Week Adjourned: 6.29.12 – Jergens, PNC Bank, Asbestos Mesothelioma

The weekly wrap of class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending June 29, 2012.

Top Lawsuits

Were you a soft touch for Jergens Skin Firming Daily Toning Moisturizer? Kao USA, the makers of the moisturizer that does everything except take the garbage out, is facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit over allegations that perhaps it was overstating the benefits of the product. Now, there’s a surprise.

The federal lawsuit alleges “Kao makes erroneous claims in the packaging, labeling, marketing, advertising and promotion for the Product, such as falsely asserting that it is ‘clinically proven to reduce the appearance of cellulite,’ that it will tighten a user’s skin, and produce improved resiliency, elasticity, and firmness.” The Jergens class action lawsuit also states that these claims are “erroneous, false and misleading to a reasonable consumer.”

“Kao’s Product sales were based upon this false promise and misleading advertisements targeting vulnerable consumers which cause, and continues to cause, consumers to pay a price premium for the Product,” the lawsuit claims. “Plaintiff and other purchasers of the Product have suffered injury in fact and have lost money as a result of Kao’s false misrepresentations. Plaintiff purchased the Product because of the claims made by Defendant, and would not have purchased the product if she had known that this advertising was false.”

The lead Plaintiff claims she relied on the misleading statements on the product’s bottle in her decision to purchase the $6 product. She is seeking damages and equitable relief for a proposed Class of all California residents who purchased Jergens Skin Firming Daily Toning Moisturizer for personal use. Sign me up!

Top Settlements

Cha-Ching…the penny drops on PNC Bank. They agreed this week to pay $90 million in the settlement of a class action lawsuit accusing the bank of improperly manipulating its customers’ debit card transactions in order to generate excess overdraft fees revenues. No comment.

The PNC Bank lawsuit, part of multi-district litigation involving more than 30 different banks entitled In re Checking Account Overdraft Litigation, is pending before U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King in Miami.

The lawsuit claims that PNC Bank’s internal computer system re-sequenced the actual order of its customers’ debit card and ATM transactions, by posting them in highest-to-lowest dollar amount rather than in the actual order in which they were initiated by customers and authorized by the bank. According to the lawsuit, PNC Bank’s practice resulted in its customers being charged substantially more in overdraft fees than if the debit card and ATM transactions had been posted in the order in which they were initiated and authorized.

PNC Bank is not the first bank involved in this multi-district litigation to settle similar claims. In addition to a $410 million settlement with Bank of America approved last year, settlements with JPMorgan Chase Bank, Citizens Bank and TD Bank have been announced in recent months.

Asbestos Settlement. On a bittersweet note, Bobbie Izell, who worked in construction in the 1960s and 1970s, and his wife have been awarded $48 million by a California court in settlement of their asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit.

The lawsuit named Union Carbide and a number of other defendants including Riverside Cement and California Portland Cement Company as defendants.

Izell developed mesothelioma during his 30 year career as a cement contractor in the construction industry. He built thousands of homes, commercial buildings, and churches, many of which contained asbestos. Izell also bought and renovated properties and many of the products he used for the renovation contained asbestos. Consequently, between 1947 and 1980, Izell suffered consistent exposure to the carcinogen.

The asbestos lawsuit was filed by Izell and his wife shortly after Izell was diagnosed with asbestos mesothelioma. According to media reports, during the trial Union Carbide argued that Calidria, which is the type of asbestos they manufactured, does or did not cause cancer. However, evidence was produced in the form of corporate memos which revealed that Union Carbide staff and physicians were aware the material was making works ill, but this information was not made public.

Ok—That’s a wrap. See you at the bar!

Week Adjourned: 6.22.12 – Adidas, LinkedIn, Paxil False Advertising

A weekly wrap of top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending June 22, 2012. This week’s top stories include Adidas, LinkedIn, Paxil False Advertising

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Barefoot Blues? Adidas is facing a potential consumer fraud class action lawsuit. Filed this week, the lawsuit alleges that Adidas adiPure training shoes, which capitalize on the “barefoot running” fitness craze, are falsely marketed.

