Class Action Settlements Serve Lawyers Over Class Members

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Lawsuit abuse across the U.S. results in more than $160 billion in excessive tort costs

Lawyers representing class action cases in 2019 and 2020 received from settlements, on average, 10% more than the classes they represented, according to a new report.

The report, issued by the Jones Day law firm, found that in one 2020 case, attorneys received almost four times as much as the class members. That case was Brickman v. Fitbit (a case in which the defendant allegedly misrepresented the ability of Fitbit watches to accurately track users’ sleep), class counsel received $7,065,940 in attorneys’ fees and litigation costs while only $1,768,625 was allocated to the settlement class.

“Class action settlements far too often provide little to no benefit to class members, but instead serve to enrich the trial lawyers who bring the suits,” American Tort Reform Association President Tiger Joyce said. “While certain class actions have their place in the legal system, overall, the system should be reformed to address abuse by plaintiffs’ lawyers particularly when they use uninjured consumers as a tool to drive class actions, settlements and large fee awards.”

Lawsuit abuse across the U.S. results in more than $160 billion in excessive tort costs, meaning every American pays approximately $488 each year in a “tort tax.” Tort costs impact 2,211,450 jobs across the country, with an estimated loss of $143.8 million in wages.

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