Get to Know Your Named Plaintiffs: 3 Best Practices

Get to Know Your Named Plaintiffs: 3 Best Practices

Janese Nix

Named plaintiffs play an important role in class action cases as they represent an entire group of people who were allegedly harmed by a defendant’s (or defendants’) wrongdoing in a class action. Getting to know your potential named plaintiffs, their data and their role as a player in the industry can add valuable information to the class certification process and bring insights as to the harm potentially suffered by the class in general. Here are three ways to assess valuable information about your named plaintiffs.

1. Industry reports 

Finding potentially injured parties and obtaining their data is often a difficult task. In the meantime, obtaining industry reports can offer a firm understanding of how a potentially injured party fits into the industry, supply chain, or competitive environment (which can lead to other potential parties) and help guide the formulation of a solid complaint. For example, identifying the geographical advantage a manufacturer may have over a competitor could explain previously questioned price inconsistencies.

2. Plaintiff Data

Reviewing their purchase history and transaction data can clarify a complaint and give preliminary insights into statistical trends. Early evaluation of potential injury to named plaintiffs in relation to the class as a whole can save substantial challenges and litigation obstacles later and can highlight areas for case development. For example, comparing an individual party’s degree of injury against another plaintiff can give insight into their likelihood of signing-on or opting out. The parties with the greatest injury may be the most likely to pursue an opt-out case. Smaller parties or parties with less injury may be easier to sign on but more challenging to show injury.

3. Potential Benchmarks

All data is insightful data – even when an alleged injury is not immediately apparent. Pause before throwing any data out with the bathwater. When a party is identified but appears to not have been injured, statistically speaking, their data may provide a useful benchmark – an example of how a defendant should have behaved. 

Other Questions to Ask

As you get to know your named plaintiffs, some additional questions may help avoid problems down the road: Are the named plaintiffs purchasing products from all product categories? Are they purchasing from all defendants? Are they purchasing during the injury period? Do the named plaintiffs represent all customer types, such as manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers? Working with your experts to assess your named plaintiffs in relation to the class as a whole will ensure smooth sailing throughout the remainder of the class certification and merits phases of the case.