Week Adjourned: 10.12.12 – Meningitis, Nexium, Strip Club Dancers

The weekly wrap of top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending October 12, 2012. Top stories include the Meningitis Outbreak, Nexium and Exotic Dancers.

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Outbreak Turning into a Rash?—of lawsuits, that is. The first in what could be a string of fungal meningitis class actions was filed on Thursday against New England Compounding Pharmacy—the maker of the steroid injections suspected to be the cause of the multi-state meningitis  outbreak.

The meningitis outbreak class action lawsuit entitled Barbe Puro v. New England Compounding Pharmacy Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, No. 12-2605, was filed in federal court in Minnesota.

According to the lawsuit, the victim, Barbe Puro, of Savage, MN, experienced headaches and nausea after receiving the steroid shots. Puro claims she suffered “bodily harm, emotional distress, and other personal injuries” after she received the steroid injection on September 17.

The contaminated steroid injections were recalled on September 26 by Framingham, MA based compounding pharmacy, New England Compounding Center (NECC). As many as 14,000 individuals may have received the tainted injections which were distributed to medical facilities across 23 states. To date, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 14 deaths associated with the contaminated steroid.

The meningitis lawsuit proposes a class comprised of Minnesota residents who may have received tainted steroid injections since June of this year. According to the CDC, so far there have been three cases of fungal meningitis reported in Minnesota  connected to the contaminated steroid injections.

Top Settlements

This might Help your Heartburn…A proposed settlement has been reached in a consumer fraud class action lawsuit against AstraZeneca alleging deceptive marketing practices around their anti-heartburn medication Nexium.

In the Nexium lawsuit, entitled Commonwealth Care Alliance v. AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals L.P., Docket No. 05-0269, the plaintiffs allege Astra Zeneca violated a Massachusetts state law by deceptively marketing the drug Nexium as superior to another drug, Prilosec or its generic version, omeprazole.

The lawsuit asks the Court to order AstraZeneca to pay restitution to purchasers for amounts they allegedly overpaid, to award money damages, or to grant other relief.

The terms of the proposed Nexium consumer fraud class action settlement have not been disclosed. However, the Court has certified a class of individuals and entities that purchased Nexium in Massachusetts (the“Class”). The Court has not made any finding or reached any conclusion as to whether AstraZeneca is liable to the Class.

You are a member of the Class if you have purchased Nexiumin Massachusetts since March 2001. If you purchased Nexium since March 2001 in Massachusetts, you may be eligible to receive money or benefits from the Lawsuit, if any are recovered. For more information on the status of this settlement visit massachusettsnexiumlitigation.com.

Good News at the Poles…I love this one. A $12.9 million settlement has been approved by a federal judge ending a three year long employment class action brought by exotic dancers who alleged the strip clubs they worked for denied them benefits by classifying the dancers as independent contractors.

The strip club dancer lawsuit alleged that the owners of the nightclubs, located in California, Kentucky, Idaho, Texas, Nevada and Florida, helped themselves to over half of the dancers’ tips, penalized them for not selling enough drinks to customers and made the dancers pay stage fees for dancing. The Spearmint Rhino nightclub is among the defendants.

Under the terms of the strip club settlement, the clubs will treat dancers as employees, partners or shareholders in their businesses, and in California, dancers will no longer have to cough up pay-to-perform fees. Dancers who do not make a written claim to the fund will not be paid; any remaining funds will go back to the strip clubs. The dancers who were named plaintiffs in the class action will receive incentive fees for the time and “professional and personal risk” they incurred by being named in the lawsuit.

And on that note—I’ll see you at the bar (no, not the strip joint). Have a great weekend!

Week Adjourned: 2.18.11

Top Class Actions

Now here’s a hairy situation—(or not…) Merck Frost and its affiliated companies are facing a Canadian class action over allegations that men who used Propecia or Proscar suffered continuing sexual dysfunction as a side effect of treatment.  

FYI—Propecia and Proscar are prescribed as a cosmetic treatment for male pattern hair loss also known as androgenic alopecia. The product monograph discloses that some men may experience sexual dysfunction but states that the symptoms disappear after cessation of the drug.

That, apparently, is not what happened in Michael Miller’s case—he’s the brave man who filed the suit. 

Mr. Miller, who is in his early 20s, was concerned when his hair started to thin in some areas. Completely understandable. So he went to his doctor who presumably prescribed Proscar in the hope that it would stop his hair from thinning. After about a month of use he noticed a drastic change in his behavior, “I lost my interest in sex and I felt anxious in social situations for no particular reason,” he says. While on the drug, his symptoms of sexual dysfunction increased as the Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 2.18.11”

Week Adjourned: 11.26.10

Top Class Actions

More Buzz on Google…only this time it’s not about Buzz. A potential class action lawsuit was filed this week against the company that claims the mantra ‘do no evil’. The lawsuit alleges that Google violated privacy laws by scanning Gmail accounts in order to sell and place advertisements on account holder’s user screens. Ummm. That doesn’t sound like something a good corporate citizen would do, at least to me.

