A lawsuit isn’t necessarily the right answer every time you are wronged. For example, if the harm is minor, it’s not always worth it. Lawsuits are time consuming and expensive. The frustrating part of this is that the wrongdoer seems to get away with what they did and escape responsibility.
One answer is a class action lawsuit. A corporation can get a huge windfall from cheating individual consumers out of small amounts of money over a long period of time. In a class action lawsuit, you join together with others who have been harmed in the same way. As a group, you can stand up to the corporation, call them out on their deceptive practices, get reimbursed, and most importantly, stop it from happening to anyone else in the future.
A recent example is a lawsuit against Budget Rent A Car. A customer realized that he was being taxed on a fee he shouldn’t have been taxed on according to the law. The loss to him individually couldn’t have been more than a few dollars each time he rented a car. However, if Budget has been overcharging all of its customers in Illinois in the same way, then that’s a lot of money.
A lot of these lawsuits are based on consumer fraud. The Budget customer is suing the company and seeking class action status from the court. A judge needs to sign off on a class action before it can move forward because there are some specific requirements. The group, or class, needs to all have similar claims, the group needs to be large enough, etc.
The lesson from this is don’t assume there’s nothing you can do simply because the harm you suffered is small. If you have questions about whether your situation might qualify for a class action lawsuit, or whether there’s a class action lawsuit already in the works that might be relevant to you, feel free to give us a call.
Written by Michael Helfand