Week Adjourned: 10.28.11

Weekly wrap of class action lawsuits and settlements for the week of October 28, 2011.

Top Class Actions

Blackout at BlackBerry. Well—it took a while—but it’s finally here—BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) is facing a potential class action lawsuit over the major service interruption which occurred on October 11, 2011. The consumer fraud lawsuit was filed on behalf of all US consumers who are currently under an agreement and using a BlackBerry device.

According to the legal counsel, although the users’ contracts are through Sprint and not RIM, they pay the company fees through the carrier. The lawsuit estimates that RIM takes in  roughly $3.4 million in revenue per day from the services paid through the wireless carriers. Better SMS this one.

Hey Oreck, when the Light is on the Germs are…where? If all I need to get rid of the common cold or flu viruses is a vacuum—I wonder what untapped potential lurks within my food processor? Oh, hold on a minute…Oreck is facing a class action lawsuit alleging that claims the company makes about its “flu-fighting” vacuum cleaners and air purifiers are false and misleading. Really?

The federal consumer fraud suit claims that Oreck, in its advertising, states its Halo vacuum and air purifier can “eliminate common viruses, germs and allergens, thereby helping to prevent the illnesses they cause.” The lawsuit claims that Oreck “represented to consumers that the products used scientifically proven technology to eliminate common viruses, germs and allergens, thereby helping to prevent the illnesses they cause.” And, Oreck claims its products can prevent colds, diarrhea, stomach upsets, asthma and allergies. “Unfortunately for plaintiffs and the class, defendants’ claims are not adequately supported by credible, scientific testing or other substantiation, and are not true.”

Thelaw suit goes on to state that “… these representations were false, deceptive and inaccurate. As such, Oreck’s actions violated the Magnum Moss Warranty Act (‘MMWA’), breached express warranties made by defendants, breached implied contractual warranties imposed by law, violated numerous California consumer protection statutes, and violated New York consumer protection statutes and common laws.

Top Settlements

Unpaid overtime to be paid – at last. A $4 million settlement has been reached in an unpaid overtime class action against Sutherland Global Servies Ltd.

The lawsuit, brought by call center telemarketers in 2005, (yes – 6 years ago – not kidding) alleged that Sutherland didn’t pay its call center employees the overtime owed.

The lawsuit was originally brought by two Rochester employees of the Perinton-based process outsourcing company, and grew to 10 named employees and hundreds of unnamed workers, all of whom claimed they regularly worked more than 40 hours a week but were not paid overtime.

Although Sutherland denied the allegations, it agreed to a $4 million settlement to be divided among members of the class and U.S. District Judge David G. Larimer gave final approval to the settlement last week, ending the litigation.

Ok—That’s enough for this week. See you at the bar.

Week Adjourned: 10.21.11

The weekly wrap up of class action lawsuits and lawsuit settlements for October 21, 2011

Top Class Actions

Sex discrimination—still? Really? Yup—and this time the company doing the dirty was owned by a woman—Ruth U. Fertel. However, she passed away in 2002, and it looks like things have regressed since then. And the company is….Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Four former and current employees filed a sex discrimination class action alleging they were discriminated against for pay and promotions.

The women’s jobs ranged from national sales manager to bartender, and they brought the suit in October 2010. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has now granted the Ruth’s Chris Steak House discrimination suit plaintiffs the right to add class action claims to the lawsuit.

The women also allege that they suffered sexual advances in the work environment at the steak house chain, including physical groping, sexual innuendo and retaliation against those who complained or reported sexual harassment. Hey—the meat’s on the plate boys…

Top Settlements

Who says the little guy can’t win? A $160k settlement has been awarded to a former employee of retail giant Target, ending his discrimination lawsuit against the company. Jeremy Schott, who filed the lawsuit, took medical leave in 2004 due to his experiencing a seizure. He was 29 years old at the time. In his lawsuit, he alleged that when he returned to work his weekly hours had been reduced from 17 to eight. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Target on Schott’s behalf, alleging a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Target’s counsel contended that Schott’s work hours were decreased because of poor performance and a lack of motivation. The parties agreed to settle for $160,000. As part of the settlement Target has agreed to designate an ADA coordinator and implement a policy regarding reasonable accommodations.

