My BF thinks I’m nuts. I send in whatever, or don’t opt out, and a good while later, I get a little check. Or not, but I don’t spend much time on it. Usually a check for a teeny amt, but a fat one came yesterday, something to do with unwanted calls to my cell. Thoughts?
What’s nuts about it?
Class action suits are one of the few ways to address large-scale abuse of customers and the public generally by corporations
There’s no reason not to participate as a member of the class unless you plan on initiating your own suit. I’ve participated in five different unwanted fax suits over the years, getting a check for $100-$200 each time.
And while the recipients of tiny checks are rejoicing in their windfall, they don’t notice their monthly bills being increased by the corporations targeted by dubious class action suits in order to make up for the settlements, while the lawyers who initiated the suits get the real payday.
Do you have any concrete reason to believe that this is the standard way things go or is it just your natural cynicism and resentment of lawyers?
Class action settlements have to approved by the court and Id require proof that a court would allow a company to just pass on the cost of the settlement to current customers.
And whether or not that’s the case, a substantial payout, which often comes with ongoing enforcement procedures if some kind, is not just a simple write off for a corporation. It’s something that have to report to shareholders and it becomes part of their risk profile.
I got a decent check from a suit against Volkswagen for the turbo engine oil sludge issue about ten years ago.
However, I used to work on the phones for an online brokerage firm and I used to cringe when I got a call from someone seeking old documents because there’s some class action suit against some dot com that went bankrupt back in 2001. I knew I’d be doing a shit ton of research and they’d end up getting a check for 50 cents at best.
As I see it, any prices will go up for everyone, but only some of us are getting extra money, meaning we will tend to come out ahead. The suit is going to happen whether or not I get involved, so I might as well get mine.
I got a small check as part of a settlement against some class action suit against 23andMe.
The default payout was a discount on further 23andMe kits. I got an e-mail that I had to respond to in order to receive cash instead.
Interestingly, the email went into my spam folder. This is interesting because I have my spam filters set to OFF. NOTHING is ever supposed to go into my spam folder. Even so, once every couple of years an e-mail makes it into my spam folder.
I can’t imagine what level of hidden spamminess was deliberately built into that email in order to make sure no one got it. Which is the reason I took the time to respond.
I signed up for one and got $42 against a phone soliciting company. I think it was the guys who were trying to convince me to go on a “free” cruise with them as I kept googling information about them (none of which was good).
You might as well join up. What do you have to lose?
Yes, that’s right – for all the class-action cases that we hear about multi-million awards to those who were wronged, those who were wronged are actually paid very little if anything at all. The millions mentioned in the media end up in the pockets of the attorneys – on both sides of the case.
Very few cases ever go to trial, as it makes sense for lawyers to go ahead and settle since they will get most of the money anyway. And in some way lawyers on both sides get paid regardless if the case goes in favor of one side or the other, and a settlement will often account for payment of two sets of attorneys. Even if defendants lose the large majority of these kinds of cases, they never fail to get paid for their work…
Many law firms make a living on class-action lawsuits. They can put in the work of one client and yet represent thousands or millions of class members, work out a multi-million-dollar award and likely never have to set foot in a trial proceeding." *
Sure, why not? They’re doing all the work and suffering the expenses. The junk fax class action suits I’ve been involved in have been initiated by a dentist in Michagan. Junk faxes pissed him off, so he took some initiative and hired an attorney. He has since retired from dentistry and is devoting all his time to fighting junk faxes. I get $100, while he gets the lion’s share, but he’s earned it.
None of this proves that the class action system doesn’t serve its intended purpose —to serve as a disincentive to corporations to mistreat consumers in a situation in which each individual consumer suffers such a small loss that it’s not worth it to bring an individual action.
So the individual members of the class get small payouts, which is fine because it’s proportional to their suffered harm.
The lawyers get a large payout because they did the work. “Not having to go to trial” is not an indication of slacking off or not real legal work.
The companies are hit with damages high enough that they should think twice before doing it again.
That’s the system working.
This image of noble, hard-working lawyers defending the little guy takes a bit of a hit when they’re revealed to be keeping 99% or the proceeds, while the purportedly injured parties don’t get a dime in something like half the class-action suits filed.
It also assumes there’s no such thing as dubious or frivolous class-action suits, or outright fraud such as when bots are used to drum up nonexistent parties to such suits. And who might collect in the end raises questions.
“In short, then, shareholder lawsuits amount to a weirdly circular process in which presumably blameless outside investors hand over money to other outside investors (and sometimes to themselves), with the executives accused of wrongdoing left untouched and the lawyers for both sides taking a big cut.”
I might agree to be party to a class-action suit if there’s a solid connection to goods or services that I used, and if there was actual injury involved. If it’s something I have at best a remote connection to, i’ll pass, rather than uselessly participate in a system that only serves to reward lawyers’ greed.
If there’s any silver lining to the Supreme Court taking a rightward turn under Trump, it’s that some of the worst excesses of the current system might be curbed (possibly at the expense of those with genuine grievances). Anyway, those litigating the cases will make $$$.