Week Adjourned: 7.21.17 – Ford, Ashley Madison, Speeding Cameras

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Bigger not necessarily better? Possibly…Ford has been hit with a proposed consumer fraud class action lawsuit alleging the company sold car jacks with sports vehicles that are too small to fit their lifted trucks, so that car owners are unable to change their tires.

Filed in Oklahoma federal court, by lead plaintiff Matthew W. Leverett, the proposed national class action alleges the Ford’s trucks have a manufacturer’s window sticker that indicates that the vehicles come equipped with a jack and spare tire. However, the sticker doesn’t disclose that the jack and spare tire are only compatible with so-called stock trucks of the same model, and not with the higher lifted trucks, the plaintiff contends.

According to the Ford complaint, Leverett’s 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty Truck came with a jack that isn’t compatible with his vehicle because the tires on his truck are larger and the ride heights are higher than so called stock trucks. Leverett asserts Ford failed to inform him of the car jack’s deficiencies when he purchased the truck.

“Each person who has purchased or leased a lifted truck during the time period relevant to this action was injured by overpaying for a vehicle that did not come equipped with a functioning jack and spare tire, as Ford represented, and as each purchaser would have reasonably expected,” the lawsuit states. “These jacks cannot safely be used on, and are not compatible with, the relatively higher frames of the lifted trucks,” the complaint states.

Further, Leverett asserts that before buying the 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty Truck, he was told the lift kit and larger tires were covered under a vehicle service agreement he purchased through Ford Motor Credit Company LLC, a division of Ford Motor Co. However, after buying the truck, he discovered the lift kit and larger tires were not covered by Ford’s manufacturer’s warranty.

Leverett seeks to represent a class of car users who have had similar experiences. The proposed class action claims violations of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act and breaches of the implied warranties of merchantability under the Uniform Commercial Code. Leverett is seeking damages and equitable and declaratory relief on behalf of himself and a nationwide class and a statewide class of individuals who purchased or leased one or more new Ford trucks equipped with a lift kit and larger-than-stock tires.

Last week it was Ford Transit vans making class action headlines, this week it’s Lift Kits. What next, I wonder?

The case is Leverett et al. v. Ford Motor Co., case number 5:17-cv-00751, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Top Settlements

Shhhh—it’s a secret! Well, actually, it’s just not finalized. What, you ask? An $11.2 million settlement has been reached in the data breach multi-district litigation (MDL) pending against the dating site Ashley Madison, formerly known as Avid Dating Life Inc., and its parent company Ruby Life Inc. There may be millions of plaintiffs seeking compensation from the settlement, as the 2015 data breach affected some 37 million users.

The MDL joins multiple lawsuits filed against the dating website, which catered to married people. Ruby has stated that since the data leak it has enhanced its measures to protect client data.

According to the allegations made after the Ashley Madison data breach, Avid not only failed to secure customers’ confidential information, but also advertised a “full delete removal” service that in fact didn’t eradicate user account information from the website’s database. Further, the complaints claimed that Avid used artificial intelligence to fool men into believing they were interacting with women when they were in fact chatting with “bots.”

According to the terms of the proposed settlement, funds will be available to reimburse customers who paid for “full delete” services, reimbursements for credits on the website they may have pre-purchased and any losses caused by the data breach of up to $2,000. Class members may receive a maximum of $3,500 each, according to settlement documents.

The proposed program to notify potential class members will ads in People magazine, Sports Illustrated and more than 11 million targeted digital banner ads. That will probably be the best exposure the now defunct website ever receives.

The proposed settlement requires court approval.

The case is In Re: Ashley Madison Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, case number 4:15-md-02669 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

And while we’re talking scandals… This week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his administration said they’d pony up $38.75 million to settle an unfair business practices class-action lawsuit alleging the city failed to provide motorists with adequate notice regarding red light camera and speed camera operations within Chicago.

The windy city’s red light camera system consists of over than 350 cameras and has raised more than $500 million in $100 tickets since 2002. Ok, they’re not fooling around. But…

The lawsuit was brought by attorney Jacie Zolna in 2015, claiming the city violated its own rules by failing to send a second notice of a violation before guilt was determined, and by doubling the fine for late payment of tickets sooner than allowed.

Several lawsuits were brought and the attention they received unearthed a massive scandal and corruption in Chicago’s city hall. A Chicago Tribune investigation exposed a $2 million City Hall bribery scheme that brought the traffic cameras to Chicago as well as tens of thousands of tickets that were unfairly issued to drivers.

