"Highlighting the inadequacies of the way in which the earthquakes of 2010-2012 were handled by the insurance industry! "

The Benefits of Group/Representative Actions

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In the words of one Cantabrian: “We live in a time where “justice and fairness” has to be fought for – put in check. Established. Grounded. Where intentional fraudulent dishonest Insurance Companies / Corporations and the like, get the message that we “the people of New Zealand” will not stand or tolerate their behavior and business methodologies….. If we had held our ground and stood as one, from day one, none of us would be in the situation we are in – five years on! (Whilst the Corporations make a fortune in profits – using OUR money).

I have joined Grant Cameron and team (GCA Lawyers) and his “Class action / Representation”. This has been the best decision I have made regarding settling my claim against Southern Response to date. For the first time in five years, I can actually see “traction” and “evidence” of moving forward – together with the rest of the team / group.
I am not associated with GCA in anyway, but I can not urge people enough to join them. THERE IS MORE STRENGTH IN NUMBERS. – SO BE STRONG AND JOIN !
There is no way one can loose by joining this ACTION. A “no win, no fee” basis. PLEASE – if you want to move forward – at least look into GCA and inquire. It will cost you NOTHING.

We all run and Govern the direction of our Country, – NOT the people in the Beehive. The problem we / us have, is the allowing of our politicians to get away with inappropriate management and non accountability. This starts at the top!

This situation should NEVER have happened in New Zealand. It should NEVER be allowed to happen again.
Time to stand up now and be heard…”  

” 20% of something, plus damages etc is a great deal better than 20% of nothing!
Southern Response have offered me $30,000 for settlement on what is most definitely a “rebuild” that is going to cost $800,000 plus! Would you choose $30,000 or the $640,000?
One should be grateful that people such as GCA Lawyers offer to help fight on behalf of the people who simply can not afford to take on these despicable establishments.
GCA deserve to make something for their efforts! They deserve it, and are also having to earning it !
GCA and their financial lenders are taking ALL of the risk. YOU just have to sit back and watch the big wheels turn! What more do you want !
Grant Cameron is trying to help the people of Christchurch. Why don’t you make an appointment with him and find out for yourself. It is not solely about the Dollars for this man.
In my opinion, you are looking at the situation in the wrong light / way.
If one does not fight NOW, ten years down the track you will be left hanging with NOTHING – with no opportunity to resolve your claim, as all the doors will have been closed for good. This is “their” intention.”

It can be difficult to decide whether or not to take part in a legal group action case. The advantages are discussed below and should be carefully considered by each group member prior to joining a group action lawsuit so that if you are considering becoming a group member you will have a realistic idea of the possible good and not-so-good outcomes of joining a group action. The claims on behalf of each claimant need to be similar, though not identical, so that it is more practical for one lawsuit to resolve them than numerous lawsuits. This involves determining similar sets of facts or similar questions of law. This way, the claims can all be handled together. It should not be necessary for the court to have to hear each individual claim in order to separate out minor differences among them. This concept is referred to as commonality.
Group/representative action settlements or verdicts affect many people and often the defendant itself, in this case the insurer. All of the plaintiff group members and defendants in a single group action are affected but, so too is the reputation and future of the defendant’s insurance business, and the business of similarly situated insurance companies, and ultimately, New Zealand policyholders as a whole.  Group action litigation has a long history of changing the way businesses do business and of protecting the rights of a country’s citizens. This has been particularly so in the USA where some of the major class actions such as the list below have had a major impact on the rights of American citizens:

Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement – (1998) US$206 billion over 25 years; Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores – (Filed 2000) N.D.C.A. seeking US$11 billion; World Com, Inc. – (2004-2005, New York) US$6.2 billion; Exxon Mobil Corp. — (1994 – 2001, Alaska) US$5 billion punitive damages award (reduced in 2001 to US$500+ million); Breast Implant Litigation – (1994) US$3.4 billion ; AOL Time Warner – (2005, New York ) US$2.5 billion; In re Visa Check/ MasterCard – (2003) US$1+ billion; Toyota Recall / Defect-Related Class Actions – (2010) Unknown. These decision have produced major social and legal change.

Here are some of the benefits of Group Action.

