A Little About How Class Action Lawsuits Work (Mahalo Class Action Lawsuit)

Many of you have been asking me questions about the Mahalo.com lawsuit, the class action lawsuit that is potentially pending against Mahalo.com, and I haven’t been able to say much, for good reason: pending legal action. But I did want to let you all know a bit about how class actions work in general, so you can know what to expect during this class action lawsuit against Mahalo.

The rest of the information is very generic, and keep in mind, I am NOT an attorney, I do not practice law, and I live in a different state than where the lawsuit will take place in court.

So what happens first? First, they are looking a number of factors like:

  • Are there enough people to form a legitimate class? If so, do they all have the same or very similar grievances? That’s why talking to as many people potentially in the class as possible is important for the attorneys. Our attorney has said that we are all basically telling the same story, and wanting the same things, which is ideal for a class action. I think that we’ve satisfied this part of it, but only the law firm will know for sure and they’ll let us know soon, I’m sure.
  • Is the defendant viable, i.e.: if we win, does Mahalo/Jason have the funding/money to make good on the judgment and is it a good likelihood he’ll pay rather than just fold the business and walk away from it (which he won’t do or else he can’t own other businesses in the future without the judgment being on them too, and we know he won’t go without a business of some sorts). So we’re good there too, I think.
  • Then they look at what happened. I’ll get to that in a minute, but let’s look at a few other common questions.

PAYMENT:

Several people have asked about attorney’s fees, whether or not they have to pay anything, etc. We haven’t discussed this in depth with the attorneys. What’s important is that YOU know that YOU won’t have to put any money on this at all. Nobody in the class has to pay anything.

The way this typically works in a class action, is a percentage of the wins goes to the attorneys. There is a possibility that the attorneys will ask for attorneys’ fees in the judgment. If that happens, then the class gets the majority of the ‘win’ and the attorneys get paid too. That’s a win/win for ‘our’ side, but it’s still a win even if we pay the fees out of the class, since the attorneys are doing all the work, taking all the risk, and we are just along for the ride with information and a little bit of time.

THE COMPLAINT:

The next step is to gather up all that evidence and write it up as a complaint. The complaint is then filed with the courts, where it’s sort of like asking for permission to sue, at least, loosely.

THE CLASS:

The courts accept the complaint and then the class members are clearly defined. The class is certified, and once that happens, EVERYONE who meets the class requirements is automatically a part of the action. Every effort to contact class members so they know they are included will be made. I believe it’s the defendant’s side that has to contact everyone, but I can’t swear to that — I guess we’ll know more when we get there.

Those who qualify can stay a member of the class by doing nothing, or they can choose to opt out. There are many reasons one might want to opt out, such as: disagreeing with the lawsuit, fear of retribution (though this is a sad reason to opt out and I would hope you will talk to the attorneys before making that decision), or perhaps because they want to retain the ability to sue separately. If a person has a personal grievance with Mahalo and wants to sue separately outside of the class, they MUST opt-out of the class, since the class agrees that the judgment is the entire agreement between parties on that issue.

DISCOVERY:

Evidence gathering for both sides, deposing witnesses, showing each other who has what information and how they choose to use it.

SETTLING OUT OF COURT:

At any point along the way, the defendant can choose to make an offer of settlement, and if the class leader (which is me at this point) agrees, while taking into account the best thing for the entire class, then it doesn’t go to court per se. A judge still has to approve any settlement. If the defendant doesn’t settle, then it goes to court and a judge hears the evidence, hears the defense, and determines. I don’t think they use juries in this type of things, but it’s California, so I can’t say for sure.

We are currently in the first phase, which is figuring out exactly what is going to be included against Mahalo and what isn’t.

For some class actions, the plaintiff class members have to file claims to get their ‘award’ and for others, they don’t. If this is one that will require us to file a claim for our losses or damages or other award issues, then after the settlement/decision/judgment, class members will have an open time period in which to file their claim. Once their claim is approved, they are then put in queue to receive their award. I don’t, again, know how it works in California, but sometimes the award is paid as they go along, once the claim is approved, and sometimes the awards are only paid when all claims are filed or sometime after the claim period ends.

Even if a person is included in the class automatically, they will not get an award or a settlement without filing a claim during the open claims time period, if claims are required. That’s why it’s so important that people be very aware of this right now so they can follow along and know when that claims period is open and get their claim in. If claims don’t have to be filed, they’ll have to use a different method to determine the award each person receives based on their unique experience with Mahalo, how many pages they managed or some other criteria. I do not currently know what that criteria will be, but the law firm will let us know that when the time is right, so it is important to stay on top of this and keep looking for when information is needed from you.

So for those unsure, it’s okay to watch and wait for a while and see how things go. However, the more people who actually talk to the attorneys and tell them what happened to them, the better, stronger and more complete the complaint can be. There may be an issue that is impacting multiple people that is different than the issues already known by the attorneys. If enough people share that with the attorneys, it might be able to be included in this action. If you don’t talk to them now, and then later ask for something during the claims process or the award process that wasn’t covered by this class action, you aren’t likely to get it, and since you didn’t opt out in time, you won’t get to file it independently.

Talk to the attorneys. You don’t have to commit to anything, but isn’t it better to know what the class action lawsuit is really about so you can make an informed decision of which option you choose? It’s just an email or a phone call. It’s worth the few minutes it will take.

TO THE HATERS:

I know there are some haters out there for what I’m doing, or for me personally. I can take it. I know that I am on the right side of right, and it won’t detract me. I do hope that when this is all over, when I CAN talk about things, when the judgment or settlement is finished, that those same haters will understand why this had to be done, and see the positive that comes out of it.

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So there you have it…. the most I’ve said about the subject and probably all I will say about it, which is likely too much, but I felt I needed to make it clear while explaining to everyone what to expect. This won’t be fast, but it’s not going to drag on for years and years either. It WILL be worth it to know I stood up for writers everywhere and that writers stood together in support of proper, legal treatment and business practices under the law.

If you want to contact the attorneys, you can do so by reading this post. You can call or you can send an email. Best to you all!

Love and stuff,
Michy