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Posts Tagged ‘class action press release’

Are you a company faced with the prospect of having to defend a class action lawsuit that you believe is frivolous?  You have many options, but unfortunately, none of them are all that palatable.  You can settle for big bucks right away, you start paying some superstar class action defense lawyer hundreds of dollars an hour to fight the case for a decade before you settle for big bucks later, you can fight the case to the death in court, you can file for bankruptcy protection, or you can pursue any number of other, more desperate, options (what these might be are best left for another discussion).  But one company is trying a different approach altogether.  According to its blog, Chicago-based Internet company Groupon has responded to a class action lawsuit by “organizing” a class action against itself.  Here is an excerpt from a posting on the company’s blog, Groublogpon, Groupon Corporate Overlord,” entitled Groupon Organizes Class Action Against Itself:

Dear Groupon Customers,

You may or may not have heard that a lawyer named Jay Edelson from a law firm called Edelson McGuire is attempting to organize a class action lawsuit against Groupon, claiming that our deals’ prominently displayed expiration dates somehow “systematically deceive our customers.” As a company with one of the most irrationally liberal customer satisfaction policies on the planet, the idea that we’re systematically deceiving anyone is news to us – hopefully it’s news to you as well.

We can think of two possible explanations for this lawsuit:

  1. The law firm sees an opportunity to exploit our success and make a bunch of money.
  2. We are indeed systematically deceiving our customers, but instead of taking advantage of our 100% open refund policy or telling us about their problems or sharing them in a public forum, our customers are secretly gossiping about them to each other and Edelson McGuire, kind of like Emily Johnson did against me in 9th grade (Emily if you are reading this I want my cabbage patch doll back).

* * *

Here’s the only thing that I think matters about this to you, our customers: We are so not the type of company that needs to be sued to bend over backwards for our customers. . . . So while we obviously think this lawsuit is ridiculous, it’s an opportunity for us to reinforce the fact that there is nothing more important to us than making sure you guys love us.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew Mason, Groupon Corporate Overlord

Whether the company’s public response turns out to be pure PR genius or ends up simply being Exhibit A at trial remains to be seen, but it looks like there will be no shortage of entertainment value along the way.  Corporate counsel and public relations representatives of other companies who face consumer class actions might want to keep an eye on how things play out in this one.

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Not really.  I just had to vent.

Try typing the phrase “class action” into a Google news search on any given day and you’ll find hundreds of catchy headlines like:

  • Blue Sky Mining Company Hit with Class Action Suit Over Deplorable Work Conditions
  • Dewey Cheatham & Howe Announces Major Class Action Against Quickie Mart Stores
  • Class Action Could Bring the Widget Industry to its Knees
  • Law Offices of Atticus Finch Files Class Action Against Radley, Inc.
  • Class Action Accuses Blogger of Defamation for Complaining About Class Action Press Releases, …

… You get the idea.

To the casual observer, many of these dramatic headlines might sound like real news, rather than a plaintiffs’ firm with a good SEO consultant supplementing its latest complaint with a press release in order to drum up publicity for its filing.  The truth is, any yahoo with a law license can file a “class action” complaint.  But the case doesn’t become a class action until the judge certifies a class, and the mere filing of a lawsuit is a far cry from a determination that the case has any merit.  Some of these complaints may actually become “major” class actions, but the fact that they seem to accompany every filing where the plaintiff seeks to represent a class makes it almost impossible to distinguish the truly meaningful cases from those that you’ll never hear about again.

I’m sure a good plaintiffs’ lawyer could come up with an eloquent explanation for why it is necessary to treat each new case as the story of the century.  It could be driven by a desire for publicity, a belief in the righteousness of the cause, or even a means of defending a firm’s turf against possible rivals.  Whatever the reason, to someone searching for meaningful class action news, having to sift through the countless case announcements can be more than irritating.

Maybe some day the search engines will come up with some kind of filter to separate out the press releases from real news.  Then again, if it was so easy to find class action-related news, would there be any need to visit ClassActionBlawg.com?

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