The equifax class action lawsuit seems to have been settled, but it seems clear that people aren't going to get the expected payout. If I really wanted to stick it to Equifax for what I consider negligence; could I sue them in small claims court? Does it matter if my state (Colorado) was or was not part of the team that sued them as part of the class?
You can sue them in small claims court if the court has jurisdiction. If they have any presence in the state, that might be sufficient. If they have no presence in the state, then you can't sue them in any state court in your state.
Absent presence in your state, you would have to file in a state where they have a presence. (You can't file in federal court because the federal court would not have subject matter jurisdiction.)
If you didn't agree to be a member of the class, then you have preserved your right to sue. It doesn't matter if your state was or was not a member of the class.
I'd have to look at the particulars, which I don't have. So I'm making some assumptions.
To file a suit against an entity, the court in which you're filing must have jurisdiction. To have jurisdiction, the entity must have at least a threshold level of presence in your state. The tiniest office will suffice. An employee in the state who works from home might do. But if the entity has no presence in the state, you have two choices.
(1) You can file a diversity suit in federal district court, but that requires that the case has a reasonable expectation of award of more than $75,000 or presents a federal question of law.
(2) You can file in a state court that has jurisdiction over the defendant
There's something called forum shopping, where the defendant has a presence in multiple states, albeit the headquarters is in one state, and the plaintiff seeks to sue in the state where the plaintiff is most likely to win and receive the greatest award. Courts don't like this. I'm not sure how they handle it. But surely they would want the plaintiff to justify choosing the particular forum.
It might be reasonable, for example, if the defendant's HQ is in NY, the plaintiff is in CO, the defendant doesn't have a presence in CO, but does have a presence in KS reasonably close to plaintiff. The reasoning would be that neither party is suffering a hardship. Of course, it might matter if the defendant's only KS location was a 5'x5' storage unit in Kansas City.
There may be laws that further limit where the suit may be filed. There may be a relationship between the parties that limits where the suit may be filed. There may be some arbitration thing, arising from law or relationship.
The courts may impose limitations on the options available to those who decline to join.
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A LICENSED ATTORNEY. YOU ARE NOT MY CLIENT. THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. IT IS A LAY OPINION FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY