Class-action law firm lacks class and ethics

So much has been written about the class-action suit brought against identity theft protection firm LifeLock, it’s only fair to say a little about the uber law firm pursuing the suit.

In 2006, a Maine jury ordered Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, LLC to pay $10.8 million for dropping a set of clients to take on the same defendant in a more-lucrative class action suit.

Hagens Berman represented three small, bottled water companies in mediation with Nestle Waters North America. Nestle had made a settlement offer, but withdrew it when the law firm suddenly left for greener pastures and deeper pockets. Their defection cost the bottled water companies millions of dollars.

When the decision was announced in favor of Hagens Berman’s former clients, the law firm’s attorney presciently announced that the jury’s decision wasn’t the final word. The firm decided to settle out of court the day before the jury was to convene to make a decision on possible additional punitive damages…thereby issuing the final word.

Hagens Berman files class-action suit to protect hearing-unimpaired Americans

Also in 2006, the firm sued Apple saying their iPods were too loud, and listeners who used earbuds while listening to their iPods at full volume could suffer hearing loss. (Now you know why your microwave has warning labels to tell you that putting your dog inside could result in fried Fido.)

The named plaintiff in the suit, a Louisiana man, doesn’t seem to have suffered any hearing loss from his perilous iPod and its hazardous earbuds. His attorney, Steve Berman, said that’s beside the point. “He bought a product that is not safe.” (Remember that the next time you almost cut yourself while slicing veggies in the kitchen.)

Hagens Berman files class-action Nano scratch suit, then sues their own plaintiff

That same year, Hagens Berman was involved in another class-action suit against Apple charging that their iPod Nano scratched too easily. Ohio law firm David P. Meyers & Associates and their representative firm, Hagens Berman, named blogger Jason Tomczak as the lead plaintiff…and, boy, was Tomczak surprised!

Tomczak had been contacted by the Ohio firm after he griped in his blogs about the rapidly multiplying scratches on his new Nano. He happily reiterated his complaints, but told them that in the interests of protecting his privacy, he wasn’t interested in leading a class-action suit.

And then the suit was filed listing Tomczak as the lead plaintiff. And then his name was posted on websites and used in media including CNN, Business Week, Popular Mechanics, Enquirer, CNN, MTV, VH1, and even Pravda in Russia. And then he started getting threats and hate mail from rabid Apple fans.

That’s when Tomczak hired a law firm to clear his name. In return, David P. Meyers & Associates and Hagens Berman sued him. They claimed that though they had mistakenly used Tomczak’s name as lead plaintiff, they had a right to sue him for all of their related legal expenses.

As bizarre as all that legal to-ing and fro-ing may be, it also has a whiff of déjà vu. In 1995 Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro was sued by Chrysler for filing a class-action suit for a lead plaintiff who—like Tomczak—knew nothing about the suit.

Luck was with the law firm, though; they got off with only a rebuke from a federal court judge.

LifeLock is the industry leader in identity theft protection, and currently serves more than 1 million customers. Find out what they can do to protect your finances and your good name. Visit LifeLock.com for more information. If you choose to safeguard your identity with Life Lock, use promo code Defense and receive a discount.

One Response to “Class-action law firm lacks class and ethics”

  1. no-class action says:

    I remember hearing about this suit last year. It sounds like they pick their plaintiffs out of the phone book! No wonder I haven’t heard anythign since–they must have gotten a better offer!

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