An Empirical Survey of No-Injury Class Actions

25 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2016 Last revised: 8 Apr 2016

Date Written: February 1, 2016

Abstract

This report empirically examines the allocation of settlements and awards in no-injury class actions among plaintiffs, attorneys, and cy pres funds. The results are based on my study of 432 no-injury class action settlements and trial awards from 2005-2015. The study finds that, on average, 60 percent of the total monetary award paid by the defendants was allocated to the plaintiffs’ class and 37.9 percent was allocated to attorneys’ fees. However, because many settlements disperse the unclaimed portion of the settlement fund to a cy pres fund, the funds available to class members at the time of settlement may significantly overstate the actual amount class members ultimately receive. Although 60 percent of the total monetary award may be available to class members, in reality, they typically receive less than 9 percent of the total. In comparison, class counsel receives an average of 37.9 percent of available funds, over 4 times the funds typically distributed to the class. A result in which plaintiffs recover less than 10 percent of the award, with the rest going to lawyers or unrelated groups, clearly does not achieve the compensatory goals of class actions. Instead, the costs of no-injury class actions are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, lower product quality, and reduced innovation.

Keywords: class action, damages, attorneys' fees, Spokeo, cy pres, no-injury

Suggested Citation

Shepherd, Joanna, An Empirical Survey of No-Injury Class Actions (February 1, 2016). Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-402. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2726905 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2726905

Joanna Shepherd (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-8957 (Phone)

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
347
rank
83,918
Abstract Views
1,979
PlumX Metrics