Filed by plaintiff Joseph Rocco, from New York, the adiPure class action lawsuit claims Rocco bought a $90 pair of adiPure shoes that did not deliver the increased training efficiency and decreased risk of injury promised in advertisements.

Instead, the lawsuit claims, the shoes actually increase the risk for bruising and foot damage, due to their decreased padding and other structural differences from more traditional running shoes, the lawsuit states. Rocco said he and other customers were never warned about the potential hazards and that, as a result, he suffered compound fractures after training in the shoes. Yikes!

The lawsuit seeks to certify a class of everyone who purchased adiPure shoes since they were launched in August 2011. Rocco is seeking a refund for the shoes, as well as statutory damages.

Password Compromised? LinkedIn Corp is facing an internet privacy class action lawsuit resulting from a recent hacking that compromised some 6.5 million registered users’ passwords, which reportedly is less than 5 percent of LinkedIn’s user base.

The LinkedIn lawsuit was filed by Katie Szpyrka, who has been a registered account holder with LinkedIn since 2010, and who paid $26.95 per month to upgrade to a “premium” LinkedIn account.

The lawsuit claims LinkedIn “failed to properly safeguard its users’ digitally stored personally identifiable information including email addresses, passwords, and login credentials.” The lawsuit also states, “Through its Privacy Policy, LinkedIn promises its users that ‘all information that [they] provide [to LinkedIn] will be protected with industry standard protocols and technology. In direct contradiction to this promise, LinkedIn failed to comply with basic industry standards by maintaining millions of users’ PII in its servers’ databases in a weak encryption format, and without implementing other crucial security measures.” This, the suit alleges, is in violation of the company’s user agreement and privacy policy.

Top Settlements

Paxil False Advertising Settlement. Were you adversely affected by Paxil? A preliminary settlement has been reached in a Paxil class action lawsuit, and if approved, will provide money to California residents who were 18 years old or older and who paid for any portion of the price of the prescription antidepressant while living in California from January 14, 1999 through January 1, 2003, and who qualify under the settlement (these people are called “Class Members”).

If you’re included, you may ask for a payment, or you can exclude yourself from, or object to, the settlement. The Superior Court for the State of California will have a hearing to decide whether to approve the settlement so that payments can be issued.

The lawsuit claims that GlaxoSmithKline falsely advertised and promoted Paxil as being non-habit forming or non-addictive and that GlaxoSmithKline’s advertisements and promotional materials failed to disclose the risk of symptoms from stopping or discontinuing Paxil. GlaxoSmithKline denies each of these allegations.

What Can I Get from the Paxil Settlement?

The Paxil settlement provides monetary compensation as follows: a full refund of the actual Out-of-Pocket Expenses of claimants who purchased Paxil during the Class Period and who have valid documentary Proof of Purchase, provided that the total amount of payments to claimants with documented Proof of Purchase cannot exceed $8,500,000.00.

For claimants without Proof of Purchase, GlaxoSmithKline shall pay actual Out-of-Pocket Expenses up to $80.00 per claimant, provided that the total amount paid to claimants without Proof of Purchase cannot exceed $500,000.00. GlaxoSmithKline will also: (1) make a charitable contribution of $1,000,000.00 to be shared equally by four California mental health charities; (2) agree to certain limits on any future advertising for Paxil; and (3) include certain information about Paxil on its corporate website.

How Can I File a Paxil Settlement Claim?

You must complete the Claim Form, which you can obtain at CApaxilclassaction.com, and mail it no later than October 10, 2012 to the address on the form. Whether you receive a payment and the amount you get depends on whether you have a valid claim, how much Paxil you paid for, whether or not you have valid Proof of Purchase, and how many valid claims are filed.

