Class Actions

Georgia Class Action Attorneys

Wetherington Law Firm founder Matt Wetherington has served as lead or class counsel in more than thirty proposed class actions in Georgia.  His efforts have resulted in recalls of vehicles, lifetime warranties for products, and new state and federal laws for a variety of industries.  Simply stated, Wetherington believes that class actions are a powerful tool to stop illegal and predatory behavior by corporations.

When a corporation steals a small amount of money from one person, it is nearly impossible for that person to obtain legal recourse without spending more than they will ever recover.  However, when that person teams up with hundreds or thousands of similarly situated persons, they have a collective case that can make a difference.  Unlike our personal injury practice, which focuses on catastrophic injuries, we accept a wide variety of class action clients.  Our class action cases include defective vehicles, financial fraud, and regulated industries.

Current Class Actions

We are currently pursuing the following class actions:

  • Unlawful Vehicle BootingWe have filed class actions lawsuits against almost every booting company in Georgia. If your vehicle was booted on private property anywhere in Georgia, you may be entitled to recover damages.  Learn more about the cases here.
  • 1280 West Condominium AssociationHomeowners of 1280 West condominium were forced to pay $2 million worth of balcony railing repairs through an improper assessment. Learn more about the case here.
  • Magic the Gathering: War of the Spark – Individuals who purchased War of the Spark from Hasbro and did not receive the product have asserted a breach of contract claim for the sale. Learn more about the case here.
  • Atlanta Sheraton Legionnaires’ Disease – Individuals who stayed at the Atlanta Sheraton between June 12 and July 15, 2019 and have developed symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease.
  • Post-Closing Mortgage Interest – Individuals who sold a home backed by a FHA loan may have paid billions in illegal post-closing interest.

What Kinds of Class Actions Do We Handle?

We handle a wide variety of class action suits.

Predatory Business Practices Class Actions

Most states have consumer protection statutes.  These statutes delineate certain business practices that are automatically unfair or predatory.  California’s Unfair Business Practices Act prohibits “any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice and unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising.”  By the plain language of the statute, any unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business practice or act is covered.  For example, if a laptop is sold with malicious spyware and the buyer is not informed, the buyer would have a claim under California’s Unfair Business Practices Act.  This is exactly what happened in 2014 when Lenovo installed spyware on certain laptops that could access customer Social Security numbers, financial data, and sensitive heath information.  Wetherington filed suit against Lenovo and the maker of the spyware, Superfish.  The result of the suit was an $8.3 million payout for affected users and a $3.5 million penalty paid to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

 

Breach of Contract Class Actions

Breach of contract class actions are relatively straight forward.  When a business entity enters into a contract with a large group of people and fails to comply with the terms of the contract, the company has breached its contract.  For example, if a business enters into a binding sales contract with customers for the sale of an item, the customers must pay money and the business must deliver the product.  If the customer pays, and the business does not deliver the product, the business may be subject to a breach of contract action.  The Wetherington Law Firm currently has a suit against Hasbro, Inc. for breach of contract.  You can learn more about the suit here.

 

Dangerous and Defective Products Class Actions

Class actions for dangerous and defective products typically involve claims for a product that does not work as intended or has a safety defect that was undisclosed.  Most products are sold with some form of warranty.  Some product defects fall under an express warranty – such as an “extended warranty” you purchased for a product.  Other product defects fall under an implied warranty.  This means that the product was represented to you as being fit for a particular purpose.  For example, if you asked a salesperson to sell you forklifts that can maneuver tight corners, but they provided forklifts that only make wide turns, the seller may have breached an implied warranty.  In 2014, Wetherington filed a class action suit against Mercedes Benz for E-class vehicles that leaked fuel into the occupant compartment.  The lawsuit resulted in Mercedes fixing the problem and offering a 100,000 mile warranty for the cars:

 

 

Privacy Violation Class Actions

Companies have a duty to store personally identifying information in a secure manner.  Georgia and the federal government have privacy laws to protect consumers from illegal telephone recording, data breaches, and general disclosure of protected health and financial information.  The failure to protect this information can result in significant statutory penalties for companies.  For example, in 2017, Equifax facilitated the disclosure of financial information about 143 million American consumers.  Equifax is now facing private and federal investigations and lawsuits for the breach.

