How do I get involved in a stock-related class action?
UPDATED: August 27, 2012
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Getting involved in a class action lawsuit can be a relatively simple matter, provided you have the right documents. The first thing you will need to do is find out which law firm or law firms are representing plaintiffs in the class action suit. There are list available online providing this information, such as on the Stanford Law School website in the Securities Class Action Clearinghouse. Once you have identified which law firm is handling the class action, you'll need to get in touch with them and prove you have standing as a member of the class. If there are multiple law firms, you can usually join the class action by contacting any one of them, since the cases will eventually be combined and you'll become a part of the class action lawsuit as a whole.
A securities class action lawsuit occurs when there are many plaintiffs who have been harmed in a similar manner. For example, if a stock was artificially inflating the value of its shares by providing false earnings statements, and it did so during a period of two years, then anyone who bought that stock and suffered a loss during the relevant time period could be considered a plaintiff who was harmed. All of those individuals who could be considered harmed plaintiffs are considered part of the class in a class action lawsuit.
Thus, to join the class action lawsuit, you'll need to show you bought the stock during the time period in question and that you suffered the harm that the lawsuit is designed to address. This may mean showing certificates of ownership or other records proving that you owned the stock.
It's also important to note, however, that in some class action lawsuits, some of these steps will be unnecessary. Often when a class action suit occurs, the attorneys are able to obtain a list of potentially affected plaintiffs. If this is the case, you may receive notification in the mail inviting you to join the class. If so, you'll simply need to send back the appropriate forms and documentation requested in order to join the class action lawsuit.