- Safety in Numbers: A Beginner’s Guide to Class Action Lawsuits
Safety in Numbers: A Beginner’s Guide to Class Action Lawsuits
It seems to be happening more and more often in recent years. You might receive a postcard, or perhaps get an unexpected email, inviting you to join a class action lawsuit. Numerous companies have been targeted for various reasons. For example, big tech firms like Yahoo, Google, and Meta have all been accused of improper business practices (such as breaches of consumer privacy or nonconsensual selling of personal information) that have resulted in class action settlements for users. Then there was the case of AT&T, which was said to have improperly “throttled” data for customers who had signed up for unlimited high-speed cell phone data plans.
Or consider car manufacturers Kia and Hyundai, which recently settled a class action lawsuit with vehicle owners who experienced anti-lock braking system defects that may have resulted in fires. The venerable banking firm Wells Fargo also agreed to a class action settlement of $3.7 billion, resulting from its violation pf “federal consumer protection laws” according to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Just a few months ago Johnson & Johnson settled a class action lawsuit filed by users of its talcum powder products who reported contracting various types of cancer – for a whopping $9.8 billion!As you might imagine, legal settlements of that size make big news, and often result in significant payments to injured individual plaintiffs. At the same time, many other class action settlements are far smaller or involve less prominent companies that have been accused of misleading customers or selling dangerous products. For instance, the maker of A&W Root Beer was accused of making false advertising claims about the type of vanilla used in its sodas. The average payout to class litigants in this case is estimated to be a paltry $5.50 per claimant.
Regardless of whether they’re large or small, though, at the end of the day class action lawsuits do offer consumers genuine protection from the bad actions of all types of companies and can result in valuable compensation to people who have been injured or misled. But what constitutes a class action lawsuit, and how do you begin the class action process? Keep on reading to find out!
What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
First let’s define a class. Essentially, any group of people who have been negatively affected by a company’s illegal, deceptive or inappropriate actions, false claims, inaction, or faulty products resulting in financial harm, painful injuries, or serious illnesses, legally constitute a class of litigants. The so-called class is usually represented formally by a few key individuals who are identified as “lead plaintiffs,” “class representatives,” or “named plaintiffs” – people whose experiences are representative of the damages experienced by members of the broader group of litigants. Since they typically initiate the lawsuit and play an integral role in the litigation process (including testifying in court and providing other essential first-person evidence), lead plaintiffs are usually compensated with the largest shares of settlement funds. In the A&W Root Beer case we mentioned earlier, the three lead plaintiffs each received $5,000. Other unnamed individuals can be included in the class if they can prove they were similarly injured or impacted by the same defective products, misleading advertising, fraudulent behaviors, or unlawful actions. However, their settlement payouts will usually be smaller – as little as $5.50 in the A&W case, and sometimes even less. Of course, that means serving as a lead plaintiff can be much more lucrative than simply joining a class after it’s been established, but it’s also a far more demanding role.
Why Join a Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action suit permits individual people to join a larger group, giving them the legal clout needed to take on big organizations with deep pockets. In cases like the A&W one, your damages may be minimal from A&W’s false advertising, so bringing a claim by yourself would not make legal or financial sense. However, when hundreds or thousands of injured individuals join a class their group damages are large enough to pursue a lawsuit and/or settlement where everyone can get at least some compensation for their injuries. To be clear, there may also be good reasons not to opt into a class action suit. Sometimes settlement funds can be paid out to so many individuals that they become diluted into minimal sums not worth the effort of pursuit. It’s also possible that you were more seriously impacted by the defendant’s bad actions than most other affected people. Using the A&W example, if you had an allergic reaction to an ingredient that was mislabeled, your damages would likely by much higher than the run of the mill plaintiff who just purchased the product based on the false advertising. In those circumstances, it could be advisable to proceed with an individual personal injury lawsuit. Our attorneys specializing in this area can advise you on how best to proceed with your specific case.
Is There a Way to Locate and Join Ongoing Class Action Suits?
Yes, there’s a website dedicated to helping individuals research current class action suits to see if they are among those who have been negatively impacted by a company’s negligence, fraudulent activities, or irresponsible actions. It’s ClassAction.org, which claims to be “committed to exposing corporate wrongdoing and giving consumers the tools they need to fight back.” Another way to see if damages you’ve experienced qualify for class action status is, of course, to contact the winning team right here at Mike Morse Law Firm and discuss your specific situation with a member of our team of attorneys. As you may have heard, we’re currently reviewing claims on behalf of people who have been harmed by several different types of medications.
If You Believe Your Situation Qualifies for Class Action, Call Us.
In every class action lawsuit, there are a few unfortunate individuals who are comparatively and disproportionately affected. If your situation is limited to just you and a few other folks, you might be better off filing an individual personal injury lawsuit. But if, as Forbes Advisor notes, there are likely to be 40 or more people similarly impacted, a class action lawsuit may be the best way to proceed. Either way, to get things started, get in touch with us at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) and we’ll objectively review the facts of your case to help you determine whether it’s best to go the class action route, or to file your own personal injury lawsuit. Contact us today for your free consultation.
Content checked by Mike Morse, personal injury attorney with Mike Morse Injury Law Firm. Mike Morse is the founder of Mike Morse Law Firm, the largest personal injury law firm in Michigan. Since being founded in 1995, Mike Morse Law Firm has grown to 150 employees, served 25,000 clients, and collected more than $1 billion for victims of auto, truck and motorcycle accidents. The main office is in Southfield, MI but you can also find us in Detroit, Sterling Heights and many other locations.