Do you know who’s got your personal information? An unfair business practices class action lawsuit has been filed in the Southern District Court of Florida against Best Buy Corporation for violating the Drivers’ Privacy Protection Act or “DPPA”, a federal statute that protects the privacy of personal information assembled by State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs).
The lawsuit alleges Best Buy has established a business practice of taking, storing, using and/or sharing customers’ personal or highly restricted personal information, without consent, when customers make a normal return of Best Buy merchandise. Their receipt indicates that Best Buy “tracks exchanges and returns … and some of the information from your ID may be stored in a secure, encrypted database of customer activity that Best Buy and its affiliates use to track exchanges and returns.”
The DPPA specifically prohibits Best Buy’s conduct and was instituted to protect consumers from abuses such as identify theft and stalking, which often result when information is unsecured and improperly stored. The class action alleges that Best Buy’s retention of data accessed on a driver’s license is not “use in the normal course of business” as described by the DPPA.
What’s that old adage—if it sounds too good to be true… Power Balance LLC, the company that made Power Balance bracelets, has reportedly settled a consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week for $57.4 million and filed for federal bankruptcy protection. The details and amount of the Power Balance settlement remain to be confirmed, although it’s all over the Internet.
The company was sued over allegations of misleading advertising, advertising that allegedly claimed the hologram-embedded rubber bracelets enabled the wearers to “achieve their best,” a statement that begs the question—best what? Best outlandish claim? Possibly. Although the company claims there’s science to back up the statement. I have one word—and it’s “placebo.”
About time: Merck Vioxx settlement. There’s not much that’s funny about this. Merck, Sharp & Dohme has agreed to pay $950 million to resolve criminal charges and civil claims related to its promotion and marketing of the painkiller Vioxx (rofecoxib), the Justice Department announced. The FDA approved Vioxx for three indications in May 1999, but did not approve its use against rheumatoid arthritis until April 2002. In the interim, for nearly three years, Merck promoted Vioxx for rheumatoid arthritis, conduct for which it was admonished in an FDA warning letter issued in September 2001.
Merck is also entering into a civil settlement agreement under which it will pay $628,364,000 to resolve additional allegations regarding off-label marketing of Vioxx and false statements about the drug’s cardiovascular safety. Of the total civil settlement, $426,389,000 will be recovered by the United States, and the remaining share of $201,975,000 will be distributed to the participating Medicaid states. The settlement and plea conclude a long-running investigation of Merck’s promotion of Vioxx, which was withdrawn from the marketplace in September 2004.
The parallel civil settlement covers a broader range of allegedly illegal conduct by Merck. The settlement resolves allegations that Merck representatives made inaccurate, unsupported, or misleading statements about Vioxx’s cardiovascular safety in order to increase sales of the drug, resulting in payments by the federal government. It also resolves allegations that Merck made false statements to state Medicaid agencies about the cardiovascular safety of Vioxx, and that those agencies relied on Merck’s false claims in making payment decisions about the drug. Finally, like the criminal plea, the civil settlement also recovers damages for allegedly false claims caused by Merck’s unlawful promotion of Vioxx for rheumatoid arthritis.
Ok—That’s the week that was. Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!