Week Adjourned: 7.1.16 – Pampers, Volkswagen, Wells Fargo SPAM

Pampers wipesTop Class Action Lawsuits

Pampers Not So Pampering? The makers of Pampers Natural Clean baby wipes, Procter and Gamble (P&G), got hit with a consumer fraud class action complaint this week, over allegations its advertising ain’t clean.

Filed by Veronica Brenner, on behalf of all others similarly situated, the proposed Pampers wipes class action lawsuit claims that due to the false claims made by P&G, Brenner was misled into buying Pampers Natural Clean baby wipes.

Specifically, she alleges that testing of the wipes revealed they contain unnatural and harmful ingredients such as phenoxyethanol, which allegedly could cause harm to consumers, especially infants.

Brenner is seeking a jury trial and is seeking compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages, injunctive relief enjoining the defendant, interest, restitution and any other forms of monetary relief, court costs and any further relief the court grants.

The case is US District Court for the Central District of California Case number 8:16-cv-01093-CJC-JCG.

Top Settlements

VW To Pay…So, by now almost everyone must be aware that Volkswagen (VW) has reached agreements with  the United States and the State of California, and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), that will see it stump up $14.7 billion—the largest such payout of its type in US history—to end consumer fraud allegations over the now infamous VW emissions scandal.

Now, just to be clear, the settlements do not resolve pending claims for civil penalties or any claims concerning 3.0 liter diesel vehicles. Nor do they address any potential criminal liability. So stay tuned on that front.

The information on the settlements is provided more comprehensively on our dedicated Volkswagen emissions settlements pageBUT the super short versions are that VW will offer consumers a buyback and lease termination for nearly 500,000 model year 2009-2015 2.0 liter diesel vehicles sold or leased in the US, and spend up to $10.03 billion to compensate consumers under the program. In addition, the companies will spend $4.7 billion to mitigate the pollution from these cars and invest in green vehicle technology.

Additionally, the settlements partially resolve allegations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as the California Attorney General’s Office and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) under the Clean Air Act, California Health and Safety Code, and California’s Unfair Competition Laws, relating to the vehicles’ use of “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests. The settlements also resolve claims by the FTC that Volkswagen violated the FTC Act through the deceptive and unfair advertising and sale of its “clean diesel” vehicles.

The affected vehicles include 2009 through 2015 Volkswagen TDI diesel models of Jettas, Passats, Golfs and Beetles as well as the TDI Audi A3.

The Buyback option: Volkswagen must offer to buy back any affected 2.0 liter vehicle at their retail value as of September 2015 — just prior to the public disclosure of the emissions issue. Consumers who choose the buyback option will receive between $12,500 and $44,000, depending on their car’s model, year, mileage, and trim of the car, as well as the region of the country where it was purchased. In addition, because a straight buyback will not fully compensate consumers who owe more than their car is worth due to rapid depreciation, the FTC order provides these consumers with an option to have their loans forgiven by Volkswagen. Consumers who have third party loans have the option of having Volkswagen pay off those loans, up to 130 percent of the amount a consumer would be entitled to under the buyback (e.g., if the consumer is entitled to a $20,000 buyback, VW would pay off his/her loans up to a cap of $26,000).

The EPA-approved modification to vehicle emissions system: The settlements also allow Volkswagen to apply to EPA and CARB for approval of an emissions modification on the affected vehicles, and, if approved, to offer consumers the option of keeping their cars and having them modified to comply with emissions standards. Under this option in accordance with the FTC order, consumers would also receive money from Volkswagen to redress the harm caused by VW’s deceptive advertising.

Consumers who leased the affected cars will have the option of terminating their leases (with no termination fee) or having their vehicles modified if a modification becomes available. In either case, under the FTC order, these consumers also will receive additional compensation from Volkswagen for the harm caused by VW’s deceptive advertising. Consumers who sold their TDI vehicles after the VW defeat device issue became public may be eligible for partial compensation, which will be split between them and the consumers who purchased the cars from them as set forth in the FTC order.

Wells Fargo SPAM Settlement… Another settlement to report this week—on the spam text messaging front. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (Wells) has agreed to a preliminary $16.3 million settlement to end claims it  made unauthorized calls to customers’ cell phones using an Automatic Telephone Dialing System (ATDS), in violation of the Telephone Consumer protection Act (TCPA).

The lawsuit, originally filed on April 14, 2015, alleged that the calls at issue were, without exception, non-emergency, debt-collection calls and texts made in connection with Home Equity Loans and Residential Mortgage Loans.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Wells would pay a non-reversionary cash sum of approximately $16,319,000, which, after deductions for costs and attorney’s fees, would be distributed on a pro rata basis to the Class Members who file qualified claims. The expected per-class-member cash award, while dependent upon the number of claims, may be in the range of $25 to $75.

The proposed Settlement Class is defined as: All users or subscribers to a wireless or cellular service within the United States who used or subscribed to a phone number to which Wells made or initiated one or more Calls during the Class Period using any automated dialing technology or artificial or prerecorded voice technology, according to Wells available records, and who are within Subclass One and/or Two.

Subclass One consists of “persons who used or subscribed to a cellular phone number to which Wells Fargo made or initiated a Call or Calls in connection with a Residential Mortgage Loan.”

