The Benefits of Class Action Lawsuits
Class action lawsuits get a lot of bad publicity. Every time there is a large value verdict, the talk in the news is how juries have run amok, or how consumers are somehow taking advantage of the system. However, although many are quick to criticize class action lawsuits, few are aware of the benefits that they have, and how they make society a better place.
How Class Actions Help
The benefits of class action lawsuits are best demonstrated with an example.
Let’s pretend that a company, say, AT&T, decided that it would add $1 onto every consumer’s bill, for a bogus charge that is not authorized by law or by the consumer’s agreement with the company.
The consumer wants to fight the charge. The problem is that no lawyer will take the case for the $1 in damages, and the consumer, while cheated, has better things to do with his or her life then sue a company for $1.
If all of AT&T’s millions of customers feel the same way, they all pay the extra dollar, and AT&T has wrongfully and illegally made millions of dollars off of an illegal charge.
Class actions avoid this problem, by allowing all consumers who have been injured in the same way to team up and add their damages together. Now, because the damages are $1 per customer but there are millions of consumers working together, the total damages are in the millions of dollars. The consumer(s) can now find an attorney to represent them, for a case that they individually would not have been able to obtain an attorney to help them with.
AT&T also now knows that it can’t do something illegal if the consumer is only harmed by $1. There is now a serious threat of having to pay a significant verdict, which acts as a deterrent to AT&T and companies like it from trying to cheat consumers.
Without the threat of a class action, companies could reap millions of dollars by cheating every individual customer by a small amount.
Requirements for Class Actions
Class actions are not easy cases. Victims need to first show that they have a right to be a class in the first place. All of the members of the class have to have similar cases, facts, and damages. In our example, every customer would have had to have been charged $1 for the same service provided by AT&T (phone, internet, or something else).
You could not have one person charged $1 on his phone bill, someone else charged $10 on his wi-fi bill and someone else who was charged too much for an in-home service visit by AT&T all as part of the same class.
In this way, class actions avoid inconsistent verdicts. If you and I were cheated by AT&T in the exact same way, one of us shouldn’t win and the other lose in trial. Because our cases are the same, we should have the same result, win or lose. Class actions help maintain this consistency.
Don’t allow yourself to be defrauded by companies, or to be a victim of a bank, lender or business’ unfair business practices. Contact the Miami consumer rights attorneys at Jacobs Legal today.