The Ultimate Irony of Groupon

Just yesterday, a Pennsylvania class action lawyer, Howard G. Smith, filed a class action lawsuit against Groupon on behalf of all shareholders who bought in during the infamous IPO. The complaint alleges that Groupon misrepresented or failed to disclose information that they had an obligation, under Securities Laws, to share with prospective investors.

According to MarketWatch, "no class has been certified" at this time. Here's what that means in plain language. When large numbers of people have been harmed in the same way by the same defendant, each of them could file a lawsuit on their own, which is very expensive. Alternatively, they can merge all of their lawsuits into one, which totally changes the economics of litigation. All of a sudden it becomes very cost effective to sue, because the overhead of the legal fees is defrayed over large numbers of plaintiffs. Needless to say, it's in the interest of the plaintiffs to do this, but courts are cautious about when they should and should not permit it. When the court decides to permit it, that's called certifying the class.

The principal factor that courts look to when deciding whether or not to certify a class is the number of people who come forward to announce that they believe they have been wronged. And often times, these types of law suits can sink or swim depending on whether or not the class gets certified. In other words, the fate of Groupon literally depends on whether this class action lawsuit "tips." The irony is just too delicious...

This post originally appeared on AttorneyFee