What is a lead plaintiff/class representative in a class action?
What are the differences between filing an individual civil lawsuit and a class action lawsuit? With an individual lawsuit, one plaintiff initiates legal action against a defendant. On the other hand, one plaintiff for a class action lawsuit initiates legal action against a defendant while representing a group of plaintiffs. Attorneys file class action lawsuits to represent a group of individuals and/or businesses that sustained damages, such as injuries and/or property damage, because of the negligent actions taken by a defendant. The lead plaintiff, who also is referred to as the class representative, handles most, if not all of the legal responsibilities required to file a class action lawsuit.
Filing or joining a class action lawsuit delivers several benefits for class members. First, they do not have to attend judicial proceedings, which means they continue to earn income from their jobs. Second, class members do not have to attend negotiation sessions that try to find a middle financial ground that avoids a costly and time-consuming civil trial. Third, class members stay informed of the status of a class action lawsuit by communicating with just one source, which is the lead plaintiff.
If you sustained injuries and/or property damage as a result of the negligence of another party, you should meet with an experienced attorney before deciding whether to file an individual or class action lawsuit. At Morgan and Morgan, our class action lawyers represent both lead plaintiffs and class members during class action lawsuit proceedings. Morgan and Morgan has recovered more than $14 billion in monetary damages since opening our first office in 1988. Some of the compensation awarded to our clients came from class action lawsuits.
Schedule a free case evaluation with an attorney from Morgan and Morgan to determine whether you should file an individual civil lawsuit or a class action lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.
What Is a Lead Plaintiff/Class Representative in a Class Action?
The lead plaintiff is the individual who represents an entire class of plaintiffs during a class action lawsuit. Typically, the lead plaintiff contacted an attorney before any other individual contacted a lawyer to seek legal representation. The lead plaintiff’s name appears on the document that initiates the class action lawsuit, along with the names of the lead plaintiff’s attorney and the legal counsel representing the class members.
Although the lead plaintiff often is the first plaintiff to make contact with a lawyer, the attorneys responsible for filing the class action might select a different lead plaintiff or a group of lead plaintiffs. The reason for choosing a different lead plaintiff or a group of lead plaintiffs is because of the stress associated with handling the duties required to file a class action lawsuit. The duties include consulting with the legal team until the case ends, as well as deciding whether to accept a settlement or take the case to the trial phase of the litigation process. Acting as the face of the class action lawsuit is especially important for high-profile cases that receive considerable media coverage.
The most important decision the lead plaintiff must make is deciding whether to agree to a settlement. Working with an experienced class action attorney who possesses superior negotiation skills can help the lead plaintiff decide what is in the lead plaintiff’s best interests, as well as the best interests of the class members.
Should I File a Class Action Lawsuit or an Individual Lawsuit?
Filing a class action lawsuit means there is a good chance that you become the lead plaintiff during the course of litigation. You should conduct an honest self-assessment to determine whether you possess the skills and characteristics required to represent a large class of plaintiffs. One of the most important characteristics to have is patience, as a class action lawsuit can take several months, if not a couple of years to reach a conclusion. You also have to make the time commitment required to attend trial hearings, negotiation sessions, and meetings with your attorney. Another important skill that helps you as a class representative is the ability to understand complex legal concepts quickly.
Filing an individual lawsuit can earn you more in compensation since you are not splitting monetary damages. You do not assume responsibility for the outcome of a civil trial that impacts dozens of additional plaintiffs. Although you are the sole plaintiff for an individual lawsuit, you spend less time dealing with your case than if you decided to file a class action lawsuit. Filing a class action lawsuit requires a commitment to see a case through to the finish. If you do not have the time to meet the legal obligations presented by a class action lawsuit, then you are better off filing an individual lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.
You also can allow someone else to assume the role of the lead plaintiff, which means you have the opportunity to join a class action lawsuit without assuming all the legal responsibilities required of a lead plaintiff.
Contact Morgan and Morgan
If you sustained injuries and/or property damages, you might have a strong enough case to file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. If you discover the defendant committed acts of negligence that hurt other people, you have the right to file a class action lawsuit. Before you take legal action, schedule a free case evaluation today with one of the highly-rated personal injury attorneys at Morgan and Morgan.