August 14, 2007, - 3:56 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
In the past, I’ve written about stupid class action lawsuits filed against 3M (over Scotch Tape), candy companies (over calories in chocolates), and many other ridiculous things. If you are a plaintiff in the class action, you get almost nothing. But greedy law firms get hundreds of thousands–often millions–of dollars from companies that would rather settle than fight these costly battles over nothing.
The latest suit, advertised on Page 2C of today’s USA Today is even more absurd. It beguns thusly:
If You Purchased Bananas From May 1, 1999 to the Present . . .
Now, that’s a lot of people. It definitely includes me and probably most of you readers or your spouses. So, what is the suit about, and what will you get if you join the other plaintiffs agree to the just-announced settlement?
Joe Solo, Tim McGraw (probably not THAT Tim McGraw), Jeannie Staman, and Dennis Coughlin sued Chiquita, Del Monte, and Dole claiming that they conspired to fix banana prices. The case, Solo, et al. v. Chiquita Brands International, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 05-61335-CIV-JORDAN/KLEIN, was filed in federal court in Miami in 2005.
Two years later, if you agree to the settlement, you will get . . . nothing! Instead, the settling banana companies will donate produce and packaged foods worth $2.5 million to Amercia’s Second Harvest Food Bank. Gee, that’s really nice. All those bananas I bought and ate over the last 8 years, and I’m a multi-million dollar donor a la Warren Buffett (yes, I know, he’s a billionaire).
But the law firm in this case (which isn’t listed, but I believe it’s Jordan Klein)? Well, they aren’t quite so charitable as you and I– the banana consumers–are. Are you kidding? They wouldn’t have filed the suit–and found four jerks willing to sue over a few cents extra they paid for bananas in 1999–if they weren’t making considerable coin over it.
In this case, the law firm is getting far less than the usual bounty for filing class action cash cows: “Only” $250,000, plus $75,000 “expenses” (publishing ads to find plaintiffs for their ambulance, er . . . banana chasing).
And guess who will pay for that cool $325,000 the law firm gets? Why, you and me–the banana consumers, again–in the form of higher banana prices.
Oh, but hey, I did learn something interesting from this ad for the banana class action, which is bananas in so many ways:
“Bananas” mean any fruit from any plant of the genus Musa.
Gee, thanks, class-action lawyers. You make the world such a better place. And so very educational, too.
Tags: 3M, Chiquita Brands International Inc., Debbie Schlussel, Dennis Coughlin, Dole, greedy law firms, Jeannie Staman, Joe Solo, Jordan Klein, law, Miami, Monte, Tim McGraw, USA Today, USD, Warren Buffett