Week Adjourned: 11.18.16 – Chrysler, Toyota, Adderall

chryslerTop Class Action Lawsuits

So Volkswagen’s Not the Only Emissions Cheat? Maybe…Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and engine maker Cummins Inc. got hit with a proposed consumer fraud class action alleging the diesel engines in Dodge Ram trucks hide the trucks’ emissions, which are above the legal limit.

Specifically, the plaintiffs claims that Chrysler and Cummins conspired to knowingly deceive customers and regulators with respect to the emissions levels generated by Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks outfitted with the Cummins 6.7-liter turbo diesel engine, which were emitting dangerous levels of nitrogen oxides.

“The defendants never disclosed to consumers that the affected vehicles may be ‘clean’ diesels in very limited circumstances, but are ‘dirty’ diesels under most driving conditions,” the complaint states.

According to the Chrysler emissions lawsuit, the engines have a technology built in that traps and breaks down pollutants, a design feature meant to reduce the amount of NOx going into the atmosphere through the trucks’ exhaust. However, when the trucks are traveling for long distances or up hills, they emit far more pollutants that allowed under California and federal law. Nice.

The plaintiffs claim Chrysler and Cummins intentionally mislead the public, illegally sold non-compliant polluting vehicles, concealed emissions levels, knowingly profited from the dirty diesels and used fraudulently gained emissions credits from the US Environmental Protection Agency for use on future production of high-polluting vehicles.

The complaint states that in addition to hiding the true emission outputs, the affected Cummins diesel engines wore out the so-called catalytic converter more quickly because the engines burn fuel at a higher rate. Consequently, truck owners frequently had to replace the converter after the warranty had expired at a cost of approximately $3,000 to $5,000.

The case is James Bledsoe et al. v. FCA USA LLC et al., case number 2:16-cv-14024, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Top Settlements

Rusty Trucks? What a whopper! A $3.4 billion settlement has been agreed in a defective automotive class action brought against Toyota Motor Co. The lawsuit alleges that the frames in certain Tacoma, Tundra and Sequoia trucks are prone to rust corrosion and perforation.

Under the terms of the deal, approximately 1.5 million vehicles that may have defective frames will be inspected and an estimated 225,000 trucks will have their frames replaced.

The Toyota frame lawsuit was filed in 2015, alleging its 2005-2009 Tacoma trucks were made with frames that are inadequately protected from rust corrosion, rendering the vehicles unstable and unsafe to drive. The lawsuit also alleged that Toyota was aware of the defect but failed to correct it.

The settlement covers 2005 to 2010 Tacomas, 2007 to 2008 Tundras, and 2005 to 2008 Sequoias. The Japanese automaker has promised that vehicle owners will not be charged for the inspection and replacement campaign. The program will last 12 years from the date the vehicle was sold or leased, meaning any future perforations will also be covered. The replacement and inspection policy remains valid if an owner sells the vehicle to another party.

Further, the plaintiffs have asked for certification of a class of Tacoma, Tundra and Sequoia owners or lessees from the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Washington D.C. and all U.S. territories.

The case is Brian Warner et al v. Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., case number 2:15-cv-02171 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Adderall Generic Delay. Finally. A $15 million settlement has been approved by a federal judge, ending an antitrust class action against Shire US Inc, that alleged the pharmaceutical company paid competitors to delay selling their less expensive generic versions of Adderall, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Under the terms of the Adderall settlement agreement, plaintiffs Monica Barba and Jonathan Reisman were each granted service awards of $5,000, and 10 named plaintiffs in three related cases were granted $2,500 awards.

According to court documents, some 23,452 claims requesting reimbursement for more than 855,000 Adderall prescriptions have been received by the claims administrator. That’s not insignificant.

About $1 million is expected to be left over once all the claims are paid out, and will be donated to CHADD, a national nonprofit that promotes education and advocacy for people with ADHD.

Filed in 2013, the lawsuit was initially brought by consumers in Florida and Pennsylvania who alleged Shire created pay-for-delay settlements in false patent litigation against Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. and Impax Laboratories Inc. to delay the generic competition for Adderall reaching the market.

The case is Barba et al. v. Shire US Inc. et al., case number 1:13-cv-21158, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Well, that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 11.21.14 – Chrysler, Sephora, Boston Scientific

The top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week. Top stories include Chrysler, Sephora and Boston Scientific Mesh.

Chrysler LogoTop Class Action Lawsuits

Tipsy TIPMs? Topping the list this week? Another defective automotive class action lawsuit—surprise, surprise. Never would have guessed, right?

