What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
As consumers, we like to think the products we purchase are safe, whether a vehicle, its parts, or even hygiene products. We also expect the businesses we buy products from will protect our information. But this is not always the case.
When multiple consumers suffer financial or physical harm from a product, those cases are often consolidated into a single lawsuit called a Class Action.
A Class Action lawsuit differs from a traditional lawsuit, where one party sues another, and all parties are in court. In this case, the consumers are referred to as a class or class members who do not necessarily need to be present in court.
Beasley Allen has handled some of the top-class action lawsuits across the country. You may have heard about our litigation against Johnson & Johnson and its talcum-based baby powder products. https://www.beasleyallen.com/talcum-powder-lawsuit/
We have been privileged to represent thousands of women who developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder for feminine hygiene. We continue to investigate these cases, regardless of the brand.
Aside from that case, our attorneys handle class action lawsuits involving:
- Consumer Products- Rock ‘n Play Sleepers, CPAP machines, J&J Benzene-tainted sunscreen. Along with individually purchased consumer products, we also focus on lawsuits involving materials consumers buy in bulk or through a contractor, particularly construction materials like flooring, when the materials turn out to be defective.
- Environmental issues like the BP oil spill and Hot Fuel Multidistrict litigation.
- Defective Automobiles and Auto Products like the GM ignition switch or defective airbags.
- Data Breach involving corporate negligence in cybersecurity, resulting in consumers’ data being potentially exposed to fraud. We have handled cases against Target & Home Depot, Equifax and others.
Different types of products surround us in our day-to-day lives. Some of those are meant to make our lives easier, but when a product is causing multiple users harm, it may cause a Class Action lawsuit. Talcum Powder is a prime example of these products.
For more than a century, Johnson & Johnson marketed its Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower to Shower body powder, and other talcum powder products as safe, even for infants. Many women grew up using the product not only to care for their babies but also for their hygiene. For generations, women were told “a sprinkle of powder on their genitals would keep them dry and fresh.”
Johnson & Johnson wasn’t telling women that it was aware of studies from as early as the 1960s that were drawing a concerning link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
Talc is a mineral of various elements, including magnesium, silicon and oxygen. It is mined from the earth and then ground into a fine powder. Talcum powder is used in various products, such as Johnson’s Baby Powder, to absorb moisture.
A 1982 case-controlled study was the first to link genital use of talcum powder to ovarian cancer. Since then, dozens of studies involving thousands of women have found that genital use of talcum powder increases the risk for the deadly disease, including one that found women who have used talcum powder on their genitals were 30 percent more likely to develop ovarian cancer than those who haven’t.
Our attorneys have secured $724 million in combined verdicts for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer after regular use of talcum powder. As many as 2,200 cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed each year.
Rock N Play
Beasley Allen attorneys represent plaintiffs seeking to vindicate the rights of purchasers and owners of 4.7 million Rock ‘n Play Sleepers in a national class action litigation. The plaintiffs claim the defendants falsely marketed the Sleeper as safe and suitable for infant sleep. Approximately 100 deaths reportedly occurred while infants were in the products.
In addition to this multidistrict litigation, Fisher-Price and Mattel were defendants in more than 30 wrongful death suits brought by parents of infants who died in the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, approximately 15 of which reportedly remain pending.
Beasley Allen attorneys are preparing for the first liability bellwether trials on behalf of New York consumers, scheduled for Spring 2024.
Selling the Rock ‘n Play Sleepers and other inclined sleep products is now illegal.
Defective construction products can mean the difference between life and death for unsuspecting homeowners.
To save money, builders may seek cheaper construction products that meet the same standard as construction materials used in past jobs. However, only time will tell if the materials or equipment used were the same quality as more expensive counterparts, leaving the homeowner to deal with the aftermath, including absorbing the economic losses associated with the defective products used in constructing the home.
Commonly defective construction products include shingles, tiles, windows, and flooring. Defective construction materials may result from improper testing, problems during the manufacturing process, and/or failure to withstand the area’s environmental conditions. Homeowners must diligently ensure that builders use proper construction materials and application techniques.
Defective construction materials may also come from a home improvement store, which may be accused of distributing faulty products.
Environmental lawsuits can range from highly local to wide-ranging impacts. When businesses or people are affected by a man-made environmental disaster or toxic substance exposure, a class action lawsuit can be an effective recourse.
Consider the BP Oil Spill as an example.
