What is a class action?

A class action is a method for bringing aggrieved people together in one lawsuit, so that their claims can be decided in a single court proceeding. Class actions are oftentimes the only recourse for those that cannot otherwise afford legal representation.

There are many reasons to file class action cases. Class actions have compensated workers oppressed by unfair wage practices, citizens sickened by toxic chemical releases and consumers damaged by artificially-inflated prices or falsely misrepresented products by greedy corporations. Critics of class actions say that the average recovery is sometimes as low as a few dollars per affected person, so why bother? Advocates of class actions say that this is one example of the power of class actions; they allow people who could not otherwise afford legal representation to recover damages on a large scale, and ensure that companies are held accountable.

The claims brought through class actions are usually no different than those brought in individual cases; in class actions, only the number of people and the similarity between their claims is much greater. Many class actions are filed by one person (acting as a “representative plaintiff”) who then seeks damages or other remedies for other class members as well. Just like unions have the ability to command fair wages for groups of workers, class actions offer the power to see real change in the practices of the world’s largest companies. We know – we help make it happen every day.

What are the mechanics of a class action lawsuit?
To ensure fairness in a class action, the court supervises the prosecution of the class-wide claims through attorneys appointed to represent the plaintiffs. While many cases are labeled “class actions” when filed, the court must approve the definition assigned to the class at some point either during litigation or at the time of settlement—before the claims of all class members can be resolved. In other words, class “certification” must be granted before each class member can be bound by any judgment or entitled to participate in a class-wide settlement.

Do I have to pay money up front if I become a representative plaintiff?
Although we cannot make promises about what other law firms may do, we always work on a “contingency fee” basis -- that is, we don't get paid unless you and/or the class members win. We are only able to do this because of our lengthy and excellent track record of success in employment class action cases.

I know of a class action that probably should be filed. What can I do?
Filing a class action lawsuit is a decision that should be made only after answering several questions. Some of these questions include:

  • How likely is it that the violations will continue if I don't stop them?
  • Do those violations affect me?
  • To what extent have my co-workers or I lost time or money because of what our current or past employer has done?

Would your law firm charge me to talk about a possible class action lawsuit?
Scott Cole & Associates won't charge you a penny for discussing a potential case. You can contact us by e-mail, regular mail, or telephone, in confidence. Remember, even if you choose not to pursue a case for yourself, you may be helping others just by talking to us.

What does Scott Cole & Associates guarantee?
We cannot predict the future or read crystal balls. However, our vast experience makes us an excellent source of information and very skilled at representing our clients. We promise to keep everything you tell us about a potential case private (unless you instruct us otherwise) and we promise to provide unparalleled legal counsel.

Scott Cole & Associates' attorneys are top-notch lawyers and our law firm enjoys a reputation as being one of the premier class action law practices in California. Despite that reputation, we encourage you to “interview” us - just as you would any other professional - before making a decision regarding representation. If you are not entirely comfortable with moving beyond the initial “interview,” then don't. In the end, you should be completely at ease with whatever choice you make.

These questions and answers are for educational purposes only and cover just a few topics that are commonly of interest to workers. This material should not be construed as legal advice, the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, or as indicative of a particular outcome regarding any legal issue you might have.