Eighteen state attorneys general have supported a brief filed in federal court in Ohio advocating rejection of another unfair class action settlement. Joining Arizona are attorneys general from Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming.
This latest brief urged the court to reject a proposed class action settlement relating to Tristar pressure cookers. Under the current proposed deal the attorneys general are challenging, 3 million consumers will release their claims against Tristar (including potential personal injury claims), and class action attorneys will receive $2.5 million in cash. But over 99% of those consumers will walk away with nothing from the settlement, with the other approximate 1% receiving a warranty worth $5 and a coupon that is good for only 90 days, and can only be used for a discount off one of three Tristar products.
The class action at issue alleges that some Tristar pressure cookers were defective, in some cases causing explosions and injuries to consumers. The class action lawyers who brought the case have proposed settling the claims of more than 3 million consumers by paying $2.5 million in a cash payout to the lawyers, while only about 14,000 of the class members will receive a warranty extension worth $5 and a $72.50 coupon toward one of three Tristar products that cost between $129.97 to $149.99.
In the brief, the court is asked to recognize that the settlement is deeply imbalanced, and that it fails to comply with federal law by diverting all the cash to the lawyers while leaving consumers with only a few highly restrictive coupons. As the brief explained, “[t]he coupons here expire in ninety days, are non-transferable, and are only valid for three products, each of which would require class members to spend substantial sums of their own money to purchase.” “[W]here there is so much cash in the settlement and so little interest in the coupons and warranties, the settlement can only stand by sending a fair apportionment of the available cash to the class.”
The brief was filed in Chapman et al. v. Tristar Products, Inc. et al., No. 1:16-cv-01114 (N.D. Ohio), as a “friend of the court.”