Myriad class action suits course through the court systems every day at both the state and federal levels. Many of which wait for years and never reach the vital stage of class court certification, the most decisive step toward obtaining a settlement. The famous class action employee discrimination suit against Walmart by female employees went on for 11 years and was finally defeated by the supreme court in 2011. Many class action lawsuits reach settlements with payout amounts spanning a wide spectrum. Some payouts reach into the billions.
1998 Tobacco Master $206 Billion
This suit was brought by 46 different states attorneys as a consolidation of cases so it is not technically a class action. It was brought on behalf of states against several tobacco manufacturers. It merits inclusion for the similarities to a class action lawsuit and the sheer size it encompasses. Brown & Williamson, Lorillard, Phillip Morris, and RJ Reynolds settled with the attorney generals for expenditures by the states for the treatment of illnesses caused by smoking in the various state funded medical programs. Doing so kept them from getting sued privately by individuals. The $206 billion is set to be paid to the states over a span of 30 years.