Home Tech These Brands Paid the Biggest Class Action Settlements Ever

These Brands Paid the Biggest Class Action Settlements Ever

by Elijah
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Which brands ended up paying the biggest class action settlements in history? No one is perfect, but the brands covered today went above and beyond the pale when it comes to paying for their mistakes. While you might be familiar with some class action lawsuits and their eventual results, today’s list might end up shocking you. The payments for some of these class action suits are huge in comparison to lesser brands settling out of court.

Tobacco Settlements

The tobacco settlements are still the largest ever awarded in history.

Starting our list of the biggest class action settlements is this massive one from various tobacco brands. Paying out a total of $206 billion leaves this as the biggest settlement in history. This isn’t your typical class action suit, either. This one involved public prosecutors while pursuing the likes of Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds.

BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

webinar banner,Oil leak from Ship , Oil spill pollution polluted water surface water pollution as a result of human activities. industrial chemical contamination. oil spill at sea. petroleum products.
The damage done by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was catastrophic.

Most of us can agree that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was an utter tragedy. British Petroleum ended up paying heavily for its role in the natural disaster. Like the aforementioned tobacco settlement, this was one pushed and pursued by public prosecutors to the tune of $20 billion.

Volkswagen Emissions Settlement

Volkswagen ID.4 vs Chevy Bolt EUV
Maybe Volkswagen should just stick to EVs at this point.

Many companies try to position themselves as eco-friendly, especially in the automotive sector. Volkswagen came under fire after a 2016 ruling from a federal judge found them cheating on emission tests in the Bay Area of California. VW ended up having to pay $14.7 billion to buy back almost 500,000 vehicles at market value.


biggest class action
Jeffrey Skilling received jail time for his role in the Enron scandal.

Enron is one of the massive scandals of the 2000s, and it also happens to be one of the biggest class action settlements in history. The fallout of Enron’s financial misdeeds left former executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling in jail while the plaintiffs received $7.2 billion in this class action suit.


biggest class action
Former CFO Scott Sullivan would end up being convicted of fraud in 2005.

The 2000s were rife with fraud it would seem. 2005 saw WorldCom settling for $6.1 billion thanks to its part in shareholder fraud. Much like Enron, this resulted in jail time for WorldCom’s former executives. The final payment ended up being one of the biggest class action settlements ever awarded once the dust settled.


biggest class action
Fen-Phen’s potential for damage to patients resulted in a massive lawsuit.

Some folks will do anything but exercise at a calorie deficit to lose weight. Unfortunately, the diet drug Fen-Phen, sold by American Home Products, could result in some nasty side effects. For the potential of severe heart damage, a federal judge ended up settling this suit for $3.8 billion. American Home Products would end up paying one of the biggest class action settlements in history following this.

American Indian Trust

biggest class action
This class action settlement has its roots in the 19th century.

One of the biggest class action settlements in history has its roots dating back to the 19th century. Few groups in the United States have been on the receiving end of constant marginalization like the indigenous tribes that once ruled the nation. This massive class action suit resulted in a payment of $3.4 billion, allotted to some 325,000 native peoples.

Breast Implants

Plastic / Cosmetic Surgeon Shows Female Patient Breast Implant Samples for Her Future Surgery. Professional and Famous Surgeon Working in Respectable Clinic.
Silicone breast implants resulted in some serious shortcomings for recipients.

If you were around in the 90s, the proliferation of breast implants was everywhere. Unfortunately, this cosmetic procedure could result in some nasty side effects like connective tissue damage and the rise of autoimmune disorders. One of the biggest class action settlements focused on manufacturers like Dow Corning and Bristol-Meyers Squibb. The final tally left a massive payment of $3.4 billion for those affected by the implants.


Cendant’s class action suit was the result of defrauding shareholders.

Another 2000s class action settlement focusing on fraud is upon us. Cendant was known at the time for its holdings in valuable real estate with the likes of Ramada Inn under their umbrella. Once news of their creative accounting got loose, the company ended up paying $3.2 billion for its misdeeds.


Tyco’s misdeeds resulted in jail time for its former executives.

You may have thought we were done with creative accounting suits, but there’s plenty more to go. Tyco lit up the headlines with its fraud scandal in the mid-2000s. Former executives faced jail time while the company ended up having to pay $3.2 billion in one of the biggest class action settlements of the time.

Nortel Networks

Nortel’s class action suits ended up dealing a heavy blow to the telecom company.

Telecom giant Nortel got into quite a sticky situation in the 2000s. Thanks to its part in some rather creative accounting, they ended up paying quite heavily. The first settlement, known as Nortel I, resulted in a payout of $2.7 billion.

AOL Time Warner

Time Warner
The merger between Time Warner and AOL showed some serious financial skullduggery with ad revenue.

I wasn’t joking when it comes to accounting fraud. AOL and Time Warner’s merger in the 2000s ended up with one of the biggest class action settlements in history as a result. The newly merged company had to pay $2.5 billion for its role in inflating ad revenue shortly before the merger.


Pharmaceutical, branding and science concept - Blue pills for healthy diet nutrition, supplements pill and probiotics capsules, healthcare and medicine as pharmacy and scientific research background
Actos carried a side effect of causing bladder cancer in patients.

Pharmaceutical suits end up having some very real health risks in their wake. For drug maker Takeda Pharmaceutical, concealing the safety risks of its drug Actos ended up costing them quite a bit. This resulted in one of the biggest class action settlements of the era, paying around $2.4 billion.

Bank of America

Bank of America
Few banking businesses are as divisive as Bank of America.

Bank of America has been in the news for all the wrong reasons for years now. This 2013 ruling came after the banking giant acquired public pension funds for companies operating out of Ohio and Texas. This bit of creative accounting ended up costing Bank of America $2.4 billion.

Foreign Exchange Scandal

JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase was just one of the companies implicated in the foreign exchange scandal.

Bank of America didn’t escape the news cycle or the ire of judges for very long. A 2015 class action suit saw them among a wider group of banks with the likes of Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley colluding over foreign exchange rates. The result paid out $2.3 billion to those affected.


Cows herd on a grass field during the summer at sunset. A cow is looking at the camera sun rays are piercing behind her horns.
The American government’s role in discriminating against farm loans resulted in a massive penalty.

It might be a bit of a stretch to call the United States federal government a brand but bear with me. The US Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture’s part in active racial discrimination for applicants for federal farm loans ended up in one of the biggest class action settlements against the government. The USDA ended up paying $2.3 billion in the aftermath.

Royal Ahold

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Food company Royal Ahold found itself in hot water thanks to some creative accounting practices.

Dutch food retailer Royal Ahold came under fire in 2003 for accounting problems. This ended up with one of the biggest class action settlements in history in its wake. The company agreed to pay $1.1 billion after a 2005 ruling from the United States District Court in Baltimore.

Nortel (Again)

Nortel HQ
Nortel ended up paying twice on its class action suit.

That’s right, Nortel is back for Nortel II. The telecom giant got hit twice for the same misdeeds essentially and ended up paying $1.07 billion in the second class action suit. Nortel would also end up being delisted from a few stock exchanges, tanking any prospects for the telecom giant in the future.

Merck & Co, Inc

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Zestia ended up being the catalyst for a class action lawsuit.

Most pharma brands aren’t going to be a household name. It is hard to ignore their impact on the lives and well-being of your average citizen, however. Merck & Co, Inc. would end up being targeted in an anti-trust class action suit over its drug Zestia. The final result had Merck & Co, Inc. paying $1.06 billion for its role.

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