The Origins Of Class Action Suits | WBEZ
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Planet Money

Episode 696: Class Action

(Photo: Cameron Robert/NPR)

Can you spot the difference between these tins? It's the basis of a class action — a lawsuit, filed by a few people, on behalf of millions.

Class actions have been around for centuries. But the modern version was created in the 1960s — in part by a young lawyer working on a manual typewriter in the back seat of a car. At the time, class actions were seen as a way to advance the civil rights movement.

Today, thousands of class actions are filed every year. Some of them are still about civil rights. But they're also about things questions like: Is there enough pepper in this tin of pepper?

In this episode, we ask how we got here, and whether this is a good way to do things.

Music: Frederic Auger's 'Future Satisfaction.' Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

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