Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a class action lawsuit?
- Do I need to prove I purchased these products?
- Will I be contacted to testify in court?
- How much will I receive?
- Is there a limit to the number of claims I can make?
- What happens to the settlement money if it is not claimed?
- Why don’t you need a receipt? Couldn’t anyone file a claim?
- I don’t see XXX case here.
- I do not live in the United States, can I file?
- What are all these cases about? Why do these companies owe me money?
- What happens if I don’t file a claim?
- Do I need a lawyer?
- Is there a list of expired settlements?
A class action is a type of lawsuit that lets groups of people act collectively. A lead plaintiff sues on behalf of everyone affected, and if they win, everyone in the affected class shares in the damages award.
The idea is to let consumers band together and bring lawsuits that they could not economically bring individually. For example, imagine if a company was making a pen because of a faulty design leaked ink. If you bought one of the defective pens and ended up with ink all over your clothes, you might feel ripped off but suing the company would be impractical. A lawsuit would be expensive and time consuming, and even when you won you wouldn’t get enough to make it worth your time. So the company could go on making these defective pens.
A class action lawsuit lets everyone who bought one of these pens sue together. With thousands of affected consumers acting collectively, the lawsuit is more economical for both parties than thousands of small lawsuits. One of the affected people would play the role of the lead plaintiff, and sue the pen manufacturer. And when they win or settle the case, the court orders a fund be set up to pay compensation to anyone who bought these pens.
The lawyers are paid out of the compensation fund. And the lead plaintiff is usually given an extra payment to compensate them for their time.
Many settlements require no proof or purchase whatsoever. In some cases, a proof of purchase is required if a consumer is claiming to have purchased more than a certain number of a particular item. Other times, a high priced product may require some proof of purchase, but that could be a credit card statement or something similar, rather than an original receipt, so this should never deter you from claiming your just reward.
Of course, you should only file for settlement for products that you actually purchased. Lying about purchasing something is not cool.
The amount varies, however, there are many instances where a $100 or more can be received in a single claim, by checking back frequently, you can continue to receive settlement awards.
You can apply for as many settlement awards as you’d like, there is no limit on the number of different settlements that you can apply for. They are all typically different companies with very different products, settlement amounts etc.
Each settlement has specific rules regarding the limits on a specific item, often requiring a receipt of a claim for more than a few items. For example, if you bought up to 6 bottles of skin lotion you might not need a receipt, but claims for more than 6 bottles might require a receipt. However, if it is a big ticket item, you may require a receipt or other proof of purchase in order to make your claim.
What happens to the remaining settlement money if it is not all claimed by class members depends on the terms of the settlement. But, the most common three situations are:
- Company Keeps the Money – in some settlements, the defendant company keeps the money. (We are not a fan of this arrangement, because it creates a direct incentive for the company to avoid publicizing and paying out claims.)
- Distributed to Claimant Members – in some settlements, the extra money is divided among those that made claims. There have been situations with unsubscribed settlement pools where the claimants received settlements far in excess of their purchase price because of this method.
- Distributed to Charity – in some settlements the remaining funds are given to a charity. (latin term) In principle it is meant to be a cause that benefits the class. In practice you often see funds given to causes that seem more aligned with the attorney’s personal interests than those of the class.
Most of these cases involve products bought many years ago, and it is unlikely any consumer would keep a receipt or other proof of purchase. Do you keep the receipts for a pair of shoes, or Nutella spread they bought five years ago? If a receipt was required, none of the affected consumers would be able to claim their settlement money. So instead most mass consumer product settlements use an honor system for filing claims.
This trust based system does open them up to abuse, by people filing fraudulent claims. The legal philosophy that underpins the system is that as the party that wronged consumers, it is better the company bear the cost of these fraudulent claims than to deny the victims their just compensation.
Of course this does not mean you should file a fraudulent claim. Lying is not cool.
If you know about a case that we are missing, email us the details at email@example.com and we will add it to the list.
These settlements are for consumers in the United States. The vast majority only provide for settlements for American consumers. In some cases, the American settlement is part of a larger global settlement and there may be a settlement fund administered in your local country, but we regret we do not have the resources (or skills) to locate, investigate, and list all these global settlements.
Most of these cases are to do with a company selling an unsafe or defective product, or advertising the product in a way that was false or misleading. Other common reasons for a class action lawsuit are companies colluding, or otherwise violating antitrust laws. Companies producing unlawful environmental damage. Billing errors, where consumers were overcharged for a good or service. Contractual violations, where a company was not living up to the terms of their contract with their customers.
If you do not file a settlement claim (or opt out of the settlement>, then you will not receive a settlement payment. In most cases, your rights to receiving any settlement in the future will be severely limited. For all practical purposes, if you don’t fill in the settlement form then you won’t get anything.
You do not need a lawyer to file your claim and get your settlement.
If you want to do something more complicated, like object to the settlement, then a lawyer would be advisable. But, this too does not require a lawyer.
You can of course hire a lawyer to represent you if you choose.
We do have a list of expired settlements.