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Let's Sue Some Big Corporation: How Class Action Lawsuits Work (in my head)

Updated on January 27, 2012

Ted Big Hat

Ted Big Hat (of Big Hat, Friendly Grin, and Sue) is shown discussing what your settlement may look like if you have had a problem with AIR.
Ted Big Hat (of Big Hat, Friendly Grin, and Sue) is shown discussing what your settlement may look like if you have had a problem with AIR. | Source

Let's Sue and Get Rich!

Every year, every person on the planet receives 32,000 postcards telling them that they may be part of a class action lawsuit. Unless you opt out, you're in.

Now at first glance, you look and say, "JACKPOT." It sounds like you won the lottery. What you won is nothing.

Here's how it works: Big Hat, Friendly Grin, and Sue (a law firm who advertises on cable TV) run a series of ads. They funnel the cases to a Crypt-Keeper. The Crypt-Keeper sues. You get paid. But wait, there's more!

Watch TV, Win Big!

TVs, such as this advanced model, feature advertisements from people who want to give you money.  They generally are aired on weird stations in the middle of the night.
TVs, such as this advanced model, feature advertisements from people who want to give you money. They generally are aired on weird stations in the middle of the night. | Source

Sample Ad

Hi, I'm Ted Big Hat. Have you ever caught a cold after breathing AIR? Hell, yeah, you have. It's not fair that AIR gets to blow around causing colds. Or even making you cold. If you've ever been hurt, injured, or in any way psychologically or physically impacted by the presense of AIR, give Big Hat, Friendly Grin, and Sue a call today. The number's right there on the screen, partner.

(Disclaimer: The firm of Big Hat, Friendly Grin, and Sue are licensed to practice Animal Law in Micronesia. If you aren't in Micronesia, your case may be referred to one of our partners)

Nigerian Prince

I'm pretty sure this guy has too much money.  He needs help getting it Out of Africa.  He's been deposed or indisposed or something.
I'm pretty sure this guy has too much money. He needs help getting it Out of Africa. He's been deposed or indisposed or something. | Source

What Seems to Happen

Whether or not you're interested in the lawsuit, you toss the postcard and forget about it. If the notification came via email, it probably ended up in your spam folder with other non-spam, such as offers from African Princes that will make you wealthy. Why do African Princesses never make these offers? Presumably European and Asiatic Royalty should also be sending these offers, but all I see is stuff from one Prince of Nigeria. And he seems to be getting desperate.

About a year later, you receive 3 coupons good for, "One breath of air."

Where did all the money go?

Obviously AIR has money. It's everywhere. AIR gets around. AIR knows where the bodies are buried, which closets the skeletons are in, and which X marks the spot. AIR is loaded.

So, how come after a year (or sixty) of litigation, did you get a coupon for three extra breaths of AIR? You were expecting more, like a pot of lemmings, a jar of Weebles (they wobble, but they don't fall down), or some cold, folding cash. Maybe a bar of gold briefly flitted across your horizon. That's not what you got, though.

Who got the money? Well, Big Hat, Friendly Grin, and Sue were a front. They got a little cut (little being several million dollars) for compiling the initial members to start the suit. Not every fishing expedition pays off and it takes big bucks to advertise at 3 AM on the Nose Hair Network. They've got to pay their expenses.

The initial class members probably got more than you. They probably got a Bag Of Wind. They're now really popular at kite flying parties, but they didn't get much. Who got the big money? The behind-the-TV lawyer that actually sued AIR.

Pennies add up

Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you'll have a penny. Find several million people that have partaken of AIR. Get enough of them to sign a complaint about AIR that they become a class. Get enough of them to assign you 40% of "free money you don't have to work for," and it begins to add up. While the individual settlements will be low, $1 or $2 on the low-end lawsuits, enough of these add up to big money.

And that's how you get rich. Become a lawyer who has cases funneled to them.

Oh wait, but you got three extra breaths of AIR. Or a coupon for 1 free breath with one regularly priced breath. You don't get rich, sorry.

Weebles, sorry Amazon won't ship Lemmings.

Don Pardo is the Slime

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    • profile image

      pattysue 5 years ago

      Any chance to see Frank is worth the price of admission...right?!? So...I have a little notice in front of me right now and am trying to decide if it's worth the hassle of pursuing or throw it in to the recycle bin... I understand that I am one of 'How many?' other claimants...but I never felt good about this in the first place and feel some redemption in the law suit. If few people lay claim does your settlement increase/decrease exponetially to the numbers of claims submitted? Is this any different than playing the lottery? Did I spend any money to hear Frank sing?

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Lots of mine is too, It's a good place to start. I figure start with your friends and work up.

    • DougBerry profile image
      Author

      DougBerry 5 years ago from Abilene, TX

      I appreciate that. About 25% of my traffic is via Facebook right now.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      It's a little off subject I know, but I just love that little TV (I collect antique radios). I love this hub voting up an sharing on Facebook.

    • michabelle profile image

      michabelle 5 years ago

      Attorneys craft laws. Why wouldn't they write them so they can make the most money? If you were an attorney, wouldn't you? :-)

    • DougBerry profile image
      Author

      DougBerry 5 years ago from Abilene, TX

      Well, my employees routinely made more than I did at my arcade. That was one of the reasons I closed it. When I got payroll down to 5% or less of gross sales is the only time I started making money...

      But yes, any time you have a class action suit, the payout per claimant is generally tiny. The only reason that anyone would take one of the suits is if it has a large enough pool of claimants to make the lawyer's cut a healthy sum.

    • DougBerry profile image
      Author

      DougBerry 5 years ago from Abilene, TX

      Yep, they get their cut, we get our 50 cent coupons.

    • flashmakeit profile image

      flashmakeit 5 years ago from usa

      I receive those little postcards for class action law suits and one read "the settlement provides for not more than $3,000,000 in attorney fees" so I guess those lawyers are making a lot of money $.

    • DougBerry profile image
      Author

      DougBerry 5 years ago from Abilene, TX

      I think I got about $2.50 from one against eBay once. We got a card for one against Discover today. That's what made me think about this. Liz thought AIR was too vague a concept. I said, "Everyone uses AIR!"

    • michabelle profile image

      michabelle 5 years ago

      I got a notice about one of those class action lawsuits and I think I collected a couple coupons or something as a settlement. As I recall, I started renting from them again.. :-)