Week Adjourned: 2.27.10

Top Class ActionsGetting charged for a phone that hasn't yet graduated to smart?

Lacking Phone Smarts at Verizon. For those of us who do not have ‘smart phones’ but are getting dinged for data service, you may be interested to know that Verizon got hit with a class action this week over this very issue.  

According to the press release on the lawsuit, Verizon charged $1.99 at a time for data service people were not using—or should that be could not use. So the lawsuit is seeking to reimburse folks who got dinged. There’s no doubt about it, at the rate we use our cell phones, $1.99 could certainly add up. But this suit also begs the larger question—do you know if your phone is smart? (mine certainly isn’t!)

Top Settlements

Lawsuit Stops Bouncing Around. A 30-year old man from Chicago who was chronically injured on a mini-trampoline when he was in the eighth grade, has finally received justice in the form of a $14.7 million settlement.

Ryan Murray, who is quadriplegic as a result of the accident, sued the Chicago Board of Education. After several years of wrangling—you can sue a government entity—no you can’t—yes you can if the action that led to the injury was intentional… a decision was finally reached: Yes—he could sue and he would have his day in court.

Fortunately, however, Mr. Murray will actually be able to get on with his life as the whole thing has been settled—out of court. Talk about stalling tactics.

Nothing Like Paying a Premium. Boy, does it pay to have insurance. Remember Moneygram? No? MoneyGram International was the subject of a securities class action in May of last year, over allegations that it committed securities fraud stemming from $1.6 billion in losses it suffered on subprime and other risky asset-backed securities in 2007 and 2008.  

I can see how this would have gotten lost in the noise of all the other similar lawsuits last year…Anyway, I digress. 

The lawsuit was settled this week for a cool $80 million—$60 million of which will be paid by its insurance company to the shareholders who took the losses. While this is nowhere near the value of the assets lost, the deal certainly puts the importance of insurance in a entirely new light…

Reports in the media state that the three directors of Moneygram who were on the board when everything went sideways, remain in their seats but will not seek re-election. That’s big of them. 

I wonder how many of these types of settlements insurance companies can afford to pay out on… 

That’s it for this week—see you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 2.19.10

Top Class Actions Buzz off Google Buzz?

The Internet’s A-Buzz. Over Google Buzz—specifically a class action lawsuit filed by a Harvard Law student, Eva Hibnick, who is alleging that her contacts and contact information were made public by Google when it introduced Buzz, without her authorization.

Here, here I say. I also logged onto my email the morning Google Buzz was launched to find a list of my contacts displayed by the new social networking program. What? Who asked you to do that—was my first thought. It was completely inappropriate—not to mention unnecessary. 

As Ms. Hibnick so appropriately put it—she was “shocked to learn that my email contacts may have been shared with others without my knowledge or consent. I signed up for a private email service, not a social networking site.” 

The lawsuit seeks to enjoin Google from continuing to operate Buzz without appropriate internet privacy safeguards and it seeks damages, including statutory damages of $100 per day per user.

Enjoin, by the way—in legal terms—means to direct, require, command, or admonish. Personally, I favor command. 

Top Settlements

Apropos for Black History Month… History was made on Thursday—when a settlement over a long- Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 2.19.10”

Week Adjourned: 2.12.10

Top Class Actions The Acreage Florida

Community Fights Cancer Cluster. What would you do if your neighborhood got the tag line ‘cancer cluster’? Well, several families living in West Palm Beach have filed a potential class action lawsuit against Pratt & Whitney over that very issue. Unfortunately, as the term denotes, the ramifications are serious and affect more than just property values—which is what the class action is about. As many as 10,000 homeowners who live near the Pratt & Whitney plant in The Acreage, Florida could be affected.

According to the complaint, on  February 1, 2010 the Palm Beach County Health department confirmed that The Acreage has a cancer cluster—a higher than normal rate of brain tumors among children in The Acreage area, which is located very near the Pratt & Whitney plant.

The source of the illness and the resulting reduction in property values is—you guessed it—toxic chemicals—no surprise there. And it’s quite a list of poisons including oil, sodium cyanide, thorium dispersed nickel, construction debris, unknown solid waste (keyword: unknown), solvents, solvent sludges, asbestos, fuel, paints, pesticide and herbicide residue, benzontrite, mercury, and commercial laboratory chemicals. 

Oh—let’s not forget the 1,4-dioxane, also among the contaminants on site, which the US Department of Health Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 2.12.10”

Week Adjourned: 2.5.10

Sticking Gas Pedal Makes Stop Optional?Top Class Actions

Toyota: “Moving Forward” Alright. This week is really the week of the Toyota class action. I have to be honest—I’ve lost count as to the number of lawsuits that have been filed, but I did see a report today that put the number at 29, and counting. That may just be some kind of world record. 

At the heart of the issue is the now infamous sticking gas pedals. (It puts a whole new spin on the expression ‘give it some gas’—and certainly creates a little irony for Toyota’s tagline: moving forward.) 

Of course, it’s not really funny, given that hundreds if not thousands or possibly millions of people will be at the very least inconvenienced by the recalls, now totalling some eight million cars—but it will also affect people’s livelihoods, and at worst there are reports of injuries. 

In the highly unlikely event you’ve not heard about this issue, you can find more out all the recalls here.  

Overdoing the Overdraft thingAgain. Yet another overdraft fees lawsuit was filed this week, this time the accused party is Fifth Third Bank. The lead plaintiffs in this lawsuit allege that they were illegally charged overdraft fees for purchases made on the ATM and debit cards, even when they had enough funds in their accounts to pay Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 2.5.10”