A class action notice is a form of written communication, such as a postcard, email, letter, newspaper or magazine ad, informing individuals of a filed or pending case and the legal rights they may exercise at that time. In 2018, amendments were made to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures (FRCP 23), including notice by electronic means (eNotice), mentioned in Rule 23(c)(2) as an appropriate means of providing notice to the class, given the proposed class has sufficient access to the internet. This amendment is consistent with the trend of courts, and society, to use electronic communications rather than traditional first-class mail.
During discovery, the plaintiff attorney has a right to obtain the contact information of all individuals that may be similarly situated to the lead plaintiff to compile a potential member class. At this point it has not been determined yet if the case will go to trial or settle, therefore no judgment has been reached. The class member criteria vary based on the case type. In most class actions, class members will have been affected by the case allegations within a specific timeframe, known as the class period. In wage and hour cases, for example, the class member criteria may include the dates employed by the defendant, position, classification, etc. In consumer cases, it may be the purchase of a product or discrimination.
In class-action lawsuits, filed under FRCP 23, a Notification of Class Certification occurs after a case has received class certification and a notice must be sent to class members. The court directs a notice be sent to them, usually through a class action administrator like Simpluris because they have a right to learn about the proposed settlement of class action lawsuit, their legal rights, what benefits are available, and how to receive them. The notice explains the case has received class certification and provides class members the opportunity to opt-out of the case, whether the judgment is favorable or unfavorable. A class member that submits an opt-out will not be bound the terms of the judgment will be excluded from the case and will not be bound by terms of judgment, will not receive any compensation that may be awarded, and keeps the right to sue the defendant separately about the same legal claims in the lawsuit. A class member that does nothing will remain in the class and will be bound by the terms of the judgment, keep the possibility of receiving any compensation that may be awarded, gives up their right to later sue the defendant about the same legal claims in the lawsuit, and receives notice of any ruling on the case.
In privacy cases in California, the law requires a privacy notice is sent to all potential class members prior to the disclosure of the personal contact information to the plaintiff’s counsel. Privacy cases typically contain a notice and a response form. The notice informs the class member of the potential class action, which may include which court that case was filed in, and the names of the lead plaintiffs and the plaintiff and defense attorneys on the case. The notice informs the individual why they are receiving the notice and the allegations made against the defendant and their privacy rights they may exercise at that time. Class members are provided with a deadline to submit their response to the case. There are two types of privacy cases each with their own type of response form: opt-out and opt-in to the disclosure of personal contact information.
In a privacy opt-out case, potential class members are requesting that their personal information is not disclosed to the plaintiff’s counsel. A response of opt-out means an individual's contact information will not be disclosed to the plaintiff’s counsel. If an individual does nothing, his/her contact information will be disclosed to the plaintiff’s counsel.
In a privacy opt-in case, potential class members are affirmatively agreeing to have their contact information released to Plaintiff’s Counsel. An opt-in response means that an individual's contact information will be disclosed to the plaintiff’s counsel. By doing nothing, an individual's contact information will not be disclosed to the plaintiff’s counsel.
Simpluris plays a critical role in effectuating this court-approved notice plan as a court-appointed neutral third party, class administrator. It receives the potential class member data from the plaintiff counsel, sends out notice packets to them using state-of-the-art technology and services to ensure the most current class member contact information, processes responses, and releases the information collected back to plaintiff counsel. In the event that the plaintiff counsel requests a class administrator to settlement notices, Simpluris has the capability to also conduct settlement fund distribution. As a full-service provider, with more than 6,000 cases, a team of experts, and industry-leading technology, Simpluris can provide reliable and comprehensive class action administrative services from discovery to disbursement.