Class-action lawsuit a big payoff?

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Editor’s note: This is a transcript of the audio file.

If you receive a notice of eligibility to join a class-action lawsuit, should you bother? I’m Clark Palmer with your Personal Finance Minute.

Usually the company facing a class-action lawsuit has deep pockets. Visions of a big payoff start doing the hokey-pokey in your head. But not so fast! In fact, in most cases, only two sets of participants reap any real rewards: the attorneys and the named or represented plaintiffs.

Also, simply because you receive a notice of a class-action lawsuit doesn’t mean you qualify to participate. Sometimes attorneys simply have reason to believe you’re a class member.

If this case does apply to you, read the notice carefully to see what you’ll receive in the event of a settlement.

However, even if you could receive a decent amount of compensation, class-action suits can take years to wind down in the courts.

In the end, class members usually receive tiny amounts of money. The true cost of the lawsuit is often passed along to – you guessed it – you the consumer.

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