Class Actions - Who needs them?

We have all experienced it – You purchase a product, use it a few times and then it breaks or doesn’t perform as promised. You buy a service and the company doesn’t deliver the service as it represented. Or you don’t receive a discount on a product or service that is promised or required by law. Getting your money back is often impossible or a major league hassle, with the company dodging or ignoring your complaints. The cost of filing a lawsuit by yourself often is well in excess of what you paid and even if it isn’t, hiring an attorney on an hourly basis for thousands of dollars in order to get your loss back is just plainly not worth the candle. You write your purchase off as a loss and tell yourself you’ll be more careful next time.

This experience is why federal law (and most state law) specifically authorizes the class action lawsuit – a situation where a large group of persons and/or businesses who experienced the same injurious conduct perpetrated by a company may pursue their claims in one lawsuit. This way the expense of bringing suit can be shared by all plaintiffs, providing a more efficient method to resolve these claims than will occur where multiple individual suits are filed or where the cost of filing and prosecuting a lawsuit means few or if any suits will be brought.   

But you have often heard the complaint that class action plaintiff lawyers just want to make money by pursuing a class action. Well, in part they’re right – virtually everyone working in America – doctors, accountants, real estate agents, nurses, judges  and even educators “do it for the money” in the sense that they require compensation for their work so that they can provide for their families.

However, at  Watson Burns we handle class actions matters on a contingency fee basis.  As such, we don’t get paid any legal fee unless we obtain a recovery for the class (and even then the fee we receive must be approved by a trial judge as being fair and reasonable).  If we don’t obtain class certification and don’t achieve a recovery, we don’t get paid – it’s that simple. The fact is that contingency fee class action work is highly risky, with the lawyers risking thousands, if not millions of dollars in their time as well as in expenses seeking recovery for people who pay nothing if the case is unsuccessful. Find another profession that takes on this kind of risk, and we will buy you a steak dinner.

There are many class action cases that have merit and, unfortunately, plenty that don’t.  And it’s the hokey class actions that give the class action vehicle a bad rap. At Watson Burns, we spend significant time prior to filing suit – sometimes as much as over a year – investigating whether a particular case can and should be brought as a class action.  This way we can better ensure there has been a real, widespread injury to numerous folks which we believe fit the requirements of a class action.  Our commitment to pre-suit investigation, combined with our knowledge and expertise in the class action arena, have led to multi-million dollar recoveries for thousands of persons and small businesses.  Click here for our past class action success.