If you recently bought baby products from Babies”R”Us and were dismayed by the high prices of such products, you are not alone. On July 15, 2009, a federal judge in Pennsylvania granted class action status to a lawsuit filed against a division of popular toy and baby goods store Toys”R”Us Inc. The lawsuit alleges that the store conspired with merchants to fix prices on many items sold at their Babies”R”Us chain.
The lawsuit charges that Babies”R”Us worked with various manufacturers to keep competitors, especially those that sell items online at discounts, from offering reduced prices to customers. They allege that doing this forced shoppers to pay more while preserving business at the chain and reducing competition.
What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit is a form of a lawsuit where a large group of people collectively bring a claim to court. A few people, or “plaintiffs,” act as representatives of the larger group, or class.
To bring such a claim, a suit is filed with one or several named representatives on behalf of the proposed class. The proposed class must consist of a group of individuals that have suffered a common injury or injures. After the complaint is filed, the lawyers file a motion to have the class “certified.” The judge will then determine if the proposed class meets the standards for class certification.
If so, such as in the Toys”R”Us suit, the few named plaintiffs will go to trial as a representative class and participate in all law and plaintiff-related activities. The other members of the class, who weren’t named in the suit, won’t have to participate in the trial, but will get a part of the award.
In the Toys”R”Us case, the judge’s decision allows 10 individuals to represent thousands of other consumers across the country who bought products from Babies”R”Us chains. They will go to trial to prove that items sold by Babies”R”Us between 2001-2006 were controlled by minimum-pricing agreements. These goods include strollers, high chairs, car seats and breast bumps.