We think you are in Victoria. If not please click 'Change'

In your state, you are required to confirm you wish to access this information. Please enter 'QLD' or 'WA' in the field below to continue.

No thanks

10 Largest Class Actions in the World

Many of us know the story of Erin Brockovich and the residents of Hinkley, California. Erin was instrumental in building a case against Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) on behalf of residents in Hinkley. In 1996 the case settled and at the time was the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in US history.

Hinkley may well be the most famous class action in history, but there have been others since. Today we explore the 10 largest class actions in the world.

  1. Enron

Investors in Enron (energy trading company) filed a class action claiming that directors had disguised losses within specially created entities and failed to disclose this in its annual reports to the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This was designed to protect the company but instead destroyed it. The case was settled in 2006 paying out US$7.2 billion (AU$9.3 billion) to investors who lost money when the company collapsed in 2001. Some of Enron’s executives also received jail time for fraud and accounting firm Arthur Andersen went into liquidation

  1. Worldcom

Investors with stocks in telecommunications company, Worldcom, claimed that the company had made improper classifications of expenses as capital costs and false revenue statements. The case was settled in 2005 and investors were awarded US$6.2 billion (AU$14.24 billion).

  1. Visa/MasterCard

Visa and MasterCard were accused by retailers in 2005 for charging excessive fees and an alleged conspiracy to fix some credit card rates. This class action was settled in 2012 with a compensation payout of US$7.2 billion (AU$9.38 billion).

  1. Tyco

Swiss Securities company Tyco and its auditing firm Price Waterhouse Coopers were accused of misleading public statements and omitted information. The case was settled in 2007 with US$3.2 billion (AU$4.3 billion). Two of the company’s executives were also jailed for fraud.

  1. Cendant Corporation

Cendant were charged with securities fraud for overstating its income and issuing false profit statements by US$500 million. In 2000, US$3.1 billion (AU$4 billion) was paid to those affected and Vice Chairman, Kirk Shelton was jailed.

  1. Nortel Networks

Two separate class action lawsuits were filed for investors who held stocks in the company. Nortel was charged for creating false information, claiming that the company was booming when it was actually plummeting. Those affected were awarded US$2.4 billion (AU$3.1 billion)

  1. Fen-Phen

Fen-Phen created a weight loss drug that was only available in clinics and online. The drug was linked to potentially fatal heart valve damage. Victims were paid a share of US$3.75 billion.

  1. Citigroup

Citigroup investors took the company to court for poorly performing mortgage-backed securities that the bank had sold during the 2008 financial crisis. Last year, Citigroup agreed to pay US$7 billion (AU$2.3 billion) to settle the class action.

  1. AOL Time Warner

The media company was sued by investors for fraud. The company disguised its poor performance by forging dozens of transactions. Investors received US$2.5 billion (AU$3.2 billion).

  1. Household International

Customer finance company, Household International, was accused of inflating their shareholder price. Consequently, the value of the company decreased and was bought by HSBC. HSBC was then responsible for paying the US$2.46 billion (AU$3.1 billion) to those effected.


If you have been a victim of a wrong doing, you may be eligible for compensation. If the wrong doing has affected more than one person then you may be able to join a class action.

Shine Lawyers provide legal services on a No Win No Fee basis and can help you find out if you have a claim for compensation.

Written by Shine Lawyers on . Last modified: July 20, 2017.

Join the discussion

Share this article:

There are 0 comments. Be the first!

Audi and Volkswagen Potential Class Action

Shine Lawyers is investigating claims against Audi and Volkswagen. Shine Lawyers are examining claims against Audi and Volkswagen, following two US class actions, alleging that several vehicles have a defective timing chain which can cause catastrophic engine failure. Volkswagen and Audi vehicles that contain 2.0L TSI and TFSI EA888 engines are the vehicles that have […]

Read more

Shine lawyers warn Apple may face class action in Australia

Class Actions against technology juggernaut Apple have been filed across the US, following the company’s admission that it pushed out software updates to consumers that limited the performance of several Apple Devices. “There are several cases that could be brought against Apple for the iPhone 6, 6S, SE and 7 defects. In Australia, we will […]

Read more

TGA’s mesh ban welcomed but needs to go further

Mesh victims and participants in the Shine Lawyers Johnson & Johnson mesh class action have welcomed news that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will ban the use of vaginal mesh implants for pelvic prolapse in Australia after finding that the risks outweigh the benefits. The TGA announced the decision following a review of clinical evidence […]

Read more

Call Us Now

Our friendly consultants are available to talk Monday to Friday, 8:15am to 6:00pm AEST.

1800 618 851

Live Chat

Chat with Shine Lawyers through the livechat system without leaving your computer. No downloading, completely private and best of all - it's easy to use.

Start a live chat now

Enquire Now