The use of a settlement website has a lot to do with how you’ve built the settlement agreement. An experienced settlement administrator can help to assess a settlement and determine whether a settlement website is necessary. It should be noted that the 2018 Northern District of California guidelines stress the importance of using a settlement website, regardless of whether or not the settlement agreement calls for online claim filing. A class action claims administrator’s job often begins with setting up a case website to provide potential class members with important information related to the settlement and resolution of the litigation.
The case website houses important documentation for class members, highlights claims deadlines, defines the class, and more. Essentially, it’s where a class member can find the most information about how to claim their benefits (and whether or not they qualify). In an increasingly digital age, this site is going to be the most critical communication link between a class member and the settlement administrator – and in some cases, it may be the only interaction a class member has with a case.
Important Settlement Website Information
Settlement websites generally provide the following pertinent details:
- Links to the notice
- Motions for approval
- Other important case documents
- Instructions regarding access to the case docket via PACER or in court
- The date for the final approval hearing, along with a disclosure that the date is subject to change
- An estimated claim amount for individual class members
Class Action Website & Database Considerations
Before setting up the class action website, administrators must consider the answers to a number of important questions including:
- What is the potential class size? How big is the class? Who are you reaching? Who qualifies?
- What kind of data do you have? Is your data integrated? Are you set up to handle changes of address?
- What language(s) do class members speak? Should the website be in English or offer alternatives?
- What terminology and technology do the courts recommend? A claims administrator can help with this.
- How complicated is the claims form? Claims forms need testing for accuracy, load time, and other KPIs.
- What type of files require support? Documents can be uploaded as high-quality PDFs or as photos.
- What security measures are needed? Basic security and validation tools can cut down on fraud.
Settlement Websites and Northern District Guidelines
The newly released Northern District of California guidelines dictates that within 21 days of the settlement fund and fee distribution, key settlement statistics must be made publicly available on the settlement website. The new guidelines require the following to be posted:
- Total settlement fund
- Total number of class members notified and not returned as undeliverable
- Number and percenter of claim forms submitted
- Number and percentage of opt-outs
- Number and percentage of objections
- Average and median recovery per claimant
- Largest and smallest amounts paid to class members
- Methods of notice
- Methods of payment
- Number and value of checks not cashed
- Amount distributed to each cy pres recipient
- Administrative costs
- Attorney fees and costs
- Attorney fees in terms of percentage of the settlement fund and the multiplier, if any