Not all cases can be brought on behalf of individual plaintiffs for a variety of reasons. For example, it may be economically impossible to hire an attorney to bring an individual case because the individual damages may be too small (e.g. $1,000). Small individual damages often prevents attorneys from being able to accept a case on a contingent fee basis (i.e. the lawyers get paid a percentage of the recovery). In that situation, the only other alternative is to hire the attorney on an hourly basis. Paying an attorney by the hour, however, would not be feasible for the client because the legal fees would exceed the losses suffered. The last thing you want to do is throw good money after bad.
In certain circumstances, a class action lawsuit may be the only way to effectively bring a case. In general, class action lawsuits are appropriate when individual damages are (1) too small to bring on an individual basis, (2) the alleged wrongdoing has been done to a large number of people who are similarly situated and (3) the alleged misconduct occurred and affected everyone in the class in the same manner.
As a result of the above, class action lawsuits commonly arise in the context of consumer law disputes, wage and hour disputes (e.g. overtime disputes), securities law disputes (e.g. the price of a stock declines due to undisclosed wrongdoing by the company that issued the stock), anti-trust litigation (e.g. a company or group of companies unlawfully performs an action that prevents competition in an industry or market); and pension disputes a/k/a ERISA class actions.
Our attorneys have experience handling class action cases. For example, Jason Doss has a proven track record of fighting for the rights of consumers and being unafraid to take the largest corporations to task. Mr. Doss has initiated some of the largest consumer class action cases in the State of Georgia and across the country.
In 2006, Mr. Doss developed and initiated a class action case against Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, the nation’s largest issuer of equity-indexed annuities. The case alleged that the insurance behemoth, Allianz, misled its customers who purchased its most popular annuities by falsely promising them that they would receive upfront and immediate bonuses at the time of purchase. In reality, the bonuses were illusory and not available to the consumer for fifteen years, if ever.
The Allianz case was identified by some of the most influential class actions attorneys in the country as a new trend in insurance class action litigation and the case was analyzed at the ALI-ABA’s Eleventh Annual Advanced Conference on Financial Services and Insurance Industry Litigation in Washington, D.C.
The Allianz case was certified by a federal court and the class consists of over 400,000 consumers across the country and involves over $20 billion in insurance premiums. The case is scheduled to go to trial in 2009.
In 2008, Mr. Doss also filed two putative class action cases against two of Georgia’s largest natural gas marketers, Georgia Natural Gas and SCANA Energy Marketing, for allegedly overcharging their most loyal customers for natural gas in violation of Georgia law. These cases were featured on the front page of the Atlanta Journal Constitution on February 29th and were also discussed in several subsequent news articles. The cases involved several hundred thousand Georgia consumers and involve hundreds of millions of dollars in overcharges.