Giammalvo Files
Mark Giammalvo

Mark Giammalvo specializes in driveability diagnostics at his family business, Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service, Inc. in New Bedford, MA.   

Mark, who has been with the business for over 20 years, is an ASE  Master Technician and Parts Specialist. He also holds the ASE L1 certification, and has an associates degree in business management.
Mark is also a writer for Motor Age Magazine and is the past secretary of the Alliance of Automotive Service Professionals, (AASP).

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Another Class Action?

(Printed in the Journal of The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, AASP) 

Recently, many animal lovers, including myself, were shocked to learn that Menu Foods Corporation had reported that some of the cat and dog foods that they market may have been contaminated. This warning went on to state that there were now some cases of dogs and cats dying and that their food might be the cause.

As the details of this case continue to unfold, many of my family and friends have been upset and even directly effected by this issue. In one situation, we have a friend who recently almost lost a cat this past December due to renal failure, (a reported possible symptom of an animal that eats this contaminated food). This cat in question was given the questionable food back in December, before the recall was announced. This particular cat got better when placed on I.V. fluids at the veterinarian and the cause of the ailment was never found. This cat is still recovering but it's health has not been the same since.

One of my family members is a volunteer for a no-kill animal shelter and recently, a woman that had lost a pet due to this bad food, came seeking to adopt a cat.

This tragedy continues to touch many animal owners and animal lovers nation wide and there is no question that pet owners that are losing their beloved animals due to this food should be in an outrage.

The other day we were discussing this issue at home and I suddenly started to chuckle. Although I was not laughing at the topic itself, it just hit me that it will only be weeks now until we hear of a law firm that has decided to take this on as a "Class Action Lawsuit."

I am often amazed at how many of these smart lawyers will come together to represent a class of mistreated, maligned or injured people. Now, I am sure some attorney will step up to take on these owners who lost an animal or whose animal became sick because of this bad food. While I do not think this possible class representation is bad, it is the precedence that most of these class action lawsuits take, that is alarming. In the majority of these class action suits, the plaintiffs wind up with little, if any, compensation or relief at all.

Like most of the public nowadays, I myself have been "automatically" involved as a "member of a class action " in several cases over the past few years. Some cases that come to mind are:

An issue with Verizon with their billing policy. I think in that case I received a coupon for 10.00 off a new phone if I wanted to purchase one at full retail price. Needless to say, I put the coupon in the circular file.

Then I was a member of a class of litigants in a lawsuit against the billing policies of Comcast. I believe in that one I was able to get a 12-cent credit. Not bad I guess in the grand scheme of things.

Then, most recently, I became a potential class litigant in the Carfax scandal. In that class action suit the plaintiff's attorneys claim that Carfax violated state consumer protection laws by not properly disclosing the conditions and limitation of Carfax History Reports. Retail Carfax consumers can choose from a 20.00 dollar ‘off' voucher for a third party vehicle inspection or, a voucher good for two free Carfax History Reports, or 50% off an unlimited number of the reports for 30 days. Then I realized that as a Carfax dealer we are exempt because the reports are for ‘personal' not business use. Yada, yada yada, whatever.

Some of our customers were class litigants in the big Firestone recall several years back. Of course, if you had the bum tires you got them replaced free. In the end, Ford agreed to specific tire Design and manufacturing changes and to educate consumers via direct mail and the Internet about their tire pressure.

The problem with these class action suits is that, there is rarely, if any, real benefit to the thousands of consumers that endured the actual problem or loss. The class attorneys are the ones that come out smiling. I remember the payment amount for the group of attorneys' that represented the plaintiff in the Firestone recall. 19,000,000, yes that's 19 million bucks paid to the attorneys.

Oh well, time will tell what future ‘classes' we will all be involved in. Come to think of it, one of the toilets at my home has not been flushing that well lately, hmm...



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