A case for a class action

Without class-action suits, there’s no way to hold firms like Dell accountable for the atrocious behavior Jane Galt reports.

Dell sold Jane Galt a computer, charged her credit card for it, stalled for a few weeks until it was too late to get another in time for Christmas, and then decided to stop manufacturing the model they’d sold her and unilaterally cancelled her order.

It seems to me, as a non-lawyer, that this is a pretty clear breach of contract, and that Jane is entitled to damages. So are the other customers who were the victims of the same shabby trick. But of course none of them is in a position to sue.

Isn’t this the sort of situation that justifies class-action litigation? Yes, I know that process is subject to abuse. But Dell shouldn’t be able to get away with this kind of behavior anytime they’re willing to take the bad publicity that results. And without a class action, I don’t know of any way to hold them accountable.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com