Class action lawsuits

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Puritan Sailor, Feb 2, 2008.

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  1. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Should Christians be involved in class action lawsuits? Why or why not?
    :judge:
     
  2. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    :popcorn: <---- Class action litigation paralegal.
     
  3. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Virtually every class action lawsuit is legalized theft by trial lawyers.

    Sorry, but I'd rather live homeless and hungry than have anything to do with them. All you need to know is that the lawyers get rich off them, regardless of the actual case.

    Can you say John Edwards?
     
  4. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    I general I agree. There is one industry that deserves a wave of lawsuits. Big Tobacco. They sell a defective product (what else do you call something that kills about 50% of it's users) they use chemicals like ammonia to "free up" nicotine to make it more bioavailable to the human body, (read free-basing), it causes more than lung cancer, there are new links between nicotine and MS, as well as a group of auto-immune diseases. I have to admit, I would not care if they took a BIG hit. :2cents:
     
  5. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    I have absolutely no sympathy even for tobacco class action suits. There have been warning labels since the 60s, and the things you speak about are common knowledge. No body is putting a gun to someone's head to make them smoke. It is a very small step from tobacco lawsuits to fast food lawsuits, to just about anything else.

    If you have been damaged, then you can seek a remedy at law. But class action lawsuits are ways to avoid ordinary burdens of proof, and designed to enrich lawyers.
     
  6. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    :down:
     
  7. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    So is it the concept of class action suits themselves that is wrong? Or just the way it is abused at present?

    And what about a case where the "class" has a legitimate injustice to be addressed and restitution made? What are the other options?
    :detective:
     
  8. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Care to elaborate? :gpl:
     
  9. Anton Bruckner

    Anton Bruckner Puritan Board Professor

    this same thing made me dump some stock I owned in Altria and Ride Aid stores. I can't understand how someone could make and sell a product that when used regularly causes addiction and kills.
     
  10. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    Actually they killed members of my family BEFORE warning labels! I became addicted as a stupid kid! And yes, they target "future smokers" if you KILL 50% of your users you ALWAYS need replacements! As for class actions, I have money! I don't need theirs! I don't care if lawyers get it! Fred, you are smart guy, how you can compare fast food to a truly LEGAL DRUG like nicotine shocks me. I want to see them go down. Hard.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2008
  11. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior


    Not all Fred. This is a broad brush you are using. Go watch Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich. This is a legitamate case.
     
  12. Anton Bruckner

    Anton Bruckner Puritan Board Professor

    LOL :cool::lol:
     
  13. Thomas2007

    Thomas2007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think Proverbs 1:10-19 is applicable to your question.

    10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

    11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:

    12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:

    13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:

    14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:

    15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:

    16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

    17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.

    18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.

    19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
     
  14. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    For every Erin Brockovich there are 1,000 frivolous class suits. The Pacific Gas litigation could also have been handled (and may even have been, I don't have all the details at hand) by customary litigation.

    I get at least 5-10 class action notices per year, from bank cards, to car rentals, etc. I don't know that the "award" is ever in excess of a couple of dollars or a coupon, but I know lawyers are getting rich.
     
  15. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Dale Gribbel: Drugs don't kill people. The government does.
     
  16. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    I don't think the concept of class-action is always wrong, though it it often misapplied, but the way we do litigation in this country is a crying sin. That from someone who hopes to be a paralegal very soon. Pray that I'll get a decent lawyer that cares about justice, please!!
     
  17. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    Thomas with respect to you as a Pastor. Would you apply this to Big Tobacco? Would you call them righteous? I know stockholders who would not give them that much credit!:2cents:
     
  18. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    *rides in on his evil lawyer Hellsteed*

    First of all, just what do you all think a class-action lawsuit is?

    What it is, is a way for a class of people who believe they have been civily wronged to join together and bring all of their claims under one, singular suit. They all have the same injury, the same facts to their case, the same allegations, etc. It does not promote judicial economy of resources to have 2,000 seperate lawsuits against the American Tobbaco industry, ergo the suits are joined together and litigated together.

    To my knowledge, you may chose not to be a part of the class action lawsuit, but you may be bound in what you can and can't use (depositions, witnesses, etc.).

    They are not some way for some lawyer to profit off of other people. All lawyers profit off of other people, that's our job. We have a special skill, and we are paid for it. Plain and simple. A class action lawsuit undoubtedly consumes a vast amount of resources, and the lawyer pays for this out of his own pocket.

