What is a class-action lawsuit?

Class-action lawsuit is filed on behalf of a 'class' of people

A class-action lawsuit is a complaint filed by one or multiple plaintiffs on behalf of a larger group, referred to as a “class,” of people who believe they have experienced the same misdeed.

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According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, it “allows courts to manage lawsuits that would otherwise be unmanageable if each class member (individuals who have suffered the same wrong at the hands of the defendant) were required to be joined in the lawsuit as a named plaintiff.”

Hundreds, if not thousands of people can be included in a class and are entitled to a portion of the settlement, if any is awarded, or judgment, explains Classaction.org, which notes that someone who is believed to be eligible to be included in a lawsuit’s class will typically receive a “class action notice” by mail.

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The website also provides a list of class-action lawsuits that are both in the works or have already been settled.

In one recent class-action suit, which was resolved on July 21, a South Carolina state judge on Monday approved a $520 million settlement against state-owned utility Santee Cooper over increased rates for a failed nuclear construction project.

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The deal will provide refunds for nearly all of the utility’s 1.7 million customers. After about 90 days, customers will receive some kind of cash payment. Customers with refunds of less than $25 will receive a credit on their bill.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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