Posted Mar 01, 2011 11:00 am CST
As a onetime information technology manager, Scott Hardy often wondered why no one had come up with a better way to connect consumers to information about time-sensitive class action lawsuits.
So he took matters into his own hands and launched the website Top Class Actions as an alternative to costly ads in national newspapers. The fledgling site provides lawyers a timely and cost-effective way to inform clients and potential clients about new suits, investigations, settlements and related matters.
Recent posts include the details of a tentative $55 million settlement against Chicago’s Cook County Jail for unlawful strip searches, news that Google was facing a potential class action for scanning e-mails of non-Gmail users, and alerts about assorted investigations that may result in class actions.
Rates to advertise on the site begin at $3,500 and increase depending on the services Hardy provides, including creating and managing a larger social media campaign for class actions.
For $450, lawyers can post a single press release about a settlement or lawsuit. The site’s rates are significantly cheaper than traditional newspaper ads, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars for just a single advertisement, Hardy says.
The site, which is free to consumers, garners more than 50,000 unique viewers per month. “We’ve got a very solid core audience,” Hardy says. “These people are either actively trying to submit a claim or file a new lawsuit.”
Even though the site has been in existence since 2008, Hardy still finds it a challenge to create trust with firms that specialize in class actions. Defense and plaintiffs attorneys determine which media will be used to notify the affected class, and Top Class Actions works closely with the attorneys or the settlement administrator to build the online campaign.
Among the site’s enthusiasts is Melissa Harnett of Wasserman, Comden, Casselman & Esensten in Tarzana, Calif. She has used the site to advertise cases such as Friedman v. 24-Hour Fitness, which centered on the club overcharging members for dues.
“The courts are starting to recognize that class action notice through the Internet is a more valuable way to reach class members,” she says. “It certainly has seemed well worth the price to me.”