Week Adjourned: 2.25.11

Top Class Actions

Can you pay me now? Verizon Wireless has been hit with a wages and overtime class action this week. Ah—so that’s how they save you money…

Filed by a FiOS field manager, Ulysses Aburto, the suit alleges that Verizon told him and other FiOS field managers that they were salaried employees and therefore exempt from the overtime requirements of California wage and hour laws.

Ah, wait—maybe not… According to the complaint, Aburto and others did jobs that lacked the characteristics of exempt employment and were managers “in name only.” The plaintiffs “do not have managerial duties or authority and should therefore have been properly classified as non-exempt employees,” Aburto claims. This misclassification by Verizon is part of a corporate policy and practice that is “affirmative, willful and deceitful,” Aburto alleges.

And Aburto claims that the company cut costs by refusing to pay and forcing employees to work through mandated meal and rest breaks. Class members work between 20 and 40 hours of overtime per workweek but are not paid for that time, the suit says.

The complaint alleges unlawful business practices, failure to pay overtime or provide accurate Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 2.25.11”

Week Adjourned: 2.18.11

Top Class Actions

Now here’s a hairy situation—(or not…) Merck Frost and its affiliated companies are facing a Canadian class action over allegations that men who used Propecia or Proscar suffered continuing sexual dysfunction as a side effect of treatment.  

FYI—Propecia and Proscar are prescribed as a cosmetic treatment for male pattern hair loss also known as androgenic alopecia. The product monograph discloses that some men may experience sexual dysfunction but states that the symptoms disappear after cessation of the drug.

That, apparently, is not what happened in Michael Miller’s case—he’s the brave man who filed the suit. 

Mr. Miller, who is in his early 20s, was concerned when his hair started to thin in some areas. Completely understandable. So he went to his doctor who presumably prescribed Proscar in the hope that it would stop his hair from thinning. After about a month of use he noticed a drastic change in his behavior, “I lost my interest in sex and I felt anxious in social situations for no particular reason,” he says. While on the drug, his symptoms of sexual dysfunction increased as the Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 2.18.11”

Week Adjourned: 2.11.11

Top Class Actions

Proctor & Gamble in a fix over Fixodent—they got hit with a class action lawsuit this week over allegations that their product caused the plaintiffs neurological illness

According to an investigative report by ABC News, the two lead plaintiffs, Mark Jacoby of New York and Anne Coffman of Maine, are both wheelchair bound as a result of being exposed to high levels of the mineral zinc—also known as zinc poisoning. Zinc poisoning interferes with the ability of the body to absorb copper. Both Jacoby and Coffman, and their respective physicians reportedly believe that their health problems are a result of the zinc found in Fixodent.

Just in case zinc poisoning is news to you—a paper published in Neurology in 2008 showed that “Denture cream contains zinc, and chronic excessive use may result in hypocupremia and serious neurologic disease.” In 2009, Proctor & Gamble updated the warning label on Fixodent stating that “prolonged zinc intake may be linked to adverse health effects.” 

Just as an fyi—products linked to the denture cream poisoning also include PoliGrip, and Super PoliGrip. 

Top Settlements

Bet Pfizer had some hot flashes this week. The maker of the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) Prempro, agreed to pay $330 million this week, to resolve claims that the menopause drug caused breast cancer. The settlement brings to an end eight years of litigation including some 2,200 related Prempro lawsuits that alleged Wyeth, the company that developed Prempro and was subsequently bought out by Pfizer, knew of the cancer risk but was not forthcoming about it.

According to Bloomberg, over 6 million women used Prempro and other related menopause medications to treat symptoms such as mood swings and hot flashes. Then, in 2002, results from a large cohort study, The Women’s Health Initiative, showed a link to cancer.

Pfizer reportedly faced over 10,000 lawsuits alleging that Prempro caused breast cancer in its users. The company has settled many of them in the past five months, Bloomberg reports. Those settlements include “8,000 cases consolidated in federal court in Arkansas and other cases in state courts in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Minnesota.”

BofA over its limit on overdraft fees. A federal lawsuit alleging that America’s largest bank charged excessive overdraft fees looks likely to be settled. BofA reportedly states in a recent court filing that it has reached a memorandum of understanding to settle the claims in the suit by paying $410 million. Isn’t that really just giving the money back to the people it was gouged from in the first place? That is, if the settlement is approved in court.

The suit is one of several filed against several banks from plaintiffs in 14 states, which were consolidated in a federal court in Florida. Other banks named in related suits include Wells Fargo and Citibank.

Be interesting to see how this plays out.

In the meantime—I’ll see you at the bar—coz that’s it for this week.

Week Adjourned: 2.4.11

Top Class Actions

Phantom of the iPhone. Do you have a phantom AT&T account? It seems for every new technological gadget that requires connectivity—there’s an opportunity to take advantage. Most recently, AT&T Mobility got hit with a potential class action lawsuit over allegations associated with iPhone and iPad accounts. The suit claims that “AT&T’s bills systematically overstate the amount of data used on each data transaction involving an iPhone or iPad account.” And, the suit alleges that AT&T bills customers on data transactions even when customers have disabled their phones. Doesn’t a transaction require more than one party?—one party in the know?

The named plaintiff, Patrick Hendricks, claims that AT&T’s overbilling “was discovered by an independent consulting firm retained by plaintiff’s counsel, which conducted a two-month study of AT&T’s billion practices for data usage, and found that AT&T systematically overstated web server traffic by 7 percent to 14 percent, and in some instances by over 300 percent. So, for example, if an iPhone user downloads a 50 KB website, AT&T’s bill would typically overstated the traffic as 53.5 KB (a 7 percent overcharge) to as high as 150 KB (a 300 percent overcharge),” the complaint states.

Here’s the kicker—Hendricks also alleges that “Not only does AT&T systematically overbill for every data transaction, it also bills for phantom data traffic when there is no actual data usage initiated by the customer. This was discovered by the same independent consulting firm, which purchased an iPhone from an AT&T store, immediately disabled all push notifications and location services, confirmed that no email account was configured on the phone, closed all applications, and let the phone sit untouched for 10 days. During this 10-day period, AT&T billed the test account for 35 Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 2.4.11”