Subclass Two consists of “persons who used or subscribed to a cellular phone number to which Wells Fargo made or initiated a Call or Calls in connection with a Home Equity Loan.”

Heads Up—a person who is a member of both Subclasses is eligible to make two claims on the Settlement Fund. The three Class Representatives are seeking awards for their time and effort on behalf of the Class, and Wells has agreed not to object to such incentive payments to be paid to Davis, Markos, and Page from the Settlement Fund provided that the payments do not exceed $60,000 in the aggregate or $20,000 for each Class Representative, subject to Court approval.

The case is Markos v. Well Fargo Bank, N.A. (United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Case No. 1:15-CV-01156).

Ok, that’s a wrap folks… Happy Canada Day and Fourth of July…. 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: 3.4.16 – Tampon Tax, Macy’s, HSBC

Tampon TaxTop Class Action Lawsuits

They’re Taxing What?? Not that I have a bias or anything, but it’s about time! Yup—it’s time to end the tampon tax! And five women in New York are just the gals to do it. The filed a tampon tax class action against the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, claiming that the 4% sales tax charged by the state on tampons and other feminine hygiene products violates the Equal Protection clauses of the United States and New York State Constitutions. The suit cites the fact that the same sales tax does not apply to “medical” items like Rogaine, adult diapers and dandruff shampoo. Seriously—Rogaine has a “medical” classification?

The ladies are seeking a permanent tax exemption for feminine hygiene products and a full tax refund for all women who have purchased tampons or pads in New York over the last two years.

According to the lawsuit, most women spend $70 on tampons and pads annually. The state of New York collects $14 million a year from taxes on tampons from 5 million New Yorkers. That’s a lot of dough, Joe.

Apparently, New York State exempts medical items from its sales tax, but excludes pads and tampons from the “medical” classification. According to the Department of Taxation’s guide for retailers, feminine hygiene products are “generally used to control a normal bodily function and to maintain personal cleanliness.” This differentiates them in the fine print from over-the-counter medication for a “vaginal infection,” which treats a “specific medical condition.” So, how do they define “treat” ? (Conveniently, it would seem. Pardon my bias).

However, the plaintiffs contend that pads and tampons are necessary for the preservation of health, especially when compared to medicated Chapstick for a coldsore, by way of example.

In February, legislation was introduced that would exempt feminine hygiene products like tampons and pads from state sales tax, calling the tax “a regressive tax on women and their bodies that harkens back to a time when the laws were written by men for women.”

Go get’em!!!

Wage & Hour Woes for Macy’s… Macy’s got hit with a proposed employment class action alleging unpaid wages and overtime and failure to pay minimum wage this week. Lost count of how many retailers have been slapped with these charges.

This suit is brought by former employee Yulie Narz, who alleged in the complaint that Macy’s Stores West Inc. has “systemic illegal employment practices” in place, enabling the retailer to not pay employees for mandatory security checks of their bags conducted before meal breaks and at the end of shifts.

Narez worked for Macy’s from November 2013 through July 2015, according to the lawsuit. She also alleges the retailer fails to pay employees, who work shifts of five hours or more, for a 30-minute meal break or 10-minute rest breaks for every 3.5 hours of work, as required by California labor law. This has resulted in a loss of overtime pay and generally improper wage statements, according to the complaint.

“Plaintiff is informed and believes … that defendants had a consistent and uniform policy, practice and procedure of willfully failing to comply with [labor laws],” Narez states. “Defendants … have acted intentionally and with deliberate indifference and conscious disregard to the rights of all employees in receiving minimum wages and overtime wages for all hours worked.”

The case is Narez v. Macy’s West Stores, Inc., number 5:16-cv-00936, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Top Settlements

Homeowners Win One. Here’s a win for the good guys. A force-place insurance settlement has been reached between HSBC and the office of the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey for $4 million, ending allegations that HSBC took illegal commissions and kickbacks for forced-place insurance policies. Nice…and why not, right?

Reportedly, thousands of borrowers were allegedly improperly charged force-placed insurance premiums, however, the affiliate did not perform the traditional functions of an insurance company. HSBC allegedly received compensation tied to force-placed insurance premiums until 2012, which the AG’s office believes was a conflict of interest.

The settlement will provide $2.67 million in restitution to affected Massachusetts homeowners, and $1.4 million to the state of Massachusetts.

Ok, so that’s a wrap folks… The sun is over the yard-arm and cocktails are in order—see you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 2.5.16 – Victoria’s Secret, Dr. Oz, Bayada

victorias secretTop Class Action Lawsuits

Not so Sexy Texts… For years the prevailing urban myth is that the biggest subscriber base for Victoria’s Secret catalog is men—particularly those that work in isolated environs such as oil rigs, mines—you get the picture. Now, the angel of lingerie (maybe that should be “the god of” ) is facing a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)  class action lawsuit based on allegations the company sent unsolicited text message advertisements.

The Victoria’s Secret texting lawsuit was filed by a man. Love it. Women, I’m not sure, would necessarily mind prompts on this subject—but hey—could be wrong, and—importantly—most women are likely not looking at or for the T&A component. If that’s missing from the spam, then why not file a lawsuit.

I digress.

Here’s the skinny: filed in California by Michael Hannegan, individually and for all others similarly situated, the lawsuit asserts that Victoria’s Secret sent unauthorized text message advertisements to cell phones of consumers across the country, to Hannegan and the others, in violation of the TCPA.

