Still unsettled about a settlement

There's one born every minute, and my minute took place after the phone rang in the fall of 1984.

On the line: a Prudential salesman who told me about a great "investment" opportunity.

We met, and I agreed to pay $300 or so every three months for a whole life insurance policy. After all, I was told, I could retire comfortably by signing on the dotted line. At the time, I was fresh out of college. (What was I thinking?)

About a year later, I woke up and realized that someone age 22 and just starting out on a career path does not need life insurance.

I let the policy lapse. End of story? Not yet. A few years later my name was added to a class-action suit against Prudential related to deceptive sales practices. I was $1,200 in the hole, and hoped to recoup some of that money.

Finally, in 1997, the company agreed to pay $2.6 billion to settle the suit. I never saw a dime.

My benefit from all this legal work was the opportunity to buy securities through Prudential at a discount. Own another piece of the rock? I wanted to throw one.

Plenty of people have reaped such "rewards" from a class-action suit. A co-worker received $1.48 from Providian after a class-action case involving high-interest credit cards. She also got $6 from Carnival, after the cruise line settled a lawsuit over inflated port fees.

No doubt class-action suits punish naughty firms and may lead them to treat customers better. But many customers who were burned may still be steaming.

Now, as our lead story explains, a whole new round of class-action suits related to securities fraud has begun. Will investors recoup their losses? Perhaps some will.

But don't hold your breath.

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK