It’s widely accepted that class action lawsuits only benefit the attorneys, who receive 25 to 40% of the total award. And that’s after deducting their costs, which include first-class transcontinental flights and paying paralegals to staple papers.
Class-action attorneys justify their existence by positioning themselves as society’s policemen. Maybe federal prosecutors have not sufficiently punished the defendants. Maybe it’s tough to enforce the letter of the law. Maybe it’s because US attorneys are underpaid government employees with limited resources.
Enter the class-action lawyer. Their job is not to prove that the law has been violated, but that people suffered damages for which they must be compensated. Class actions follow civil procedure, not criminal procedure.
The OJ Simpson case is a prime example of the difference between criminal and civil procedures. A criminal court decided that OJ was not guilty of first-degree murder. Later, a civil court determined that OJ was responsible for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Legally, these are not contradictory outcomes: It is totally possible to cause harm to another human being without literally violating the law*!
And so the civil court awarded Nicole’s family $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Punitive, meaning the amount was meant to punish OJ for what he did.
That’s probably what Mr. Ronald Marron is doing here with the Theranos class action. The FDA has not accused Theranos of wrongdoing, but somehow somewhere people suffered. And it was probably Theranos’ fault. Thus Ronald Marron has taken it upon himself to ensure peace and justice for all.
*The definition of first degree murder in the context of the O.J. case requires that the act be done with malice aforethought and premeditation. And to convict in the criminal court, the case against the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.