Jewish World Review July 31, 2003 / 2 Menachem-Av, 5763

Dan Abrams

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Consumer Reports


Class action lawyers get huge fees while their clients get squat


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Remember Jim and Tammy Bakker, the crooked televangelist and his teary-eyed wife? He served four and a half years for scamming his flock out of millions so he could bank roll a lavish lifestyle. So what happened to his over 150,000 victims, some of whom gave up their life savings?

Well, good news: Last week they finally settled their class action lawsuit with Bakker's accountants and now they can anxiously await that check in the mail-a whopping payout of $6.47 each.

What really gets me? The lawyers who sued try to keep the $1.2 million settlement for themselves, saying it should be used to cover their costs. This reflects a much bigger problem — class action lawyers getting huge fees while their clients get squat.

In a case against Blockbuster Video, the consumers got discount coupons, the lawyers 9.25 million. Crayola settled a case about asbestos in crayons. The consumers got 75-cent coupons, the lawyers $600,000. In an Alabama case, class members actually had to pay almost $100 each to cover attorney's fees, even though they won the case.

The victims often get almost nothing. The company loses lots of money. The lawyers walk away with the cash. Now if the class members get discount coupons, give the lawyers more of the same. They can give them away when Christmas rolls around.

Furthermore, with class members living all over the country, the plaintiff's lawyers get to pick the most favorable state and sometimes even county in the nation to bring the case.

Congress is finally moving to deal with these inequities. Look, I understand you have to provide an incentive for lawyers to take these cases, but the system is broke, so are many of the victims. That is unless that coupon really made the difference.

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JWR contributor Dan Abrams anchors “The Abrams Report,” Monday through Friday from 9-10 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV. He also covers legal stories for “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” “Today” and “Dateline NBC.” To visit his website, click here. Comment by clicking here.

Up

07/30/03: Why it makes no sense to keep the public and the victims in the dark about a key section of the 9/11 report from Congress
03/27/03: Homeland Security update
03/20/03: Did I misunderstand the French?
03/18/03: No longer shielded from reality
03/17/03: Franco-phobic nonsense sweeping the nation
03/14/03: An exception to my "be extra tough on terrorists" rule
03/13/03: Whiner Assad still doesn't get it
03/11/03: What a new deadline for Iraq should really mean
03/10/03: The dishonest arguments against war with Iraq
03/07/03: On Iraq, the administration seems undeterred. It seems, there is no other way out
03/05/03: The so-called human shields in Iraq, now coming back from Fantasyland
03/04/03: Michigan backing off of mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug crimes
03/03/03: Why military tribunals could be the best optione of defining them as military
02/28/03: Is prez signaling a return to the American Bar Association ratings for prospective judicial candidates?
02/26/03: And now the "don't-blame-me" attitude is extending to mass deaths
02/10/03: Avoid politicizing the shuttle disaster
01/29/03: A litany of violations? That Saddam has not disarmed is already a given
01/23/03: Why the feds should not give up on the prosecution of alleged 20th hijacker in a federal court
01/22/03: What was Powell thinking?
01/21/03: Human rights groups still don't get it when it comes to the new war on terror
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01/13/03: Why the administration should share intelligence with U.N. inspectors
01/10/03: From a special punishment to a garden variety one
01/08/03: Should victims of a terror attack sue the city?
01/06/03: The "Jackpot Jury" syndrome continues
12/30/02: It's the holidays, let me order my wine!
12/20/02: The judge who dropped the ball in the battle over who owns Barry Bonds' 73rd home run ball, valued at nearly $2 million
12/19/02: Requiring Pakistani and Saudi male visitors to register with the INS
12/18/02: Why many seem to misunderstand Iraq's international obligations
12/17/02: Shouldn't there be a standard for what would trigger a war with Iraq?
12/13/02: Judge Rose by what he did on the field
12/12/02: Manhattan prosecutors making a mistake in the Central Park jogger case
12/11/02: Why our government refuses to fully cooperate in the prosecution of a possible 9/11 conspirator
12/10/02: Hezbollah, not a terrorist organization, says Canada
12/09/02: The world's cynical view of America
12/04/02: Why we need to stop electing judges
11/27/02: Why men should be able to sue women who lie about who's the daddy
11/26/02: Training lawyers to be touchy-feely
11/25/02: The story of a real American hero
11/22/02: In Illinois, academics lawyers, judges hurting their pro-life cause
11/15/02: A close reading of Iraq's letter of acceptance makes it clear that Saddam will almost certainly refuse to live up to its terms
11/14/02: Al Jazeera: A state-sponsored mouth-piece
11/13/02: Should Moussaoui be sent to a military tribunal?
11/12/02: Should human rights activists complain about the detainees' treatment?

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