Why a Claims Rate Calculator?

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.

Predict Your Claims Rate

Our data show that the best prediction (R-squared value of 0.643) of a likely claims rate results from entry of two data points: the AVERAGE CLAIM SIZE and the CLASS SIZE. The AVERAGE CLAIM SIZE can be roughly calculated by taking the total size of the common fund and dividing by the total number of class members. A $10,000,000 common fund in a case with 200,000 class members results in an average claim size of $50 ($10,000,000/200,000). Although rough, this approach enables a quick sense of the average claim size. In its current iteration, the calculator is most accurate when the AVERAGE CLAIM SIZE is higher than $95.

Enter the AVERAGE CLAIM SIZE here and the CLASS SIZE here . Based on these entries, our data predict that % of the class members are likely to file claims.

Help Us Perfect the Calculator

The calculator will be especially useful if we can continually update it with more data. Accordingly, I encourage courts to require parties to file post-distribution reports and to make sure these reports are posted on PACER and at the case’s settlement website. I also encourage parties to forward copies of reports directly to me at rubenstein@law.harvard.edu. My research team will periodically update the data behind the calculator and this page will explain the content of that updated data as it is changed. For more information about the data currently underlying the calculator, please feel free to email me directly.