Sorry, But…


Just doing their job?  Maybe you are a class-action attorney and you can explain it to me, or all of us here.

I was reading yesterday about a class action suit against Costco for failing to temperature control their gasoline pumps.  Gas does occupy different volumes at different temperatures, therefore the amount of gas you receive and pay for when the gas is 60 degrees is different than if the gas is say, 100 degrees.  The temperature needs to be controlled to deliver a consistent volume.

Yes, shame on Costco for not regulating their pumps by temperature.  They did lose the lawsuit and must install temperature controlled pumps.

In a class-action law suit it is usual and customary to make restitution with the customers who were wronged in some way; either by a minuscule check (pennies on the dollar) or sometimes a coupon.  In most cases, it’s usually a lame attempt at making up for the error.  Basically there is nothing to gain from these lawsuits by the wronged parties.  I think I once received a coupon from a company who lost their class-action suit.  The coupon was for $25 dollars off if I spent a $150.  It’s all stupid.

But in this particular case, if you are a member of that class (i.e. a Costco member who buys gasoline) you are getting nothing in the settlement.  For whatever reason, there will be no attempt to throw a bone to the consumers who dutifully bought their gasoline from Costco and most likely overpaid. 

However, the attorneys will receive up to 10 million dollars for carrying on a good fight.  I’m sure much longer than was necessary.  What the heck?

I say Pffffttttt….as I step down from my soapbox. 

One Year Ago: To Save or Not To Save

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29 Comments

  1. deeba 1

    Sometimes life is just unfair I guess. These are good times to be an attorney! Hang in there Cathy…and hang on to the soap box too. Am sure we’ll need it often! LOL

  2. Don’t even get me started on attorneys…yes, there are some decent and honorable attorneys out there, but who can find them and afford the many, many thousands of dollars it costs before you find out you hired an attorney who relishes dragging things out to fatten his / her pocketbook? Apparently the corporate attorneys do even better. Millions better.

  3. That is wrong. Something should be done for all those people who paid too much at the pump.

  4. Even as the daughter of an attorney, I can’t explain this one.

    I’m definitely against capping salaries but when it comes to a class action suit where customers were basically cheated out of money and in the end, the only ones who receive any kind of remuneration are the attorneys, well something is wrong with the system.

    I’m assuming that $10M is all in fees as it looks like there were apparently no damages awarded.

    Just so wrong.

  5. I agree. I think our country has gone sue crazy. I think it is horrible how greedy people can be.

  6. ntsc 6

    Most gasoline is stored underground where the temperature is fairly constant.

    Pump calibration is also not likely to be at the extreme of either hot or cold, which further balances the results over the year. And pump calibration is not under the control of the merchant, but likely the county commissioner of weights and measures.

  7. Liz C. 7

    Mr. Snoots is in the oil business & yet I’ve never heard of this! Upon inquiring, he says the amount is so miniscule that it’s ridiculous. He said he couldn’t believe there was even a lawsuit, LOL! So, don’t expect a restitution check… ever! It probably wouldn’t be more than a couple of dollars anyway. We all know what sluts attorneys are. Oh wait. My daughter is going to be an attorney, so I guess I have to take that back. However, she’s going to be an entertainment lawyer, LOL!

  8. But if we didn’t have all these lawyers, who would star in all our funny jokes? Gah.

  9. Niki 9

    I’m sorry, how did the attorneys make money on that? I’m confused. I thought attorneys only make money if there is a monetary settlement that is paid or there is someone actually footing the bill. So which was it? If I wanted to be a part of the suit, I sure as heck wouldn’t have paid an attorney to get nothing for me.

  10. dawn 10

    It’s disgusting what attorneys have done to our justice system. The greed is just unreal. After they take there fees there is nothing left for the damaged parties. Absolutely preposterous. Class-action suits are for the birds, I just don’t see the point of them if there is to be no restitution. The attorney fees should be capped in these cases.

  11. When I read the title of this, I thought it was about that dumb ass coach who ‘got off’ and was not at fault for a student who died from heat exhaustion… He was just doing his job… the worse part? He won’t apologize to the family for the loss of their son..he said ‘I was found not guilty’ therefore, I am not at fault…

    Gag..
    His human soul…needs repair. Hmm. perhaps in the wee hours of the night, he wakes with guilt.. and tears.. one could only ‘hope’ his guilt is there, just not public..

  12. Lisa Sipple 12

    Attorney’s who do this type of work are bloodsucking crooks. It’s really ashame our society allows it to happen.

  13. ntsc 13

    I’ve worked with entertainment lawyers, a lot. I was the engineering half, with lawyer as other half, of the Intellectual Property negotiators for an MPAA member in the late 90s, early part of this decade.

  14. Bob 14

    Don’t even get me started on this kind of crap. Makes me furious.

  15. ilyanna 15

    I agree it’s ridiculous. I did do a little more research — according to one newspaper: “the suit is a compilation of about 35 separate class actions that were combined and filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas. It alleges that multiple retailers committed fraud and violated state consumer protection laws by selling fuel without compensating for how gas expands in higher temperatures.” Apparently this is wide-spread, and the oil industry is fighting tooth-and-nail against the lawsuit — the issue of which dates back to the 80s. It seems Costco is just doing what _everybody_ does, and even if it is 1-2% per fill-up, over our lifetimes we may have been had for thousands of dollars.
    One question: where did you see the $10 million quote? Everything I read indicates the fight continues, but nothing stated compensation.