How to Opt Out of or Object to the Paxil Settlement

If you don’t want a payment from the Paxil settlement, or if you don’t want to be legally bound by the settlement, you must exclude yourself by October 10, 2012, or you won’t be able to sue, or continue to sue, GlaxoSmithKline about the legal claims in this case. If you exclude yourself, you cannot get a payment from this settlement. If you stay in the settlement, you may choose to object to it, if you do so by October 10, 2012. You may both object and still participate in the settlement and receive money. The detailed notice explains how to exclude yourself or object.

The Court will hold a hearing in this case, called Grair, et al. v. GlaxoSmithKline, Inc., Case No. BC 288536, to consider whether to approve the settlement and a request by the lawyers representing the Class for fees and expenses. You may ask to appear and speak at the hearing, but you don’t have to.

For more information, go to A detailed notice is available at CApaxilclassaction.com or write to the Paxil Settlement Administratorc/o GCG, P.O. Box 9839Dublin, OH 43017-5739.

Ok –That’s a wrap. See you at the bar!


Week Adjourned: 6.15.12 – Gamestop, Novartis, Krossland Calling Cards

The weekly wrap of top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending June 15, 2012. Top stories include Gamestop, Novartis Pharma Sales Reps and Krossland Calling Cards.

It’s been a week for wage and hour lawsuits and settlements…

Top Lawsuits

Paycheck Games? Gamestop got hit with a wage and hour class action lawsuit this week, alleging the company  committed several California Labor Code violations including systematically neglecting to pay their employees for all hours worked. Really?

In the Gamestop wage and hour class action, employees alleged in their lawsuit that they were required to clock out of Gamestop’s timekeeping system and continue working off the clock to fulfill their daily tasks. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Gamestop “consistently does not allocate enough labor hours such that there is not enough time for the employees to complete their required duties within the allocated labor hours.” As a result, the Complaint claims that these employees were systematically denied compensation for the actual number of hours worked. Sound familiar?

Wait—there’s more. The lawsuit also asserts that the Gamestop employees were regularly denied meal and rest breaks, and there was no policy in place to compensate employees for missed meal or rest breaks. Specifically, the lawsuit claims that, “Plaintiff and California Class Members are required by [Gamestop] to work alone, or with an employee that cannot be left alone in [a Gamestop] store, for the first five (5) hours of their scheduled shift.”

The case, filed June 5, is pending in San Diego, CA, in case you know anyone…

Top Settlements

Continuing with our theme of wage & hour lawsuits…

Pharma Sales Reps Get Their Due. This time a settlement—a final approval, in fact,—of a $99 million settlement in the nationwide wage and hour class action brought by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. sales representatives.  http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/settlements/16682/99-million-settlement-approved-in-novartis-sales.html

On May 31, Judge Paul A. Crotty of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York approved the settlement following a fairness hearing held the same day. This follows the preliminary approval of the settlement granted by Crotty in January. The settlements are the result of two lawsuits filed in 2006 citing violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and California and New York laws (30 HRR 91, 1/30/12).

The final order and judgment allocated $70,758,500 to settlement awards for class members; $27,608,000 to attorneys’ fees; $400,000 to reimbursement of litigation fees; and $233,500 to class representatives and others involved in the case.

The $233,500 included compensatory damages and service awards ranging from $20,000 to $40,000 for each of five named plaintiffs.

And now for something completely different—how about a little consumer fraud? (Served with a healthy portion of “Oh no you don’t”.)

Kross To Bear? Krossland Communications—Krossland calling cards?? Ringing any bells? Well, a settlement has been reached. Here’s the summary notice, “issued in accordance with the Court order dated May 21, 2012 preliminarily approving the settlement of a consumer fraud class action entitled Carol Galvan, et al. v. Krossland Communications, Inc., United States District Court, Central District of California, Case No. 8:08-CV-00999-JVS (ANx).”

Lolis Tackwood represents a class of pre-paid calling card customers who purchased certain calling cards distributed by Krossland between August 26, 2004 and May 21, 2012, other than for purposes of re-sale, and other than calling cards distributed by Locus, AT&T, T-Mobile, Boost, Total Call and IDT. A list of those cards affected by this settlement can be reviewed by accessing http://www.KrosslandSettlement.com .

