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Posted by: Sierra Litigation on 10/01/2017

Class Action Lawsuits and Open Settlements Help Consumers

Class Action Lawsuits and Open Settlements Help Consumers

Class Actions are the subject of an intense PR campaign war being waged by two extremely polarized factions. Emotions aside, the class action litigation vehicle is an objectively beneficial form of resolving legal problems while preserving scarce judicial resources and upholding family and individual rights. Sierra Litigation, among other class action law firms, believes strongly in the purpose and mission of this vital litigation tool.

Class Action lawsuits provide meaningful benefit to class members who otherwise have zero recourse to justice, certainly where the individual harm is small. That much is clear and beyond dispute. Among other options, class action lawsuits provide an incredibly powerful means of exacting justice from an otherwise obtuse legal system devoid of resources to right certain wrongs.

Apart from these objective advantages to the class action process, the corporate counsel bar and large white shoe law firms understandably focus on the troubling, pragmatic outcomes of these otherwise virtuous proceedings. Specifically, through lobbyists, communications managers and PR consultants, the forces that stand to lose from class action access argue the often imperceptible class benefits of the typical class action settlement. They argue, with some justification, that in some cases class counsel fees outweigh any benefit to the individuals or businesses actually harmed by the alleged misconduct of the Defendant. In sum, their greatest argument against class actions is the ratio of proceed disbursement. It receives such attention because the ratio argument is one they can win, and the virtue argument has far less traction.

This metastable conflict between disproportionate payout ratios and access to justice does little to resolve either issue in some form of long term viable way. Put differently, recent congressional class action reform legislation will continue to go too far one way or the other because the real solution is beyond their legislative reach. These vacillations produce uncertainty, delay the resolution of existing class actions, provide new fodder to increase plaintiff costs and ultimately harm the justice process we all agree must be preserved.

The solution may be in the denominator. Payouts are often a function of class notice and claim vitality. In many cases class action members have little notice or opportunity to claim their benefits, leaving large sums of unclaimed proceeds. Coupled with a comparatively larger plaintiff counsel fee that is disbursed, the optic damage is done. However, if we make more of a concerted effort to increase class action awareness, including the benefits that likely accrue to many ordinary Americans, the ratio argument will suffer. A new website advancing the outreach and communication component of class action justice may be exactly what the doctor ordered. This website provides a list of class action lawsuits, class action investigations, class action open settlements and rebates, among information designed to put the layman at ease with their role in the process. Together with a service that helps consumers start a class action or find a lawyer, the opportunity to alter the class action PR equation may finally emerge.

For consumers who wish to seek legal counsel or discuss how to sue a telemarketer, debt collector, car dealer or manufacturer, local or national company subject to a class action suit, contact Sierra Litigation – California class action lawyers serving consumers and suing business on your behalf.