 

Insurance Fraud Class Actions

Insurance companies have a habit of falsely denying coverage for valid claims and selling insurance that provides no actual coverage.  This is a form of fraud and/or insurance bad faith.  Both legal claims are recognized by Georgia and most other state and federal courts.  The failure to pay insurance claims can result in substantial losses for policy holders and if caught, the insurance company can be forced to compensate affected individuals.  The Wetherington Law Firm routinely sues insurance companies in individual and class action suits for failing to uphold the promises it makes to people who purchase insurance.

 

Loan Shark Class Actions – Usury

Payday lenders are the worst.  They offer high interest loans to individuals in desperate financial situations.  Worse, many of these loans are offered at illegal interest rates.  When a loan exceeds the legal rate of interest, it is called usurious.  In Georgia, lending companies have an unusually strong lobby and have obtained highly favorable laws from Georgia lawmakers.  This has resulted in very confusing laws related to the legal amount of interest that can be charged.  In general, the Wetherington Law Firm reviews any case where the interest rate exceeds 17%.

In 2017, Matt Wetherington filed a class action lawsuit against a payday lender offering interest rates in excess of 60%.  This resulted in an investigation by the Georgia General Assembly and ultimately the effective resignation of a public official that helped enable the unlawful practice.

 

 

Mortgage Fraud and Post Closing Interest Class Actions

Many banks charge unlawful interest and closing costs on home mortgages.  This is a violation of many rules and can result in substantial civil recoveries for victims of this practice.

 

What is a Class Action?

A class action has a practical and legal definition.  Practically, a class action is a large group of people who have a similar legal interest who litigate for their collective benefit.  In order to qualify a class action, the group must also meet the legal definition.  The legal definition of a class action is set forth in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  The Rules set forth prerequisites for a class action, types of class actions, methods of proceeding as a class action, and even how the attorneys are compensated.  Although state court rules are different, every state in the country uses the federal rules as a foundation for their own laws on class actions.

Prerequisites for a Class Action

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, one or more members of a group of people may serve as representatives for a larger group of people only if:

  1. the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
  2. there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
  3. the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and
  4. the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

In deciding whether the above criteria are met, Courts look at the following factors, which must cumulatively weigh in favor of a collective action:

(1) prosecuting separate actions by or against individual class members would create a risk of:

(A) inconsistent or varying adjudications with respect to individual class members that would establish incompatible standards of conduct for the party opposing the class; or
(B) adjudications with respect to individual class members that, as a practical matter, would be dispositive of the interests of the other members not parties to the individual adjudications or would substantially impair or impede their ability to protect their interests;

(2) the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds that apply generally to the class, so that final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate respecting the class as a whole; or

(3) the court finds that the questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy. The matters pertinent to these findings include:

(A) the class members’ interests in individually controlling the prosecution or defense of separate actions;

(B) the extent and nature of any litigation concerning the controversy already begun by or against class members;

(C) the desirability or undesirability of concentrating the litigation of the claims in the particular forum; and

(D) the likely difficulties in managing a class action.

 

Resolution of a Class Action

Once certified, a class action may only be resolved under terms deemed fair to the entire class.  Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, “The claims, issues, or defenses of a certified class—or a class proposed to be certified for purposes of settlement—may be settled, voluntarily dismissed, or compromised only with the court’s approval.”  In general, the court is interested in making sure that the absent class members are treated fairly.

First, the court must determine whether notice should be given to the class members of the settlement:

(A) Information That Parties Must Provide to the Court. The parties must provide the court with information sufficient to enable it to determine whether to give notice of the proposal to the class.