If consumers who purchased these calling cards submit a Claim Form, they can receive a Refund PIN that can be used to make telephone calls to any location in North, Central or South America, at the rate of 20 cents/minute to any telephone number within the United States and any landline telephone number in North, Central or South America, and 50 cents/minute to any cellular telephone number outside the United States in those locations.

There is a total cap of $250,000 on the dollar amount of Refund PINs, less certain fees and costs. Individual claims are capped at $16.00 in Refund PINs, rounded up to the nearest 50 cent increment, based on 30% of the face value of consumers’ eligible Krossland Calling Card purchases during the Class Period, subject to possible proration as described in the full class settlement notice. The Refund PIN may be used within 1 year of activation, and a deadline for using this PIN shall be provided with the PIN. Settlement Class members can submit a Proof of Claim Form online at http://www.KrosslandSettlement.com or by requesting a Proof of Claim Form from the Settlement Administrator and submitting it to the address below.

To be excluded from this settlement, or to object to the settlement, Settlement Class Members must follow the instructions in the Notice described below. The deadline to opt out of the settlement is August 6, 2012. The deadline to submit any objection is July 27, 2012.

This is only a summary of the settlement. For additional information regarding this settlement, the full Notice of Class Action Settlement (“Notice”) is available at http://www.KrosslandSettlement.com.”

Ok—Happy Friday Folks. See you at the bar! Oh yes!

Week Adjourned: 6.8.12 – Catalina Restaurants, NobelTel, Hilton LAX

Weekly wrap of top class action lawsuits and settlements, for the week ending June 8, 2012; top stories include Catalina Restaurant Group, NobelTel, and Hilton LAX hotel

Top Lawsuits

Overtime Violations on the Menu at Catalina. First up this week, an overtime  class action lawsuit. This one filed against Catalina Restaurant Group Inc. and JoJo’s California Family Restaurants, Inc. (“Catalina”) for alleged wage and hour  violations.

Specifically? Violations of California labor laws in regards to overtime pay and requiring their employees to work off-the-clock without being paid for all their hours worked. McDermott, et al. vs. Catalina Restaurant Group Inc. and JoJo’s California Family Restaurants, Inc., was filed by attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik, who are representing the plaintiffs.

According to the class action lawsuit, the restaurant “did not have in place an immutable timekeeping system to accurately record and pay Plaintiff and other California Class Members for the actual number of hours these employees worked each day, including overtime hours worked.” Specifically, the lawsuit claims that Catalina “consistently did not allocate enough labor hours such that there was not enough time for Plaintiff and California Class Members to complete their required duties.” As a result, the Complaint alleges Plaintiff and California Class Members were forced to clock out of Catalina’s timekeeping system, but were still required to perform additional work for Catalina for which they were not compensated for.

Furthermore, the complaint also alleges that the Plaintiff and California Class Members received non-discretionary quarterly bonuses from Catalina, but Catalina failed to include this extra bonus compensation in the regular rate of pay for the purposes of calculating the correct overtime pay rates owed to these employees. The failure to include the bonus compensation in the regular rate of pay for overtime purposes, according to the complaint, “has resulted in a systematic underpayment of overtime compensation” to the Plaintiff and members of the California Class.

The Complaint further claims that as a result of Catalina’s failure to record all hours worked by members of the California Class and Catalina’s failure to pay these employees the correct overtime rate, Catalina “failed to provide the Plaintiff and the other members of the California Class with complete and accurate wage statements which failed to show, among other things, the correct number of all hours worked and the correct overtime rate for overtime hours worked.”

Founding partner of Blumenthal, Nordrehaug, & Bhowmik, Norman Blumenthal asserts, “when employers exclude non-discretionary bonuses from the regular rate of pay when calculating their employee’s overtime rate, they are violating the law.”

