Week Adjourned: 9.5.14 – Allstate, Radiology Bills, BofA Phone Calls

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top stories include Allstate Insurance, Radiology Bills and BofA Phone Calls.

AllstateTop Class Action Lawsuits

You’re in good hands with Allstate? Maybe not so much if you’re a claims adjuster. This week the Insurance giant got a surprise. It’s green lights a go-go for a long-standing unpaid overtime class action against, involving 800 Allstate employees in California who allege Allstate had a practice or unofficial policy of requiring its claim adjusters to work unpaid off the-the-clock overtime in violation of California labor law.

The Allstate lawsuit was brought by casualty adjuster Jack Jimenez in 2010, on behalf of any claims adjuster working for the insurer in the state of California since September 29, 2006. The complaint alleges that Allstate’s managers are required to stay within an annual budget that includes overtime compensation, and that the performance evaluations and bonuses paid to managers are dependent on how closely they conform to the budget. This would mean that a manager would have a disincentive to approve and report overtime, the class claims.

The class action alleges that Allstate sees repeated requests for overtime as a performance issue to be addressed with individual workers “including “suggestions” on how a claims adjuster can be better trained on efficiency and alternative methods of getting the work done that do not require overtime. Managers would often see workers performing off-the-clock work outside of their scheduled shifts but not inquire if overtime was requested, the workers say.

The plaintiffs contend Allstate’s allegedly illegal conduct has been widespread and consistent. The class action suit alleges that Allstate had not paid overtime to current and former California-based claims adjusters in violation of California Labor Code and had not paid adjusters for missed meal breaks and that Allstate had not timely paid wages upon termination in violation of the California Labor Code. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that Allstate engaged in unfair competition in violation of California Business and Professions Code.

FYI—the case is: Jack Jimenez v. Allstate Insurance Company – CV 10-8486 AHM (FFMx). 

How much for that X-Ray? Two Florida women recently filed a class action lawsuit alleges JFK Medical Center and parent company HCA, Inc., are in violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Practices ActSpecifically the plaintiffs allege they and others like them were billed exorbitant and unreasonable fees for emergency radiological services covered in part by their Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance.

Under Florida’s No Fault Car Insurance Law, drivers are required to have $10,000 in PIP insurance, which has a 20 percent out-of-pocket deductible. The complaint, filed in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Hillsborough County, charges JFK Medical Center, of Atlantis, Fla., and other Florida HCA facilities with billing PIP patients’ rates for radiological services that are 20 to 65 times higher than the rates charged for similar services to non-PIP patients.

The lawsuit was brought by Marisela Herrera and Luz Sanchez, both of whom were PIP-covered patients who were treated through JFK Medical Center’s emergency department after their automobile accidents in April 2013 and May 2013, respectively. Herrera and Sanchez each received a CT of the brain for $6,404, a CT scan of the spine for $5,900, and a thoracic spine X-ray for $2,222. Herrera also received a lumbar spine X-ray for $3,359.

According to the South Florida Medicare rate, a standard used for customary and reasonable medical service rates, the brain CT scan provided is $163.96; the cervical spine CT scan, $213.14; and the thoracic spine x-ray, with three views, $38.

The complaint charges that because of the exorbitant rates, both Herrera’s and Sanchez’s $10,000 PIP coverage were prematurely exhausted and both were billed thousands of dollars by JFK Medical Center for radiological services not paid for by their PIP insurers.

The complaint also charges breach of contract since both women entered into a “Condition of Admission” contract that provides that patients must pay their accounts at the rates stated in the hospital’s price list. Neither woman was provided a price list at the time of medical treatment.

Plaintiffs are represented by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Boldt Law Firm, of Hollywood, FL, and Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., of Lake Worth, FL. 

Top Settlements 

Ah—one ringy dingy—that will be $32 million thank you! That’s right folks—a $32 million settlement has been reached in a Telephone Consumer protection Act (TCPA) class action pending against Bank of America (BofA). The BofA lawsuit claims the bank and FIA Card Services, also a defendant, violated the TCPA when it used automatic telephone dialing systems and/or an artificial or prerecorded voice to contact individuals without obtaining prior express consent from those individuals.

