How Consumer Rights & Class Actions Work Together
On World Consumer Rights Day, we acknowledge that although consumers and their purchasing power are foundational in our society, their voices are frequently stifled by corporate interests. And when those corporations engage in fraud and deception or neglect their duties to consumers, ordinary people suffer the consequences. Consumer protection laws are designed to guard the public against corporate greed and exploitation, and law firms like Hagens Berman have dedicated their work to holding powerful companies accountable to the law on behalf of consumers like you through consumer-rights class actions.
How does the law help consumers?
Laws at both the federal and state level can be key in pursuing corporate accountability and protecting consumers’ rights.
- State Consumer Protection Laws: Laws like New York’s False Advertising Act and West Virginia’s General Consumer Protection Act make it possible for consumers to pursue legal action when companies engage in fraudulent and deceptive practices by defining what consumers are owed under the law.
- Warranty Laws Including the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act: This 1975 law dictates that any warranty for a product must comply with certain pro-consumer requirements, such as being written in language that is easy for consumers to understand. When companies neglect the terms of their own warranties by knowingly selling a defective product or refusing to repair faulty products, they can be held liable under warranty laws.
- Common Law Consumer Rights: Common law prohibits companies from unjustly benefitting at consumers’ expense, and gives them legal recourse in cases where they have been taken advantage of. Additionally, consumers have a right to privacy under common law, and when a company impinges on this right deliberately or through negligence, consumers can sue for damages.
How can consumers take action if they’ve been harmed?
Class-action lawsuits are a powerful means by which consumers can seek justice against a company that has wronged them. The structure of a class action allows law firms like Hagens Berman to shoulder financial risks associated with a costly and time-consuming litigation and empowers everyday people to participate in the legal process.
What benefits do class actions bring consumers?
Depending on the nature of the claims a lawsuit brings, a class action can bring monetary relief in the form of a settlement fund, and non-monetary or injunctive relief that requires corporations to alter their business practices in tangible ways and/or finance public goods like an environmental cleanup or medical monitoring fund. In their case against Volkswagen for the automaker’s notorious DieselGate emissions-cheating scandal, a group of leading consumer rights firms, including Hagens Berman, achieved a settlement valued at $14.7 billion on behalf of consumers – the largest settlement in history against an automaker – which also included a provision allowing eligible owners of affected vehicles to sell their cars back to Volkswagen or get an approved emissions modification.
What should consumers look out for?
Consumers can stay vigilant for signs of corporate wrongdoing by reading contractual fine print and warranties. On World Consumer Rights Day, consumers can educate themselves about consumer-rights laws. Savvy consumers should also regularly monitor personal information to help prevent data from being compromised. Additionally, consumers should watch out for active consumer class-action litigation which may affect them.
National Consumer Stats:
$8.5 billion recovered
across total consumer fraud class-action lawsuits filed from all law firms and consumer-protection groups in 2022, a 640% increase compared to 2021.
70% of American consumers
believe it's important for companies to make the world a better place. Consumer protection laws and consumer rights class actions help hold corporations to a higher standard.