It’s not uncommon for class action suits to be settled with multimillion-dollar fees approved for the plaintiffs attorneys and loose change, coupons, or less for the individual class members. It’s less common for the class members to receive nothing at all, and rarer still for the class to be devoid of members.

You’d think there’d be at least two things required for a class action: an action and a class. Pretty basic premise.

Sure, the action might be dubious, and often is, and some of  the members of the class might be interlopers, asserting membership with fabricated or exaggerated claims. Still, they constitute a class, however classless.

But now the class part of the class-action equation seems to be optional – or, at least, subject to being so broadly defined as to exclude live members. To wit, an empty class.

In which case, what’s the point of the suit (aside from the enrichment of plaintiffs attorneys and the punishment of successful enterprises)?

Abbott Laboratories, an international health care company headquartered in suburban Chicago and one of the state’s largest employers, has agreed to settle a class action suit being tried in St. Clair County Circuit Court by providing $6.7 million to charity and absolutely nothing to members of the class, which happens to be member-less.

If the settlement is approved, Belleville attorney Robert Sprague and the legal team representing the uncompensated member-less class will receive $3.29 million.

The unoccupied class these legal eagles represent consists, or consisted, or might have consisted of persons who are no longer but at one time, ten or more years ago, presumably were. Unable to feed themselves, these prospective posthumous plaintiffs received sustenance via Abbott-brand food pumps, for which they were allegedly overcharged. Thus the suit.

Nobody knows their names because they didn’t purchase the pumps directly from Abbott.

Whoever they are, wherever they are, they or their decendents undoubtedly will be delighted to learn that Robert Sprague, et al. have profited handsomely from representing them.

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