The ruling certifies a class for settlement purposes including all individuals who received allegedly unauthorized automated phone calls from BofA regarding mortgage loan and credit card accounts between 2007 and 2013. The class also includes people who allegedly received unauthorized text messages to their cell phones, between 2009 and 2010. The class is thought to total roughly 7 million members.

The preliminary settlement, if approved, could be an amount the parties claim to be the largest ever obtained in a finalized TCPA settlement, according to an order filed Friday approving the deal.

In addition to the monetary portion of the settlement, Bank of America has improved its servicing systems such that they prevent the calling of a cellphone unless a loan servicing record is systematically coded to reflect the customer’s prior express consent to receive calls via their cell phone. 

Ok Folks–time to adjourn for the week.  Have a fab weekend—see you at the bar!

Week Adjourned: 4.20.12 – Purina Dog Treats, FEMA Trailers, Allstate Insurance

The weekly wrap on top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending April 20, 2012. Top stories include Purina dog treats, Allstate Insurance and Hurricane Katrina FEMA trailers.

And this week—it’s business behaving badly…

Top Class Actions

If you have a dog, read this… A $5 million defective products class action lawsuit has been filed against Nestlé Purina Petcare Co, alleging the company’s Waggin’ Train Yam Good chicken-wrapped treats causes kidney failure in dogs.

The Waggin’ Train Yam Good dog treats lawsuit, filed by Dennis Adkins from Illinois, claims his 9-year-old Pomeranian dog became sick and died from kidney failure three days after eating Waggin’ Train Yam Good chicken-wrapped treats. Adkins said he didn’t give his dog more than the recommended one treat per day, and his other dog did not eat the treats and didn’t get sick. Walmart, where the dog treats were sold, is also a defendant in the lawsuit.

As reported by Reuters Legal, in 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a cautionary warning to consumers about a potential link between dog illnesses and chicken jerky-based products imported from China. None of the products were recalled, and no specific brands were mentioned in the FDA warning. Unbelievable? No, sadly not.

Top Settlements

The fallout from Hurricane Katrina just goes on and on…this week, a $14 million settlement was reached in the defective products Hurricane Katrina FEMA trailer class action brought by victims of Hurricane Katrina against 21 companies who manufactured those infamous FEMA trailers.

The companies manufactured government-issued trailers for storm victims after Hurricane Katrina, and the FEMA trailer lawsuit claims that those trailers contained hazardous materials. As a consequence, the occupants were exposed to toxic fumes.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs told media on Tuesday that the trailer manufacturers or their insurers will pay a total of $14.8 million to resolve the claims without any admission of wrongdoing. The proposed settlement could benefit tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents who lived in the travel trailers, which were provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the Associated Press reports.

Early Bird Renewals Catch Bad Faith Insurance Settlement at Allstate. A proposed settlement has been reached this week in a bad faith insurance class action that accuses Allstate of deceptive business practices.

What did they do, you ask? Well allegedly, Allstate Insurance Company and Allstate Indemnity Company (collectively “Allstate”) sent their motor vehicle insureds deceptive motor vehicle insurance renewal bills in order to induce Allstate’s insureds to pay their renewal premium in full a month before the were premiums were actually due.

If you are affected by this potential settlement, you can find out more here. If you have received a Notice, Allstate’s records indicate you are a member of the class.

The Court has given its preliminary approval to the Settlement, and has ordered that a Notice be sent to all Settlement Class Members. Under the terms of the settlement a sum of $2,727,555 would be provided to pay for claims to those class memers who submit valid claims. The payment amount will consist of 30 days of interest at an annual rate of 7 percent simple interest on the payments of the stated “pay in full” amounts that you made on or before the “due date” indicated on the bill.

The judge presiding over this case has deemed that everyone who fits this description is a class member: all Allstate California motor vehicle insureds who from January 1, 2002 through December 31, 2005 received Allstate motor vehicle insurance renewal bills indicating a “due date” for payment approximately one month before the date the policy was to renew, and who paid the stated “pay in full” amount on or before the “due date” on the bill.

And on that happy note—that’s a wrap. I hear the ice-cubes calling my name…