(B) Grounds for a Decision to Give Notice. The court must direct notice in a reasonable manner to all class members who would be bound by the proposal if giving notice is justified by the parties’ showing that the court will likely be able to:

(i) approve the proposal under Rule 23(e)(2); and

(ii) certify the class for purposes of judgment on the proposal.

Second, the court must evaluate the settlement proposal to determine whether the settlement is fair:

(2) Approval of the Proposal. If the proposal would bind class members, the court may approve it only after a hearing and only on finding that it is fair, reasonable, and adequate after considering whether:

(A) the class representatives and class counsel have adequately represented the class;

(B) the proposal was negotiated at arm’s length;

(C) the relief provided for the class is adequate, taking into account:

(i) the costs, risks, and delay of trial and appeal;

(ii) the effectiveness of any proposed method of distributing relief to the class, including the method of processing class-member claims;

(iii) the terms of any proposed award of attorney’s fees, including timing of payment; and

(iv) any agreement required to be identified under Rule 23(e)(3); and

(D) the proposal treats class members equitably relative to each other.

(3) Identifying Agreements. The parties seeking approval must file a statement identifying any agreement made in connection with the proposal.

Finally, the court will give affected class members an opportunity to be excluded from the class.  This way, if a class member does not approve of the settlement amount or otherwise does not want to participate, they can:

(4) New Opportunity to Be Excluded. If the class action was previously certified under Rule 23(b)(3), the court may refuse to approve a settlement unless it affords a new opportunity to request exclusion to individual class members who had an earlier opportunity to request exclusion but did not do so.

In most cases, once the court determines that the class action settlement is fair, then a final notice will go out to class members and then a check will follow.  The individuals who served as a named class representative in the class will typically receive an incentive award for their time and hassle.

 

Who Pays for the Lawyers in a Class Action?

The Wetherington Law Firm accepts all cases on contingency, including class actions.  That means that we take on the full cost and risk of litigation.  If the case is successful, the losing defendant pays our fees directly, or we receive a percentage of the money obtained for the benefit of the class.  In all cases, the trial judge will determine what a fair fee is for our services.

 

You Can Make a Lasting Difference in the Lives of Others by Hiring the Wetherington Law Firm For Your Class Action

Obtaining full and complete compensation for our clients is the most important service we provide to our clients.  Protecting the general public and making sure that other people are protected is part of obtaining justice.  We frequently work with law enforcement, local government officials, state legislators, and federal agencies to understand the root cause of dangerous conditions.  This often leads to uncovering dangerous trends or patterns of behavior that must be changed.  Many of our clients have chosen not to be defined by their injuries, and instead choose to serve as a beacon of hope to others.  Whether through legislation, refusing to settle unless changes or made, or simply sharing their story, our client’s efforts have helped save MILLIONS of people from serious injury or death.  We care about you as a person and will work with you however you want to help make the world a safer and better place.  Call us now to get started.

Do You have a Question About Class Actions?

Call or email us anytime. We accept all cases on contingency, which means that you only pay if we recover money for you.

What our clients say about us:

What our clients say about Us:

awards and recognitions

  • Daily Report Hall of Fame 2015
  • Avvo Logo - Superb
  • Super Lawyers On The Rise
  • Daily Report - On the Rise
  • awards
  • Tire Safety Group
  • Gate City Bar Association Logo

Why Hire Us?

Reputation matters. Our firm only pursues high value, meritorious lawsuits. The insurance companies may not like us, but they respect the work we do and results we obtain for our clients. When a case moves into litigation, the defense attorneys know that we have properly investigated the claims, know the applicable law, and are preparing the case for trial.

There is no risk when hiring our firm.

We do not charge attorney fees for obtaining property damage or medical payment coverage for our clients. Other firms charge for this service.

We have saved our clients millions simply by negotiating medical bills and fighting invalid medical liens.

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