Plaintiffs routinely bring consumer class actions under statutes that allow only consumers—not businesses—to bring claims, or that are limited to transactions solely for personal or household purposes. See, e.g., Electronic Funds Transfer Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1693a(2); Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. § 2606(a)(1); California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act,

Here’s a great formula for becoming a rich plaintiffs’-side class-action lawyer:

  1. Copy-and-paste some cookie-cutter complaints alleging technical statutory violations. 
  2. Send demand letters to a group of deep-pocketed targets and negotiate coupon settlements with them before even filing the complaints.
  3. Then seek a six- or seven-figure award of attorneys’ fees for doing no heavy lifting, bearing

Over the past two years, a big growth area for plaintiffs’ lawyers has been cases challenging the use of zip codes or other identifying information by merchants that process credit-card transactions.

In 2011, the California Supreme Court held in Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores that a zip code constitutes “personal identification information” under California’s Song-Beverly Credit