Class Action Case Update – August 21, 2023

Class Action Case Update | Audet & Partners, LLP

Class Action Law Update – August 21, 2023

Recent Trends in Class Action Litigation and Notable Settlements

Class action litigation has long been a tool for plaintiffs to collectively address grievances against corporations, government entities, and other organizations. Over the years, the nature and focus of these lawsuits have evolved in response to societal changes, technological advancements, and shifts in the legal landscape. This Class Action Law Update explores recent trends in class action litigation and highlights some of the most significant settlements in recent class action litigation.

1. Trends in Class Action Litigation

a. Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Breaches With the digital age in full swing, data breaches and violations of privacy rights have become increasingly common. Companies that fail to protect user data or misuse it can face massive class action lawsuits. Cases against tech giants like Facebook and Equifax underscore the potential risks and liabilities companies face in the realm of data protection.

b. Environmental and Climate Change Litigation As the global community becomes more aware of environmental issues, there’s been a surge in class actions related to environmental harm and climate change. These cases often target large corporations for their role in pollution, deforestation, and other environmental damages.

c. Product Liability and Consumer Protection While product liability cases are not new, there’s been a noticeable uptick in lawsuits related to e-cigarettes, opioids, and other consumer products. These cases often revolve around the alleged harm caused by these products and the failure of companies to adequately warn consumers.

d. Employment and Labor Rights Class actions related to wage theft, discrimination, and other workplace violations continue to be prominent. Gig economy workers, in particular, have been at the forefront, challenging their classification as independent contractors and seeking benefits akin to traditional employees.

e. Securities and Financial Fraud Investors are increasingly banding together to sue companies for securities fraud, especially in cases where corporate misconduct or misrepresentation has led to significant financial losses.

2. Significant Class Action Settlements

a. Equifax Data Breach Settlement (2019) Equifax agreed to a settlement of up to $700 million after a massive data breach in 2017 exposed the personal information of nearly 147 million people. This remains one of the largest settlements related to a data breach.

b. Volkswagen Emissions Scandal (2016) In response to the “Dieselgate” scandal, where Volkswagen was found to have installed software in vehicles to cheat emissions tests, the company agreed to a settlement of over $14.7 billion, one of the largest in automotive history.

c. Johnson & Johnson Opioid Settlement (2021) Johnson & Johnson and three major drug distributors agreed to a $26 billion settlement to resolve thousands of lawsuits alleging their role in fueling the U.S. opioid crisis.

d. Facebook Privacy Settlement (2020) Facebook agreed to pay $650 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over its use of facial recognition technology, highlighting the growing concerns over tech companies’ handling of user data.

e. Wells Fargo Unauthorized Accounts Settlement (2018) Wells Fargo agreed to a $480 million settlement after allegations that bank employees opened millions of unauthorized accounts to meet aggressive sales targets.

The evolving nature of class action litigation reflects the changing priorities and concerns of society. As technology advances and global issues like climate change take center stage, it’s likely that class actions will continue to adapt, holding corporations and entities accountable for their actions. The significant settlements underscore the financial and reputational risks companies face when they fail to uphold their obligations to consumers, investors, and the broader public.

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