For those wanting to know a little more about the procedural aspects of a typical class action in Illinois state court, here's a thumbnail sketch without citations:
First, the lawsuit is filed; Next, the parties engage in motion practice. It's at this stage that many defense lawyers feel that the class-action battle will be won or lost. Typical moves might be a removal to federal court, a motion to change venue, or a motion to dismiss. If the defense loses these motions, it will have another chance for a big victory at the class certification hearing; Discovery commences. This step, of course, usually happens simultaneously with the one above. The defendant might ask to bifurcate discovery into two parts: "class" discovery and "merits" discovery. The plaintiff will resist this suggestion, for reasons I'll post about tomorrow; Next, following briefing on the class certification issue, there's a hearing on class certification. The class certification hearing might take place early in a case or after months (or years) have passed. In many cases, the defense will file a concurrent motion for summary judgment on the class representative's individual claims, but this step might also occur well before the class certification stage; If the court certifies the class, there will be more discovery as the parties prepare for trial.
What happens if the case settles? There are a number of other procedural milestones. After the parties hammer out a settlement agreement, it will be presented to the court in a motion for preliminary approval. This motion, which might be filed jointly by both parties, will be followed by a hearing. If the settlement is approved, the class members are given notice, which is followed by a period of time--typically, a couple of months--for class members to object to or opt out of the settlement. Following the notice period, the parties will meet again at the final fairness hearing. It's at this stage that objectors, if any, will be heard. Unless appeals follow, the procedural milestones will end if the court grants final approval to the settlement.