Q.  Do I have a claim that can be pursued as a class action?

There are different types of class actions and varying requirements for each type of class. It is not possible to discuss all of the aspects of a class action, because the particular facts are extremely important.

     You probably have a claim which can be pursued as a class action if a company has wrongfully obtained money from you and numerous other persons in the same way. Generally, there cannot be individual variations in the wrongful conduct. If the company did the same wrongful thing to numerous people, you may have a case that can be pursued as a class action. Normally, it is not necessary that each person have the exact same damage. However, the amount of damage for each individual member of the class is usually small such that it is not economically feasible to file a single claim on behalf of a single individual.

Q.  Who files the class claim?

     There must be a class representative who is willing to act as the plaintiff and to represent the other members of the class.

     
 

Survey Of State Class Action Law

Patrick Hennessy is a nationally recognized expert on class action litigation.  He is the author of the Louisiana section of the Annual Survey of State Class Action Law published annually by The American Bar Association.  To read his 2011 submission to this distinguished journal, please click here.

This file is in Adobe Acrobat format and requires Adobe Reader to view.

 
     
Q.  What are the duties of a class representative?


There are many duties of a class representative.

    (1)    The class representative must represent the interest of all class members, as opposed to representing his own interest.

    (2)    As a class representative, the law will require that you “adequately and fairly represent the class.” There are several components to this requirement:

        (a)    As class representative, you are required to be generally familiar with the case. You are not required to know everything about the case; that’s the job of your counsel. You must, however, keep informed of the major events and you must read and generally understand the complaint. You should know who you are suing and why you are filing suit.

        (b)    You will be required to confer with your attorneys with regard to major matters as needed.

        (c)    You are legally required to vigorously prosecute the litigation; however, if we represent you, we will, with your authorization, be responsible for the vigorous prosecution of the litigation.

        (d)    You must hire lawyers experienced in class action litigation. This firm has experience as lead counsel and co-counsel in class action matters and have handled several class action matters to a successful resolution.

    (3)    Class actions are expensive to prosecute. There are court costs, copy expenses, depositions, travel, and notice costs if the class is certified. If we represent you in a class action, we will advance all costs and you will not be responsible for the repayment of those costs even if we are unsuccessful. If we are successful in pursuing the class action, costs will typically be recovered from the defendant. In any event, you will not be responsible for those costs.

    (4)    If the class is certified, you will be responsible for providing notice to the class. Again, however, we, as your counsel, will undertake this task on your behalf as part of the vigorous prosecution of the case.

    (5)    As class representative, you will receive no special treatment. We cannot and will not promise you any compensation above and beyond the compensation which may be awarded to any other class member. If successful, we will probably ask the judge to award you additional compensation for the extra time and effort you have expended as class representative, but we cannot guarantee that the judge will grant our request. Should you decide to act as a class representative, it is important for you to realize that you will be acting for the good of the class without any promise or guarantee of any additional compensation for your time and trouble.

    (6)    As class representative, you will not be responsible for the investigation of the case, and you are not required to be an expert on the claims. If you act as class representative, you will likely be asked to give a deposition and will be questioned as to what investigation you have performed and expertise you have. In answer, you will be perfectly justified in saying that you have hired experienced attorneys whom you are relying on to do the appropriate investigation and to be experts in regard to the claim. Your duty is to be generally familiar with the claims and the parties.

    (7)    If you act as class representative, you will not be personally responsible for any attorney’s fees. In fact, attorney’s fees are recoverable only if the matter is successfully prosecuted and then only if approved by the court. Those fees are usually payable out of money which is recovered from the defendant and if so, your recovery may be diminished by the amount of attorney’s fees which are paid, but you will not be personally responsible for paying any attorney’s fees out of pocket.

    (8)    In most cases, legitimate lawsuits are settled without a trial. This rule applies to class actions just like any other case. The difference with a class action is that a class action settlement must be approved by the court. If we pursue a class action on your behalf and enter into settlement negotiations, we will consult with you before we agree to settle.

If you think you have a claim which should be pursued as a class action and are willing to serve as a class representative, contact us to discuss the matter further.

     
 

Experience Matters!

Here is a listing of significant class action cases Patrick Hennessy has litigated in his career.


Class actions in which he served as lead counsel:

Henry C. Kihneman, III, et al v. Rountree Olds Cadillac Company, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 93-0558, U.S. District Couirt, Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport Division

Billy Cook, et al v. Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association, et al., Civil Action No. 94-1730, U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport Division (involving nearly every automobile dealer in the State of Louisiana)

Ghoram, et al v. Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association, et al., Civil Action No. 94-11136, Division B, Civil District Court for Orleans Parish, Louisiana

Edwenna Lloyd, et al v. Health One, Inc., et al., Suit No. 454,405-A, First Judicial District Court, Caddo Parish, Louisiana

Keith Masters, et al v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Suit No. 454,465-B, First Judicial District Court, Caddo Parish, Louisiana

Fitzgerald, et al v. Richard Stalder, et al., Suit No. 401,895, 19th Judicial District Court, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana

Strickland v. Hunter Medical Systems, Inc., Suit No. 64,524-C, 11th Judicial District Court, DeSoto Parish, Louisiana

Brandi Howard, et al v. Willis-Knighton Medical Center, Suit No. 455,488-A; First Judicial District Court; Caddo Parish, Louisiana

Mary Susan Darnell Smith through her agent Suzanne Smith Upchurch v. McGuire Funeral Home, Inc.,et al, Suit No. 520,113-B, First Judicial District Court; Caddo Parish, Louisiana

Dorothy Marie Wheeler v. Glay H. Collier II, Thomas C. McBride, and McBride & Collier, Adversary No. 11-01001; U.S. Bankruptcy Court Western Division of Louisiana; Shreveport Division


Class actions in which he participated as co-counsel:

Martha Miller Stoute, et al v. Wagner & Brown, et al., Suit No. 24,394, Div. "C", 18th Judicial District Couirt, Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana

Robinson v. Texas Automobile Dealers Association, et al., Cause No. 5:97-CV-273, in the United States District Court, Eastern Division, Texarkana

Jones v. Alford Chevrolet-Geo, et al., Cause No. 30-96, in the 115th District Court in Marion County, Texas

Murphy v. Alford Chevrolet-Geo, et al., Cause No. 168-96, in the 115th District Court in Marion County, Texas
 

 
     

 
© 2007 J. Patrick Hennessy