What does it mean to opt-out of a class action?
In simple terms, to opt-out of a class action is to exclude yourself from the class action.
To understand what it means to opt-out of a class action, it is first necessary to understand the fundamental nature of a class action. A class action is an action brought by one or more persons (called the “representative plaintiffs”) on behalf of a group of similarly situated persons (called the “class”). The action was “certified” as a class action on September 2, 2016, meaning that the court decided that the action could proceed as a class action, and any settlements or court orders will apply to all members of the class unless the putative class member opts-out. In this case, persons falling within the parameters of the class are automatically included in the class unless they opt-out.
What are the consequences of opting-out or not opting-out?
If a Class Member opts-out of a class action, he or she will not be permitted to participate in any settlement or court award achieved in the class action, and will not be bound by any orders issued in the class action. However, he or she will be able to pursue his or her claims on an individual basis, subject to potential defenses such as the statute of limitations which may bar claims for not being filed within a specific time.
Conversely, if a person does not opt-out of a class action, he or she will be permitted to participate in any settlement or court award achieved in the class action, and will be bound by any orders issued in the class action. However, he or she will not be able to pursue his or her claims on an individual basis. Simply stated, in deciding to whether or not to opt-out, you are deciding whether or not to be part of the class action. You would only opt-out if you do not want to be part of the class action.
In what circumstances would a person want to opt-out?
Generally speaking, a person would only want to opt-out of a class action if he or she intends to bring individual litigation. In most circumstances, it is more cost effective to participate in a class action because the legal costs are spread over a large number of people, making it more economical for any individual class member to obtain relief.
How does a person opt-out?
In order to opt-out, a class member must send a signed letter to Class Counsel at 516 S. New Hope Road, Gastonia, North Carolina 28054 indicating their full name, their return address, and their unequivocal request to opt-out of the Class. The request to opt-out must be postmarked no later than October 31, 2016. Click here to see a sample opt-out request – Word | PDF.
If a class member is deceased, their estate is a member of the class. If an estate wants to opt-out of the class, the executor, administrator, or collector of the estate must send a copy of the letters testamentary, letters of administration or other documentation issued by the clerk authorizing them to serve to Class Counsel along with a signed opt-out letter as described above.
If a class member has been deemed incompetent by a court, the opt-out letter must be signed by their guardian and accompanied by a copy of the order appointing the signatory as guardian of the class member.
Further Information & Questions
The decision to opt-out is an important decision. If you have questions about whether you should opt-out, you should consult legal counsel, either your own counsel or counsel for the Class by calling (704) 790-6030 for additional information. You will not be required to pay for Class Counsels’ legal advice regarding the decision to opt-out.