Whoever invented the class action lawsuit is probably sipping martinis on his or her 200 foot yacht. The class action gimmick seems to be the lawsuit of choice and it is earning trial lawyers a pretty penny under the guise of consumer protection.
Recently, Carol Williams with the Los Angeles Times wrote an article titled, "Small Cases are Big Business in California Courtrooms". The main premise of the article was to point out that lawyers reap huge rewards in petty class action lawsuits. She cited the recent Nutella class action where a woman was surprised to learn that Nutella was full of fat and sugar and was not exactly the good breakfast she thought she was feeding her 4 year old.
So this mother files a lawsuit last February on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of consumers who have been similarly “deceived” by Ferrero USA Inc., which has decided to settle the suit. Now, the lawyers declined to disclose the details of the suit, but I bet you it will go something like this: The mom will get probably $5,000 for filing the suit as a member of the class, you and I will get a dollar off coupon on our next purchase of Nutella (whoohoo!) and our dear friends the trial lawyers will get millions.
So who is actually winning here? The Consumer Attorneys of Califonia would have you believe that the consumers are winning and that they are the knight in shining armor that has come to save them.
Seriously? What hokum. The class action is a plain and simple scam and the consumer will always get the short end of the stick. The trial lawyers know it and I think the vast majority of Californians know it too.
And yet despite numerous attempts to rein in the abuses of class actions, nothing is being done in California to stop it. Last year, Assemblyman Brian Nestande introduced AB 271, which would give defendants the same right of appeal that plaintiffs have on class action certification, but this common sense reform did not get past the first policy committee of the state Assembly.
Class action reform is needed so we can stop trial lawyer avarice (that is a nice word for greed).