Top Settlements

Ignobel NobelTel? A settlement has been proposed in the of a consumer fraud class action lawsuit captioned Sabaj et al. v. NobelTel, LLC et al. (aka, NobelTel Prepaid Calling Card class action lawsuit)

It could affect you if you purchased prepaid calling cards that were sold, serviced or distributed in California by Nobel, Inc., Nobel, Ltd., NobelCom, LLC, and NobelTel, LLC (“Defendants”), or if you purchased any prepaid calling services sold online and submitted a California billing address through www.nobelcom.com and www.enjoyprepaid.com, between April 8, 2006 and May 24, 2012 (“Nobel Prepaid Calling Cards”). If you made such a purchase, you may be a member of the Settlement Class. (This is only a summary legal notice. A detailed notice is available at the websites and toll free number listed below.)

What Is The NobelTel Lawsuit About?

The consumer fraud lawsuit claims that the Defendants did not inform consumers sufficiently about the applicable rates and charges for their prepaid calling cards and services, failed to deliver minutes voice prompted by the cards, and violated California consumer protection laws. Defendants deny they did anything wrong.

Am I Affected By The NobelTel Settlement?

You are a member of the Class if you purchased a prepaid calling card issued by Nobel, Inc., Nobel, Ltd., NobelCom, LLC, and NobelTel, LLC in California between April 8, 2006 and May 24, 2012. A list of eligible calling cards is available on the websites listed below.

You are also a member of the Class if you purchased any prepaid calling services sold online between April 8, 2006 and May 24, 2012 and you provided a California billing address through www.nobelcom.com and www.enjoyprepaid.com.

What Benefits Does The NobelTel Settlement Provide?

Defendants will provide 400,000 $5.00 calling card Settlement Personal Identification Numbers (“Settlement PINs”). These Settlement PINs can be used to make international and domestic calls, originating from California, to any place in the continental United States and to 879 foreign locations. A complete list of locations is available on the websites below. If you purchased Nobel Prepaid Calling Cards online, you may be entitled to receive one (1) Settlement PIN for up to the first $40 in Nobel Prepaid Calling Cards purchased, and an additional Settlement PIN for every $40 increment thereafter. If you purchased Nobel Prepaid Calling Cards in a physical store in California, you may be entitled to receive one (1) Settlement PIN for up to the first $20 in Nobel Prepaid Calling Cards purchased, and an additional Settlement PIN for every $20 increment thereafter, up to a maximum of six (6) Settlement PINs.

How Do I Make a Claim in the NobelTel Settlement?

If you purchased prepaid calling services sold online through www.nobelcom.com and www.enjoyprepaid.com, you will automatically receive the Settlement PIN(s) at the e-mail address you provided to Defendants without having to submit anything.

If you purchased a prepaid calling card in some other manner, you must submit a Refund Form to receive the Settlement PIN(s) by mail no later than November 20, 2012 to February 18, 2013.

What Are My Other Legal Rights?

Remain in the Settlement: You will be bound by the terms of the Settlement and give up your right to sue Defendants. To receive the Settlement PIN(s) see the instructions above.

Get out of the Settlement: If you wish to keep your right to sue Defendants, you must exclude yourself by August 13, 2012.

Remain in the Settlement and Object: If you stay in the Settlement, you can object to it by August 13, 2012. You give up your right to sue and are bound by all Court orders even if your objection is rejected.

A hearing in the case, Sabaj et al. v. NobelTel, LLC et al. Case No. BC435467 will be held on September 13, 2012 to consider whether to approve the Settlement and a request for attorneys’ fees and expenses up to $500,000.

Umm… the phone card that never runs out…

Hilton Settlement–No not with Paris, This one’s in LA…The Hilton Los Angeles Airport Hotel has agreed a $2.5 million settlement in the wage and hour  class action brought by 1,200 of its hotel workers. The Hilton lawsuit alleged that the hotel withheld wages, failed to pay overtime and failed to provide meal and rest breaks.

Filed in 2008, the unpaid overtime class action covers all hourly workers who worked at the hotel from 2004 to 2011.

Other allegations included in the employment lawsuit were that the Hilton LAX did not pay its employees for time spent preparing for work and putting on and taking off work uniforms that were required to be left at the hotel. And, that plaintiffs were required to fill out time sheets saying they took breaks whether they truthfully did or not.

