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4 Things To Consider Before Administering Your Consumer Class Action Settlement

In recent years, the courts have taken a considerable interest in how consumer class action settlements are administered. Consumer cases cover a broad range of settlement types and vary greatly in size, visibility, class demographics, and more. Here are some considerations to help you develop a thoughtful, realistic, and well-planned strategy for settlement administration.

1. How loyal are the class members to the brand?

Brand affinity is a solid indicator of how large a class will be. A brand with a large loyal following may mean class members are less likely to take legal action against them. Inversely, a brand with image issues or little brand loyalty may face a much larger number of claims. Administrators need to prepare call centers and web portals that can handle the level of traffic commensurate with the number of anticipated claims. Greater interest in the settlement increases the likelihood of fraudulent claims. Experienced class action administrators are aware of these possibilities and have the tools in place to mitigate such claims as they arise and can also handle fluctuating volume.

2. What are you doing to drive claim rates?

A large pool of uncollected settlement funds makes the class action notice effort appear ineffective. When this happens, the Court may go so far as to order a second round of notice. To avoid these pitfalls, it is best to leverage the services of a class action notice expert who uses the right combination of content and frequency of messaging to effectively notify class members. Using a notice expert is not only wise, but it has also become standard protocol. Straightforward, clear language is essential to notify claimants and establish trust. Experts consider the class demographics and utilize the most effective techniques for clear communication.

3. What kind of news coverage has the case had?

Once national and international brand settlements attract organic news coverage, traffic surges to the settlement website will likely follow. There is no perfect science to knowing how many people will respond, but an experienced claims administrator recognizes the correlation between press coverage and web traffic. Securing adequate bandwidth, stress testing the website, and setting up alerts to warn when the website is in danger of exceeding its capability are all steps the administrator should take ahead of time to avoid unnecessary down time and associated costs.

4. Is your claim form simple enough?

What is more frustrating than spending time filling out a form online, only to stumble across a dead-end, broken link, or inability to submit? It’s important to check for accuracy, completeness, and fast load times in the claim form, and make sure that no detail is overlooked. The fields should be strategically selected, with appropriate security measures (such as a CAPTCHA field) added to divert fraudulent claims. Internal testing and client testing alike are important to guarantee a user-friendly and secure process.   

In addition to a simple digital process, class members should be able to easily find the information they need through adequate notice and the settlement website. Federal Rule 23 requires notice to be written in plain language, meaning the reading level should be appropriate for the target audience and is clear and concise.

James Prustman
James (Jim) Prutsman has more than 20 years of experience in the administration of some of the highest profile class action settlements in the United States. He is a recognized expert with extensive experience in the planning, development of systems, process and procedures for the successful administration of hundreds of matters.


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