    I repeat, a lawyer pays for this out of his own pocket.

    If he wins, he is usually restricted in the fees he may collect, i.e. 33,3% of the total damages. However, keep in mind what I just repeated to you twice: he paid for the trial out of his own pocket. If he lost, he was out of the money with nothing but a judgment against him to show for it. He, his paralegals, everybody who worked on the case has to be paid as well, and, keep in mind, he and whatever other lawyers are on the case will be representing that entire class of people.

    I mean, what would make it more fair here to you? Does the fact that 4 or 5 lawyers get 2 million dollars for representing 50 injured clients make you uncomfortable? Would it make you feel better if 50 individual lawyers got 20,000 dollars each, while the court had 50 seperate trials on the docket, practically throwing taxpayer money down the toilet?

    I'd rather 5 lawyers get rich for doing good at their job than have the court tied up with all of that mess.

    But then, it might not take up that many resources anyway, because if one claim won, then, concievably, the subsequent claims could claim offensive collateral estoppel and have all of the pertinent facts pre-determined from the get-go and get an easy judgment, but that still takes up a lot of time and offensive collateral estoppel isn't the most popular thing from what I know.

    Anyway...

    *rides off on his evil lawyer Hellsteed*
     
  19. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    One of my sons is a civil litigator, so in principle I'm not against lawyers making a decent living. I think what Fred is protesting is the kind of situation described in Grisham' s King of Torts. Money grubbing manipulators of the law and of the emotions of jurors who seek to get rich off human suffering is not a very pretty picture. Perhaps it is a distinction in search of a difference, but I do think that there is a difference between an ethical attorney seeking just redress for an injured party and an "ambulance chasing shyster." In principle, I have no problem with the idea of a class action suit. In practice, it gripes me when every possible malady is met with a television ad for a law firm seeking to scrounge up clients for a suit.
     
  20. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    Dennis,

    The simple fact that someone brings a frivolous case, doesn't mean they win. Those ambulance chasers only take cases they know they can win, and the law does not favor manipulation. I have not seen a single tort reform case that wasn't totally bogus and made up.

    Remember the McDonald's coffee lady? Remember how everyone thought she was a money-grubber trying to make a quick buck?

    The coffee they served her was 180 degrees. It was served at that temperature because the McDonalds was cutting costs by using sub-par coffee and they didn't want customers to taste the difference, so they just served it unusually hot. She was a passenger in the car, her daughter was driving. When she spilled the coffee, while the car was parked, it spilled on her groin area and immediately disentegrated sections of her skin, giving her 3rd degree burns throughout the area. the damages that the jury gave her were reduced by the court, because the court found them to be way too exorbinate (something to the tune of 2.5 million) and reduced them to about 200 thousand. Does she not deserve 200,000 and should McDonald's be able to put people in danger of 3rd degree burns to save money by using cheap coffee?

    Yet, this is one of the chief cases I hear people complain about when they try to say the civil litigation system is totally hosed.

    Another one is the theif in the house who falls on a knife and sues the owner for negligence. Again, bogus. While the distinction between invitees and licensees has been merged, most states still hold that a property owner owes no duty to a trespasser to mitigate harm or warn of dangers on the property. Only when the owner can reasonably foresee trespassers does he have a duty.

    I'm sorry, but I just don't see what all the hub-bub is about.
     
  21. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Let's try to keep this away from tobacco and focused on class actions law suits in general.

    We are told as Christians to avoid suing other believers in civil courts. But how would that work in class action suits? It is a legal option here in America. But is it a biblical option to address wrongs?
     
  22. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    Well, we can assume the other person is a believer and try to work it out between ourselves. If that fails, church discipline is always an option, but with the casual nature of church membership they can always change churches, or just blow it off all together, or the church will probably do nothing about it. At that point, I would suggest starting getting civil with it, because they're consistently showing themselves not to be a believer, and merely taking advantage of the status in order to avoid paying for what is due.

    I think there is a point to take people into court, but I would definately try to keep things out of court. I would suggest, however, to get a lawyer to navigate the settlement or aribtration, in case the tortious side decides to back out. At least then, you have all of the proof you need to show that they had agreed to right the wrong, but reneged instead. Mmm, past consideration and subsequent promises.
     
