Unfortunately, for those who must decide whether to participate in a class action, there are no hard and fast rules that apply to every case. However, the following general guidelines should help you to make the right decision:
FIRST: Do not set the class action notice aside to deal with at a later time. Most class action notices have relatively short deadlines.
SECOND: Promptly determine the amount you have personally been damaged by the wrongdoing that is the subject of the class action. At their best, class actions can provide a financial benefit to each class member and deter or stop unsavory corporate practices. At their worst, however, class actions fail to materially benefit anyone but the class-action lawyers. If your losses due to the wrongdoing are just a few thousand dollars, then it is unlikely you will have a better option than to participate in the class action. However, if you have suffered substantial investment losses, then you may be better off opting out of the class action and working with a lawyer who will represent you individually as discussed below.
THIRD: Based on the foregoing, determine whether you should pursue your claim individually instead of becoming a member of the class. Individuals who hire experienced counsel and pursue their own claims typically fare better than those participating in a class action because an investor’s recovery in class claims is often very small. On the other hand, if you do not want to go through the stress and expense of pursuing your claim individually or your losses are not large enough to justify pursuing your own claim, and then participation in the class action may be your best course of action.
If you are confused by an investor class action notice and what it means to you, do not ignore it. Your family attorney or an attorney other than class action counsel should be able to advise you or refer you to an attorney who can advise you at no cost to you.