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Class action suits see increase in privacy violation claims

An interesting report from the global consulting firm NERA traces the number and kind of consumer class action settlements in the last four years. The settlements, ranging from 2010 through 2013, related to anti-trust claims (price fixing, for instance), consumer fraud, product liability and false advertising, among other issues. Examined in the report are 479 class action suits, nearly 85 percent of which involved a monetary payment to plaintiffs.

Particularly remarkable in the report is that 84 of the settlements related to consumers' allegations of privacy violations. The number of such claims increased significantly between 2010 and 2013, and these lawsuits can be divided into two groups: those that alleged improper use of consumers' personal information, and those related to SPAM.

The retail, social media, entertainment and consumer services industries bore the brunt of the claims related to misuse of personal information, while SPAM-related claims were more often leveled at the banking and telecommunications industries.

The report also noted consumer class action trends in certain states. For example, about half of the cases were settled in California. In fact, California is one of five states where 75 percent of the cases were settled. The other four states are New York, New Jersey, Florida and Illinois.

Class action cases are typically complex and often involve multiple jurisdictions. Issues related to this kind of litigation may include consumer protections, securities fraud, civil rights, product liability, fiduciary compliance and much more. If you have questions about collective litigation, then please see our class action FAQs.

Source: Claims Journal, "Consumer Class Action Settlements More Than Doubled from 2010 to 2013," July 23, 2014

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