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Frequently Asked Questions


What is a securities class action?
A securities class action is a lawsuit that is brought on behalf of a group of investors who lost money because of claimed violations of the securities laws. Often such cases allege a series of false and misleading statements regarding a company's business that caused the company's stock to trade at higher prices than it otherwise would have. In other words, investors never would have paid as much as they did for the stock if they had known the truth about the company's business.  Typically, it is more efficient for investors to pursue their claims as part of a class, rather than pursuing an individual claim.

What is a "class period"?
A class period is the period of time during which a company is alleged to have caused shareholders to lose money by misrepresenting the conditions of the company.

How do I know if I have a securities fraud claim?
If you purchased a publicly-traded security that declined in value after a significant negative disclosure about the company, you might have a claim.  Chitwood Harley Harnes can investigate the facts and advise you whether you have a viable claim.

What is a lead plaintiff?
A lead plaintiff is a person, group of persons, or entity (pension fund, mutual fund, hedge fund, etc.) appointed by the court to represent the interests of all class members.  The lead plaintiff generally has the largest financial interest in the outcome of the case.

What are the obligations of a lead plaintiff?
A lead plaintiff would participate with the attorneys in making major decisions about the case, and must provide limited information about yourself, mainly about your investments in the stock.

What must I do to join a class action?
In order to join a securities class action as a lead plaintiff or class representative, you are required to complete and sign a certification form.  This form can be obtained electronically through our website and returned to us.  Also, you should feel free to contact us with any questions about the process.  Please call toll free (888) 873-3999 or (404) 873-3900.

If more than one law firm filed a lawsuit related to the same securities violations, do I need to contact every law firm?
No.  If more than one case was filed on behalf of a class, the cases will eventually be consolidated by the court.  You should not retain more than one law firm to represent you for the same claim.  You cannot improve the amount of your recovery by retaining more than one law firm.

What does it cost me to join a securities class action lawsuit?
Nothing.  There are no out-of-pocket expenses to any class members, regardless of the outcome.  We pay all expenses associated with the lawsuit, and we provide our services on a contingency fee basis.  This means that we are not paid unless we are successful in obtaining a recovery on behalf of the class members.  If we are successful, we will petition the court for an award of attorneys' fees and reimbursement of expenses from the recovery.  How much we receive is up to the court.

Can I sell my stock in the company being sued and still be a class member in the litigation?
In most cases, yes. Most classes are defined to include all purchasers of a stock from date X through date Y who suffered damages, so it is usually the timing of your purchases - not your sales - that determine class membership.  If you have questions about membership in a particular class, an attorney at Chitwood Harley Harnes will be glad to answer them.

Can I participate if I acquired my shares in a 401(k) or IRA account?
Yes, as long as the shares were acquired during the class period.

Am I required to join a class action?
No.  But your participation ensures that you will be on the list of shareholders who are notified of how to claim their share of any recovery.  You also have the right to pursue a claim individually, although it may not be efficient for you to do so from an economic standpoint.

What are the benefits of a securities class action?
The class action enables small investors to sue a large corporation on equal footing.  Individually, small shareholders can rarely afford the highly specialized legal counsel necessary to prevail against a company with a significant legal defense budget.

How does my participation in the class action help me or the case?
Your participation makes a clear statement to the court and the wrongdoers that many investors are angry about the fraud, not just one or two people.  Also, your participation makes it clear that investors are serious about prosecuting their claims.  It demonstrates to the court that the case should proceed as a class action rather than as an individual lawsuit.  This helps move the case forward to a determination on the merits rather than procedural fighting about whether the class should be certified.

How long does a securities class action usually last?
Every case is different, but a typical class action will be resolved within two or three years.