Consequently, Hannegan has suffered an invasion of privacy and incurred costs for the receipt of such wireless spam, the lawsuit states.

Hannegan and others in the class seek an injunction, statutory or actual damages, plus attorney fees and costs. The case is: U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Case number 8:16-CV-00125-JLS-JCG. So if the Angels in B cups have been spamming you—you better get on it!

Pulling Back the Curtain on Oz? Ok, you knew this was coming—at some point it just had to. Dr. Oz got hit with a consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week, as well as Labrada Bodybuilding Nutrition Inc., alleging claims that weight loss products made by the defendants are false and misleading. If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck…

The sorta short read—the suit was filed by Vera Woodard of California, in which she asserts she was tricked into buying a number of nutritional products sold by former bodybuilding champion Lee Labrada’s company, because they contained “magic ingredients” purported to be “revolutionary fat busters” by Dr. Mehmet C. Oz during his daytime talk show. (Quack, Quack).

In fact, the Dr. Oz lawsuit asserts, the pills are worthless with little scientific evidence they promote weight reduction. Hey—what about the placebo effect?

“As a renowned surgeon at Columbia University with specialized medical and scientific knowledge, Dr. Oz knew that the claims he was making about the supplements being ‘miracle fat busters’ were patently false or misleading consumers,” the lawsuit states. “Dr. Oz concealed his fraud by affirmatively representing to consumers that he was giving his objective opinion about the products based on his specialized knowledge.”

According to the lawsuit, Woodard bought the Labrada Garcinia Cambogia Dual Action Fat Buster, the Labrada Green Coffee Bean Extract Fat Loss Optimizer and the Labrada Raspberry Ketones Metabolic Enhancer products sometime around June 2013, paying between $15 and $20 a bottle, after she saw episodes of “The Doctor Oz Show” in which he promoted those herbal supplement ingredients as being “miracles in a bottle” when it comes to weight loss.

However, the lawsuit contends that while Dr. Oz regularly reminds audiences that he’s not attempting to sell any products, he does not mention that some of his “nutritional expert” special guests are in fact paid spokespeople for certain supplement products.

By way of example, the lawsuit cites an episode in which the weight-loss benefits of garcinia cambogia, were discussed. Dr. Oz introduced a guest doctor as being at the forefront of “revolutionary research that says garcinia could be the magic ingredient that lets you lose weight without diet and exercise,” yet that doctor turned out to be a paid researcher for Interhealth Neutrceuticals Inc., which is also named defendant in the suit, according to the complaint.

Additionally, the suit states that studies published by the Journal of the American Medical Association and other publications have shown that garcinia cambogia and green coffee bean failed to produce any significant weight loss, and there is zero evidence showing that raspberry ketones can help trim fat.

Woodward seeks to represent a nationwide class of consumers who were “duped” into buying “worthless” weight loss supplements containing garcinia cambogia, green coffee bean extract and raspberry ketones from the Labrada and others.

The case is Veda Woodard v. Lee Labrada et al., case number 2:16-cv-00717, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. 

Top Settlements

Ruling for Bayada Workers… Here’s a major step forward for home care workers in Colorado. A federal judge has issued the final ruling on an employment class action lawsuit this week, filed against Bayada by its home health care workers. The lawsuit alleged the company failed to pay overtime wages. Boy, this just never gets tired, does it.

And justice prevailed. In her ruling on the Bayada overtime lawsuit, Judge Christine Arguello found that Colorado’s labor laws necessitate that overtime be paid if the worker is employed by a third-party agency.

The lawsuit was originally filed in Plaintiff Michele Kennett and a class of employees in July of 2014, alleging they were not paid overtime when in fact Colorado law necessitated time-and-a-half overtime compensation on all hours worked over 40 per week.

Bayada, based in Colorado, provides workers who deliver in-home health care services to clients with cognitive difficulties, physical disabilities, and/or chronic illnesses. The suit centered on whether home health aides are exempt from overtime protections under the Colorado Department of Labor’s Minimum Wage Order as “companion employees.”

The case is Kennett v. Bayada Home Health Care. Case 1:14-cv-02005-CMA-MJW

Consider the case finally settled and possibly a precedent set.  

Ok, sothat’s a wrap folks… Happy Super Bowl Weekend!! …See you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 1.15.16 – EOS Lip Balm, Priceline, Vioxx

EOSTop Class Action Lawsuits

EOS Evolution of Sore? Heads up anyone who purchased EOS lip balm—the celebrity-endorsed lip balm—got hit with a consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week, alleging the product causes lips to crack, bleed and blister. Yah, that’s a great look.

EOS, which stands for Evolution of Smooth, pays celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Brittney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Hillary Duff, and others, to post pictures on Instagram and social media, creating a viral marketing frenzy around the product, targeted at consumers. EOS claims the lip-balm is, in addition to making lips smooth, a travel companion and a cure for health and hygiene problems.

Filed by Plaintiff Rachael Cronin, the EOS lawsuit alleges Cronin purchased EOS lip balm based on these claims. As with all of EOS packaging, the packaging contained no warnings about potential adverse side-effects from the products use. Ms. Cronin began applying the lip balm that same day she purchased it. Within hours of applying the product for the first time, her lips became substantially dry and coarse, what Ms. Cronin describes as feeling like “sandpaper,” causing her to apply more of the balm on her lip to achieve the results of becoming “sensationally smooth.”

