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Samsung customers recently filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, alleging that it knowingly sold faulty camcorders, forcing customers to pay as much as $150 to fix them.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Samsung is accused of ignoring customer complaints that its camcorders with an image sensor device known as a CCD imager prematurely fail and cause a blank or distorted screen.

A “class action” is a lawsuit where a handful of persons sue an entity or individual on behalf of “similarly situated” persons–in this case, the plaintiffs sued Samsung on behalf of everyone who bought the allegedly defective camcorder. If the class is “certified,” or allowed to proceed as a class by the court, and if a settlement or judgment is obtained, a third-party administrator contacts or advertises the potential claimants to submit claims to be part of the class.

The class action process is a great way to redress problems on a whole that usually are too small to pursue on an individual basis. It probably wouldn’t be worth the cost and hassle if one Samsung customer sued the company for the faulty device. But if thousands of people in the same position sued, it would both (1) provide redress to the consumers; and (2) deter corporations from acting in a similar manner in the future. The class action process has achieved tremendous results in protecting America’s consumers from sketchy business practices.

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