Many of us have received the class-action settlement notices in the mail. They inform us that because we bought a certain product or service, we are entitled to share in the proceeds of a lawsuit settlement on behalf of our class.
But we didn't ask to be included in the lawsuit. We don't recall being displeased with the product in question. And we wonder who decided we ought to be offered a settlement consisting of a couple of bucks off our next purchase of said product.
It happens all the time - and safeguarding you has nothing to do with it. No, the scheme involves lawyers virtually inventing classes of people on whose behalf they can file consumer lawsuits. The more people in the class, the fatter the attorneys' cut of the settlement.
Supreme Court justices are considering a case involving just such a situation (washing machines, in this case). They have an opportunity in their ruling to curb unscrupulous lawyers who file class-action lawsuits that are, by definition, self-serving. While the attorneys may walk away from such cases with millions of dollars, consumers end up paying higher prices for goods and services, to offset companies' costs of the settlements.
High court justices should curb lawyers' ability to invent such classes. People with legitimate complaints should be allowed to sue - but greedy attorneys should not be permitted to inflate their fees artificially.