Institutional Investor Services FAQs

  1. What is a class action case?

  2. How can I discuss a potential class action or a pending case with an attorney?

  3. Can any case against a business be brought as a class action?

  4. Why should I be involved in a class action?

  5. How much does it cost to join the class action case?

  6. How are the attorneys paid in class action cases?

  7. What kind of money will I receive?

  8. What is a Lead Plaintiff?

  9. How does a court determine who will serve as Lead Plaintiff?

  10. I am one person with a small claim. What should I do?

  11. Are all class members forced to participate in a class action?

  12. What is the "class period" in a securities case?

  13. How long does it take for a class action to be resolved?

  14. I acquired my shares in my 401(k) or IRA account. Can I still participate?

  15. Can I sell my stock in the company being sued and still be a class member?

  16. I made money on some purchases during the class period, and lost money on others. Can I still participate in the lawsuit?

  17. Do I need to prove I own or owned the stock to receive proceeds of a settlement or verdict? How do I do this?

  18. What happens when more than one law firm filed a lawsuit against the same company for the same conduct?

  19. What is a deposition? Will I have to testify at trial?

  20. How will you keep me informed during the course of the lawsuit?

  21. If I have information relative to a pending case, what should I do?

  1. What is a class action case?

    Class actions are a means of leveling the playing field between large corporations or other entities on one hand and individuals or relatively small institutions or businesses on the other hand. Class actions enable small claimants to band together to fight back against large corporations in situations where the individuals by themselves may not have a sufficient stake or the financial resources to justify litigation. In a class action, one or more named plaintiffs stand up for the entire group of similarly harmed persons during the course of the litigation since all have been injured by a common act or set of actions.

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  2. How can I discuss a potential class action or a pending case with an attorney?

    If you wish to discuss any situation, in complete confidence, simply telephone us toll-free at 877-891-9880 during regular business hours and you will be connected with an attorney who can help you. Our attorneys will discuss a pending case, or may investigate a new claim, free of charge. [top]

  3. Can any case against a business be brought as a class action?

    No. Generally, a class action is proper only where the issues common to the class outweigh the issues which are unique to individual members of the class. Where a consumer or investor approaches Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP with a possible case, the Firm makes a preliminary determination as to the merits of filing a class action. After the case is filed, the court will determine whether it fulfills all the requirements of a class action, and whether the class may be "certified." [top]

  4. Why should I be involved in a class action?

    By participating in a class case, you accomplish a number of objectives. You may receive compensation for a wrong, injury, or loss you have sustained that may not have been available to you in any other forum. Through inclusion in a class of similarly harmed persons, you also demonstrate to the court that the alleged harm done was substantial and impacted a large number of people, increasing both the likelihood of recovery and its size. In most cases you need take no steps of your own to join a class action. Indeed, usually only those who wish to exclude themselves from a class case need do anything. [top]

  5. How much does it cost to join a class action?

    Nothing. The only costs to you will be drawn from any settlement or judgment proceeds if there is a successful resolution of the case. We work on a contingency fee basis and only get paid by order of the court if the case is successful. In addition, we will advance expenses and costs associated with prosecuting class cases so there are no costs to you. [top]

  6. How are the attorneys paid in class action cases?

    The attorneys generally are paid in connection with an order from the Judge in charge of the case, and then only if the case is successful. The judge responsible for the case reviews a "fee petition" made by the attorneys. This fee petition details the work the attorneys have done on behalf of the class. The court then enters an order detailing the amount of the judgment or settlement proceeds to be paid to the attorneys. The amount of the fees awarded is based upon a number of factors, including, for example, the quality of the work, the difficulty of the case, the amount of time spent on the case, and the results obtained. This amount could be up to 20-33% of the total amount of a settlement or judgment. [top]

  7. What kind of money will I receive?

    Until the litigation is well under way it is impossible to determine what, if any, recovery might be possible. Some cases will go to trial while many others will settle. Still others may be dismissed by the court. A settlement usually involves a payment of cash, stock, or a combination of both to a common fund to be distributed to all members of the class in proportion to the amount each is determined to have lost. [top]