According to the terms of the settlement, more than 1.2 million people could be eligible to receive payment for half of the costs of their tickets. Zolna said those who qualify will receive letters in the mail in upcoming months notifying them they were part of the lawsuit, the Chicago Tribune reports.

So if you got a ticket—you’ll be hearing from them. A victory for the little people. And on that note…

That’s a wrap for this week. See you at the bar!

Week Adjourned: 9.4.15 – Ashley Madison, Safeway, Schneider Drivers

ashley madisonTop Class Action Lawsuits

It Takes a Brave Man… A brave folk has manned up and filed a lawsuit against Ashley Madison in the US—this one in Alabama. The data breach class action, filed  in federal court, claims the site and its owners and operators failed to protect its customers’ data or promptly alert them of the data hack that occurred in July. You think? The cyber attack publicly exposed information on 37 million Ashley Madison members. Oh yeah baby—that’s bad.

The lead plaintiff, who filed under the pseudonym “John Doe,” is claiming that Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc, the parent company of Ashley Madison, was negligent and violated Alabama state and federal laws by not implementing proper security measures to protect its customers’ information and by not deleting its members’ data even after they paid $19 to have their information taken off the website.

According to the Ashley Madison lawsuit, in 2012 the plaintiff created an account with Ashley Madison. At that time he was not in a relationship, currently he is engaged. He states he became aware his information had been made public on August 21, roughly the same time his friends, customers and neighbors alerted him they were aware of his account. Doe contends he and his fiancée have also received a number of embarrassing messages from friends and family through social media. Ok—that’s not nice.

“Plaintiff was not in a relationship at the time he accessed the site, however, he is now in a committed relationship with his soon to be wife, and they have suffered much embarrassment and emotional distress as a result of Ashley Madison’s failure to protect Plaintiff’s private information,” the complaint states.

Doe claims that by allegedly misrepresenting to him that it had protected his data and deleted his account information when it hadn’t, Ashley Madison has violated the Federal Stored Communications Act and Alabama’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Doe is also asserting breach of implied contract, bailment, conversion, fraud and misrepresentation and seeks compensatory and punitive damages. The case is John Doe v. Avid Life Media, Inc. et al, case number 6:15-cv-01464, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

You know, the truth really is stranger than fiction—you just can’t make this stuff up.

Top Settlements

Would you Like Those Delivered? Hell yes! And make sure the check’s in with the groceries. A big win for consumers who purchased groceries for delivery from Safeway—a federal judge in California has ruled that Safeway must pay about $30 million in damages to named plaintiff Michael Rodman and class members, because the grocery chain has been found liable in a breach of contract consumer fraud class action lawsuit. The lawsuit was brought by Rodman and fellow customers who allege the grocery chain overcharged for groceries purchased for delivery: it has promised price parity with store bought merchandise.

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar held that $30 million is roughly the sum of what Safeway made by concealing markup prices for groceries delivered to class members from April 2010 to December 2012.

However, Judge Tigar ruled that Safeway was not liable for customers who used its delivery service prior to 2006 when the service was run by a third-party vendor.

“Class members are entitled to recover the aggregate amount of the difference between the prices charged during the class period for items purchased in the online store as compared to the price customers would have been charged for those items in the physical store from which they were selected and delivered,” Judge Tigar ruled.

The case is Rodman v. Safeway Inc., case number 3:11-cv-03003, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Truck Drivers Gettin’ a Break… Now here’s a result—to the tune of $28 million—a settlement has been reached in an employment class action lawsuit pending against Schneider National Carriers Inc. The lawsuit was brought by more than 6,000 California truck drivers who alleged the company had violated state wage-and-hour laws and failed to provide meal and rest breaks.

The plaintiffs are California-based truckers who worked for Schneider as intermodal, dedicated or regional drivers from November 2004 to the present.

As a class, they have asked the court to approve the settlement, thereby ending the litigation which began in 2008. A final hearing is scheduled for late September.

Under the proposed Schneider National Carrier settlement terms, 73 percent of the $28 million, or about $20.5 million, will be paid to settle claims made by the so-called dedicated and intermodal driver subclasses. The remaining $7.56 million would be used to settle the claims of the regional driver subclass.

“This settlement represents a substantial recovery for the class, and a well-crafted compromise of the divergent positions of the parties,” the motion states, and: “clearly meets, and exceeds, the standards for preliminary approval.”
The case is Morris Bickley et al. v. Schneider National Carriers Inc., case number 4:08-cv-05806, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Ok—That’s a wrap folks…Happy Labor Day—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!