Week Adjourned: 9.28.12 – Maybelline, Coppertone, Sallie Mae Student Loans

The class action lawsuit and settlement wrap for the week ending September 28, 2012. Top stories include Maybelline, Coppertone and Sallie Mae.

Top Class Action Lawsuits

A Sticky Situation? (ok— that’s bad—I know). Maybelline is the latest company to face a consumer fraud class action lawsuit. This one alleges the company’s “Super Stay” lipstick and lip gloss don’t last as long as promised. The Maybelline lawsuit accuses L’Oreal SA, the parent company of Maybelline, of falsely advertising the staying power of both products, which sell for about $9 each.

The lawsuit, filed by Carol Leebove, Wanda Santa and Denise Santiago, claims L’Oreal and Maybelline make “misleading, inaccurate and deceptive” advertising claims regarding its “Super Stay 14HR Lipstick” and “Super Stay 10HR Stain Gloss.”

The women claim that while the products are advertised as having “super staying power” that “won’t fade,” that’s not been their experience with the products. According to the lawsuit, “the Super Stay products do not remain on the wearer’s lips for the extended periods as advertised” and “wear off and fade after only a few hours of wear.” One of the Plaintiffs claims the so-called long-lasting lipstick wears off as soon as she eats a meal or has a drink. So, we’ll see if this lawsuit has staying power… as the class has yet to be certified.

Top Settlements

The Proof wasn’t in the Lotion? Merck’s in the news again this week, this time with a settlement of a consumer fraud class action lawsuit over advertising claims made by its Coppertone franchise. The preliminary Coppertone settlement involves Merck ponying up between $3 million and $10 million in damages to the class.

The lawsuit, which was filed in 2003, alleges Merck made false claims about the benefits of its Coppertone sunscreen products. To be fair, Merck inherited the lawsuit in 2009 when it bought Schering-Plough Corp, which owned the popular Coppertone franchise.

As part of the settlement, Merck has agreed that all Coppertone sunscreen products manufactured on or after June 22, 2012 for sale in the United States, its territories and possessions, will not use the terms “sunblock,” “waterproof,” “sweatproof,” “all day” and/or “all day protection” in the label, advertising, marketing or promotion of the products.

When the settlement receives final approval, class members who purchased the Coppertone products at issue will be able to submit a claim worth up to $1.50 for each eligible sunscreen product purchased. Well, that ought to help!

Student Loan Relief? Finally, this week, a class action lawsuit settlement has been agreed between student loan borrowers and a subsidiary of SLM Corp. The lawsuit (Mark A. Arthur, et al. v. Sallie Mae Inc., No. 10-0198, W.D. Wash.), claimed the subsidiary violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by making a number of non-emergency autodialed calls and/or automated text messages to the borrowers’ cellular telephones in an attempt to collect on outstanding student loan debt. Nice!

The Sallie Mae settlement terms, which must first receive final approval, include Sallie Mae paying out $24.15 million to the borrowers that received the autodialed calls or automated text messages to their cellular phones by Sallie Mae Inc.

And on that note—I’m going to the bar. Have a great weekend!


Week Adjourned: 9.21.12 – Arctic Zero, Payless Shoes, Citizens Bank, TD Bank

The weekly wrap on top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending September 21, 2012.

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Zero Truth? Before you take what you think may be a harmless mouthful of melt-in-your-mouth pleasure—namely Arctic Zero frozen desserts—WAIT—that ‘150 calorie per pint’ thing—may not be entirely accurate. At least that’s the claim in a consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed against Arctic Zero this week. The lawsuit claims the frozen desserts have 46% to 68% more calories than advertised. If this is true, it is seriously bad news for everyone.

The lawsuit, entitled Brenda Freeman v. Arctic Zero, Inc., Case No. 12-cv-2279 L BGS, US District, Southern District of California, alleges the company deceptively labels and markets its frozen treats as having only “150 calories per pint.” However, the frozen desserts contain up to 68% more calories than advertised based on findings from recent independent laboratory tests performed by EMSL Analytical, Inc. The deserts include Arctic Zero Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Arctic Zero Vanilla Maple which allegedly has 46% more calories than the 150 calories prominently advertised on the front of the product packaging as well as on its nutritional label, according to the class action lawsuit.

The Arctic Zero class action lawsuit is seeking to represent a proposed class of all U.S. persons who, since 2009, purchased any Arctic Zero frozen desserts advertised as containing 150 calories per pint or less. They’re seeking damages and restitution for Class Members as well as an injunction barring Arctic Zero from continuing to falsely advertise the calorie content of their products.

Top Settlements

Payless to PayMore? Payless shoes looks set to pay more to settle fraudulent advertising claims for its Champion toning shoes. A proposed settlement (the “Settlement Agreement”) has been reached in the consumer fraud class action lawsuit against Payless ShoeSource, Inc. (“Payless” or “Defendant”). The Payless toning shoe lawsuit has been brought on behalf of a nationwide class of persons who purchased any Champion-branded style of toning shoes.