However, Ms. Cronin’s lips did not become smooth, instead they began severely cracking on the edges causing flaking and bleeding from the cracks. (Sensationally sore? New tag line maybe?) By the next day, Ms. Cronin’s lips and surrounding skin area allegedly had severe blistering and rashes causing her to seek medical care on Monday, December 7, 2015. Ms. Cronin was in severe shock and panic. Her symptoms lasted approximately 10 days. Not good.

Ms. Cronin shared the story of her experience with EOS and posted a picture of her face with boils and blisters on Facebook. The post set off a frenzy of responses from other individuals who shared the identical experience with EOS. It became clear this was not an isolated incident but instead hundreds, possibly tens of thousands of consumers may be affected.

The case is 2:16-cv-00235.

Priceline Profiting? Priceline got hit with a proposed consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week, over allegations it collects taxes from customers for hotel rooms, car rentals and airline tickets booked through the site, but those taxes are not returned to customers when reservations go unused. That’s a nice little earner—if true.

According to the Priceline lawsuit, filed by Priceline customer Richard Laquer, the taxes and fees collected for his car rental in June in San Francisco were not returned to him even though he never picked up the car. Additionally, he claims that this money was never paid to local tax authorities, meaning The Priceline Group Inc, was unfairly profiting from its collection. Ka ching!

“Priceline Group, in charging ‘taxes and fees’ for a rental or purchase transactions that did not complete, violated various local, state and federal laws regarding the charge and collection of taxes,” the lawsuit states. “Priceline Group has been unjustly enriched by the charge and collection of ‘taxes and fees’ for vehicle rentals that did not occur.”

Laquer claims that he used the “Name Your Own Price” feature on the Priceline website to reserve a car rental for $35. However, he was also charged an additional $19.05 in “taxes and fees” for the transaction. When he did not rent the car Priceline kept the charges, the lawsuit states.

“Priceline Group knew when these representations were made, or made them as a positive assertion recklessly, that it would not pay the ‘taxes and fees’ it collected from plaintiff and the putative class members to the various federal, state and local taxing authorities in the event the rental or purchase was not completed,” the complaint states.

The potential class action asserts negligence, unjust enrichment and false representation. It is seeking disgorgement of the taxes and fees collected by Priceline and not returned with canceled orders and actual and punitive damages of not less than $5 million, and an injunction prohibiting the company from charging taxes and fees in the future unless a transaction is completed.

The case is Laquer et al. v. The Priceline Group Inc., case number 5:16-cv-00015, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. 

Top Settlements

Vioxx Socked…Again. Wow—talk about the drug that will not die. This week, Merck announced it will pay $830 million to end the Vioxx multidistrict litigation brought by investors who alleged securities fraud violations concerning the illegal marketing of the company’s now defunct NSAID pain killer Vioxx. In 2011, Merck agreed to pay a criminal penalty of almost $1 billion over its marketing of Vioxx.

In a statement issued by Merck & Co. Inc, the pharmaceutical company denied any wrongdoing, and noted that it still faces individual lawsuits stemming from the same alleged misconduct, specifically that it marketed Vioxx for off-label uses and downplayed its risk of causing heart attacks.

The allegations made by investors are similar to those of the criminal case, alleging Merck attempted to conceal Vioxx’s cardiovascular risks, and claimed that patients taking the drug in a clinical study for rheumatoid arthritis were five times more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who took the comparator drug, naproxen.

In 2004 Merck was forced to recall Vioxx. The recall, in conjunction with media reports concerning the associated risks of the drug, caused Merck’s stock price to fall dramatically, according to the investors, whose claims against the company were consolidated in New Jersey federal court the following year.

The case is In re: Merck & Co. Inc. Securities, Derivative & ERISA Litigation, MDL number 1658 and case numbers 2:05-cv-01151 and 2:05-cv-02367, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Ok—That’s a wrap folks… Happy Friday…See you at the Bar!


Week Adjourned: 8.21.15 – Ashley Madison, Time Warner, Lennox

ashley madisonTop Class Action Lawsuits

Were you “Outed”? …by the massive data breach of Ashley Madison? Are you one of some 37 million people who got caught with their firewalls down—sorry Ashley Madison’s firewalls? Well, further to all the talk about filing a class action, this week a data breach lawsuit was filed against the website.

The Ashley Madison lawsuit, filed on behalf of all Canadian subscribers, targets the dating website for married people as well as Avid Dating Life, Inc. and Avid Life Media, Inc., the corporations who run the website. The lawsuit is seeking $750 million in general damages and $10 million in punitive damages.

Eliot Shore, a widower from Ottawa, is the plaintiff in the lawsuit. He signed up with the website “for a short time in search of companionship” but, allegedly, never went on a date.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensation and access to justice for all affected. “Another major aspect of this is behaviour modification; (our clients) went to this website being promised anonymity and confidentiality, but their privacy has been violated. Corporations need to be accountable for what’s happened so that others can follow,” attorneys for the plaintiffs stated. True enough.

TWC got TCPA Troubles? Time Warner Cable Inc,(TWC) got hit with a putative class action lawsuit this week, filed by a former customer who asserts the company violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Specifically, the plaintiff, Raquel S. Mejia, alleges TWC used an autodialer to make at least two unsolicited sales calls a day to her cellphone in an attempt to win her business back.

