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Class Actions: Cost of Opt-Out

I recieved an e-mail notice today informing me that I was a member of a class-action suit against Seagate, for supposedly shorting customers by about 7% on hard drive capacity. I’m not sure if the claim is about formatting size or the gigabyte/gibibyte issue, but I haven’t been shorted on any of the hundreds of Seagate drives I’ve purchased or ordered. I know good guys who have gone to work at Seagate, and they don’t leave, giving me the impression that it’s a good company. Besides, class action suits usually do little other than to enrich the plaintiff’s attorneys.

Now, you’d think I can just click to opt out of the suit, right? But no, I have to write a letter and mail it to opt out. There are several things wrong here:

  • First, it costs me money to opt out. Material costs include paper, envelope, postage, toner, wear, electricity, gasoline. And my time is worth something, at least I have my clients convinced of that.
  • Second, the costs are asymmetrical. The plaintiffs get to send me an e-mail, which costs about zero, the class needs to spend millions of dollars to out out.
  • Third, the instructions say not to contact Seagate about this, and I assume the court has agreed to this letter. Seagate would be the one entity which could most easily centralize and de-cost this process, but it would seem they’re not able to .

Two things need to happen here:

  • First, folks who are fed up with frivolous lawsuits need to suck it up and write the letter, so that this kind of suit becomes unprofitable. My faith in my fellow Americans will be tested here.
  • Apparently we need legislation to level the playing field here so that the costs are borne equally by both sides. I assume this is Federal, since it’s an interstate commerce matter.

And finally, I’d like to hear from others who might know if this is typical or if Seagate just has poor representation.

Here’s my letter (of dubious correctness) for others to copy & paste:


Hard Drive Settlement
c/o Rust Consulting, Inc.
P.O. Box 1240
Minneapolis MN 55400-1240.

To whom it may concern:

This letter will serve as written request to exclude me from the settlement class in the matter of Cho v. Seagate Technology (US) Holdings, Inc.,
San Francisco Superior Court, Case No. 453195.