A few months ago I joined a listserv for reporters that are looking for people to give quotes for articles. So when you read an article in the Chicago Tribune and they use some random person in Oregon as an “expert” and the article is published. I’ve been quoted since January on labor laws in Arizona and car accident cases in New York. Surely they could have used someone more qualified than me, but the reporters were on a deadline and I responded to their inquiry with enough relevant information to publish and move on to the next story.
There isn’t a similar listserv for lawyers that are looking for plaintiffs in class action lawsuits. Instead, lawyers rely on their own network of colleagues, friends and clients and share with them cases they are looking for. Unlike me or other “sources” that can be used over and over for quotes, you can’t have the same plaintiff over and over or it begins to look fishy. So lawyers will tell people the type of cases they are looking for and hope that someone knows a good plaintiff. It’s usually random stuff. Here are some cases I’ve been asked to find a plaintiff on:
- Anyone who paid for premium Pandora service (but it must be on a certain type of phone).
- Somebody that purchased a Diaper Genie (but it’s a certain type from a certain time period).
- Mortgage clients of Citi Bank.
- Individuals who have been improperly denied a loan modification.
These are just a few examples, but I get asked stuff like this all of the time. I talk to a lot of people so often I’ll be able to randomly find a plaintiff for them. But it’s rare for a person on their own to think enough outside the box to realize that they may have a class action case against someone like a Diaper Genie. And just as the cases I list above are potentially claims, but not definitely claims, most of the times when someone calls me looking for a class action attorney in Chicago, they don’t really have a class case either. You need to have a lot of people that are exactly (or almost) effected in the same way that caused some financial harm.
Often lawyers will read something in the newspaper and do a little research to come up with the idea for a case. Other times it’s a pissed off person who realizes that a bank is adding hidden fees to their account or believes that a company is committing false advertising.
But just like with reporter quotes, the truth is that many of these cases are manufactured. That doesn’t mean the end result isn’t just, but it does mean that class action lawsuits are a business as well as a consumer protector.
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