  8. What is a Lead Plaintiff?

    A Lead Plaintiff is a term generally used in connection with a securities fraud class action. The law governing securities fraud class actions is the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The Lead Plaintiff is a representative person(s) or entity appointed by the court to stand in for and act on behalf of the other class members in the litigation. The Lead Plaintiff is involved in determining the course and direction of the litigation and works with court-appointed "lead counsel." To appoint a Lead Plaintiff, a court must determine whether the proposed Lead Plaintiff's claims are similar to those of other class members, and whether this plaintiff will properly represent the interests of the entire class. Sometimes there can be more than one class member who serves as Lead Plaintiff. [top]

  9. How does a court determine who will serve as Lead Plaintiff?

    The most adequate Lead Plaintiff is the person or group of persons who, in the determination of the court, has the "largest financial interest" in the relief sought by the class. The determination of the largest financial interest can be made using the dollar amount of the loss due to the securities law violations alleged or the percentage of net worth lost. [top]

  10. I am one person with a small claim. What should I do?

    The class action is designed for people with individual claims that evolve from a common practice. In a securities class action, your rights are most likely protected by those with more significant losses who have already filed a securities class action or are acting as Lead Plaintiff. The same holds true in consumer fraud or other types of class actions. Therefore, you do not need to do anything if you would like to remain a class member. Please email pmauger@sfmslaw.com if you would like to be added to a specific case mailing list and sent information about the case. [top]

  11. Are all class members forced to participate in a class action?

    Generally not. In most consumer and investor class action, after the court certifies the case as a class action, members of the defined class are given an opportunity to "opt out" and pursue individual class actions against the defendant, if they so prefer. If, however, class members choose not to opt out, they are generally bound to the results of the case and automatically share in any recovery obtained for the class. [top]

  12. What is the "class period" in a securities case?

    The class period is the time during which it is believed the alleged fraud or other securities law violations caused the price of the stock at issue in the case to be artificially inflated. Only investors who purchased stock during this period are included in the class action suit. Initially determined by plaintiffs' counsel after extensive research and investigation, the class period may change during the course of the litigation based on information learned during the discovery (information-gathering) phase of the lawsuit. [top]

  13. How long does it take for a class action to be resolved?

    Until the litigation is under way, this is impossible to determine. We have had cases resolve in six months or last six years. In our experience, a typical class action case takes approximately two to three years from the time the complaint is filed until a case concludes either with settlement funds distributed to plaintiffs, or by judgment or dismissal. Remember, this is only an estimate; some cases have taken longer, especially when there are appeals, while others have taken significantly less time to resolve. Some factors include the length of time the court takes to make decisions, the number of parties and the complexity of the fraud. [top]

  14. I acquired my shares in my 401(k) or IRA account. Can I still participate?

    Yes, as long as the shares were acquired during the class period. [top]

  15. Can I sell my stock in the company being sued and still be a class member?

    Yes. You do not need to keep the stock after the class period has expired to participate in the lawsuit, as long as your sale results in a loss. If you have a gain, you do not have any damages to recover. [top]

  16. I made money on some purchases during the class period, and lost money on others. Can I still participate in the lawsuit?

    If your overall investment in the stock during the class period resulted in a loss (realized or not), you may participate in the lawsuit. [top]

  17. Do I need to prove I own or owned the stock to receive proceeds of a settlement or verdict? How do I do this?

    Yes. The best evidence of ownership is the confirmation slips you received at the time you purchased the stock. Other evidence could be brokerage statements, which show when you bought the stock and at what price. Keep these records in a safe place, since you may need to submit them to the claims administrator after the case has been resolved. You will receive notification when it is time to send in this documentation. [top]

  18. What happens when more than one law firm filed a lawsuit against the same company for the same conduct?

    You should hire only one law firm to represent you for the same claim, and you cannot improve the amount you could recover by retaining more than one law firm. We generally work with other firms and where more than one case has been filed on behalf of a class, the cases will eventually be consolidated by the courts so that the attorneys will work together. [top]

  19. What is a deposition? Will I have to testify at trial?

    When you sign the certification to be a named plaintiff in a securities suit, you must state that you are willing to give testimony at deposition (opposing attorneys question a plaintiff under oath about the lawsuit) or trial if necessary. Other kinds of cases also have named plaintiffs who may be required to give a deposition. [top]

  20. How will you keep me informed during the course of the lawsuit?

    You will be notified either by mail or email of any significant developments during the course of the litigation. You may also contact us, toll-free, at 877-891-9880. [top]

  21. If I have information relative to a pending case, what should I do?

    You can fill out the contact form or telephone us at 877-891-9880 to speak to an attorney in confidence.