Week Adjourned: 6.2.17 – Ford, Unsolicited Calls, Spotify

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Ford Focus & Fiesta Facing a Class Action… Another week, another defective automotive class action lawsuit. This one has been filed against Ford Motor Co. alleging that Ford’s model year 2012-16 Focus and 2011-16 Fiesta sedans have defective PowerShift transmissions, a problem that has been ongoing for years.

The nearly 7,000 Fiesta and Focus are enrolled in the class action describe the problem as faulty dual-clutch transmissions prone to “shuddering, slipping, bucking, jerking, hesitation while changing gears, premature internal wear, delays in downshifting and, in some cases, sudden or delayed acceleration.”

According to the Ford transmission lawsuit, Ford issued a technical service bulletin to dealers on January 1, 2011, which noted the Fiesta’s PowerShift transmission could suffer “a loss of power, hesitation, surge, or lack of throttle response while driving.” In total, Ford has issued more than 20 technical service bulletins relating to the affected models, but so far has been unable to find a “consistently reliable repair.”

Then, in 2014, Ford extended its powertrain warranty from five years/60,000 miles to seven years/100,000 miles to help cover the problems.

According to lawyers representing the class, each client’s award would be customized based on that client’s damages.

Top Settlements

One Ringy Dingy—and that will be $4.25 million thank you… Well not quite. There were a few more unsolicited calls made—but in any event, a settlement been reached in a Telephone Consumer protection Act (TCPA) class action lawsuit brought against Florida-based Insurer A&B Insurance and Financial LLC.

Filed by plaintiffs Jim Youngman and Robert Allen, the lawsuit alleged the defendants made unauthorized sales calls to consumers, including people on the federal Do Not Call registry.

Specifically, the complaint stated Youngman began receiving telemarketing calls from a company called Florida Blue, which did business as A&B Insurance, and which in one instance asked him for his Social Security number. These calls began in January 2016. Youngman alleges that not only did he have no history of a business relationship with those companies, but also the number they called had been registered on the federal Do Not Call list since 2003.

Similarly, Allen claimed he had received a pre-recorded phone call, using an automated telephone dialing system, to his cell phone on behalf of A&B Insurance in December 2015.

According to the terms of the robocalling settlement, a fund will be established, from which payments will be made to a proposed class consisting of any person in the US who either received a telemarketing call from the insurer within a year of being registered on the Do Not Call list, or received a call that employed an automatic telephone dialing system. The class period is from August 18, 2012, to April 26, 2017 inclusive.

Estimates suggest that class members could receive approximately $85 each. The case is Jim Youngman et al. v. A&B Insurance and Financial Inc., case number 6:16-cv-01478, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Spotify Settles… And now for some really big money. $43 million to be precise, pending the court’s ok. The settlement has been agreed in two consolidated copyright infringement class actions pending against the internet music content streaming service Spotify.

According to the lawsuit, instead of following legally established procedures for paying the mechanical royalties, Spotify engaged in “systemic and willful copyright infringement”.

The Spotify settlement, which requires court approval, will end a year of litigation for the two suits, filed in January 2016 by Camper Van Beethoven lead singer David Lowery and singer-songwriter Melissa Ferrick. They alleged Spotify had chosen to “infringe now, apologize later” rather than go through the effort of fully licensing its music.

“While Spotify has profited handsomely from the music that its sells to its subscribers, the owners of that music (in particular, songwriters and their music publishers) have not been able to share in that success because Spotify is using their music for free,” Ferrick’s complaint stated. “Spotify’s failure to properly obtain licenses is much more than what it euphemistically describes as an ‘administration system’ problem,” Ferrick’s alleged. “It is systemic and willful copyright infringement for which actual and statutory damages are the remedy.”

Under the terms of the Spotify settlement, thousands of songwriters will share in the $43.5 million settlement fund as payment for Spotify’s past use of their material. Additionally, the fund will go towards establishing procedures to pay for mechanical royalties, which go to songwriters and publishers when compositions are recorded or reproduced.

The case is Melissa Ferrick et al v. Spotify USA Inc. et al., case number 1:16-cv-08412, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

Hope the creators are singing all the way to the bank. 

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