Mejia claims she stopped using TWC in 2007 and never gave her consent to TWC to call her phone, nor did she have any business relationship with the cable provider after 2007.

According to the Time Warner Cable lawsuit, Mejia states that there were several indicators that the calls were made by autodialers, in violation of the TCPA. Specifically, she would sometimes answer a call and only hear background noise at what appeared to be a call center. A live call center representative would often take a few moments before engaging her, an indication they were not actively aware of an automatic dialing system’s activities, she claims.

“Based on the circumstances of the calls, including but not limited to the multiple calls over a short period of time, plaintiff was not immediately engaged by a live person … and defendant called despite plaintiff’s requests to defendant to stop calling (indicating a computer automatically dialed the number again), plaintiff believed defendant called her cellular telephone using an ATDS that automatically selected her number from a computer database,” the complaint states.

Stating that “the TCPA was enacted to protect consumers from unsolicited telephone calls exactly like those alleged in this case,” Mejia, on behalf of herself and all others who received similar allegedly illegal calls, is suing for an injunction against the practice and treble damages of $500 per TCPA violation. She is also seeking attorneys’ fees and costs, the complaint states.

The case is Raquel S. Mejia, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated v. Time Warner Cable Inc., case number 15-cv-06445 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Top Settlements

Defective Air Conditioning Coils… remember those? A lawsuit against Lennox industries was the result and this week a settlement has been reached. The Lennox Air Conditioning lawsuit claimed the company’s air conditioning units are susceptible to formicary corrosion as a result of the deficient materials used in the manufacture of its coils. FYI—an evaporator coil is a part of an air conditioning system or heat pump system in the cooling mode.

Lennox denies all of the claims in the lawsuit, but has agreed to the settlement to avoid the cost and risk of further litigation.
The Lennox settlement class includes all U.S. residents who, between October 29, 2007 and July 9, 2015, purchased at least one new uncoated copper tube Lennox brand, Aire-Flo brand, Armstrong Air brand, AirEase brand, Concord brand, or Ducane brand evaporator coil, covered by an Original Warranty, for their personal, their family, or their household purposes, that was installed in a house, condominium unit, apartment unit, or other residential dwelling located in the United States.

Original Coils may have been purchased separately, as part of an air handler, or they may have been included as part of a Packaged Unit.

The final approval hearing is scheduled for December 2, 2015. The lawsuit is: Thomas v. Lennox Industries Inc., United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Case No. 13 CV 7747.

Ok—That’s a wrap folks…See you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 8.14.15 – Tide Pods, MegaRed, SEPTA

Retro Frustrated Woman Find A Lawyer blogTop Class Action Lawsuits

Are Tide Pods staining your laundry? According to a consumer fraud class action lawsuit, the candy-colored laundry detergent packets may end up staining Procter & Gamble Co’s bottom line as well. The Tide Pod lawsuit alleges that P&G’s Tide laundry pods can stain light-colored laundry. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Lisa Guariglia, Micheline Byrne and Michele Emanuele, asserts that P&G engaged in deceptive trade practices and breached implied warranties. The complaint states  that “Tide Pods have serious design defects … that cause them to produce permanent blue/purple stains on white and light-colored laundry, even when used as directed by P&G.”

In the lawsuit, Guariglia estimated that Tide Pods ruined at least $200 worth of her laundry, including towels, sheets and clothing, which had blue/purple stains that allegedly appeared after she began using Tide Pods. She further states that despite rewashing with other detergents and pretreating the stains with Shout stain remover, which is made by SC Johnson & Co., the stains remained. Similarly Emmanuele said she was unable to remove the stains she blamed on Tide Pods even with bleach. She estimated the detergent ruined at least $650 worth of towels, sheets and clothing. Plaintiff Byrne claims that in December 2012 her son and daughter had blue/purple stains on their clothes but she used Tide Pods for at least 18 more months before realizing the detergent was the cause. She estimated the detergent damaged at least $500 worth of clothing and other laundry.

The lawsuit states: “P&G failed to inform consumers, through the directions on the packaging or any other written disclosure, even when consumers use Tide Pods as instructed by P&G, that blue/purple staining will result due to defects in the design.” However, “on P&G’s own website, P&G has acknowledged that Tide Pods can cause blue/purple stains on laundry and insists that this staining can only occur when the consumer is not using the product correctly,” the suit states. The complaint cites an article in Consumer Reports magazine, published February 20, 2014, which quotes a P&G spokesperson who said such stains can be caused by not putting a Tide Pods pack into the washing machine before clothing is inserted or by overstuffing a machine with laundry. “P&G reiterated over and over, in its responses to consumer complaints, that it would not put a product on the market that would ruin laundry, that Tide Pods have been successfully tested, and it is certain that if used as directed, Tide Pods do not stain laundry,” the lawsuit states. “However, it is clear from plaintiffs’ experiences, as well as those of the customer complaints set forth above, and the hundreds of additional complaints on the Tide website, that even when used as directed, Tide Pods permanently stain white and light-colored laundry.” So—no more blaming dodgy washing on the laundry fairy! The lawsuit seeks to represent anyone in the United States who bought Tide Pods and had laundry damaged. 