  16. I am not for an attorney making that much off of a single case. But the fact is, if the plaintiffs’ attorney is going to make fees, there had to be a win somewhere. So if you have 100,000,000 people who each got $1.00 back in a settlement, then the attorney would take whatever his/her percentage is. If the percentage is 10%, there is your $10 million. And the plaintiff in the class action gets back his/her $.90. The class action isn’t really to right wrongs for the individual, it’s to make a company who has a bad policy/product pay for it, causing them to change their ways. If it were just your dollar on the line, why would you or anyone want to sue anyone? you wouldn’t. Law suits are a pain in the rear.

    Because the attorney sees a way to make a profit, the oil companies won’t continue to inflate their profits. I’m not saying it’s right or worth 10 million. But there you go. For what it’s worth, the attorney certainly worked hard and long at this case, with no guarantee of any pay, and with how ever many other cases going on for which he will never get paid.

    But I’m a defense attorney. I don’t particularly care for the attorney hatred that is spewed at people, when the vast majority of attorneys are just trying to make a living and earn under six figures, even after spending g-d only knows how much on law school. If you want to get angry about the way the civil cases work, one should lobby for tort reform. Are there sleazy attorneys? You bet. But for every sleazy attorney there are HUNDREDS of clients who are equally sleazy thinking that because they tripped they’re entitled to a million dollars even if they have no real complaints.

  17. That stinks. I suppose it’s good that Costco got a slap on the wrist, and hopefully they were the ones paying the lawyers?

  18. Whitney 19

    Christine, Thank you for your comment.
    As a recent law school graduate I understand that some people have a limited view of the legal community as “rich and greedy class action tort attorneys”. But I didn’t go to law school (and get over 100K in debt) to practice that sort of law. Just like many people in this recession I am struggling to find a job that will pay me more than what I could make waiting tables or what I could have made straight out of college. It actually isn’t a “good time to be an attorney”.

    I just wish people would realize that you need lawyers to help write your will or buy a house (or a vineyard) or do your taxes or help your small business.

    Every profession has its greedy members so please just remember that when you make generalizations. Just something to consider.

  19. Barbie with a T 20

    Some of my best friends are attorneys, and believe me, they are all overpaid! Lawsuits are popular, and the attorneys are especially happy about that! Costco is a very reliable establishment and it is a shame that they have to pay out for such things as that.

  20. Donna 21

    I work as a secretary for a well respected attorney in my town. If I wasn’t so desperate for a job I would leave here in a second.

    Here is some of the shady stuff he does. He has me get out all is open client files every day and he proceeds to call these people at home when he knows damn well these folks are at work. This way he can charge the 10 minutes (of his $350 hourly fee) and then charge again when these poor folks call back. It’s disgusting to me and his other attorney colleagues come in and speak to each other about doing the same thing. It’s robbery. People should not be charged for a phone ringing.

    Do you think physicians do not graduate in more debt than attorneys? If you call your doctor at 3 am does he charge you for his time just to answer a question? Never. Why do lawyers feel they can get away with this? How would you feel if you doctor started doing that? Everyone would most likely freak out.

    Unfortunately attorneys have given themselves a bad name. I’m sure there are good, honest ones…but try and find them. Of the 10 in the firm I work for they all work it until every last bit of the retainer is gone. I have never had to refund a portion of a retainer. Why do you think that is?

  21. Cathy, this might be a bit captialist of me, to want to protect Costco, but we do buy our gas at Costco, and many other things too. In truth, if they would have to reimburse an individual family say $20 for a wrong over a few years, that family doesn’t gain. My feeling is I don’t want to see Costco go out of business or lay people off. They treat their employees REALLY WELL. It’s one of the decent places people can work. I give them a break. Lawsuits in general while seeming fair and fighting for justice etc. can wipe out a community, hurt a lot of people.

  22. Debbie 23

    This is so wrong. Does the consumer EVER get compensated? Thanks for shedding light on this. I hadn’t heard anything about it…

  23. Cheryl 24

    As a regular Costco gas buyer, because their price was ALWAYS dramatically lower than the competition by a WIDE margin, I don’t feel all that shafted. Probably broke even with where the other stations fell in price, maybe even a bit below. Think the only real “suffering” and loss occurs when as a society we get so obsessive—convinced everyone is “out to get us” and then the relentless, ridiculous litigious pursuit. Glass half-full…always. Bigger, far more important battles to wage.

    Off my soapbox! 😉

  24. Melynda 25

    So one day at work, when I worked at the courthouse in Clark County I had the “opportunity” to greet an attorney that day as He filed yet another lien. I casually asked Mr Attorney, “how are you this day?” and He replied, “oh OK” with a silent groan at the end to punctuate his plight. To which my smart a$$ mouth replied, “you win some, you lose some, but you get paid for the ALL”, and He just grinned.

    There is something wrong with suing a company and winning 10 million and there not being a “victim” to have worked for. See you really should have to work hard to earn that kind of money.

    I wonder how many of the legal team saved money on their gas at Costco? OK my rental contract is up on this soap box.

  25. sharon 26

    Its amazing how much class action lawsuit lawyers can make! I had no idea this happened, but now I want my money too! $$ Ahh, gotta love our legal money hungry society. :)

  26. Pffff, is right! Amazing how the rich get richer in matters like these…

  27. annbb 28

    Totally out of control! Both attorney’s fees – and pharmaceutical companies. Don’t get me started on that one!

  28. Lisa 29

    Agreed. Couldn’t say it better if I tried. Pffffttttt….!!