Class Action Lawsuits: What a Waste of Time!


I just got an email announcing a settlement for a Netflix class action lawsuit. If I sign up, I get one extra DVD in my rental queue, for one month. Woop de woo. I'm dancing in my chair.

If I read the settlement right, I see the defendent gets $2000, and the defendent's lawyer gets $2,528,000.

This is probably the fifth class action lawsuit that I have "won" in the ten years I have lived in the USA. Not one of them was worth a damn to anyone except the lawyers.

There are probably, somewhere, class action lawsuits for good causes where people really suffered something and got a decent amount of cash in response. However for each one of those, there must be thousands or tens of thousands of piddling class action lawsuits like this one.

I won't be signing up to receive this "benefit", needless to say. I love Netflix and would rather they spend their time (and money) on something I would actually benefit from.

Views expressed are my own and not necessarily those of my employer.

Comments (10)

  1. Ron K says:

    In my next life, I am going to be a lawyer or dentist and go to hell when I die.

  2. theCoach says:

    You are missing the point of a class action lawsuit, which is to disuade bad corporate behavior. You have two other options – increae regulations and regulatory oversight, or to come up with something that does this better.

  3. If I read this right, at the end of the month, you stay at the upgraded level with the regular price for the upgraded level, so you have to opt-in to get the settlement, and opt-out to go back to where you were…. Doesn’t really seem worth it. And I can’t even figure out what NetFlix did based on reading the legalese…

  4. tzagotta says:

    theCoach, that might be true in some cases, but in many other cases, it is just pure greed. Take for example the recent iPod suits – now those are just stupid.

  5. McGurk says:

    Yet another example why we need tort reform. The simplest way to make sure just causes are tried and frivol… frivel… bullsh* cases get ditched is to implement "loser pays" and limit the fees of trial lawyers.

  6. Mark Hoffman says:

    Coach, your assessment sounds nice and all that and laywers love to claim that. But, it just isn’t the case. The law firm here received over $2.5 million. Million. Wanna bet there is a fair amount of profit in that number?

    No, lawsuits such as these are simply designed to remove wealth from those who have it, to people who want it. And this is exactly what a vast number of lawyers in the US devote all of their time to. Take a look at the lifestyle and wealth of the larger plaintiffs attorneys. Yeah..their doing it to save Joe Q Public. Right.

  7. Jack says:

    We non Americans are always amazed by the way your legal system works.

    Sue, sue, sue!

  8. ChrisR says:

    Andy (or anyone who is affected by this lawsuit),

    I suggest taking a quick look at this site:

    http://www.netflixsettlementsucks.com/

    ChriR

  9. Hi Andy

    I ran across your blog from Mike Stall’s and though ‘I wonder if that is Andy Pennell from HiSoft’ — turns out you are 🙂 Cool!

    I have met you a few times back in the Sprectrum days (I wrote Astrum+ which you may well not remember) — you once gave me a long lecture on why Modula 2 was better than Pascal…

  10. lawyer says:

    Actually, the plaintiff gets the $2000 and the plaintiff’s attorney gets the cut, not the losing defendant.

    Class actions lawsuits can play a crucial role at times in helping those who could otherwise not help themselves. Trust me, I know some of these actions are ridiculous. I too have been the recipient of a $0.40 "settlement" for one of these things. But you know what? If lawyers didn’t step in and challenge bad acts of big players, will you? Can you?

    Are you aware that attorneys often fork over MILLIONS of dollars up front, before they ever receive a dime in fees? Are you aware that some of these attorneys lose?

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