Well – someone had to pay for Paris’ exploits…

Ok – that’s a wrap. See you at the bar. Happy Friday Folks.

Week Adjourned: 6.1.12 – Chobani Yogurt, Exxon Mobil, BMW Privacy

The weekly wrap on the latest class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending June 1, 2012; this week’s highlights include Chobani Yogurt, Exxon Mobil and BMW.

Top Lawsuits

Food fraud de jour… We’re talking about Chobani Greek Yogurt to be specific. The “nothing but good” yogurt, if you recall. Chobani Inc is facing a class action lawsuit over alleged deceptive marketing claims (aka consumer fraud)  concerning the use of certain terms on its Greek yogurt products. Who would have thought? Yogurt “terminology”? The Chobani lawsuit claims the terms violate federal and state food labeling laws.

Yes indeed, folks, that old chestnut—again. I bet if all food ingredients were listed by their chemical names—in any or all products—the average consumer would likely need a chemistry degree to read food labeling … although you pretty much do now…

Ah yes. The facts: Filed at the US District Court for the Northern District of California by California consumer Katie Kane, the lawsuit alleges Chobani’s use of ‘evaporated cane juice’, ‘all natural ingredients’ and ‘only natural ingredients’ as terms used to describe its 18 flavors of Greek yogurt products. The lawsuit claims Chobani failed to disclose that ‘evaporated cane juice’ is commonly referred to as sugar or dried cane syrup.

Federal and California state food labeling laws forbid the use of ‘natural’ labeling if the product contains artificial ingredients, flavoring, coloring or chemical preservatives, the lawsuit claims. Kane also alleges that Chobani made false claims in violation of these laws to actively promote the “naturalness and health benefits of its products” and drive sales.

Ok—well if you want to go down that road—show me company that isn’t on the green/health bandwagon? Oh yes, Exxon Mobil. But that’ll be coming up in Top Settlements.

The Chobani lawsuit further states, “For example, the Nutrition Facts for Chobani’s Greek Yogurt, Pomegranate flavor, state that it has 19 grams of sugar, but the ingredient section fails to list ‘sugar’ and/or ‘dried cane syrup’ as an ingredient.”

“If a manufacturer is going to make a claim on a food label, the label must meet certain legal requirements that help consumers make informed choices and ensure that they are not misled. In promoting the naturalness and health benefits of its Misbranded Food Products, Defendant claims to understand the importance of communicating responsibly about its products,” the lawsuit states.

“Nevertheless, Defendant has made, and continues to make false and deceptive claims on its Misbranded Food Products in violation of federal and California laws that govern the types of representations that can be made on food labels.”

It’s off to court they go…

Top Settlements

Ten Years After…As I was saying about Exxon Mobil—here’s one for the little guy. Bit late, bit small, never should have happened in the first place, but hey—it’s a result—because the townspeople of Pascoag, RI stood up for themselves. A Providence Superior Court Judge has approved a $7 million settlement of an environmental class action lawsuit brought by the citizens of the Town of Pascoag, Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Water District against Exxon Mobil Corporation as a result of the contamination of their well water supply by MTBE in 2001. According to attorneys for the class, the Exxon Mobil settlement finally brings some satisfaction to the citizens of Pascoag after almost ten years of litigation against Exxon Mobil for the contamination of the Town of Pascoag’s water supply.

Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE), a gasoline additive that was mandated by the Clean Air Act of 1990, requiring that fuel oxygenates be added to gasoline to reduce carbon dioxide in the air, was first noticed in the Summer of 2001, when a strong disagreeable odor had been reported by various Public Utility District customers.

On August 30, 2001, a resident of Pascoag, Rhode Island requested that a sample of his tap water be tested, as it had a bad taste. MTBE concentrations, above allowable state limits, were detected. Thereafter, an investigation by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) revealed that gasoline containing MTBE had leaked from the Main Street Mobil Gasoline Service Station and contaminated the town’s well water. The DEM ordered that the Pascoag well pumping stations be shut down, and arrangements were made to pipe in well water from the neighboring Town of Harrisville.