BP Oil Spill
On April 20, 2010, a massive offshore oil rig known as the Deepwater Horizon exploded and caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico, about 50 miles from Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. Firefighters and the U.S. Coast Guard fought for two days to contain the fire. Still, the rig sank on April 22, releasing nearly a million gallons of diesel fuel into the Gulf waters and creating an unstoppable leak of crude that eventually became one if not the most significant oil disaster the U.S. has ever seen.
It took four months to seal the well and stop the oil flow. As a result, the environmental and commercial impact was unprecedented. Commercial fishing and shrimping operations all along the spill area were shut down for months, putting hundreds of fishermen already hard hit by the economy out of work. The timing couldn’t have been worse, as the disaster struck the $21 billion commercial seafood industry just before harvesting season in mid-May. Other industries affected included shipping, tourism, the restaurant industry, real estate, and commercial fishing, all of which suffered economic losses and lost income due to the environmental disaster.
Defective Automobiles and Auto Products
A vehicle is one of the significant purchases a person will make. Often, much time is invested in researching the best deal, finding a good warranty plan, and ensuring the vehicle suits the driver’s needs. A new vehicle purchase also has a lot of emotional attachment. People want to love what they drive. But above all, they need to rely on the vehicle.
When a manufacturer creates a defective vehicle, trust between the consumer and the manufacturer is broken. The car may lose value, making reselling impossible or incurring uninsurable repair costs. In short – the consumer isn’t getting what they paid for or what was promised.
An example of this is the Volkswagen and Chrysler emissions cheat scandal.
Volkswagen and Chrysler Emissions Class Actions
Volkswagen installed the emissions cheat on around 11 million diesel-powered vehicles worldwide, including half a million U.S. vehicles, while promoting “clean diesel” as an alternative to electric and hybrid vehicles.
The defeat device enables the vehicles to detect the unique parameters of an emissions drive cycle, which prompts the vehicle’s computer to turn on emissions controls, thereby making the vehicle fully compliant with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules during testing. The software also senses steering, throttle, and other variables unique to real-time driving, which cues the computer to turn off emissions controls, allowing the vehicle to release extremely high levels of nitrogen-oxide emissions up to 40 times higher than federal limits.
Later, regulators also began investigating Fiat Chrysler for similar allegations of emissions cheating. The EPA is assessing emissions-control software in more than 100,000 diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram pickup trucks, which manufacturer Fiat Chrysler (FCA) failed to disclose to regulators as required by law.
While the EPA wasn’t ready to call the software a “defeat device” like the software at the center of Volkswagen’s costly emissions scandal, the agency conceded that Fiat Chrysler’s software does appear to cheat emissions requirements in violation of the Clean Air Act. The questionable software was found in the model year 2014, 2015, and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0-liter diesel engines sold in the U.S.
Data Breach Class Action
When personal confidential information is stolen, assessed or viewed by someone not authorized to do so, it is considered a data breach. Since electronic information is so common and easily accessible, it is quite simple to be lost or improperly protected. Experts estimate cybercriminals steal $1 billion yearly from businesses worldwide.
Sometimes, a data breach is the result of corporate negligence. Companies can face lawsuits for not protecting confidential information like payment cards and medical data from hackers. Negligence in cybersecurity monitoring and slow recognition of weaknesses can lead to data breaches, putting consumers at risk for potential fraud.
One of the most common forms of data breach is through hacking. Hackers use malware to intrude on a business’s system, but what are hackers after?
Generally, hackers look to obtain the names of U.S. consumers, their social security numbers, birthdates, addresses, driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers. Below are examples of some Class Action lawsuits against corporations Beasley Allen has litigated.
Target & Home Depot
Retailers Target and Home Depot faced cyberattacks on their point-of-sale systems, which led to nationwide system issues. To address this, the U.S. introduced chip cards with EMV (Europay, Mastercard, and Visa) technology, which improves cybersecurity by creating a new transaction code each time the card is used.
In 2017, cybercriminals gained access to the system of Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies in the United States. Through this unauthorized access, hackers obtained nearly 146 million Americans’ sensitive personal data, accounting for about 60% of the country’s adult population.
The credit card numbers of 209,000 consumers were breached. Of those, 182,000 people had their personal information stolen.
A troubling aspect of the Equifax breach is that it potentially exposed all those affected to the threat of identity theft in the immediate future and for the rest of their lives.
This occurrence is regarded as one of the most significant data breaches to have ever taken place.
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