You may have received a class action notice and are wondering what to do next. You can choose to “opt out” of the class action lawsuit, hire your own legal counsel, and file a separate lawsuit. Alternatively, you can decide to exclude yourself from the class action lawsuit and do nothing. Class action lawsuits typically arise over defective products (including defective vehicle components and prescription drugs), unfair business practices (including telephone services and banking), and shareholder claims (including stock fraud).
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, for most types of class action lawsuits, the court must ensure that group members receive the most effective notice possible, including individual notice to any member who can be identified through reasonable effort. The class action notice should normally inform you of your right to ask the court to exclude you from the class action (this is called the right to opt out). Participating in the class action in this way will mean that you are waiving any right you might have had to seek compensation for your injury in a private lawsuit. Mail (by email or both) a postcard or message containing a class action notice. By excluding yourself from the class action lawsuit, you will not be part of the class action, which means that you will not participate in any settlement that is agreed upon. There will also be a deadline and you must send your notice to exclude yourself from the class action before the specified date, or you will be included in the class action lawsuit and you will lose any right to file a lawsuit on your own. If you learn about a class action lawsuit in the media that you think might affect you, search online to make sure you know the deadline for opting out.
The procedural rules for class action lawsuits and settlements differ slightly between the federal system and different states, but since many state procedural rules for class actions largely reflect what is established in federal procedural rules. If you have a large amount at stake, once again, you should consult a class-action lawyer for advice on whether you should accept the settlement or opt out. If you didn't intend to file a lawsuit on your own, you have very little to lose by participating in a class action lawsuit. Upon receiving the notice, you have already been identified as a member of the group included in the lawsuit, which means that you will receive a notice of resolution of a class action if the parties agree to reach an agreement, and you will be entitled to your share of the relief that is agreed upon.