Is MegaRed a Mega Crock? Another wonder supplement got hit with a consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week. This one targets Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC and its subsidiary Schiff Nutrition International Inc, alleging the companies misled consumers about the health benefits of krill oil. According to the complaint, the defendants marketed the krill oil as a dietary supplement with cardiovascular benefits it does not have. Really? How unusual.

The nitty gritty is that the defendants made claims that an omega-3 fatty acid dietary supplement marketed as MegaRed would help prevent heart disease. According to the proposed MegaRed class action, these types of claims have drawn attention from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has allegedly condemned such advertisements, describing claims about omega-3’s health benefits as “false and misleading.” Well, that certainly did a lot of good.

“In conjunction with their extensive, long-term campaign of deceptive advertising and misleading statements,” the complaint states, “defendants have violated [the FDA’s] clear directives by … consistently and repeatedly falsely telling consumers that taking just ‘one small softgel per day’ may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” Further, the complaint cites a guideline by the American Heart Association recommending that patients consume 500 to 1,000 miligrams of omega-3 fatty acids daily to help combat heart disease. A single MegaRed capsule, the supplement’s recommended daily dose, contains only 50 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.

The proposed class action asserts the packaging for MegaRed is misleading because it claims that using “just one small softgel” of the supplement daily “may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” Schiff has marketed the size of the MegaRed capsules, which are slight in comparison to fish oil capsules, as having similar health benefits, which is one of the product’s main advantages. Named plaintiff in the complaint, Jeffrey Johnson, a “health-conscious individual” contends that he and others like him were misled by the marketing claims, and as a result paid a premium for the supplement, which costs significantly more than fish oil. The proposed class action complaint accuses Schiff of unjust enrichment, on behalf of a nationwide class; and violations of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act; California Unfair Competition Law; California False Advertising Law; and California Sherman Food, Drug and Cosmetic law, on behalf of a Californian subclass. Plaintiffs are seeking an injunction prohibiting Schiff from further misleading advertisements, as well as actual and punitive damages.The case is Johnston v. Schiff Nutrition International et al., case number 3:15-cv-03669, in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. 

Top Settlements

Strike One for the Little Guys. A $13.1 million settlement has been awarded to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority workers who alleged the authority was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act shift work. According to court filings, “The parties now believe that considering the costs and risks of continuing this litigation, it is in their best interests to fully and finally resolve plaintiffs’ claims.” The parties filed a joint motion for approval, which involves some 2,300 current and former bus and trolley drivers. If approved, the SEPTA settlement will end a case first brought in June 2011, alleging SEPTA did not pay its drivers for off-the-clock time spent doing tasks before pulling their vehicles out at the start of their runs.

“Resolution of the FLSA claim requires a factual determination of the amount of time operators are required to work prior to their scheduled start, and a legal determination regarding whether this time is compensable and subject to the overtime provisions of the FLSA,” a three-judge Third Circuit panel stated.  The case is David Bell et al. v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, case number 2:11-cv-04047, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Ok – That’s a wrap folks…Happy Friday…See you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 7.10.15 – Ford, Capital One, Transvaginal Mesh

Ford ExplorerTop Class Action Lawsuits 

Ford is not in the driver’s seat on this one…They got hit with a defective design class action this week, alleging certain Ford Explorer, Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX models allow carbon monoxide to enter the passenger compartment. Yeah, not so good guys. The suit covers 2011-2015 Ford Explorers as well as Edge and MKX models from 2011-2013 with 3.5L and 3.7L TIVCT engines.

The proposed Ford class action was filed on behalf of New Jersey owners or lessors of the vehicles in question. The complaint also proposes a subclass of consumers with claims under New Jersey’s Lemon Law for claimants who reported the defect to Ford in the first two years or 24 months of ownership.

According to the legal documents, Ford has known of the defect since 2012 but has not warned owners to get it fixed. Surprised? Apparently Ford has issued two technical safety bulletins to dealers about the problem but to date, has not notified owners, despite the related safety hazard. Ford has attempted to fix the problem on customers’ vehicles with a variety of remedies but none have proved effective, according to the complaint.

“Given that the defect renders driving the subject vehicles a health hazard that is potentially deadly, the vehicles are valueless,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges breach of implied and express warranty, violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Warrant Act, also known as the Lemon Law. Love that Lemon Law!!!

Capital One should change its tag line…from “What’s in your Wallet” to “If at first you don’t succeed.” These guys are frankly, incorrigible—nay—unrepentant. They are facing yet another robocalls class action lawsuit—this one against Capital One Financial Group. Filed by plaintiff Nakia Pitr, this latest lawsuit alleges Capital One is in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by calling consumers through robodialing without their consent. Yeah, know this one off by heart.

Pitre claims in the Capital One lawsuit that within the space of two months, she received 37 calls on her cellphone from the bank, despite not being a customer. Capital One ignored her requests to stop calling, she claims.

According to the lawsuit, the calls were from the company’s credit card division. During each of the calls she received and answered, she told the bank they had the wrong number and asked them to stop calling. However, she continued to receive calls. According to the suit, the frequency and nature of the calls indicates they were made from an automatic telephone dialing system.

Pitre further alleges she has never been a Capital One customer, has never given the bank her number or given her consent for them to call her.

If approved, the class would include anyone contacted by Capital One using a robodialing system from July 1, 2014, through July 2, 2015, without prior consent and who received calls after asking not to be contacted.

