US class action costs hold steady

Despite the political rhetoric that labels it ‘jackpot justice’, the average US class action award has been holding steady, says a recent study by two law school professors.

Cornell University’s Theodore Eisenberg and the University of New York’s Geoffrey Miller found that the average price of class action settlements and the average fee to attorneys have seen no “real dollar” increase in the past 10 years.

They analysed data from all state and federal class actions between 1993 and 2002, where attorney fees and recovery amounts could be ascertained. They also read around 400 cases and federal court opinions, ranging from antitrust to consumer to securities law violations.

With a bill before the US Congress to curb large awards in class actions, the study highlights the need for more solid data for policymakers about the US legal system.