Week Adjourned: 6.26.09

Top Class Actions

Quiet Company…loud ex-employees? Seems some former Northwestern Mutual (NML) employees missed the “Shhhh!” memo when they worked there. The Milwaukee-based life insurance giant has been slapped with a $200 million class action lawsuit by former employees who allege NML violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and California’s overtime and minimum wage laws. Their complaint also states that NML “intentionally and repeatedly” misclassified sales employees as independent contractors: independent contractors are exempt from federal and state wage and hour laws, while full-time employees are not.

Any of this sound familiar? It should. NML was sued on similar allegations in Pennsylvania in 2008. That time around NML won the lawsuit, which resulted in their being able to maintain their financial representatives as ‘independent contractors.’ According to media reports, NML has about 7,000 “financial representatives nationwide.” Be interesting to see if history does repeat itself here.

Fill ‘er kinda up? If you’ve been running out of gas sooner than expected—and I’m referring to propane here, check your cylinder. If it’s from Blue Rhino and AmeriGas, you might be interested to know that they are facing a class action lawsuit over allegations that they reduced the amount of propane provided in tanks sold as ‘full’ without telling their customers. Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 6.26.09”

Week Adjourned: 6.19.09

Top class actions

Get a Whiff of Zicam. Oh wait, maybe you can’t. At least that’s what’s at the heart of the latest Zicam news. No, it’s not a class action yet—but it could be. And it wouldn’t be the first one. At issue are 3 Zicam cold remedies that cause a loss of sense of smell—a condition known as anosmia. As if the cold wasn’t enough of a problem.

In 2005 more than 300 people filed a class action lawsuit against Matrixx, the makers of cold remedies marketed under the name Zicam, alleging the zinc nasal spray caused a loss of sense of smell and taste. Matrixx settled the suit in 2006 for $12 million.

This week, on June 16, 2 years and 130 adverse event reports later, the FDA released a public health advisory urging consumers not to use the Zicam cold remedies, for the same reasons the lawsuit was brought in 2005.

The products named in the FDA’s advisory are Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel, Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs and Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, Kids Size (a discontinued product). What part of this didn’t Matrixx get the first time round?

Top settlements

MySpace Ain’t Your Space. What would you do if you were forced to give your employer your ID and password to an online group you had created with the express purpose of venting your frustrations about your employer? Well, 2 waiters in New Jersey who were faced with that very situation filed a class action lawsuit. And they won.

Restaurant managers who worked at Houston’s in Hackensack, NJ, were fined by a federal jury for surreptitiously monitoring employees’ postings in a MySpace gripe group. The jury ruled that the managers had violated state and federal laws designed to protect privacy of internet communications. The jury awarded the waiters a total of $3,400 in back pay and $13,600 in punitive damages.

BMW: Sheer Driving Pleasure? (if you excuse the faulty subframes). If you or someone you know owns a fourth-generation 3-series model BMW—say the E46—you will be happy to hear there is a settlement pending in the 2006 class action suit against the automaker. So far, BMW has agreed to begin inspections and repairs of potentially faulty subframes in these models.

Currently the settlement is only valid for US residents, and no recall is planned. BMW customers with questions can visit www.E46subframeclassactionsettlement.com.

That’s it for this week. See you at the Bar…

Week Adjourned: 6.12.09

matchhuh2Top Class Actions

Miss-Match.com? The Dallas-based internet dating site Match.com is being sued over allegations that it misleads its customers about potential matches with people who are no longer active members.

The suit was filed by Sean McGinn, a resident of Brooklyn, NY, who alleges that most of the profiles on the site are for people who have cancelled their memberships or never subscribed. The complaint reportedly states “When a subscriber cancels their subscription, their profile continues to appear to be that of an active subscriber.” And, “Nothing indicates to the viewer their limited access to read e-mails or respond to them.” Ouch—kinda like the cyber version of a blind date who doesn’t show…

Week Adjourned: 6.5.09

Some generics are better off left on the shelfTop Class Actions

Ask for Generic? Mmmaybe not. Sometimes it’s best to skip the generic version—and such may be the case with Budeprion XL, a generic formulation of the antidepressant Wellbutrin XL; the makers of Budeprion XL are the subject of a class action lawsuit filed this week in California. The problem seems to be that the generic form of the drug is not as effective and possibly not as safe as the patented version, so the suit alleges. The FDA has so far said the drug is safe, but they could order a special clinical trial to better assess the safety and efficacy of the generic version.

Top Settlements

“Expedia-dot-CON?” Maybe that’s how the jingle should go after the recent judgement against the internet travel site. Unhappy customers who joined a class action lawsuit alleging breach of contract will see the travel giant fork over $184 million in settlement monies. What did they do? Expedia bundled the service-fee charges with taxes into a single line item, failing to disclose the separate amounts of each to consumers. Because Expedia only remits taxes based on the wholesale price—which it never disclosed to consumers—the taxes appear higher to consumers than they actually are, and Expedia is able to mask the considerable size of its service fees. Nice.