WHAT DO CLASS ACTION ADMINISTRATORS DO? PART I
(refer Class Action 101).
What is a Class Action Administrator?
Class action administrators are court-appointed neutral third parties. We are chosen by the court based upon recommendations of case counsel when they submit a proposed class certification or stipulated settlement motion, or in the rare event, after trial. Attorneys preparing these motions should consult with class action administrators, such as Simpluris, about the technical aspects, feasibility, efficacy, and efficiency of various forms of notice to class action members.
Courts ultimately decide on class action administrators. Hence, judges always want to see a viable plan to maximize the number of class action members actually receiving notice as theses are of the highest concern. These notice issues are determinant when courts choose experienced settlement administrators because the court has the responsibility to ensure class action members, most possessing little or no knowledge the case exists prior to receiving any notices, receive notice, and have an opportunity to ‘opt-out’. For more about ‘opt-outs’ client the link to I Received a Class Action Notice – Opt-out or Stay in?
Most class action members first become aware that class action administrators even exist once a court approves a class action certification motion, or sometimes a proposed or actual settlement agreement motion. Other times, putative class members receive ‘privacy’ notices even before certification motions are filed giving those individuals an opportunity to ‘opt-out’ of providing their personal, and perhaps ‘private’ information to plaintiffs’ class action counsel for discovery purposes. Under any scenario, Simpluris, or any class action administrator, is required to provide reasonable, good faith attempts to contact all the proposed members of the class must be effectuated. It is all part of being ‘Notice Experts’.
What’s the best way to ensure that as many class members as possible are notified about the class action so there are no notice issues impeding final resolution? At Simpluris, we are here to help and solve these questions … so read on.
Before Going to Court – Consult an Expert
Class action litigation is a complex undertaking. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 (FRCP 23) can be complicated and confusing. Each case is different, posing probable new challenges to a successful resolution. At Simpluris, we have administered thousands of class actions. So even very experienced attorneys would be advised before filing for class certification or settlement approvals to consult with professionals extremely well versed in the nuts and bolts of successfully administering class actions without mistakes and delays. For a free consultation please contact Simpluris at email@example.com or call our Business Development Department at 800-779-2104, option 1.
Attorneys must feel their settlement administrator is a ‘Notice Expert’. Why? Because ‘Ascertainability’, FRCP 23’s requirement that class members can be identified and found, is probably the most important role of a neutral class action administrator can. If only a small percentage of class members are even aware of the litigation a judge can reject a class certification motion, or even a final settlement motion. For more about ‘Ascertainability’ click the link to TCPA Ascertainability Discovery.
To overcome court rejection at various steps in class action litigation a well-crafted Notice Plan must be submitted to the court for approval. Crucial as if enough class action members are not notified of the action the judge may not approve the final settlement, sending everyone scurrying back to the drawing board. Hence, Simpluris provides its expert assistance to counsel drafting proposed class action notices. Heck, we have handled thousands of cases for more than a decade. If your proposed class action administrator does not provide this service --- find a new one.
Ultimately, a class action administrator’s duty is to follow the court order approving the notice plan. Many post-notice plan order problems can be eliminated even before they occur if an experienced administrator is involved in the process of crafting the notice plan and order.
When offering various methods for notifying class members to meet your specific needs, we can assist in the preparation of ‘plain-language’ documents to assist class member comprehension and guide you through the process of verbiage and language nuances that will assist in a smooth case rollout.
Effectuating the Court Order
Once the court has issued its order approving of the notice plan class action administrators notice experts seemingly first action is notifying class members. But often their contact information is not readily available. Locating class members can be a difficult task when they have moved, or inaccurate addresses have been provided, or when email addresses result in a bounce-back as no longer valid. This problem obviously becomes more acute when the defendant, the usual possessor of class members’ contact information, do not possess the necessary data or knowledge, or even an identification, of class action members, such as in consumer cases.
The world of communication is continually shifting primarily due to the rapid evolution of technology. In place of newspapers, people are tweeting, web surfing, social networking, blogging and so on. Traditional radio exists, but internet radio is also changing the airwaves. Simpluris prides its technological savvy. It is time to evolve your communications. We are here to make it happen. Banner ads, blog spots, email blasts, you name it, we will do it. If you are looking for innovative ways to reach your class members, let us help you execute a cost-effective and higher response settlement program.
There are a multitude of tools available to class action administrators to locate these ‘missing’ class action members. The U.S. Postal Service’s ‘National Change of Address’ (NCOA) databases, consisting of over 160 million addresses, or ‘skip tracing’ are utilized, using whatever data is available. ‘Skip tracing’ is the term used to locate someone’s whereabouts. Consider the steps a police detective or bounty hunter, or less dramatic, a debt collector, would take to find their subject. Their tools include phone numbers, criminal background checks, utility billings, social security numbers (if known) and public tax information, such as property records. This process is generally triggered by returned mail deemed undeliverable or bouncebacks on emails. It is critical that any notice plan contain provisions for locating these missing class members.
When mail is returned undeliverable to Simpluris, we have long instituted automated and rapid processes using reliable sources from the U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Census Bureau, and other private nationally recognized credit sources. Our goal --- to identify and designate newer or confirmed addresses that may exist for that class member. This very detailed and highly specialized process of mailing and address configuration is yet another value-added-offering of Simpluris, and a part of our ongoing devotion to complete and holistic accuracy. If the class action or settlement administrator being considered does not have this capability --- find another one.
Once the new addresses have been updated in the system, a re-mail can be sent to that class member, based on the settings and parameters of the case, again defined by the court-approved notice plan. Again, another reason to consult a class action notice expert before going to court for certification and settlement approval.
Class action administrators often commence advertising programs to notify class members, along with dedicated web pages combined with sophisticated ‘search engine optimization’ (SEO) techniques so potential class members can even be found by their internet search patterns. The creating of instant-scaling and rapidly usable dedicated websites for a case is now considered a basic requirement in settlement administration, saving countless hours of phone calls, letters, emails, and other unnecessary correspondence. And Simpluris self-service platform allows class members to obtain exactly any requested information any time of day, from anywhere in the world. Each task that we offer is just 2-3 clicks from the landing page, designed with the most simplistic and friendly user experience possible. For more information about our industry-leading technology, click the link regarding Simpluris’ self-service platform.
If your seeking a cost proposal for a current or upcoming case please contact Simpluris at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Business Development Department at 800-779-2104, option 1. We can address all your concerns and we are always ready to help!