Class actions are commenced on behalf of individuals (called “class members”) who all have the same, or similar, claims for damages. If you think that you may be affected by a class action, it is important to preserve certain evidence that could be helpful in making a claim in the class action.
The Claims Process
When a class action is settled or a court award is issued in favour of the class, the settlement funds are distributed to class members through a claims process. The claims process is usually coordinated by a claims administrator. During the claims process, a potential class member must submit a claim to the claims administrator. Often, potential class members are required to provide evidence to support their individual claim. The type of evidence required will depend on the type of class action.
Price Fixing Class Actions
Price-fixing class actions involve allegations that the defendants participated in unlawful conspiracies to fix, increase, or maintain prices of certain products or services, or participated in bid-rigging, supply reduction or customer allocation. As a result of the alleged conspiracies, consumers and businesses might have paid more for the relevant product or service.
If you believe you are a class member in a price-fixing case, the evidence needed to file a claim is simple—just keep your receipt. Some price-fixing cases may involve products that were purchased many years ago. When this occurs, Siskinds tries to propose reasonable proof requirements. As a result, the claims administrator often accepts alternative forms of proof such as historical accounting records, warranty documents, repair statements, bank or credit card statements, or product serial numbers.
In some price-fixing cases, consumers are even permitted to file a claim without proof of purchase. For example, consumers who wished to make a claim in the recent Chocolates Class Action claims process did not require any receipts for purchases totaling $1000 or less. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to keep your receipts in a safe place.
If you purchased the product directly from a defendant, you may receive a claims package that includes your purchase amount, as listed in the defendant’s records. You have the option of relying on this amount, in which case you do not need to provide the claims administrator with any evidence. If you choose to refute the pre-populated purchase amount, you will need to provide the claims administrator with documentary proof.
Product Liability Class Actions
Product liability class actions relate to harm arising out of the design, manufacture or sale of a product. If you believe you are a class member in a product liability class action, you might need to take a few different steps to preserve your evidence.
It is important to keep your receipt, warranty documentation, and any installation or repair documentation, if applicable.
If you need to replace the faulty product, for example, if your shingles are leaking and you need to replace your roof, take photographs of the shingles, as installed from several angles. Label the photos to clearly identify each angle. Ensure that the photos show the condition of the product. If you employ a contractor to help with the replacement, the contractor should be able to assist you. When the product is uninstalled, you may wish to keep the product, but this is not always practical. With roofing shingles, for example, it is sufficient to keep several sample shingles in a clean dry area. Make a note of from which slope the shingles were removed. If possible, have your contractor write a report on the condition of the shingles.
If you incurred property damage as a result of the faulty product, for example, if your shingles leaked, causing water damage, take photographs and keep receipts and invoices relating to the repair.
If you were injured or physically harmed by the product, take pictures (if applicable) and retain your receipts from any medical expenses. You may need to request a copy of your medical records.
Consumer Protection Class Actions
Consumer protection class actions involve fraudulent or deceptive practices in the advertising, marketing, sale, or provision of goods or services and may also involve situations where consumers are being overcharged, or where some charges are concealed.
If you think you are a class member in a consumer protection class action, keep your receipt or invoice and any documentation that was given to you during the sales and purchase process. For example, if you purchased a new car, keep any marketing materials, brochures or other advertising documents you obtained. If you were given warranty documents, these should also be maintained. If the sales person sent you letters or email describing the product or its features, these should also be preserved.
Like price-fixing cases, in some consumer class actions, proof of purchase may not be required to make a claim.
Securities Class Actions
Securities class actions allow investors to recover their losses when companies misrepresent their business and finances. If you believe you are a class member in a securities class action, you will need to provide records of all your transactions of the relevant security during the relevant time. Ideally, you should keep your monthly balance statements for the class period identified in the statement of claim. You should retain these records for each account in which you held the relevant security.
To help speed up the claims process, submit your documents in chronological order. Claims administrators are frequently paid out of the settlement funds—depending on the fee agreement, submitting your claim in chronological order may reduce the administration costs of the settlement, resulting in additional settlement funds being available to class members.
Pharmaceutical Class Actions
In pharmaceutical and medical device class actions, class members seek to recover damages for the harm suffered from using certain drugs or medical devices.
If you believe that you are a class member in a pharmaceutical or medical device class action, it is important to keep a record of medical expenses incurred—appointments not covered by your provincial health care provider, prescriptions, medical devices, etc. It is important to contact class counsel as soon as possible if you believe you are a class member. They will help you obtain your medical records from third-party health care providers. As time passes, it can be more difficult to collect this information.
Keep a journal of all medical treatments, including the names and contact information of the health care provider (doctor, surgeon, physiotherapist etc). If possible, keep a journal of symptoms and note down any times when you are unable to attend work or school as a result of your symptoms.
These suggestions are general and might not cover your specific circumstances. If you have specific questions about which documents you should retain as a class member of a particular Siskinds class action, please visit https://www.siskinds.com/class-actions/ to find the relevant email address, or call 1-877-672-2121 and ask to speak to someone about that particular action.