Over the past two years, $118.3 billion in settlements have been paid to resolve class action and government enforcement lawsuits, according to research by the DuaneMorris law firm, which has been tracking such data since 2002. A significant portion of those amounts are due to the rise in litigation over privacy (specifically class actions alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act), anti-surveillance, and wiretap statutes.
For those like me who practice on the defense side in the class action arena, this trend does not come as a surprise. But the settlements number is still shockingly high. Perhaps even more disconcerting is the fact that lawyers who filed motions to certify classes of plaintiffs succeeded almost three quarters of the time. The data indicate that in 2023, courts granted 324 motions for certification out of 451 filed, a success rate of 72%. In 2022, the plaintiffs' bar had a 74% success rate. One wonders if the Supreme Court's statement from decades ago that class actions are supposed to be the exception to the general rule of individualized litigation, is still applicable.
Like me, the lawyers behind the research believe this trend will continue into the foreseeable future. The plaintiffs’ class action bar is innovative and resourceful and with the size of these settlements, corporations can expect more class action lawsuits with novel legal theories in 2024.