Each class action is different – some are resolved in a matter of months, while others may take several years. In general, most class actions take between two and three years to resolve, though some may take longer, particularly if a court ruling is appealed.
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Some companies, however, may choose to settle class actions relatively quickly. This can be particularly true in cases involving embarrassing allegations of corporate misconduct, or where there is little doubt that the company's product or service was defective or misleading and, as a result, injured a large number of people.
In April 2013, a customer who purchased the Suave hair smoothing kit filed a class action against Unilever, the product's manufacturer, alleging that the company failed to warn customers that the product posed an unreasonable risk of hair and scalp injury.
The company agreed to settle the class action less than a year later in February 2014, perhaps seeking to avoid the negative publicity and unwanted attention associated with the claims contained in the lawsuit.
At the other end of the spectrum, the class action filed after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill went on for nearly 20 years before the class members finally received $2.5 billion in settlement payments in December 2008. Multiple appeals were filed in the class action, which eventually went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court.