Charney Lawyers has an established track record for recovering substantial compensation for class members. Our lawyers always appreciate the opportunity to speak with consumers who have been wronged and want to know if a class action is the best way to seek compensation. We appreciate referrals from lawyers and are willing to work collaboratively on a worthy cause.
Charney Lawyers has an established reputation for conducting class action litigation, including class actions based on explosions, food contamination, insurance, personal injury, product liability and securities. The firm has been counsel of record on national, transnational and international class actions. We have acted as co-lead counsel on cases involving thousands of class members. We have recovered over $125 million for class members.
Charney Lawyers has the necessary resources, creativity and the resolve to successfully litigate the most complex claims.
What is a Class Action?
A class action is a powerful legal tool which allows ordinary people to join forces to fight injustice. Class actions differ from regular lawsuits, in that they usually involve many people, working together, to focus their collective strength against a single wrongdoer, usually a large, multi-national corporation.
The purpose of class actions is to help level the legal playing field between big corporations and average people. The goals of a class action may be summarized as follows:
- Access to justice: i.e., to give people who might not otherwise be able to afford a lawyer a chance to have their day in court;
- Judicial economy: i.e., to save court costs in the handling of large cases, involving many injured people;
- Behaviour modification: i.e., to punish corporate wrongdoing, and to force corporations to pay for any harm they have caused.
There are 5 distinct stages to a class action.
- In Canada, a lawsuit starts when the plaintiff files a document with the court called a "Statement of Claim". This document sets out all the facts which the plaintiff hopes to prove in his or her case. The Statement of Claim tells the defendant what the lawsuit is about, and sets the stage, either for settlement, or for battle.
- The Certification Motion: Before the plaintiff can proceed any farther with the class action, it is first necessary to get the court's approval of the case as a class action. The court does not decide the merits of the case at this early stage, but merely, examines whether the case is appropriate for treatment as a class action. The court looks at whether the case raises common issues, and at whether there are alternative means for handling the plaintiff's claim. If the court decides that a class action is the "preferable procedure" for dealing with the plaintiff's claim, then the lawsuit is certified as a class action, and it is allowed to go forward. If not, then the plaintiff will only be allowed to bring his or her claim as a separate, individual lawsuit.
- Most class actions settle once the Court decides to approve a class action. A defendant is anxious to settle because once a Court approves a class action, the defendant is exposed to the claims of hundreds and sometimes thousands of plaintiffs and therefore the financial pressures on the defendant to settle are substantial.
- If the case does not settle, then it goes to trial. During the trial, the claims of the "representative plaintiffs" are heard. Representative plaintiffs are the people who initially had the courage and foresight to start the lawsuit. Generally, if they are successful in proving their claims, then all other persons, with similar claims, will also benefit.
- Damage Distribution: Assuming the representative plaintiffs were successful at the common trial, then there should be money to distribute to all those persons who had enrolled in the class action, whether or not they actually participated in the common trial. Money can be distributed to class members in a number of ways. It may be that a class member can simply submit a claim form to the plaintiff's lawyers, in order to be reimbursed. It may be that certain class members will need to go to a lawyer's office to give sworn evidence, or attend a mediation or arbitration, or even a mini-trial, before getting reimbursed. How the money will be distributed, will depend on the type of case that was brought, and the number of people who are entitled to compensation.
Each of these stages can take a long time, or a short time. In Ontario, some class actions have gone from start to finish in under 6 months. In other cases however, defendants have fought long and hard to avoid liability. There are many cases which have gone on for years and years, and still have not been resolved. It is hard to predict how long a particular case will last, particularly in the face of a determined opponent. The battle for justice however, is never easy. One must be patient, and determined, in order to succeed.
Class Action Fees
Class action lawsuits can be costly and risky for a law firm to pursue. Often they are extremely complex in nature due to the legal issues of the case and also by virtue of the logistics in dealing with the sheer number of claimants involved. Costs for carrying the case, such as legal time and expenses (i.e., disbursements), administration, advertising/public awareness, research and expert reports, are all borne by the law firm. Individual claimants are normally not charged anything unless the lawyers are successful in recovering compensation for them.
Legal fees for class actions are generally calculated as a percentage of the amount of compensation recovered, typically 20-30%, plus whatever amount the defending side contributes towards legal fees or expenses.
Class Action Participation
If you wish to participate in one of our existing class actions, then please click on the link to the class action home page and complete our confidential questionnaire. There is no financial obligation to register. Once you register, we will notify you of all important developments via email. If you are interested in starting a new class action, then please contact us for a free consultation. We work closely with representative plaintiffs who hire us to start a class action. There is no fee unless we recover. See Class Action Fees.
Note: there is no online questionnaire for the Ashley Madison Class Action. You must call the offices of Charney Lawyers or Sutts, Strosberg LLP to join the class registry.