Class action lawsuits are brought by numerous class members against a corporate defendant that is responsible for wrongdoing. When this type of case is won, it can lead to financial gains for the plaintiffs and class members. Some of the biggest settlements are in the billions.
Many class action lawsuit settlement amounts are trivial when paid out to individual class members. The average settlement amount in 2022 was $36.2 million. However, when the compensation is divided among hundreds of thousands of class members, the payout can be reduced to minimal.
For example, class members in the recent Facebook $725 million privacy settlement received $30. The low payout is due to the high number of Facebook users who submitted a claim—17.7 million. Lawyers in the suit say it’s the largest number of claims filed in a US class action case.
What are the biggest class action settlements?
The Facebook class action lawsuit falls on the bottom rung of the biggest class action settlements in the US. Several more high-profile class action cases top the Facebook settlement amount. Here are ten of the most impressive class action settlements to make history.
Tobacco Settlement at $206 Billion
The largest-ever class action settlement was agreed upon in 1998 by Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, and two other tobacco companies. Paid out annually over 25 years, the settlement covered the medical costs for smoking-related injuries for individuals in 46 US states.
Volkswagen Emission Scheme at $14.7 Billion
Volkswagen was the defendant in the 2016 class action suit whereby the judge approved a $14.7 billion settlement for the car maker’s scheme to cheat emission tests on its diesel cars. The settlement gave 475,000 diesel car owners cash payments and provided funds for vehicle buybacks at market value.
Enron Securities Fraud at $7.2 Billion
Enron executives went to court to defend themselves against claims that they had defrauded shareholders prior to declaring bankruptcy. The judge approved a $7.2 billion settlement. About 1.5 million investors and institutional investors expected to receive their share of the compensation.
Fen-Phen Diet Pills at $3.8 Billion
The diet drug fen-phen was associated with potentially fatal heart valve damage. In 2000, a Philadelphia federal judge approved a $3.8 billion settlement for the six million people who used the drug. The settlement awarded users $1.5 million depending on the extent of their drug-usage and injuries.
American Indian Trust at $3.4 Billion
The federal government was accused of mismanaging funds in land trust accounts. The judge sided with the American Indian plaintiffs and awarded a $3.4 billion settlement in the 2011 class action suit. About 325,000 tribal members in the lawsuit received $1,000 payments.
Silicone Breast Implants at $3.4 Billion
Silicone gel breast implant producers went to court for exposing women to autoimmune and connective tissue disorders. The initial settlement of $4.75 billion was reduced to $3.4 billion due to the unexpectedly high number of claims. Dow Corning, leading the manufacturer’s group, resolved its claims in bankruptcy court.
AOL Time Warner Accounting Fraud at $2.5 Billion
In 2006, about 625,000 shareholders, bondholders, and institutions made their case against AOL Time Warner and the auditing firm Ernst & Young for having inflated advertising revenue prior to and after its merger with Time Warner. The federal judge approved the $2.5 billion settlement.
Actos Diabetes Drug at $2.4 Billion
Takeda Pharmaceutical was accused of concealing the safety risks of its Actos diabetes drug, which potentially caused bladder cancer with extended use. The number of individual consumers who filed qualifying claims totaled 9,820. Takeda agreed to pay $2.4 billion in the 2015 case.
Bank of America Acquisition at $2.4 Billion
The failure of Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch and mortgage-backed securities led to the final approval of a $2.4 billion settlement. The lead plaintiffs included public pension funds in Ohio and Texas. About 4 to 5 million investors expected to receive their share of the settlement.
USDA Racial Discrimination at $2.3 Billion
The US Department of Justice and the US Department of Agriculture settled a suit over claims of racial discrimination in the administration of federal farm loan programs. The $2.3 billion settlement provided debt relief and cash payments to approximately 20,000 black farmers.
Lesser known but still on the list of huge settlements include the 2014 Toyota unintended acceleration suit, where the car manufacturer agreed to pay up to $1.6 billion to vehicle owners who claimed the defective acceleration systems in their Toyotas caused accidents.
As recently as 2019, Google faced a class action lawsuit where consumers claimed the company’s search algorithms favored larger websites. Google agreed to pay $11 million to settle the class action suit. All these cases are pivotal moments in US class action history.
Cases like the aforementioned are high-stakes and involve billions of dollars. Attorneys who specialize in class action lawsuits are necessary, as they grasp the magnitude of the complex legal processes involved. When you aim to join a class action lawsuit, talk to the attorneys at Anderson + Wanca.
Anderson + Wanca
Our team of class action attorneys represent a wide range of clients, many of whom are victims of financial fraud, deceptive advertising, and defective products. We hold negligent companies accountable for their wrongdoing and fight for consumers’ rights to compensation and justice.
We build strong cases against corporations that send junk faxes, spam messages, and robocalls. If your insurer neglected to pay the full replacement value of your car after a total vehicle loss, we will work on your behalf to ensure you receive your fair share of the compensation.
The cases we accept are varied in scope and include biometric privacy breaches, overcharged life insurance fees, unexpected long-term care insurance rate changes, and denied product warranty claims. Victims of irresponsible companies need competent legal representation, which you’ll find with us.
Victims have the law on their side. At Anderson + Wanca, our class action lawyers interpret the laws to help you secure your rightful damages. Call our law firm in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, to discuss your case. We’ll help you determine if a class action lawsuit is right for you.