FYI—the case is Pitre v. Capital One Financial Corporation, case number 1:15-cv-00869, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Top Settlements

Not a class action settlement—but a significant settlement none the less. Sadly, at great personal expense. Boston Scientific has been ordered to pay a $100 million settlement by a jury hearing the case of a women who suffered injury from the company’s Pinnacle and Advantage Fit vaginal mesh. Fifty-one year old Deborah Barba was awarded $25 million in compensatory damages with an additional $75 million in punitive damages.

In her personal injury lawsuit, Barba alleged she received a Boston Scientific’s Pinnacle mesh product in 2009 for pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). However, following the implant she began experiencing serious medical complications and despite two subsequent surgeries to rectify the problems, parts of the vaginal mesh implant remain in her body and continue to cause her pain.

The trial took just two weeks, after which the jury reached a decision within seven hours. They found Boston Scientific was negligent in designing and making the devices and that it had failed to warn patients and doctors about potential risks.

To date, this verdict is the largest regarding litigation over transvaginal mesh devices against Boston Scientific or any other mesh manufacturer. The company announced last month it had reached agreements to pay about $119 million to resolve 2,970 cases about transvaginal mesh. There are more than 25,000 defective product lawsuits pending against Boston Scientific concerning injuries resulting resulting from the Pinnacle mesh implant.

Reuters reports that this latest verdict is the sixth so far against the company by women who say that the devices are poorly designed and use subpar materials, resulting in painful physical injuries such as bleeding, infection and pain during sex.

That’s a wrap folks…See you at the Bar!



Week Adjourned: 5.8.15 – Dog Chews, Uber, Western Union

Dog Bone TreatTop Class Action Lawsuits

Dogs: Don’t Chew on This… Allegedly defective dog bone chew toys are killing and injuring dogs? That seems to be the sum of a consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed against Dynamic Pet Productions and its parent company, Frick’s Meat Products. The dog bone chew class action was filed by a dog owner who alleges her basset hound suffered fatal injuries after it swallowed a piece of a splintered dog bone chew toy made by the defendant.

In the putative class action, Khristie Reed alleges that she and thousands of other dog owners watched their pets suffer, and in some cases die, after splinters from Dynamic’s “Real Ham Bone For Dogs” injured their pets, despite the company’s claims that the bone is a safe chew toy for dogs.

“The Real Ham Bone For Dogs is not appropriate for dogs and is not safe for its intended purpose, despite defendants’ contrary representations,” the complaint states. “Thousands of dogs have suffered a terrible array of illnesses, including stomach, intestinal and rectal bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and seizures, and have died gruesome, bloody deaths as a result of chewing [Dynamic’s] Real Ham Bone For Dogs.”

Since Dynamic began selling the dog bones in 2001, thousands of customers have purchased them through stores such as Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Dollar General, according to the complaint. Frick’ Meat Products, the parent company, created the products Dynamic as a way to market waste from its meat products.

The lawsuit states that in 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a statement warning dog owners that splinters from dog bones could result in injury or even death. Further to that warning, and in response to public outcry, the Missouri Better Business Bureau alerted Dynamic and Frick’s to the dangers of their product. However, Frick’s and Dynamic continued to market the dog bone chew toys without providing a safety warning.

Reed contends, in the complaint, that Dynamic was aware of the dangers associated with the dog bone as early as 2006, following consumer complaints to the company about pet injuries and deaths. Pet owners also began posting complaints about the bone to online forums, claiming the bone splintered easily, the lawsuit states.

“Nowhere do [the two companies] state the truth that the Real Ham Bone For Dogs is a dangerous product that should not be given to dogs,” the suit states.

The complaint goes on to state that Frick and Dynamic’s continued marketing of the bone is a violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act and the Business and Professions Code, as it misrepresents the product as a safe one. Reed and other owners also allege that the company committed fraud, as it had a duty to alert consumers to the dangers of the product and did not do so. Finally, Reed alleges that Dynamic and Frick’s had a “secret warranty program, paying off pet owners who persistently complained about their products to “keep them quiet.”

The lawsuit seeks damages, including punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, an injunction preventing the companies from continuing any unlawful practices, and the awarding of the profits the two companies made from unethical practices to the plaintiffs involved.

The case is Khristie Reed, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated v. Dynamic Pet Products and Frick’s Meat Products Inc., case number 3:15-cv-00987 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Is Uber a Bad Deal for Drivers? An employment class action lawsuit was filed against Uber this week by a former driver who was stabbed in the face by a passenger, and who claims that he and others similarly situated, are misclassified by the company as being independent contractors, when they are employees, in violation of California labor law.

Why? In the Uber lawsuit, Abdo Ghazi, claims that he is owed worker’s compensation by Uber, which he would automatically receive if he were classified as an employee.

According to the complaint, “As a consequence of misclassifying its drivers, Uber illegally lowered its cost of doing business by fialing to secure payment of workers’ compensation insurance covering its drivers pursuant to California Labor Code 3700. Uber’s misclassification of drivers as independent contractors gave it an unfair advantage over competing transportation companies, harmed Uber’s drivers and violated California law.”

The lawsuit seeks to reclassify Uber drivers as employees. Anyone who is an Uber driver, or who has worked in that capacity, is included as a plaintiff in the suit.

