A class action may be brought when seven or more people have similar claims against the same person. It is a mechanism which enables the Courts to more efficiently deal with claims arising out of the same or similar circumstances by having one hearing to decide on common questions of fact and law rather than a separate hearing for each of the group members individual claims. You can find out more about class actions generally by reading one of our previous blogs here: https://www.turnerfreeman.com.au/blog/i-am-a-group-member-in-a-class-action-what-do-i-need-to-know/
Settlement agreed between the parties
In many cases a settlement agreement may be reached between the parties prior to a hearing. A class action is essentially no different in that the Court may order, or the parties may agree to participate in a mediation in order to try and reach a settlement agreement. However, in a class action it is slightly more complicated by the fact that the Court must approve any settlement that is proposed by the parties.
Once a settlement is proposed the Court will consider the group members interests and decide whether the proposed settlement is fair and reasonable. If the settlement is approved, there will be a compensation scheme where each individual group member will have their entitlement to compensation assessed. In a medical negligence class action this may involve a panel of experts categorising group members according to the severity of their injuries, loss and damages. Each category may be entitled to a certain amount of compensation.
Judgment at hearing
If the parties are unable to reach a settlement at a mediation or prior to the hearing, it will be up to the Judge to decide the common questions of fact and law. The Judge’s decision (whether it is in the plaintiff’s or defendant’s favour) will be binding on all the group members. This means that if you meet the definition of a group member in the class action (and have not opted out) you will be bound by whatever the Judge’s decision is and will be unable to bring your own separate claim.
If the Judge decides in the plaintiff’s favour and the class action is successful, then you may become entitled to damages or compensation. Each individual group member’s case will still need to be determined. It is possible that, if the plaintiff’s cases are successful at the hearing then a settlement may be reached in relation to the group member’s individual claims following the hearing.
Class Action against The Cosmetic Institute
Turner Freeman is acting for hundreds of women, on a “no win, no fee” basis, who have suffered from major complications as a result of surgery in a class action against The Cosmetic Institute and others. You may be considered as a group member in the Cosmetic Institute class action if you satisfy the following criteria:
- You must have undergone surgery with The Cosmetic Institute, either at one of their own facilities or at one of their licenced hospitals (Concord Private Hospital, Holroyd Hospital or Southport Day Surgery); and
- You must have suffered an “injury”.
In any class action, it is important that you put your hand up to be counted. For this reason, we invite you to register your interest in the class action against The Cosmetic Institute and others with Turner Freeman Lawyers. Following your registration, one of our lawyers will be in touch with you.
If you have any questions, you can contact Sally Gleeson, Medical Negligence Partner on (02) 8222 3333.