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Press Release

    Message of the Day

    01/19/2000

    End Lawsuit Abuse by Stopping the Class Action Lottery

    Trial lawyers are abusing a legal tool called the class action to rob decent, honest Americans of their money, trust, freedom and peace of mind.

    A class action allows the claims of hundreds or even thousands of individuals to be ruled upon in one court case. Used for their intended purpose, class actions can be a positive device. It can save time and money.

    But plaintiffs lawyers, like the ones we see on T.V. are abusing class actions on the state level.

    Many times these lawyers file class actions and make millions in legal fees, while the class members they're supposed to represent receive coupons or pennies or actually end paying. For instance:

    The Chicago Tribune reported that a class action settlement allowed for an $8.5 million payment to the class lawyers, while members of the class actually had their mortgage accounts debited by $93.

    An editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune bemoaned a class settlement where the lawyers received $140,000, while each class member received 93 cents.

    And most recently, the lawyers suing the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes are set to receive $3 million, while the members of that class are given pennies or more chances to win.

    Consumer class members have no control over how these cases are handled. Again and again, they find themselves forced into a settlement where they receive little, while the lawyers receive millions.

    How can this be happening? State courts many times do not enforce the rules that govern class actions. Their rulings benefit trial lawyers – not the victims.

    The U.S. House passed legislation that would make it easier to get class actions into federal court, where judges put the interests of the class members ahead of those of the trial lawyers. The legislation passed by the House makes it easier to have a federal judge (who is more inclined to look out for the interests of class members, rather than class lawyers) rule on whether specific circumstances warrant a class action.

    By stopping frivolous class actions, we can give back our legal system to decent honest Americans with real grievances.