Last updated on January 12, 2023
Use these links to jump to different sections:
- Settlements and the Role of the Claims Administrator
- What If I Have Problems with the Class Action Settlement?
Settlements and the Role of the Claims AdministratorMost Illinois class actions end in a negotiated settlement amount. The defendant agrees to pay a lump sum to compensate the class. Typically, the court overseeing the class action will appoint a claims administrator—a neutral third party that is responsible for identifying all potential class members and distributing any compensation. “But the plaintiff’s attorney, as class counsel, has a duty to oversee that,” Keogh says. Compensation itself can take several forms depending on the type and nature of the class action. In our hypothetical bank example, the settlement agreement might consist of simply refunding the improperly charged fees. But in class actions involving retailers or product manufacturers, the settlement may be distributed in the form of a coupon or rebate. Rather than an equal amount, some cases have tiers and different levels of returns, Keogh says. “You might have four different categories and people who are damaged in one way will get X, those damaged in a different way get Y, and so on. Then there are ones where, if you can prove you spent X amount of money, we’ll give it back to a certain dollar amount.” If you are eligible for compensation as part of a class action, you will normally receive a notice from the claims administrator. The administrator will also publish a series of public notices to encourage anyone who might be a class member to submit a claim. All class members are required to submit a claim form to the administrator to prove they are entitled to part of the settlement. The administrator may refuse to pay compensation if it determines a claimant does not meet the qualifications of the class action settlement. “If you do nothing, you’re going to receive nothing,” Keogh says of claim forms. “You’d be better off submitting a claim and trying to receive some kind of share. A lot of the ones we do, people get $100 or more. A lot of people are jaded about coupon settlements or things that seem like they’d be a nominal amount of money, so they don’t bother. But you might as well submit a claim online, sit back and receive a check.”
What If I Have Problems with the Class Action Settlement?If for any reason you do not wish to participate in the class action settlement, you are free to opt-out. This may be advisable in cases where you suffered a substantial loss and wish to preserve your right to file a separate claim against the defendant. You can also file an objection to the settlement’s terms if you think they are unreasonable or do not treat all class members fairly. “You have a right to opt out at the beginning, when the class is certified, or stay in it for the long haul to see what happens at trial or summary judgment,” Keogh says. “However, if there’s a settlement, the class member will receive a notice and has an additional opportunity to opt out or object to it.” If you have questions at any point in the process, Keogh says to reach out to a law firm and speak with the class action attorney involved in the case. “We do our best to keep you informed as much as possible.” For more information on this area of law, see our overview of class action and mass torts.
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