Week Adjourned: 6/24/16 – TD Bank, Banana Boat, Whirlpool

TDTop Class Action Lawsuits

Canadians are Following Suit…literally, this week, by filing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit against Toronto Dominion (TD) Bank in Canada alleging that its “Penny Arcade” coin counting machines located across Canada shortchanged customers. The bank has faced lawsuits in the state over the very same issue.

Short version:  Plaintiff Lisa Ram (“Ram”), claims that on or about June 23, 2014, she used TD Bank’s coin counting machine in Kitchener, Ontario to count coin currency. Before taking them for deposit in the machine, Ram claims she counted and sorted them and knew she had a total of $854.25. After depositing the coins into TD Bank’s coin counter, she was not credited for amounts totaling $159.50. Despite complaining to the bank, Ram claims it failed to remedy her losses. So, who’s making money here?

According to the TD Bank complaint, customers using TD Bank’s coin counting machines expected the machines to operate accurately. However, based on its extensive experience with operating coin counting machines in its US branches since 2007, TD Bank knew or ought to have known that its coin counting machines were not capable of achieving accuracy for many reasons, resulting in undercounted funds of several percentage points in some cases. TD Bank failed to take any steps to warn customers of these risks, causing them harm.

Heads up Canadians—the class action is brought on behalf of a proposed class of persons who used TD Bank’s coin changing machines in Canada between January 1, 2013 and May 25, 2016.

Limited Protection? Meanwhile, back in the US, Banana Boat got hit with a consumer fraud class action lawsuit alleging its sunscreen  products do not contain the amount of sunscreen advertised. That is not cool.

According to plaintiff Paul Lambrakis, he bought tube of Banana Boat Kids SPF 50 in May after a Consumer Reports study found that it and many other sunscreens were overstating their protection factor. Lambrakis then sent the tube to a laboratory in Winston Salem, NC for testing, according to the lawsuit. The results showed that while the product stated it was SPF 50, it turned out to have less than half the sunscreen stated on the packaging.

The investigation concluded that Banana Boat Kids SPF 50 sunscreen, clearly labeled as containing SPF 50, shockingly contained only an SPF of 12.69 and a measured UVA protection factor of 4.88,” according to the lawsuit.

“Defendants have known, or should have known, for years that Banana Boat Kids SPF 50 products contain less UV protection than Defendants advertise,” the lawsuit states. Defendants named in the suit are Playtex Products, Edgewell Personal Care Company and Sun Pharmaceutical.

According to the complaint, Lambrakis and others in the class action suit were forced to “overpay for the sunscreen based upon false, inflated SPF.”

The lawsuit comes after a Consumer Reports investigation found that 43 percent of the more than 60 sunscreens they tested failed to measure up to the SPF claims advertised on their bottles.

“In May of 2016, Consumer Reports research revealed that among ‘the most problematic products were Banana Boat Kids Tear-Free, Sting-Free Lotion…which [was] labeled as SPF 50 but [was] found to have only SPF 8,’” according to the complaint.

Did you buy and fry with Banana Boat sunscreens? 

Top Settlements

Whirlpool Washers finally Settle… Finally! Remember those moldy front loading washing machine lawsuits? Well—a settlement was reached this week, with defendants (“Whirlpool”) and Sears, Roebuck and Co. (“Sears”).

So, if you purchased or owned a front-loading washing machine manufactured by Whirlpool, you may be entitled to cash or other compensation from a class action settlement.

Quick back story—the lawsuits alleged certain front-loading washing machines manufactured between 2001 and 2010 fail to self-clean and tend to accumulate bacteria and mold, resulting in bad odors and ruined laundry. Specifically, the lawsuit cites certain Whirlpool, Maytag or Kenmore front-loading washing machine that were manufactured by Whirlpool and are referred to as the “Class Washers”.

The Settlement Class includes all residents of the United States and its territories who either: (a) purchased a new Class Washer; (b) acquired a Class Washer as part of the purchase or remodel of a home; or (c), received a new Class Washer as a gift.

If you are included in the Settlement, you may qualify for one of a variety of benefits including a cash payment, a rebate on the purchase of a new washing machine or dryer, or reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to past mold or odor problems in your washing machine.

In order to claim a Sears or Whirlpool settlement benefit, if you are qualified, you must complete and submit a Claim Form, including required documentation October 11, 2016.

Better go find those receipts!

Ok, that’s a wrap folks…Have a good one. See you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: PetMatrix, Shop-Vac, HSBC

DreamBone dog treatsTop Class Action Lawsuits

Heads Up Dog Owners…Dog food manufacturer PetMatrix LC got hit with a consumer fraud class action over claims its dog treats could pose a health hazard for animals.

