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Can You Get Rich in a Class Action Lawsuit?

You are about to opt into a class action lawsuit. Before you make a decision, you google “who gets the most money in a class action?” You get a big disappointment. The internet is full of information that says it is the attorneys and the lead plaintiff that get the lion’s share, while plaintiffs will end up with a couple of dollars. Guess what? That is not always true.  Contrary to what media says, most of the money in a class action settlement goes to the injured plaintiffs. The class’ attorneys take a percentage but normally courts impose restrictions on the amount of payment.

I would agree that the “little guys” get little since there are so many of them that opt into. Rather, it is the government and the industries that get the big money. But when it comes to your decision whether to become a member or not, you need to ask a simple question: “what is it that I am losing?” In fact, there is no out-of-pocket money that you have to spend.

Below are some of the highest-paid class action settlements in US history.

Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement for $206 Billion

It was a lawsuit between four tobacco giants (Philip Morris Inc., R. J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, and Lorillard) and the attorneys general of 46 states. Perhaps this was one of the biggest class action lawsuit settlements. 

But who got the money? The money went to the states that settled their Medicaid lawsuits against the tobacco industry for the recovery of their tobacco-related health-care costs. Was it worth it? I would say yes. If you look at the bigger picture, the beneficiaries were the people with smoking-related illnesses so, in essence, the tobacco companies paid the “little guys”. 

BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill $20 Billion

Again, this was not a traditional class action because it was led by public prosecutors and not the plaintiff’s bar. Most of the funds (an estimated $14 to 15 billion) went to resolve civil claims over environmental damage while $5 to $6 billion was paid to state and local governments. Once again, it was the public at large that benefited from this settlement as in the example above.

Volkswagen Emissions Scandal $14.7 billion

This is a case when car owners received cash payments and got vehicle buybacks from a Volkswagen scheme that was found cheating emission tests on its diesel cars in a settlement worth of $14.7 billion. Some 475,000 car owners received cash payments and vehicle buybacks.

Still in Doubt, Whether to Opt Into? Call The Margarian Law Firm Attorneys for a Free Consultation

If you are still in doubt whether to become a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit, the attorneys at The Margarian Law Firm will help. Specialized in consumer law and class action lawsuits, our attorneys will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your case and come up with advice on how to proceed. Call us at (818) 553 1000 or (747) 247-7444 for a FREE consultation today!

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