YouTube has been taken over by almost every group, individual and person-with-a-cause known to man. So why not class action lawyers? Here’s a group who used a dramatic chipmunk to announce a settlement. Well, it is YouTube, after all.

You could call it a marriage of law and pop culture.

A group of lawyers recently took to YouTube — the popular video Web site — to announce a $48 million class action settlement involving the antidepressant Paxil.

The 90-second video — along with a virtual character known as the Dramatic Chipmunk — aims to alert potential class members about a settlement stemming from a lawsuit alleging that Paxil was unlawfully marketed to children. Hoorman v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., No. 04-L-715 (Madison Co., Ill., Cir. Ct.).

“As long as you’re honest about something, why not also be funny,” said attorney Brian Wolfman of Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group that launched the YouTube Paxil announcement, which debuted on July 6.

“I just love the concept of it and I love the fact that we were able to do something a little different,” Wolfman said. “If we have another tool to get at a different generation of people, let’s go for it.”

The YouTube class action notification scheme involved a seven-second video dubbed the Paxil Chipmunk, in which a startled chipmunk appears while the words sprawl below: “If you took Paxil, you could get $100 or more.”

A longer 90-second video shows a confused teenager wandering around aimlessly, ending with an announcement that $48 million is sitting in a fund for people who had bought their children Paxil and directs viewers to a Web site telling them how to make a claim.

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