Does Red Bull really give you wings? According to two recent consumer class action lawsuits against the maker of the energy drink, it does not. Although most of us don’t consider it a basis for a lawsuit when we fail to grow wings after drinking Red Bull, the lawsuits do allege that Red Bull’s advertisements violate a number of New York state laws.
The energy company creates advertisements claiming that the drink improves “performance, concentration and reaction speed”. However, according to the class action lawsuits, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that the ingredients in a can of Red Bull provide “any more benefit to consumers than a caffeine tablet or cup of coffee.” The lawsuits, which were filed in New York City, are seeking compensation for damages lost for consumers who paid a higher price for Red Bull’s products than they would have paid for “simpler and less expensive caffeine-only products”.
The Manhattan court conditionally approved the two class actions, but they still raise questions that courts have been dealing with lately regarding how to ascertain who can participate in a class action lawsuit. Normally, a court will only certify a class if the plaintiffs’ counsel can provide a satisfactory method of accurately identifying and contacting all (or at least most) of the members of the class. This is known as ascertainability of the class. When it comes to claims such as those against Red Bull, ascertainability of class members can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, because many people simply don’t keep receipts of the food they buy.
In this case, the plaintiffs counsel have decided that class members can be ascertained by having each member provide a sworn statement that she purchased the product during the class period. Such a method is the closest the court can come to identifying all class members.
While denying the claims, Red Bull has agreed to settle the two class action lawsuits for $13 million. Each valid claim will be eligible to collect $10 or the value of the product, up to $15. The catch is that the settlement is capped at $13 million, meaning that the more people apply for a claim, the smaller each claim will be.
Consumer class actions regarding inexpensive items where class members are unlikely to keep a receipt or proof of purchase have sometimes had difficulty attaining class certification lately. The federal courts, while arguing over the best way to handle such cases, have generally been ruling in favor of the plaintiffs. However, class actions in cases that settle generally have an easier time achieving certification than lawsuits that go to court, because they are easier for the courts to handle.
Defendants often have an advantage in class actions in which accurately determining class members may be difficult. Some federal courts have already refused to certify classes in which ascertainability of the class members is unreliable.
Our Chicago class action and consumer fraud lawyers have been bringing fraud and class action claims for many years. Our Chicago class action attorneys near Naperville have brought class action cases involving mass consumer product defects, false advertising and failure to honor warranties similar to the claims in this case. We are looking for new class actions or individual consumer cases to pursue involving defective products and other consumer fraud claims. Contact us if you feel you have a claim at our toll free number (833) 306-4933 or filling out an online contact form.
Our Chicago consumer rights private law firm handles individual and class action unfair debt collection and other consumer fraud cases that government agencies and public interest law firms such as the Illinois Attorney General may not pursue. Class action lawsuits our law firm has been involved in or spear-headed have led to substantial awards totaling over a million dollars to organizations including the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center. Lubin Austermuehle is proud of our achievements in assisting national and local consumer rights organizations obtain the funds needed to ensure that consumers are protected and informed of their rights. By standing up to consumer fraud and consumer rip-offs, and in the right case filing consumer protection lawsuits and class-actions you too can help ensure that other consumers’ rights are protected from consumer rip-offs and unscrupulous or dishonest practices.
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