Who says you have to suffer an injury in order to collect dollar damages in a lawsuit? Beaumont attorney Wayne Reaud slipped that hindrance aside in his successful $2.1 billion settlement against laptop giant Toshiba.
While the charge of producing a flawed floppy disk controller sounds serious, here is the oddity: no consumer has ever claimed any actual harm.
It takes such an extreme situation for the flaw to show itself that one wonders if real users ever experienced data loss. Besides, laptop owners rarely use their floppy drive to store data, preferring instead the more reliable modem transmission of files. And, unlike the more traditional class action lawsuits, not even the two named plaintiffs or national representatives as they are called, had to experience the problem in question.
No reported customer complaints, no proof of harm, yet five million Toshiba laptop owners will soon be lining up for their cash rebates, coupons and software fix. The two named plaintiffs receive $25,000 each. For his part, Reaud, and the trial team from Beaumont, pocket a handsome $147 million.
Copy cat suits have now been filed against Compaq and three other makers of personal computers.
Requiring a public notice or a product recall would have made more sense for consumers, but then again, it would not have produced hundreds of millions for lawyers.
Cora Sue Mach
Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse