Reporting Kurtis Ming
If you’ve ever been part of a consumer class action settlement before, you probably received a little money. Some class action lawsuits are so broad, the lawyers involved can’t track down everyone affected, so they rely on advertising and now the internet to find consumers to fill the class.
Julie and John Shockley weren’t shocked to hear Nutella may not be healthy, but they were surprised to hear they could get in on a class action settlement over the way the company marketed the product.
“We’re very active, we go to the gym, we play sports, so we’re always looking for healthy food, healthy products that are advertised,” said Julie.
“I saw that it was a class action lawsuit. I didn’t know how to be part of it or anything,” said John.
They didn’t know how to become part of the class until they found Topclassactions.com, a website that lists open class action settlements, and tells consumers how to join the class.
“I was completely amazed. I had no idea there were so many suits out there,” said Julie.
The Shockleys filed a claim for the Nutella settlement, which allows consumers who bought the spread to claim up to five jars. They’ll receive up to $4 per jar.
The Shockleys claimed two jars and are expecting up to $8 from the company. Up to $8, because it depends on how many people get in on the settlement.
“So they see how many claims there are and they divide the money by whoever claimed,” said Brooks Cutter, Consumer Attorney for the Sacramento firm Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff.
Cutter says class action lawyers must try to track people down who are part of the class, but sometimes that’s tough.
“Overwhelmingly, when people get notice, they often just throw it away, they don’t read it and they don’t claim,” said Cutter.
He says if there aren’t enough people to take up the entire settlement, the company may get to keep the leftover money, or it could go to charity.
Searching Top Class Actions, the Shockleys learned they may qualify for other product settlements, like one for Vita Coco coconut water.
“What is that?” John asked while looking at the website, “That’s the stuff we drink?”
Other current open class action settlements involve complaints over Apple iTunes gift cards, Cost Plus World Market, AT&T DSL Service and Sketchers shoes.
Many of them require receipts or other proof that you’re part of the class.