Wed. May 18th, 2022


Awkshully, that never happens. Class action settlements have to be approved by the Court and no court would approve such a split. *

What happens is you have thousands or even millions of people who get some small amount and then the lawyers are awarded a fee. Yes, this fee can be millions of dollars where the class members EACH only get one dollar or $ 50 dollars. The attorneys fees do not come out of the settlement. They are set separately by the Court. The parties will agree on a tentative settlement, say 100 million to the class and the class attorneys will apply for a fee to be awarded to them. The Court will often look to the size of the settlement to determine whether the attorneys fee request is reasonable. Fee awards usually top out around 25%. Often far less. There are literally hundreds of pages of appellate decisions discussing how to reasonably set fees.

Yes, lawyers in successful class action cases are often awarded millions of dollars while each individual claimant gets a small amount. But a few things to keep in mind about that. If claimants don’t like that, they can opt out usually and pursue their own individual case and not be part of the settlement. Most don’t because their individual claims aren’t worth pursuing alone. And class attorneys on the plaintiff’s side get paid only if they are successful and get a settlement. There are plenty of lawyers who file a potential class action lawsuit on behalf of a million people, spend thousands of hours of attorney time, advance hundreds of thousands of dollars on research and investigation and lose the motion so they get nothing at all. Ask me how I know.

* Since I am a lawyer, here’s the qualification. Sure, that maybe has happened in some bizarre scenario in the past but at least 99.9% of settlements are not like that.



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