In February 2000, a California jury ordered Phillip Morris, one of the United States’ largest tobacco companies, to pay out $51.5 million to a smoker with terminal lung cancer. The case was a watershed moment for big tobacco. It was the first domino to fall.
In the coming years, tobacco companies faced a slew of class action suits from plaintiffs that had experience health problems caused by the company’s products. In 2015, RJ Reynolds had to pay out $300 million to more than 8,000 smokers and continue to battle lawsuits today.
The dismantling of big tobacco through the US legal system is one of the success stories of class action lawsuits. The lawyers representing the plaintiffs were able to prove that the companies knew their products caused health problems and knowingly sold dangerous products.
But today, pharmaceutical companies continue to pedal dangerous drugs, putting profits and share prices above public health. Class action lawsuits are one of the weapons we, as consumers, have to fight corporations looking to profit from dangerous and damaging drugs. If you think you have a class action case, contact an attorney that specialises in class action cases against pharmaceutical companies, like Hupy and Abraham.
United, we are strong
Class action lawsuits enable consumers to sue large corporations as a single plaintiff. In the case of RJ Reynolds, 8,000 people sued the company as a single group, costing each individual significantly less in legal fees than they would have incurred going alone.
The strength in class action lawsuits lies in the numbers. The more consumers affected by the problem, the stronger the case and the more likely the corporation will respond.
The companies usually settle
Most class action lawsuits settle before going to trial. Just this year, Impax Laboratories, Inc. agreed to pay out $20 million to plaintiffs who bought Solodyn. When faced with so many plaintiffs and increasing public pressure, most companies concede and pay out a settlement to save time and money on legal proceedings.
The pay out may be smaller than you would get on your own
Although the chances of you winning the case with at least a settlement are far higher, the financial windfall you can expect to receive will be lower than you might expect if you had sued the company alone. You will have to share the company’s payout with all the other claimants. This could be several hundred, or several thousand, depending on the case.
You can join a class action after it has been started
If a court approves a case as a class action lawsuit, and the company pays out, anyone that has been affected by that faulty drug can file as a class action member. In some cases, you will be notified that a drug you were prescribed or bought has been involved in a class action lawsuit. In this case, you need to respond and have your eligibility verified.
There are websites which report the latest class action lawsuits, like Consumer Action. If you see a drug on the site that you have taken, you may have a case. Contact a lawyer and find out if you are eligible to become a class action member.
Once you become a class action member, you lose your right to take legal action on your own
You can join a class action suit, but understand that in doing so, you forfeit the right to file legal proceedings against the company as an individual. Contact a lawyer to deduce if your claim against the pharmaceutical company is strong enough to file legal proceedings as an individual for a larger payout.
Attorneys that specialise in class action lawsuits can provide you with more information on class action lawsuits and inform you of your eligibility. If you believe you have been misled by a dangerous drug, contact an attorney today to see how much you could be entitled to.