When it comes to class action lawsuits, a majority of Texans think lawyers benefit more than the consumers theyre supposed to be representing.
A survey released by Central Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse shows that a wave of such lawsuits has caused the price of computer equipment, health care and automobiles to be higher than they should.
The survey found that Texans favor legislation or government regulation over class action lawsuits as a more effective way of protecting consumers from alleged corporate misdeeds.
These lawsuits dont seem to be about justice, said Tina Bruno of Central Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse. They seem to be about greed.
Center for Research & Analysis at the University of Connecticut conducted the survey of 800 registered voters between Sept. 27 and Oct. 19.
According to the survey, 72 percent of Texans questioned agree that class action lawsuits provide an effective way for people to be compensated for injuries. But 62 percent said they lead to higher prices, and 68 percent said they benefit lawyers more than injured parties.
Another 72 percent disapprove of the practice of lawyers representing people who have not hired them, as is often the case in class actions.
Texas voters have divided opinions about whether class action lawsuits are truly helpful. Half49 percentof voters believe that class action lawsuits dont really help the people theyre supposed to, while 46 percent believe they do help consumers.
The public is truly conflicted and for good reason, said Jon Opelt, Houston director of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. Class actions have brought out the best and worst of our legal system.
Opelt noted that some class actions have provided real gains for consumers by forcing product changes or recalls or stopping discriminatory behavior. Others, however, represent the worst examples of lawsuit abuse, he said, producing pennies, coupons or offers of service for victims but huge fees for lawyers.
Opelt said class action lawsuits have increased eight-fold in Texas in the past decade.
"Tort Reformers Pushing for Limits on Class Actions--Again"
, Texas lawyer, Feb. 12, 2001