The lawsuit alleges that Payless engaged in untrue and deceptive advertising promotion and marketing practices associated with its Champion-brand toning shoes. You may be a member of the Settlement Class and might be eligible to receive a merchandise certificate worth $8.00 if you are a person who purchased any Champion-branded toning shoes during the period January 21, 2006 through June 25, 2012.

If you are a Settlement Class member and the Court gives final approval to the Settlement Agreement:

  • You may be entitled to receive an $8.00 merchandise certificate (a “Settlement Payment”).
  • You will be giving up the right to bring certain legal claims in the future, as discussed more fully below.

To Submit a Payless Toning Shoe Settlement Claim Form

If you are a Settlement Class member and would like to receive your Settlement Payment, you must submit a Claim Form, either through the mail or by by clicking here. You will be giving up legal claims against the Defendant and other related entities. Your claim must be submitted or postmarked no later than January 5, 2013.

If you do nothing, you will not receive your Settlement Payment. You will, however, still be giving up legal claims against Defendant and other related entities.

To Exclude Yourself from the Payless Toning Shoe Settlement

You will receive no benefits, but you will not be giving up your right to sue Defendant or related entities.

If you believe you are a Settlement Class member and would like further information, go to paylesstoningshoeclassaction.com

More bang on your buck? Umm, maybe not. Hopefully not. It all depends on whether or not preliminary settlements are approved in two class actions brought against Citizens and TD Banks.

This week, a federal judge in Miami preliminary approved two settlements in the excessive overdraft fees class action lawsuits against Citizens Bank and TD Bank. If approved, Citizens and TD Banks would be the first two of 14 banks to settle their cases. The settlement agreement will see Citizens pay $137.5 million and TD $62 million. Cha ching!

The lawsuit alleged the banks charged excessive overdraft fees on checking account customers. Specifically, the banks’ 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. The plaintiffs alleged that this practice resulted in bank 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.

A final hearing seeking approval of the settlements is scheduled for March 7, 2013.

Okee dokee. That’s it for this week—See you at the bar.

Week Adjourned: 9.14.12 – Chipotle Receipts, Family Dollar, Katrina Victims

The weekly wrap of top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week of September 14, 2012.

Top Lawsuits

Rounding Error? Here’s a new twist on an old theme—can you guess? (yup—consumer fraud). But then necessity is the mother of invention—as they say. A federal consumer fraud class action lawsuit was just filed against the restaurant chain Chipotle, alleging their recently introduced practice of rounding up and down on total amounts on customer receipts not only nickel and dimes customers, but also violates various contract, unfair competition and state consumer protection laws.

Apparently the powers-that-be decided that rounding out the totals on customer receipts would alleviate the need for counting out pennies and small change, thereby reducing line-ups. Now that’s creative! I wonder if that would work with the IRS?

The Chipotle receipt rounding lawsuit is filed on behalf of anyone in California who purchased a gargantuan burrito or other item from any of the chain’s state locations between August 30, 2008 and the present.

The lawsuit seeks a court order to stop Chipotle from engaging in its allegedly “deceptive practices” and requests that damages to be paid to all affected class members.

Top Settlements

Family Dollar to Pay its Family of Employees—unpaid overtime, that is. A preliminary settlement has been reached in the unpaid overtime class action pending against the retailer Family Dollar. The lawsuit is brought by over 1,700 New York store managers who allege they are owed overtime wages.

I find it amazing that nearly every week we report on at least one unpaid overtime class action lawsuit—either in this blog or on our site and our Facebook page. Just so we’re crystal clear on what unpaid overtime is—legally—if you work more than 40 hours per week, you are entitled to overtime pay. Overtime laws contained in the United States Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provide minimum wage, overtime, and child labor standards. Overtime rules ensure that employees who are denied overtime pay can file an overtime lawsuit.

The Family Dollar settlement has yet to be finalized and approved in court, but the existing agreement involves the discount retailer making a maximum payment it of $14 million. Get this—Family Dollar has over 7,400 stores throughout the U.S.

Here’s one a long time in coming. This week, Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp agreed to pay $61 million to settle long-running insurance lawsuits stemming from insurance claims made after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

For all of us whose short-term memories have gone south—way south—Katrina hit New Orleans and surrounding areas on August 29, 2005. As for Rita? She struck in September 2005, and caused $12 billion in damage on the US Gulf Coast.

The settlement will include caps of $4,500 per claim, $150,000 for court costs and $750,000 for administrative expenses.

This settlement follows a $104 million judgment paid by Citizens and will benefit over 18,500 policyholders who sued over slow adjustment claims stemming from hurricane damage. This settlement is meant to cover plaintiffs who weren’t initially covered in July’s settlement.

