I got a letter yesterday at home from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, which got my attention right away since I live in Ohio. Turns out that I'm a potential participant in a class action suit against LensCrafters, a national retailer of eyeglasses. A woman named Alina Ivanov brought the suit last fall because, as the "Notice of Pending Class Action and Proposed Settlement" states:
LenCrafters' policy of offering 50% off of complete pairs of prescription eyeglasses to children age 12 and under (the "Kids Offer") results in unlawful and deceptive pricing. Ms. Ivanov claims that, because the Kids Offer is always available, the regular price from which discounts for children age 12 and under should be computed is the everyday 50%-off Kids Offer price, and that the pre-50%-off price used by LensCrafters as the regular price for computing discounts is fictitious. Ms. Ivanov thus alleges that the price she was charged for her purchase of prescription eyeglasses for her daughter was unlawfully inflated by 50%.
LensCrafters' explanation was that its Kids Offer "is akin to reduced rate admission tickets offered to children by movie theaters and museums." In other words, the 50% off special was for full-priced adult eyeglasses, not for the already discounted children's glasses. But whatever the case, LensCrafters decided to just settle the case rather than incur further litigation costs.
Now, we're up to the most interesting part of the letter: the payout:
* Every settlement class member is entitled to receive one $15 voucher for every qualifying purchase we made between Jan. 1, 2005, and July 20, 2008.
* Ms. Ivanov will receive $2,500.
* The lawyers involved will receive a fee of up to $277,500.
I have no idea of how many pairs of children's eyeglasses LensCrafters sold in three and a half years, but let's say they sold 35,000. That would mean LensCrafters could be out as much as $500,000 on the vouchers, plus another quarter-million on the legal fees. Whew, that's a pretty steep fine to pay for a loosey-goosey application of "some restrictions apply."
What I want to know is: When will some enterprising soul take out a class action lawsuit against class action lawyers?