Specifically, the lawsuit claims that Google violates The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 by scanning the content of all Gmail from any sender and uses the information to sell and place advertisements. (Kind of makes me think back to that old Rockwell song (above)—only Google wasn’t even around back then…) “As result of Google’s actions in intercepting non-Gmail account holders’ emails, Google obtains a monetary benefit without consent of the Class members and without compensation to them,” the lawsuit states.

I have to admit, I have often wondered how all those topic specific ads crop up on the side of my Gmail screen…

Top Settlements

Isn’t ‘Wholesale’ Supposed to Mean ‘Discount’? ‘AstraZeneca hit the news rather quietly this week, with the announcement that they have reached two settlements—one nationwide, one in Massachusetts—related to two different classes of purchases of the drug Zoladex.

FYI—Zoladex is used to treat prostate cancer, advanced breast cancer, endometriosis, and Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 11.26.10”

Week Adjourned: 8.6.10

Top Class Actions

Could Say He was Over his Overdraft Fees. I think these guys deserve a Business As Usual, As Usual award. Commerce Bancshares, a Kansas City-based financial institution operating simply as Commerce Bank in the state of Missouri is being sued by a client who claims the company’s bank overdraft fees violate state law.

The plaintiff, Harold J. Joseph Jr., has accused the banking chain of manipulating the sequence of debit card purchases in an attempt to maximize the number and size of overdraft fees that they can impose. 

Any of this sound familiar? Excessive bank overdraft fees lawsuits have been filed and/or settled against a variety of banks, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, M&T Bank and Wachovia. The lawsuits allege that banks charge excessive overdraft fees when customers’ accounts go into overdraft. They further allege that the banks use a number of unethical practices to push their accounts into overdraft, such as misrepresenting customers’ account balances and reordering debits and credits to accounts.

New regulations that will take effect by mid-August seek to rectify this problem by making overdraft protection an opt-in service and by regulating the terms of the action.

FYI: Information about Commerce Bancshares second quarter earnings were posted in a press release July 21. Those of you hit with excessive overdraft fees may find the numbers interesting…”Commerce Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 8.6.10”

Week Adjourned: 7.23.10

Top Class Actions

HiPhone, HiPhone, it’s Off to Court we Go…Well, all you iPhone enthusiasts are clearly disappointed with the new iPhone 4 and its apparent lack of receptivity—would that be an appropriate term to describe an alleged antenna design flaw?

Let’s get to the point. Apple and AT&T got hit with a class action lawsuit filing this week, “seeking relief for consumers who purchased iPhone 4 cellular phones.” 

To be blunt, the only way you could not know about the iPhone 4 antenna problem is if you live on another planet—or in a cave in some remote corner of the world that is not part of AT&T’s network. No doubt all you diehard Blackberry fans must be lovin it!

According to the complaint, the new iPhone 4 sold 1.7 million in its first week of sales, a figure that reportedly comes from Apple. That’s a loyal fan base. And woe betide you if you piss them off. 

Here’s the skinny—”the phone retails for $199.00 for the 16GB model or $299.00 for the 32GB model with a 2-year contract (or $599.00 16GB / $699.00 32GB without a contract). Users pay Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 7.23.10”

Week Adjourned: 4.30.10

GM is under fire for miscalculating refunds on its extended protection planTop Class Actions

Is GM cutting corners? Maybe. Certainly Jimmy Hendon believes they are, so he filed a class action lawsuit against the automotive manufacturer, over alleged unfair business practices associated with its extended warranty plans.

Mr. Hendon is claiming that GM improperly calculated his prorated cancellation refund associated with his GM Major Guard Vehicle Service Contract. Hendon purchased the extended warranty in 2006 as additional 12 month/44,000 mile coverage to the GM standard 36 month/36,000 mile factory warranty which came with the new 2006 Chevy Avalanche he had just bought. Hendon canceled the extended warranty in 2009, with 18,483 miles remaining on the contract.

Specifically, the complaint alleges that GM calculated Hendon’s refund by taking the remaining miles divided by the 80,000 total miles under warranty, resulting in a $295 refund. Hendon claims GM should have calculated his refund by dividing his remaining miles by the 44,000 mile extension, resulting in a $580 refund.

The suit claims that GM should be prorating the canceled refund by dividing the remaining miles or days by the number of miles or days that the service contract extended the factory warranty.

While you may think that $200 or $300 may not sound like much for GM—why would they bother?—if you multiply that sum over the potentially thousands of folk in similar situations to Jimmy—well heck, you might just have enough for a bailout payment…

The Gulf of Mexico Tragedy in the Making… Hopefully BP won’t get away with this environmental Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 4.30.10”