AZ Leads Bipartisan Multi-state Coalition in Challenge to Unfair Tristar Class Action Settlement

PHOENIX - Leading a bipartisan coalition of eighteen state Attorneys General, Attorney General Mark Brnovich has filed a brief in federal court in Ohio advocating rejection of another unfair class action settlement. This marks the 10th legal brief filed by General Brnovich in an ongoing effort to protect Arizona consumers from class action settlement abuse. 

This latest brief urged the court to reject a proposed class action settlement relating to Tristar pressure cookers.  Under the current proposed deal the attorneys general are challenging, 3 million consumers will release their claims against Tristar (including potential personal injury claims), and class action attorneys will receive $2.5 million in cash. But over 99% of those consumers will walk away with nothing from the settlement, with the other approximate 1% receiving a warranty worth $5 and a coupon that is good for only 90 days, and can only be used for a discount off one of three Tristar products.

“Protecting consumers in the class action settlement process continues to be one of our top priorities,” explained Attorney General Brnovich. “As Attorney General, I am focused on making sure that when these cases are resolved the settlements are focused on benefiting consumers, and not diverting money to other unrelated interests. Our efforts to date, and the briefs we have filed with bipartisan support, have produced meaningful results for consumers, including improved settlement terms that make sure consumers receive a real benefit from class action settlements that affect their rights.”

The class action at issue alleges that some Tristar pressure cookers were defective, in some cases causing explosions and injuries to consumers. The class action lawyers who brought the case have proposed settling the claims of more than 3 million consumers by paying $2.5 million in a cash payout to the lawyers, while only about 14,000 of the class members will receive a warranty extension worth $5 and a $72.50 coupon toward one of three Tristar products that cost between $129.97 to $149.99.

In the brief, Attorney General Brnovich asked the court to recognize that the settlement is deeply imbalanced, and that it fails to comply with federal law by diverting all the cash to the lawyers while leaving consumers with only a few highly restrictive coupons. As the brief explained, “[t]he coupons here expire in ninety days, are non-transferable, and are only valid for three products, each of which would require class members to spend substantial sums of their own money to purchase.”  “[W]here there is so much cash in the settlement and so little interest in the coupons and warranties, the settlement can only stand by sending a fair apportionment of the available cash to the class.”

The brief was filed in Chapman et al. v. Tristar Products, Inc. et al., No. 1:16-cv-01114 (N.D. Ohio), as a “friend of the court” under Attorney General Brnovich’s statutory authority to speak on behalf of Arizonans in connection with federal class action settlements.

Joining Arizona are Attorneys General from Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming.

For a copy of the brief, click HERE.