Monday, October 8, 2012

How to Find Out if You Are Eligible to Join a Class Action Lawsuit

It seems like every time I turn on the television there is some annoying class action commercial blaring.
"Did you or a loved one suffer the loss of a limb from an alligator attack while water skiing in the everglades on a Tuesday? If you answered yes, you may be eligible for compensation!"
There are hundreds of class action lawsuits filed each year. In some instances you may receive a notice in the mail informing you that you are eligible and requesting you file a claim. But in some cases, it is up to you to learn of and take action to be a class member. Most of these type of cases result in a very small reward, such as a small refund or coupon to the consumer and a much larger paycheck to the attorneys.
Out of curiosity, I began monitoring a website,, which lists pending actions and provides links to join any actions for which you qualify. This is only one of many such websites.
I was quite surprised at the number of lawsuits I was qualified to join.  This is because the requirements to join are often quite broad.
For example, the Ziesel v. Diamond Walnut Brand Class action is open to anyone who purchased the company's walnuts between March 22, 2006 and January 30, 2012. Claimants are eligible  for a refund of $3.25 per bag up to 5 bags (without a receipt) or up to 24 bags with proof of purchase.
The lawsuit alleges Diamond Foods misbranded its walnut products by making false and misleading statements about the health benefits of eating walnuts. I consider walnuts pretty healthy and eat a lot of them. I will continue to do so. I will also file my claim.
I was recently also eligible for the Nutella class action lawsuit. Apparently, Nutella made claims it was a healthy breakfast choice. Now most people are smart enough to know that essentially spreading a candy bar on toast is not healthy. But probably it is delicious. I filed my claim.
I was also recently eligible to join the Sketchers Toning Shoe Class action. They may not tone my calves as claimed but they are very comfortable. I filed my claim.
Are consumer class action lawsuits merely attorneys trolling for loopholes to enrich themselves? Or does the fear of possible extended, costly litigation act as a watchdog? Likely a little of both.  
I'm not an attorney and certainly am not advising anyone as to what class action lawsuits are pending for which they might be eligible. I just thought you might find it interesting and want to do your own research. Or not. As I said before, the rewards are generally small.
There have certainly been a lot of frivolous class action lawsuits which have resulted in some states making changes to their laws. In Texas, if an attorney settles a class action for coupons, he must also be paid in coupons.  Now, that's justice.

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