You’ve probably heard the phrase “Class Action Lawsuit” on the news and in the media, but most people don’t have a clear understanding of them and how they can protect your rights.
By definition a Class Action Lawsuit is…
Charges advanced in a court by one or more plaintiffs on behalf of a large group of others who have a common interest.
There have been class-action cases that changed history. Most people are aware of civil action lawsuits as seen in the movies Erin Brokovich and A Civil Action. These are cases where a group of people – for example, the residents of a small town or workers in a certain plant – are suing a large company in a civil action that is also a class-action.
There have been Supreme Court decisions that originated as civil lawsuits; in the state of Tennessee versus John Thomas Scopes, a Tennessee law was challenged. This law made it unlawful to deny “divine creation” (Adam and Eve) and teach the theory of evolution. This law was called the Butler Act. Scopes was a biology teacher who, encouraged by the American civil liberties Union, agreed to teach evolution to his classes. Many subsequent civil action lawsuits followed and the Butler Act was eventually repealed in Tennessee in 1967.
Another notable case involved a massive civil settlement of $333 million in 1996. The case was brought by the residents of a California town called Hinkley. Pacific Gas and Electric Company was found to have knowingly dumped wastewater into the ground in this area. This wastewater contained chromium 6 — a known carcinogen. Interestingly, a new class-action was filed in 2011 because it was found that the chromium had been spreading, and in the end, Pacific Gas and Electric Company purchased some of the homes and properties in the town.
Another interesting case that affected US history is the Lois E Jensen versus Eveleth Taconite Company. This lawsuit was brought in 1988 and was the first sexual harassment class action suit in America. Lois Jensen along with 14 other female coworkers employed by the Taconite EVTAC mine in Minnesota presented that they were subjected to intimidation and extreme physical harassment from male coworkers and also supervisors of the mine.
The attorneys with the mining company managed to delay the case for a decade but the day before the jury trial was to take place, they settled and provided monetary damages to the group of women.
An example of a very large sum class-action was the Nortel Networks case that was settled in 2006. This class-action lawsuit was brought by investors who held stock in Nortel Networks, which at the time was a major supplier of fiber-optic equipment to new, up-and-coming Internet companies. You may remember the Internet bust – when that happened, sales drastically declined. The company created fake accounting entries that showed equipment sales that were not actually happening. This was uncovered and investors won their lawsuit to the tune of 2.4 billion.
Another big time class-action was settled in 2005 for the amount of $2.5 billion. This one also involved investors. Those who invested in AOL Time Warner stock brought the suit alleging that Time Warner had falsely shown revenue generation. What the company was doing was moving money around between accounts in the form of advertising transactions over a period of four years. They were designed to look like income when in reality it was just money shifting from one area to another. These false earning statements constituted fraud and the investors won their class-action lawsuit.
These types of cases are fascinating and we will share more of them in an upcoming article. As your McAllen personal injury attorney, we represent victims of big company negligence and recklessness. Call Tijerina Legal Group to discuss your class action lawsuit.
Source of some case information: InfoLaw