Lower litigation costs as the litigation costs will be divided and dispersed among group members.  In this way it is more feasible for claimants to be able to afford to litigate the case. The larger the number of group members in the plaintiff group, the lower costs tend to be as larger groups will provide a bigger shared expense benefit to each individual group member;

Provides the Opportunity to Litigate, even if each individual claim does not involve that much money, a class action lawsuit allows plaintiffs to pursue a worthy cause. For example, a telecommunications company may be adding hidden fees to consumer bills. While it may not be worth thousands of dollars in legal fees for one plaintiff to pursue a claim for a few hundred dollars, a class action allows such litigants to seek justice, often at a national level;

A Greater Degree of Uniformity, for the plaintiffs. Group action lawsuits allow similarly-situated plaintiffs to recover in a similar manner, as there is only one decision by one judge, or one settlement,, plaintiffs’ recoveries should be consistent, though varying by the amount of their individual claim;

Defendants ‘benefit’ from class action lawsuits in that they know that many similar claims have been resolved at the end of a trial or settlement, leading to faster settlements;

Higher Likelihood of Financial Recovery. A judgment against the defendant may mean that the plaintiffs will actually receive the money that they are awarded. If other plaintiffs sue the defendant around the same time, the earlier plaintiffs may be the only ones who receive damages if the defendant or business declares bankruptcy. Group actions help ensure that damages are spread amongst plaintiffs. This could be particularly important with the likes of EQC and Southern Response (where it is clear that government funding is an issue and spread over a long time period) or with any insurer that may be in financial difficulty;

Verdict has a flow on effect to other defendants (insurance companies) and businesses that are similar to those insurance companies are likely to be greatly affected by group action lawsuit outcomes. Group action verdicts can be expensive for defendants. In order to prevent future litigation, defendants often make broad changes to policy;

Group settlements and verdicts often have a significant impact on the law and have the ability to encourage Governments to legislate as a consequence of the verdict. New Zealand is very light on insurance legislation by comparison with other countries;

Defendants often make broad changes to their procedures, policies, or products to make sure that their entire business complies with a group action decision because it less expensive to make the changes than to risk repeated future litigation. Similar businesses, government agencies, or groups very often follow suit for the same reason. So group action has the ability to address some of the gaping holes that policyholders have been seriously affected by over the last five years;

Often appealed to the final stages. These actions are often defended solidly by the defendant, in this instance the insurer or the government. Thus, class action lawsuits that are litigated are often appealed to the final stage and the finality of the class action decision is well respected in legal precedent.  The Quake Outcasts case is a good example of this.;

Group action settlements are often available as public information. Individual lawsuit settlements typically do not have detailed written approvals by the court and can be confidential, thus not making them valuable precedent;

Group action provides a more powerful litigation posture for the class representative – this is because of the greatly expanded exposure to liability for group damages (damages to potentially thousands of individuals), as opposed to the damages suffered by a single litigant. A defendant is much more likely to treat the litigation seriously from the standpoint of defense or settlement than would likely be the case in an individual litigation;

More Experienced Legal Representation, group actions require experienced lawyers. A case may involve thousands of pages of documents, expensive expert witness fees and time to develop the case. Group action lawsuits tend to be handled by more experienced and competent lawyers who have gone through similar cases in the past. This allows plaintiffs to be able to have expensive representation that they may not have had if they pursued the claim on their own;

The opportunity for plaintiffs to seek relief for small amounts of money, the lower litigation costs allow plaintiffs to seek relief when it would not have been financially prudent to do so via a traditional lawsuit;

Greater judicial efficiency, – a group action lawsuit is decided by one judge in one court. Thus, the litigation will take up less cumulative court time and involve fewer judges and expense;

Group actions also benefit the judicial system. The case is determined by one judge in one court, so inconsistent verdicts do not become an issue. One claim will generally take less time than many similar claims tried at different times. The alternative would be to clog up court schedules with individual cases making it harder for other individuals to receive their day in court;

Greater uniformity for defendants, one decision or one settlement benefit also creates greater certainty for defendants. A defendant is not left wondering about how precedent may follow law because only one decision was delivered;

The opportunity for all plaintiffs to receive damages, if a defendant is facing multiple lawsuits then the defendant may not have the ability to pay all of the plaintiffs. That means that earlier filing plaintiffs may well receive greater compensation than do later filing plaintiffs. A group action eliminates this risk and allows affected parties to recover damages at the same time and in proportion to their injuries;

Some actions are more appropriate for representative cases – insurance issues on the scale that they are emerging in Christchurch are typical of cases that lend themselves well to this approach.

So it looks like a no brainer to me! Let’s work together and get this done.

If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a legal representative.

~Future Proofing for a sustainable, participatory, democratic society.

Author: Sarah-Alice Miles

Love to write, create and watch the clouds move across the sky - these days in the Netherlands. 'Art allows us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time'.

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