According to the Associated Press, Citizens CEO Richard Robertson said one lawsuit involves 7,800 claimants and up to 12,000 in the other.

That’s it for this week—See you at the bar, perhaps?

Week Adjourned: 9.7.12 – Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Chase, eBooks

An unpaid overtime class action lawsuit has been filed against all restaurant chains owned by Darden Restaurants, including The Capital Grille, Longhorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden and Red Lobster. Read more in our weekly wrap of top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week of September 7, 2012.

Top Class Action Lawsuits

We want you to work but we don’t want to pay you… sound familiar? An unpaid overtime class action lawsuit has been filed against all restaurant chains owned by Darden Restaurants, including The Capital Grille, Longhorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden and Red Lobster.

The Darden Restaurants lawsuit was filed on behalf of Amanda Mathis, a Florida resident and former server at several Longhorn Steakhouse locations, and James Hamilton, a Virginia resident and former Olive Garden server in Georgia. In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that servers such as themselves were paid less than the minimum wage and were not compensated for time they were required to work off the clock.

The overtime pay lawsuit contends that Darden violated the Fair labor Standards Act by paying many of its servers below the applicable minimum wage, which can be as low as $2.13 an hour for tipped work and $7.25 an hour for non-tipped work. It also alleges that servers were required to work off the clock at the beginning and end of their shifts. Isn’t that called “volunteering”?

The proposed class seeks to represent current and former servers employed between August 2009 and the present. Darden is considered the world’s largest full-service restaurant group, with almost 170,000 employees.

Top Settlements

Chase chastised to the tune of $100 million…in settlement monies for improper loan and APR Rates. Preliminary court approval was granted this week, in a credit card class action lawsuit brought against Chase Bank over allegations that its loan and APR rates were increased improperly.

Specifically, the lawsuit, brought by Chase credit cardholders, claimed those customers accepted promotional loan offers whereby the loan was subject to a fixed interest rate (APR) until the loan balance was paid off in full. In November 2008 and June 2009, Chase sent some of these cardholders a “Change in Terms” notice, raising their minimum monthly payment from 2% to 5% of their outstanding account balance and, in some cases, applying a $10 monthly fee to their account.

Who Is Included in the Chase Credit Card Class Action?

The “class” for this lawsuit includes all persons or entities in the United States who entered into a loan agreement with Chase, whereby Chase promised a fixed APR until the loan balance was paid in full, and (i) whose minimum monthly payment was increased by Chase to 5% of the outstanding balance, or (ii) who were notified by Chase of a minimum payment increase and subsequently closed their account or agreed to an alternative change in terms offered by Chase.

How Will Chase Credit Card Class Action Settlement Payments Be Determined?

If the Settlement becomes effective, Class Members will be sent a settlement check by the Settlement Administrator in the amount of their individual share of the Settlement Fund available for distribution. Each Class Member’s share will be comprised of: (i) a $25.00 base payment; plus (ii) for most, but not all, Class Members, an additional payment intended to give the most compensation to those Class Members most affected by the Change in Terms, taking into account, among other things, the amount of the initial transaction fees paid for their fixed rate promotional loans (if there is no record of a transaction fee, an average transaction fee will be used), how much of the promotional balances were paid back before the Change in Terms occurred, how long the promotional loans were in the Class Member’s account before the Change in Terms, and whether and when the promotional balances were restored to their original terms after the Change in Terms were announced. A limited number of persons were notified of the change in terms but, for example, did not have balances at the time the change in terms took effect, and will not receive an additional payment (these Class Members will still receive the $25.00 base payment).

For more information, visit ChaseMinPaymentLawsuit.com.

Refunds on eBooks? Are you in line for some dosh? Check it out. A $69 million settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought by US states and territories against Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster over ebook pricing. According to Publishers Weekly, if the agreement for the eBook pricing lawsuit receives court approval, Hachette will pay $31,711,425, HarperCollins will pay $19,575,246, and Simon & Schuster will pay $17,752,480. The consumer fraud agreement includes fees and other costs to be paid by the publishers.

The eBook class action lawsuit centered around agreements made between publishers and Apple to move away from the industry’s traditional wholesale-retail model, in which retailers set the price of ebooks, to an agency model, in which the ebook stores served as agents that earned a percentage of each sale, allowing publishers to decide how much their ebooks would cost. Publishers who wanted to sell with Apple moved to a similar model with Amazon.

The settlement translates, at least to consumers, into refunds for ebooks purchased between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012, that had been priced according to the agency model.

According to report in the LA Times publishers will $1.32 for each bestselling title purchased by a consumers, 32 cents for books that were less than a year old but not bestsellers, and 25 cents for older e-books.

Refunds will appear in e-book buyers’ online accounts on iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Readers who purchased e-books through Google or Sony’s storefronts will receive a check, and others can opt to. They can also opt not to receive any rebate at all.

That’s it for this week…See you—well, you know where.