The case number is CGC15-545532, Abdo Ghazi vs. Uber Technologies, Inc, Rasier LLC; Rasier-CA, LLC and Does 1-10. Plaintiffs are represented by Lohr, Ripamonti & Segarich LLP.

Top Settlements

Ever had a Wire Transfer go Sideways and the Funds Disappear? Then this settlement may interest you. Western Union looks set to pony up $133 million in settlement of an unfair business practices class action lawsuit that claims the company kept money from failed wire transfers for five years, even though they had the contact information for the senders. Where do you start…

Under the terms of the Western Union settlement, class members will recover interest for the time during which Western Union held these funds, something they would not have received simply by asking Western Union to return their money, court documents show.

Additionally, the settlement terms stipulate that Western Union must change its business practices such that it informs customers when their wire transfers fail.

The suit resulted from Western Union’s practice of keeping money from failed transfers and earning interest, electing not to inform customers until their money was due to be absorbed by states’ unclaimed and abandoned property departments.

According to the lawsuit, the period of time Western Union waited to inform customers of the failed transfers often meant that the contact information for those customers was no longer valid.

The case is Tennille, et al v. Western Union, et al, case no. 13-1310 in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. 

Hokee Dokee- That’s a wrap folks…See you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 5.1.15 – Tinder, Hertz, Actos

Tinder Dating AppTop Class Action Lawsuits

Tinder’s igniting a wee litigation storm it seems. The company behind the popular dating app of the same name, has been hit with another class action lawsuit filed by a customer who alleges the app charges men and users over the age of 30 more to use its premium service, and is therefore discriminating on the basis of age and gender. Isn’t that just good business? You use more, you pay more? No?

Maybe not. Filed in California federal court, by Plaintiff Michael Manapol, this Tinder lawsuit contends that Manapol paid $19.99 for a one-month subscription to the service, while Tinder charged $9.99 for those under 30. He also alleges he was charged recurring, automatic renewal fees, in violation of California law, and that his account was illegally debited, without his authorization.

“Defendant offers no discounts for its Tinder Plus services, than that offered to consumers based solely upon their age. However, [women] receive more favorable swiping terms than man, which is akin to free entrance to Ladies Night, a practice deemed illegal by the California Supreme Court,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also alleges Tinder falsely advertised its service by claiming to be “free.” One Billy Warner filed a lawsuit over the free or not-so-free Tinder advertising back in March.

The Manapol lawsuit seeks to establish a nationwide class of people who downloaded the Tinder app before March 2, 2015. In addition, four subclasses are proposed, specifically: an auto-renewal subclass; a price discrimination subclass; a gender discrimination subclass; and an Electronic Funds Transfer Act subclass.

The complaint cites an interview with Tinder spokeswoman’s on National Public Radio, in which she allegedly said, “During our testing we’ve learned, not surprisingly, that younger users are just as excited about Tinder Plus but are more budget constrained and need a lower price to pull the trigger.”

FYI…The case is Michael Manapol et al. v. Tinder Inc. et al., case number 2:15-cv-03175, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Hertz employees being taken for a ride? The Hertz Corp is facing a potential $4 million unpaid wages and overtime class action alleging the company doesn’t pay its employees for working through breaks, and fails to pay them overtime wages.

No stranger to employment lawsuits, this one, alleges that the vehicle rental chain systematically underpaid its customer service representatives in various ways, in violation of the California labor law. The Hertz overtime lawsuit was filed by Plaintiff Juan Herrera on behalf of himself and all other non-overtime exempt California Hertz employees for the previous four years.

“Defendants knew they had a duty to accurately compensate plaintiff and class members for all hours worked, including overtime wages and meal and rest period premiums, and that defendants had the financial ability to pay such compensation, but willfully, knowingly, recklessly and/or intentionally failed to do so,” Herrera states.

Specifically, the complaint states that Hertz fails to provide meal and rest periods for its employees by structuring its schedules, policies and workload requirements to not allow the workers their full meal and rest breaks. The company then fails to properly compensate them for the loss.

Additionally, Herrera alleges that Hertz requires its customer service representatives to prepare for their shifts without pay and failing to factor commissions into the employees’ regular rate of pay when calculating overtime pay rates.

That lawsuit also seeks to represent non-overtime exempt employees in California, which Hertz estimates amounts to as many as 2,000 former employees and as much as $11.5 million in alleged damages.

The case is Juan Herrera, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated v. The Hertz Corp. et al., case number BC579320, in the Superior Court of the State of California County of Los Angeles.

Top Settlements

This is a biggie—to the tune of $2.4 billion… That’s the sum agreed to in a settlement between Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. and some 9,000 plaintiffs who filed personal injury lawsuits against the company, alleging it failed to warn of bladder cancer risks from taking its Type 2 diabetes drug Actos (pioglitazone hydrochloride).

Under the terms of the agreement, Takeda will establish a fund of between $2.37 billion and $2.4 billion, depending on how many Actos litigants opt into the settlement.

Over 4,000 cases are included in this agreement, and were coordinated in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, as well as lawsuits filed by about 4,000 people in Cook County, IL, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs.

While Takeda denies any wrongdoing in this agreement, the settlement will recover some compensation for the victims who have been injured and, in some cases, maimed by bladder cancer while taking Actos. 

Hokee Dokee—That’s a wrap folks…See you at the Bar!