This one was filed in federal court against Chrysler Group LLC. The lawsuit seeks to hold the Big Three automobile maker accountable for economic losses suffered by owners and passengers of Chrysler cars and trucks that stalled, caught fire or sustained other potentially life-endangering malfunctions due to a faulty onboard computer.

The Chrysler lawsuit alleges that Chrysler knew about and fraudulently concealed the defectiveness of its Totally Integrated Power Module—TIPM, for short. Chrysler sought as far back as 2005 to hide the magnitude of the TIPM defect from consumers and initiated only limited vehicle recalls, the complaint alleges.

Despite knowing about the defect, Chrysler continued installing faulty TIPMs in vehicles until the 2014 model year, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The TIPM is an integral component of many Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep models on the road today, the device controls and distributes power to all of a vehicle’s electrical functions. Prone to sudden failure, a vehicle’s TIPM poses a serious safety issue, placing the driver and passengers at risk of harm, the complaint indicates.

A failed TIPM causes malfunctioning of airbags, headlights, brakes, horns, wipers, windows, door locks and other components that rely on electrical functions.Worse, a failed TIPM can cause a vehicle’s engine to shut down unexpectedly while driving at high speeds.

“Millions of consumers who have bought into this brand have suffered harm because of Chrysler and its faulty Totally Integrated Power Module,” the complaint alleges.

Owners of defective TIPM-equipped Chrysler vehicles suffer economic losses in part because the device is expensive to replace, costing upward of $1,000. Also, because of the sheer number of vehicles requiring a new TIPM, consumers are forced to make do without their vehicles for many days and even weeks while their vehicles sit in the shop and wait for a replacement TIPM to be shipped. Adding insult to injury, the defect caused many motorists to incur unnecessary costs to replace non-defective parts that malfunctioned because of the faulty TIPM. 

Ugly Side of Beauty Biz? Sephora USA Inc. is facing a proposed discrimination class action lawsuit. Filed in New York federal court, the discrimination lawsuit claims the company deactivated thousands of Asian customers’ accounts, allegedly motivated by a racist belief that they were buying discounted beauty products in bulk and reselling them for profit.

Brought by four women of Chinese descent, the discrimination class action claims Sephora shut down Asian users’ accounts after its site crashed on November 6, due to a surge in web traffic resulting from a 20 percent-off sale promotion. According to Sephora, reselling of its products is pervasive. The company said it blocked some North American and international customer accounts for this reason.

According to the plaintiffs, the only accounts that were deactivated were those that used Chinese web domains or had names that Sephora perceived as being of Asian origin. A plaintiffs’ attorney said an investigation revealed that only users who fell into those two categories had their accounts blocked.

According to the lawsuit, the four named plaintiffs live in New York, Philadelphia, and Columbus, Ohio, and were all members of Sephora’s ‘Beauty Insider’ program. The program gives customers who spend certain amounts on the company’s products access to discounts and other promotions. The points the women accumulated by buying Sephora products, and which give access to additional discounts and special gifts, have been lost, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. Sephora alleges it only went ahead with the deactivations after it “identified certain entities who take advantage of promotional opportunities to purchase products in large volume on our website and resell them through other channels.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said that instead of deactivating accounts, Sephora could have addressed the resale issue by limiting the number of products a single customer could purchase or capping the amount of money they could spend. Sounds sensible.

The named plaintiffs seek to represent a class of Sephora customers who were part of the Beauty Insider program who either are or are perceived as being of Chinese or Asian ethnicity and had their accounts blocked or deactivated following the website crash. The potential class is expected to be in the thousands.

The case is Xiao Xiao et al., v. Sephora USA Inc. et al., case number 14-cv-9181, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.  

Top Settlements

Boston Scientific Bellwether Results… A jury has awarded $18.5 million against Boston Scientific Corp in settlement of transvaginal mesh litigation brought by four women who alleged the implanted medical device left them with nerve damage, infections and pain during sex.

The trial was heard by a federal jury in West Virginia and is the second verdict against the company over defective vaginal slings. Last week a federal jury in Florida issued a $26.7 million verdict against Boston Scientific for providing insufficient warnings about the risks of its Pinnacle mesh device.

The four women in the West Virginia case sued Boston Scientific over the defective Obtryx transvaginal sling. “In these cases, the jurors clearly understood that Boston Scientific moved too quickly in bringing its product to market, and that it used inappropriate materials while at the same time failing to warn doctors and patients about the risks involved,” said on the of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs. Each of the women will receive $1 million in punitive damages under the terms of the settlement.

The multidistrict litigation being heard in Miami, also involved four women who alleged suffering and injury after having the sling implanted. It was the first federal bellwether trial against Boston Scientific, one of seven manufacturers of pelvic mesh that face about 60,000 lawsuits across the country.

