How many class members actually step forward and claim money at the end of a class action? For decades there has been no good answer to that question, as claiming results are rarely filed at the end of the class action. I have long argued for such an accounting in my scholarship. Recently, the Northern District of California adopted local class action rules also requiring a “post distribution accounting” or PDA. Given this focus on claims rates, my research assistants and I have developed a claims rate calculator to assist courts and parties in understanding this information.
The goal of the calculator is to provide a general sense of what percentage of class members are likely to step forward and file a claim. The calculator’s prediction can then be compared to the PDA in a given case to see whether the case had a higher or lower than expected claims rate. In turn, a review of good and bad outcomes can help develop best practices going forward, for instance, by shedding light on the types of notice programs or claims forms that over- or underperform the prediction.
The calculator’s predictions are based on claiming information contained in a database I maintain of over 1,000 class action lawsuits. Among the 1,000+ cases, about 300-350 have claims rate data that form the backbone of the calculator.