According to Charlotte Docken of California, who filed the proposed class action, her dog required surgery to clear an abdominal obstruction, allegedly after consuming one of the defendant’s treats.

Docken claims that advertising for the PetMatrix Dream Bone dog treats state that the products do not contain any rawhide but do contain 99 percent digestible ingredients. However, Docken claims the treats do contain a large amount of partially or completely indigestible ingredients, allegedly with the full knowledge of PetMatrix. So not cool.

The case is US District Court for the Central District of California Case number 8:16-cv-00994.

Top Settlements

Shop-Vac Settlement on the Way…A proposed settlement has been reached in a consumer fraud class action lawsuit (In re: Shop-Vac Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, MDL No. 2380) about certain advertising related to Shop-Vac® brand wet/dry vacuums (the “Vacuums”).

In the class action, the plaintiffs allege that defendants Shop-Vac Corporation and Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC misrepresented the peak horsepower ratings and tank capacity of the Vacuums. Defendants deny these allegations.

Under the terms of the proposed Shop-Vac agreement, the manufacturers would extend their warranty on the motors of the Vacuums for at least 2 years. The proposed Settlement also includes changes to the descriptions of peak horsepower ratings and tank capacity on marketing materials.

The “Settlement Class Members” are defined as each person in the United States and its territories who, from January 1, 2006 to May 26, 2016, either (1) purchased a Vacuum, or (2) received a Vacuum as a gift, or (3) acquired possession of a Vacuum through other lawful means, other than for resale or distribution.

Settlement Class Members do not need to do anything in order to qualify for the settlement benefits. The manufacturer’s warranty extension will automatically apply and the changes to the peak horsepower ratings and tank capacity descriptions will be made.

HSBC Gets Slammed. Here’s a whopper—almost 15 years in the making! HSBC has agreed to pony up a massive $1.575 billion settlement ending a securities class action lawsuit pending against a unit of HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA.L). The 14-year old lawsuit stems from the Household International consumer finance business that the British bank bought in 2003 for $14.2 billion.

The settlement agreement effectively avoids a second trial, scheduled to begin last week in the Chicago.

The lawsuit (Jaffe et al v Household International Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, No. 02-05893), was filed in 2002, by shareholders who alleged the company inflated its share price by concealing its poor lending practices and loan quality. The HSBC share price fell more than 50 percent between mid-2001 to October 2002, when the defendant agreed to pay $484 million to settle predatory lending claims brought by US state regulators.

By March 2009, HSBC shut down much of its US consumer finance business having taken tens of billions of dollars of write downs for bad loans associated with its subsidiary. 

Ok, that’s a wrap folks…Have a good one. See you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 6.10.16 – Auto-Renewals, Domino’s, Luminosity

subscribeTop Class Action Lawsuits

Auto-Renewals on Auto-Pilot: Not Cool… Hey—about that auto-renewal—you know the Appgrinders one you didn’t sign up for? This week the California-based software company found itself facing allegations of unfair business practices in a class action lawsuit over unauthorized charges to its customers’ credit cards for auto-renew subscriptions to its products.

Specifically, the Appgrinders lawsuit, filed by Jarrod Secola, claims that Secola and others purchased access to online PDF editing software (PDF Buddy) from Appgrinders without being made aware of the firm’s auto-renew policies. Yeah—know that one.

The complaint further claims that Appgrinders not only failed to satisfy the law by providing clear, conspicuous disclosures about the subscription’s auto-renewal policy, but also neglected to obtain the purchaser’s consent before the auto-renewal charges were placed.

The case is US District Court for the Eastern District of California Case number 2:16-cv-01150-JAM-KJN. 

Domino’s Pizza Delivers…Unpaid Wages? Domino’s found itself on the end of yet another employment lawsuit this week. This one, however, was filed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. The AG’s office is alleging the pizza chain is deliberately underpaying it workers at least $565,000 at 10 stores in New York and is in violation of New York employment law…Whooo Hooo!

The lawsuit names Domino’s Pizza Inc., Domino’s Pizza LLC and Domino’s Pizza Franchising LLC (collectively, Domino’s), as defendants and claims to have discovered that Domino’s headquarters was intensely involved in store operations, and even caused many of the employment violations. Therefore, they should be liable for underpaid wages at franchises.

Domino’s, BTW, is no stranger to employment lawsuits. It found itself the named defendant in a California employment violations class action– filed May 12.

In fact the company has a lengthy list of lawsuits against it, including unpaid overtime, TCPA violations and spam text messaging.

FYI—Schneiderman is seeking a finding that Domino’s is a joint employer, an accounting to determine full restitution amount owed to employees, a finding that Domino’s defrauded its franchises and therefore violated state franchise law, and the placement of a monitor that will ensure future compliance. 

