Consumer class action lawsuits are among the most recognized legal action that affects thousands or even millions of individuals. Class action notices appear in magazines, newspapers, on television and radio, and on postcards and in letters sent to consumers.
What are consumer class actions?
When a large group of people (plaintiffs) together with a common legal claim file a lawsuit against a corporation (defendant) to be compensated for the wrongdoing of the defendant. A class action can start with one individual or a group.
Once a class action is filed by the plaintiffs’ attorneys, it must be “certified” by the appropriate state or federal court. After this hurdle, the plaintiffs’ attorneys can locate the records of other individuals who may be affected, or in some cases, place advertisements in media including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Parade, and other outlets.
Some of the many recent or well known consumer class action matters:
- Toyota acceleration economic loss, 2013, $1.6 billion
- Naked Juice drinks “all natural” claims, 2013, $9 million
- DeBeers diamonds “indirect purchaser,” 2013, $107 million
- Merck Vioxx prescription pain reliever drug, 2013, $23 million and counting
- Sears Kenmore moldy or defective operation washing machines, 2013, on appeal (other moldy washing machine class actions currently underway)
- AT&T v. Concepcion mobile telephone contracts require arbitration, not eligible for class action, heard by the U.S. Supreme Court
- RBS/Citizens Bank, PNC Bank, and TD Bank, overdraft fee deceptive practices, 2013, $137.5 million, and $90 million and $62 million
- Corning, Baxter, Bristol-Meyers Squibb Breast implant litigation, women alleged developing autoimmune disease, 1994, $3.4 billion
- Exxon Valdez oil spill, $5 billion later reduced on appeal
- Tobacco settlements, consumer protection and fraud, 1998 and other years, $206 billion but many under appeal
- Fen-Phen/Redux diet drug injury, 1997 and other years, $3.75 billion and more
Current class actions are underway for disposable diapers, strollers, anti-aging skin treatments, auto safety, construction drywall, phone service, e-books, car rentals, data breach, satellite TV, email privacy and security and more.
There are other types of class actions, including employment, investor, and other matters.
Politically, class actions are on the radar of business and consumer groups.
The Class Action Fairness Act of the U.S. in 2005 defined consumer and corporate protections by opening up federal courts to large class actions, usually over $5 million. Primarily jurisdictional, the Act was applauded by business interests as “tort reform” to combat “frivolous” class action cases. Consumer protection advocates claim the Act narrowed the rights of citizens to find justice.
In any event, class actions are a time-consuming process but in many ways may be the most common way for citizen consumers and patients to experience and seek justice in the United States legal system.
If you think you have been affected or injured financially or physically by a product or service, and you believe others have experienced the same situation, you may have the beginning of a consumer class action. Contact the consumer class action attorneys at Harman Law Firm if you believe you may have a class action claim. For a complimentary initial consultation, contact us online today or call (404) 554-0777.
- The Harman Law Firm represents consumers and patients across the country who have been wronged or injured by corporate wrongdoing and suffered financial or physical injury or distress.