In 2003 a lawsuit was filed against Exxon Mobil (yes—it’s really taken 9-10 years) alleging that the use of MTBE in gasoline was among other things, a defective product. The investigation revealed that Exxon Mobil and other oil companies knew MTBE posed a threat to drinking water years before the industry began blending the additive with gasoline.

According to a statement issued by attorneys for the town of Pascoag, “the Pascoag, Rhode Island case was the largest MTBE case in the history of the state.” Court documents showed that the oil companies knew about MTBE’s problems as early as the early 1980’s. The oil industry defended the use of MTBE, claiming that the federal government allowed MTBE to be used with knowledge of its characteristics.

MTBE readily dissolves in water and does not cling to soil near a spill site, as most chemicals do. It degrades slowly and travels quickly and travels far in water.” Other dangerous gasoline compounds, like benzene, are rarely found more than 300 feet from a spill site, while MTBE has been found, as in this case, thousands of feet away,” the plaintiffs attorney stated in the press release. Documents and statements from Exxon Mobil and other oil companies show they knew all this almost as soon as they began producing MTBE in the late 1990’s. When 20 percent of the tanks nationwide were known to leak, they put MTBE in tanks knowing it would make its way to ground water and drinking water supplies.

In this case, the utility and citizens that sued over MTBE were not seeking damages because customers got sick from drinking the additive. Such claims are nearly impossible to prove, said the attorney for the plaintiffs. Instead, the damages were to compensate the homeowners for their inconvenience and to the Pascoag Public Utility District to allow them to install new wells, plus pipe lines to bring the water to homes once served by private wells. This includes the cost of putting filters in, digging up dirty soil and installing systems to pump the MTBE out of the water.

Better in a Beamer? …maybe not… Here’s something we’re seeing a lot more of these days—privacy class actions. The offenders in this class action lawsuit are BMW and its telematics services provider, Agero Connected Services, Inc. (formerly known as ATX Group, Inc.) The lawsuit claims that BMW recorded BMW Assist calls without first disclosing that a call may be monitored or recorded. (Can you imagine listening to all those recordings? OMG.)

The skinny: The BMW Assist settlement will resolve a class action lawsuit, entitled Skuro v. BMW of North America, LLC, that alleges BMW and its telematics services provider, Agero Connected Services, Inc. (formerly known as ATX Group, Inc.) violated several consumer privacy laws by allegedly recording BMW Assist calls.

Class Members of the BMW Assist class action settlement include all individuals who connected to the BMW Assist program between October 13, 2009 and February 1, 2011 and the BMW vehicle owner was receiving benefits in the BMW Assist program with a California billing address. The settlement could affect anyone who connected to the BMW Assist program during the class period, including entitlement to benefits, including up to $50 cash.

BMW and ATX deny any wrongdoing, but have agreed to a class action lawsuit settlement to avoid the expense of ongoing litigation.

Class Members of the BMW Assist class action lawsuit settlement can choose to receive one of the following two benefits:

1. Service Benefit. “Service Benefit” means either a 6-month upgrade to the BMW Assist “convenience plan” (for Class Members who currently have an active basic safety plan on their BMW vehicle), or a 6-month extension to the BMW Assist basic safety plan (for Class Members who currently have an active basic safety plan on their BMW vehicle, or Class Members who have no BMW Assist Service on their Class Vehicle). To receive the Service Benefit, Class Members must enter into a Subscription Agreement Addendum no later than July 10, 2012.

2. Non-Revisionary Fund. Class Members who decline or who do not have the option for the Service Benefit can file a claim for a cash payment from the Non-Revisionary Fund, which will be paid on a pro rata basis, up to $50, to Class Members who file a valid claim postmarked no later than July 10, 2012.

More information about the settlement, a Subscription Agreement Addendum and claims forms can be found at the Settlement Administrator’s website: www.BMWAssistSettlement.com.

See you at the bar—happy, happy…and don’t ask to see the ingredients in your Martini.