Top Settlements

Here’s Something to Get your Brain Boing—remember Luminosity—the “brain training” program? Well, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) caught up with them recently, and hit them with a $2 million settlement over allegations the company deceived its consumers with unfounded claims that its games can help users perform better at work and in school, and reduce or delay cognitive impairment associated with age and other serious health conditions. Wow. Wonder if it takes the garbage out? (literally and figuratively).

Specifically, the FTC charged the company with making claims that were not supported by science, including claims that using Luminosity (get ready for this): improves performance in school, work, and athletics; delays age-related mental decline and protects against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; helps those with ADHD, PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other health conditions. If it sounds too good to be true….

As part of the Luminosity settlement, Lumos Labs, the company behind Luminosity, will pay $2 million in redress and will notify subscribers of the FTC action and provide them with an easy way to cancel their auto-renewal to avoid future billing.

Eligible Luminosity subscribers were notified by email. You were eligible for a refund if you signed up between Jan 1, 2009, and December 31, 2014, and spent at least $239 total on your subscription.  

Ok, that’s a wrap folks…Have a good one. See you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 6.3.16 – Baby Powder, Uber, Ticketmaster

Baby PowderTop Class Action Lawsuits

More Talc Powder Lawsuits…We’ve been seeing a lot about the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits here in the US, but a class action lawsuit has now been filed in Canada against J&J alleging its Baby Powder product causes ovarian cancer.

The named plaintiffs in the Canadian J&J talc complaint all developed ovarian cancer following long-term use of J&J’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene purposes. The representative plaintiffs in this case include, Marilyne Bernier who is the daughter of Thérèse Bernier, who died in March of this year following her battle with ovarian cancer, and Shaeda Farooqi of Mississauga.

According to the complaint, scientific researchers have established that over time, applying talcum powder to genitals, underwear, and sanitary napkins increases the risk of developing ovarian cancer by 33%. However, despite the evidence of a direct link, J&J has not acknowledged the connection and has kept its product on the shelves without warning.

The lawsuit aims to bring access to justice to the many women who have developed ovarian cancer due to long term use of Baby Powder and to modify behaviour of companies that place known carcinogens into the stream of the Canadian commerce without warning.

FYI—estimates suggest there are over 1,000 talc-powder induced ovarian cancer lawsuits pending in the US against J&J.

Uber Needs to Check the Definition of Stop? Wow—Uber just cannot stay out of trouble, it seems. It found itself on the end of another proposed class action recently, this one alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  The allegations? Uber sent text messages through an auto-dialer to people even after they had opted out of the messages by texting back “Stop”.

Filed by an Uber driver applicant, the lawsuit alleges the plaintiff provided his telephone number during the application process, which he did not complete. However, Uber then purportedly began sending him text messages asking him if he required help finishing his application.

According to the Uber lawsuit, the plaintiff replied to Uber, stating “stop” on numerous occasions because Uber’s automated system responded to these “stop” requests with a confirmation text stating “SMS from Uber is now disabled. To re-enable, reply START.”

Further, the lawsuit asserts after the plaintiff deleted his Uber rider account, Uber sent him another text message confirming he had deleted his account.

Top Settlements

Heads Up Ticketmaster Account Holders: The more than 10-year long consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed against Ticketmaster, Schlesinger v. Ticketmaster, has reached a $400 million settlement, which involves providing ticket vouchers as restitution to Class members —oh what a surprise.

Here’s the skinny: On or around June 18, 2016, class members should receive at least one Ticket Code by email redeemable for two tickets for General Admission seating at designated concert events at Live Nation owned or operated venues, subject to availability and limitations.

The Class includes all consumers who (1) purchased tickets on Ticketmaster’s website (“Website”) from October 21, 1999 through February 27, 2013; (2) paid money to Ticketmaster for an OPF that was not fully refunded; (3) did not and do not opt out of the Class; and (4) were residents of one of the fifty United States at the time of their purchase, including persons who placed, and then cancelled, a ticket order without obtaining a full refund of the OPF. If you also purchased UPS delivery for your tickets, then you are also a member of the “UPS Subclass.”

Certain people are excluded from the Class. They are (a) Ticketmaster, (b) any entities in which Ticketmaster has a controlling interest or which have a controlling interest in Ticketmaster, (c) the officers, directors, employees, affiliates, and attorneys of Ticketmaster, or (d) any employee or officer of the Court or their immediate family members.

For more information on the settlement and a list of guidelines regarding using your Ticket Code(s), please visit the official Settlement Website.

It would seem that Ticketmaster has mastered the class action settlement.  

Ok, that’s a wrap folks…Have a good weekend. See you at the Bar!