  23. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    A Couple Quick Questions:
    1)How many class action lawsuits lose completely (this goes to the out of pocket argument)
    2)How many cases are there where one can say, "Man, if it was not for the possibility of class action lawsuits, you would have really been done wrong with no method for redress."

    CT
     
  24. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    You're missing the entire point. Nowhere is it asserted that class action lawsuits make it possible for a suit to be brought, but they do make it easier for a suit to be brought, and it cuts down on the expending of judicial resources. I havn't studied this particular part of civil procedure in-depth yet, but I also suspect that a corporate defendant (which will likely be the case) has a right to expedient justice, and would be denied this right through having to litigate 2,000 of the same claims over and over. They'd lose millions in lawyer fees when everything could be joined into a single suit. I'm sorry, but the accused have rights too, and no one should be forced to pay millions in fees when it would cost an inth of that to litigate it once-and-for-all.

    As for how many lose, I ask how many win? How many class action suits do you hear about a year that actually win? One... maybe? If there is such an epidemic of frivolous, class-action law suits, why are they not rampant?

    The truth? They aren't, at least I don't think so.

    On top of that, due to the nature of the funding, a lawyer isn't going to take a case that's a dead horse out of the gate. They're going to pick cases they at least reasonably think are winners. Those that they think are reasonably winners, aren't the ones where they are able to formulate some theory and manipulate a loop-hole to "beat the system". Those are extreme risks, because unless there's some sort of public policy that's got their back on the issue, the court can simply close the loop-hole on them. A court does not have to allow them to manipulate anything and if they don't like it, they can stop it without any reaosning other than they think it is unjust in that situation. Stare decisis is a suggestion that is well-followed, but not universally followed. If it was universally followed, we should give up hope on over-turning Roe v. Wade. As it stands, courts can overrule prior decisions, so no cross-eyed theory is bullet-proof.

    The cases that are winners are clearly winners, or at least concievably winners. Upon analyzing the facts and the law, I think it would be clear whether they have a case or not. If it's not clear, then I doubt they'd take it.

    Even the ambulance chasers aren't manipulating the system and getting people who don't deserve money...money. Often, those people really have been civily wronged in some sense. Now, they may try to blow it out of proportion, but they can only do that so much I surmise. And the people they're representing aren't shysters, they really have suffered injury. The hypothetical limping, crippled, cheat that wins a million dollars is, for the most part, a myth. People do try to play tht card, but in the instances I've seen it happen, they don't get anything.
     
  25. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    I've been a corporate lawyer for almost 15 years, and I have never once heard in my life of a corporate defendant that actually would rather have a class action suit than normal litigation. You are just completely wrong here. The class action suit is used as a weapon to engorge a settlement from a defendant 999 times out of 1000.

    You are presuming that there are actual trials. A minuscule portion of suits actually go to trial. Of 100 suits, maybe 5 or 10 actually start a trial. Maybe 2 go all the way to a verdict. It's virtually unheard of. Most experienced (10-15+ years) litigation attorneys at major firms have tried a handful of cases. I'm not worried about verdicts. The danger is settlements.

    Almost every problem in America today (small business, healthcare, immigration, corporate greed, etc) is made worse because of attorneys.
     
  26. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    I defer to Fred. :p
     
  27. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Thanks! :duh:

    At the same time, I don't want your point about the need to have some problems redressed via the courts to be lost. There certainly are actions that society (not the Church, or even individual Christians) should discourage, and even punish. That does not mean a new federal law making something illegal. That is what tort law is all about (or should be, shyster lawyers not withstanding): it is about righting a wrong (a tort).
     
  28. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    I think Fred is right. I am certainly no expert but my understanding as well is that class actions are generally designed to elicit a settlement from the defendant. Often the settlement is one that enriches the trial lawyers and the plaintiffs get a pittance.
     
  29. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    This is based on reality. Very often the costs of defending a suit exceed the amount of the suit. An average (small & simple) federal case can cost between $75,000-$100,000 just to get to the first round of discovery. A trial can easily run another $100,000.

    So what do defendants do when sued for $250,000 (for example)? Settle for $40,000-50,000.
     
  30. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    Hi Fred! Fred as you know we have a mutual friend, I knew you were a "law-books", I did not know you still were in practice!:detective: And sorry for being off topic!:offtopic::eek:
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2008
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