Transvaginal Mesh and Transvaginal Slings are medical devices that are surgically implanted to treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) and/or Stress Urinary Incontinence(SUI). 

Hokee Dokee—Time to adjourn for the week.  Have a fab weekend–See you at the bar!

Week Adjourned: 4.25.14 – Chrysler, Revlon, Neurontin

Chrysler JeepTop Class Action Lawsuits

GM, Toyota, now Chrysler—Welcome! to the defective automotive class action lawsuit hall of fame…Cast your mind back—when reports of alleged defects with the Chrysler Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM)  in 2011-2012 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos and Dodge Grand Caravans, began to surface…well, predictably, a Chrysler class action has been filed, alleging the alleged defective Chrysler TIPMs can cause numerous electrical problems and serious safety risks. no surprise there. I suppose the good news is that there don’t appear to be any reports of deaths associated with these defects. We hope.

According to the lawsuit, the associated TIPM problems range from difficulty starting the vehicles to stalling to fuel pumps not shutting off. Additionally, the affected vehicles may experience random activation of the built in alarm systems, windshield wipers or horns, headlights going out. Talk about having a bad hair day! That could send a person seriously over the edge.

The alleged defective TIPMs are so common that the replacement parts are backordered for weeks across the US. Terrific.

The plaintiffs allege that to date, Chrysler has refused to reimburse impacted affected owners for their rental car costs or the cost of expensive repairs. Further, Chrysler has to date refused to issue a recall for the TIPM, despite being aware that the defective TIPM pose serious safety risks to those who continue to drive the impacted Chrysler vehicles. So, sing it with me folks—you know the words—Hi Ho, Hi Ho—it’s off to court they go!

Revlon’s hit a Wrinkle with their DNA Advantage product marketing…Wonder if they can make it vanish? The beauty products manufacturer got hit with a consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week—filed by two women who allege the company makes false and misleading claims regarding the benefits of various beauty products. Well, they certainly wouldn’t be the first.

The Revlon lawsuit specifically claims that these products are advertised as providing a “DNA Advantage” despite the fact that none of the products can stimulate, interact with or otherwise affect the genetic code in human skin cells. (Really, we should be very grateful for that…)

Filed by Anne Elkind and Sharon Rosen, of Long Island and California respectively, the lawsuit states: “Revlon claims in its federal trademark registration that ‘DNA Advantage’ refers to an ‘ingredient in the manufacturing of cosmetics and makeup to protect against UV rays’ which is essentially sunscreen. Further, only one of its three ‘Age Defying with DNA Advantage’ products … even contains sunscreen.” Really?

The plaintiffs allege Revlon’s use of the term “with DNA Advantage,” rather than “with sunscreen,” could deceive consumers into believing that the three cosmetic products are scientifically important and beneficial over and above anything having to do with UV protection from sunscreen, Really, it seems to me that if Revlon had found the “Fountain of Youth” we would not be buying this stuff over the counter for under $100 bucks…

The complaint further states that even if the information on the packaging is referring to other ingredients with respect to the “DNA Advantage”, no ingredient identified by its customer service employees is capable of stimulating, interacting with or otherwise affecting the DNA in human skin cells, contrary to Revlon’s advertising claims. Further, Revlon’s packaging of the products features a double-helix design characteristic of the shape of deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA molecules, which could further deceive ordinary consumers.

“Plaintiffs paid more for the products than they otherwise would have absent these statements, and would not have been willing to pay the prices they did, or to purchase them at all, absent the misrepresentations,” the lawsuit states. Well this part adds up.

The complaint, Elkind et al v. Revlon Consumer Products, case number 2:14-cv-02484, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges fraud, false advertising and unfair business practices claims under both New York and California statutory and common law. The lawsuit is seeking class action status, injunctive relief including possibly a recall of the products and payment including punitive damages from the Manhattan-based Revlon Inc, unit.

Top Settlements

Pfizer is in a Giving Mood… They agreed to pay a $190M settlement settling a consumer fraud class action lawsuit which alleges the pharmaceutical giant engaged in tactics to delay market entry of generic versions of its epilepsy drug Neurontin.

The lawsuit was filed by purchasers of Neurontin in 2002, claiming Pfizer undertook campaign of sham patent infringement lawsuits and promotion of the drug for unapproved uses in order to maintain market exclusivity. The case is In re Neurontin Antitrust Litigation, No. 02-1390, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. That’s an expensive process…

FYI—in 2004, Pfizer pleaded guilty to criminal charges of illegal marketing of Neurontin and paid $430 million to federal and state governments.

Ok—Folks—we’re done here—have a great weekend and we’ll see you at the bar!