Public officials have to face class action lawsuits from time to time. Allegations of fraud or misconduct can lead to judgments or settlements totaling millions of dollars.
Time spent on such cases pulls public servants away from necessary duties, which costs taxpayers, so understanding how to proceed in the face of a class action suit is often beneficial.
What is victory?
Pursuing a case includes time, court costs and other litigation expenses. Settlements also entail a cost, so a municipality has no clear-cut answer on which option is less expensive without a detailed review. The responsible officials can start by defining victory from a cost and public relations perspective. Such understanding allows the decision-makers to take a confident and realistic course of action.
Who are the parties?
It is essential to know all parties in the case, including the judge, plaintiffs and opposing counsel. The factors help determine the likelihood of winning.
What are the facts?
Compiling the relevant facts can lead defendants to an informed decision about how to proceed. This includes potential liability and exposure if losing the case. Often the truth of the matter is different from the perception.
Can the defense limit discovery?
Discovery can be very costly. One way to limit it can be by agreeing to stipulations about admissible evidence in the trial. Another method is objecting to specific requests for irrelevant or unduly burdensome information.
Class action lawsuits are a constant reality municipalities must face. By accounting for all factors and variables, a local government can navigate the situation smoothly.