Defective Pool Slide Settlement. This is very sad… The widower and child of a young woman who died as a result of a defective inflatable pool slide purchased from Toys “R” Us have been awarded a $20.6 million settlement this week by the judge hearing the personal injury lawsuit.

The accident that took Robin Aleo’s life happened five years ago, when she was just 29 years old. She had an 18-month old daughter at the time. Aleo was at a pool party at a relative’s home when she decided to go down the six foot Banzai Falls slide head first. When she neared the bottom the slide suddenly bottomed out and Aleo hit her head on the edge of the pool, breaking her neck and sending her to hospital unable to breathe on her own and paralyzed. She died at the hospital the following day.

According to a report in the EagleTribune, Aleo is the second person to have allegedly been paralyzed by an incident involving the Banzai Falls slide. According to court records, more than 4,000 of the slides were sold nationwide, without having been tested to see if it met federal safety standards.

Ok – That’s it for this week. See you at the bar.


Week Adjourned: 10.15.11

Top Class Actions

Well, Hello…Something fruity is going on here—or not as the case may be… A proposed consumer fraud class action lawsuit has been filed against General Mills alleging the company misled consumers about the nutritional and health qualities of its fruit snacks, specifically Fruit Roll Ups, Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Gushers, as well as other similar products.

The lawsuit claims that between October 15, 2005 to the present (the “class period”) General Mills engaged in a widespread marketing campaign to mislead consumers about the nutritional and health qualities of its Fruit Snacks. Specifically, the suit states, “Defendant made misleading statements that its Products were nutritious, healthful to consume, and better than similar fruit snacks.”

The suit further states “In fact, Defendant’s Fruit Snacks contained trans fat, added sugars, and artificial food dyes; lacked significant amounts of real, natural fruit; and had no dietary fiber. Thus, although the Products were marketed as being healthful and nutritious for children and adults alike, selling these Fruit Snacks was little better than giving candy to children.” Umm…Maybe suitable for Halloween treats?

Top Settlements

Did your internal capacitor prematurely fail? No—I mean the one in your TV! On October 3, 2011, preliminary approval was granted to a proposed defective product class action settlement with Philips Electronics North America Corporation (“Philips”).

The settlement proposes to resolve lawsuits that allege certain Philips and Magnavox televisions suffer from a defect that causes internal components (called capacitors) to prematurely fail, resulting in the televisions becoming inoperable. The proposed settlement would entitle qualifying settlement class members, who purchased new or received as a gift new one of the Philips or Magnavox plasma televisions with the model numbers listed below, to monetary benefits or vouchers.

The model numbers of the Philips and Magnavox plasma televisions included in the proposed class action settlement are:

50PF9830A/37 42PF9630A/37

50PF9731D/37 42PF7321D/37

50PF9631D/37 42PF7320A/37

50PF9630A/37 42PF7220A/37

50PF9431D/37 42PF5321D/37

50PF7321D/37 50MF231D/37

50PF7320A/37 50PF7220A/37

In addition, only those television sets with a serial number reflecting a manufacturing date between November 1, 2005 through December 31, 2006 qualify for participation in this settlement.

The Court has scheduled a hearing in December to determine whether to grant final approval to the settlement.

To be eligible to receive the benefits made available pursuant to this settlement, class members must submit to the claims administrator a claim form that is postmarked by February 28, 2012.

To obtain additional information about the settlement, to determine whether your television qualifies, or to obtain a claim form, you can visit the settlement website at PhilipsPlasmaTVsettlement.com. You can also contact the settlement administrator by calling (855) 477-4407, or by writing to Philips Plasma TV Settlement, c/o Dahl, Inc., P.O. Box 2061, Faribault, MN 55021.

Service gratuity not quite included? This one’s for anyone who ever worked in the service industry and had their tips withheld—and I’m sure there’s no shortage of you out there… A $7 million settlement has been reached by current and past employees of the Cranwell Resort, Spa, & Golf Club in Lenox, ending an employee class-action lawsuit that alleged the resort’s management illegally withheld the workers tips

If the settlement receives final court approval, approximately 700 food, beverage, and spa employees who worked at the upmarket Berkshire resort between 2001 and 2011 will share in the money. A final settlement hearing is scheduled for November 2011. This is the second of two lawsuits, filed over four years ago, claimed that the employees were not paid the full service charges that were added to hotel bills, which is against state law.

Ok—That’s it for this week. See you at the bar—where I will be repairing my personal, internal capacitor.

