Class action lawsuits are common in our court systems. Most everyone has received a notice in the mail of a class action suit involving consumer products, from cars to jewelry. Even if the recipient has a valid claim, the information being provided is lengthy, in small print, and very legalistic. As a result, a lot of people are inclined to just throw the notice away.
The subject matter of consumer class action lawsuits can be very broad. They may cover product liability or false advertising, for instance. The people who file the suit, known as “class representatives,” do so on behalf of themselves and other people who are likely to have the same type claim. For example, they may all have a claim against one company that manufactures or markets a specific product.
One aspect of class action suits, as they progress, is the need to identify class members who do not know about the suit. That challenge results in those mailings we are all apt to receive. With products such as cars, it is much easier to identify people who have purchased a particular vehicle that is the subject of a suit. Other products, however, do not lend themselves to easy identification of potential class members.
Duracell, for example, was sued because it marketed an ultra-life battery that was said to be superior to its copper top line and, of course, sold for a higher price. The lawsuit alleged false advertising in that the ultra-life batteries had no longer life than the copper tops. Because records did not exist that showed the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who had purchased the batteries, other means had to be used to notify class members.
Class actions are regularly reported in news outlets, both print and online, but for those who do not keep up with current business and consumer news, there are other sources of information. Websites such as Top Class Actions and Class Action Rebates track open class actions and provide the ability to file a claim for relief.