Week Adjourned: 10.7.11

Weekly wrap-up of new lawsuits and settlements as of October 7, 2011

Top Class Actions

Ok, this one’s not a Class Action, but it’s news you should know about…Actos (pioglitazone) made the news this week with the launch of a nationwide Actos lawsuit filed by people who have taken the diabetes medication and allege it is associated with the development of bladder cancer. Although the risk for bladder cancer isn’t exactly news, the filing of the lawsuit is—it is not a class action, rather each qualifying individual will seek damages consistent with the merits of his or her individual case.

If you have or are taking Actos and are interested in this suit, you must meet basic criteria including that you have actually taken the drug and developed bladder cancer, sadly.

Actos is one of the most popular diabetes drugs in the world. Recently, however, studies have shown that Actos use is linked to serious side effects, particularly bladder cancer. These studies show that the longer one takes Actos, the greater the risk of developing bladder cancer. As a result of this mounting scientific evidence, the FDA has issued warnings regarding Actos and bladder cancer. In France, the French Agency for Safety of Health Products recalled Actos from the market on June 9, 2011. Regulators in Germany recommended that physicians not prescribe it.

FYI—time limits exist that limit the amount of time you have to join the lawsuit, so if you think you may have a claim check it out now.

Top Settlements

Oh Happy Honda—or not—as the case may be. A federal court has approved a settlement of a defective product class action filed against American Honda Motor Co. Inc. The lawsuit alleges that Honda failed to fix or warn customers that the sun visors in its hugely popular Honda Civics were defective.

Specifically, the Honda Civic sun visor lawsuit claims that defects on the sun visors on some Honda Civics caused the visors to split apart, possibly impairing their function. The class action lawsuit also alleges that Honda should have corrected the defective sun visors or should have disclosed the defect at the time of sale. Yes, but that would have been the right thing to do.

You are eligible as a class members of the “Honda Civic sun visor class action” if you are a U.S. resident who are current or former owners or lessees of one of many Civic models, including but not limited to all 2006-08 Civic. There are MANY more models which you can check out here. 

Here’s another relevant detail, as part of the settlement, Honda has agreed to extend the warranty on sun visors on Class Vehicles to seven years or 100,000 miles, whichever first occurs. Wait—there’s more—Honda has also agreed to reimburse Class Members for out-of-pocket expenses incurred prior to the Effective Date of the settlement for the repair or replacement of a sun visor or sun visors on Class Vehicles. If you are a class member, you are eligible for a cash reimbursement if:

  • The Class Member has paid out-of-pocket to repair or replace the sun visor or sun visors in his or her Class Vehicle prior to the Effective Date of the settlement;
  • The cost of repair or replacement was not previously reimbursed by insurance, warranty, or goodwill; and
  • The Class Member mails a claim form within two years from the date of the sun visor repair or replacement, or within 90 days of the Effective Date of the settlement, whichever period of time is longer.

Another one for the books—the real estate trust Dynex Capital Inc, has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a New York class action lawsuit over securities in the sale of bonds backed by thousands of loans on manufactured homes.

In March 2011, U.S. District Judge Harold Baer issued one of the few decisions to ever have certified a class of investors pursuing federal fraud claims in connection with the sale of asset-backed bonds. The case is an important one for investors because it provides a road map for prosecuting fraud claims involving other asset backed bonds on a class-wide basis.

The lawsuit was filed in 2005 by Teamsters Local 445 Freight Division Pension Fund and Dynex lost multiple attempts to have the case thrown out of Court. The settlement still must be approved by Judge Baer of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.

The Plaintiff charged that Dynex, its subsidiary Merit Securities Corp., and senior executives at both companies lied about the quality of mobile home loans that were collateral for bonds sold as Merit Series 12-1 and Merit Series 13 from Feb. 7, 2000 to May 13, 2004.

According to the lawsuit, Dynex and its representatives made misleading statements that artificially inflated the value of the bonds, understated the amount of delinquencies and repossessions affecting the bonds and violated its own publicly stated underwriting guidelines in making poor-quality loans. Defendants also made false statements about the deteriorating performance of the downgraded bonds because the company was scrambling to protect itself in the midst of a dramatic financial collapse, the lawsuit charged.

Ok—That’s it for this week. See you at the bar—that’s poolside baby.