Week Adjourned: 8.22.14 – Gap, Walgreens, LinkedIn

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements featuring lawsuits involving the Gap, Walgreens and LinkedIn.

Gap logoTop Class Action Lawsuits 

Mind the Gap—the Credibility Gap that is. This week, two separate consumer fraud class action lawsuits were filed against The Gap Inc., Banana Republic LLC and Saks Fifth Avenue LLC in a California court alleging they deceived customers as to the quality and supposed savings of outlet store items.

According to the lawsuit against The Gap and Banana Republic, which The Gap owns, the company hides a “Factory Store” label with three squares on it, on clothing it sells at its outlets. The lawsuit claims that the label indicates the clothes were made specifically for the outlet and are of inferior quality to those sold in the traditional Gap and Banana Republic retail outlets.

In the Saks Fifth Avenue lawsuit, plaintiffs allege the retailer uses a manufactured “Market Price” inducing the consumer to believe that they would pay a higher price for the price at a traditional Saks Fifth Avenue store, in addition to putting the lower outlet price on the items, creating the impression that consumers are getting a discount.

However, the lawsuit contends that items sold at Saks Off 5th clearance stores were made specifically for the outlet. Named plaintiff Tova Malik says it was this perceived price savings that led her to purchase items from a Saks Off Fifth store at an outlet mall in Camarillo, California.

“Defendant labels its Saks Off 5th clothing with a tag that shows a markedly lower price from the “Market Price,” which corresponds to the price that appears to be used in traditional Saks Fifth Avenue retail stores,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff was lured in by this large price difference and as a result purchased items of clothing and accessories from defendant’s Saks Off 5th in July of 2014.”

The plaintiffs for the Gap and Saks Fifth Avenue lawsuits are represented by Michael Louis Kelly, Behram V. Parekh and Heather M. Baker of Kirtland & Packard LLP.

The cases are Malik v. Saks Fifth Avenue LLC, case number BC555134; and Rubenstein v. The Gap Inc., case number BC555010, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

A Prescription for Walgreens: Pay the overtime. Yup. This week the national pharmacy chain got hit with an unpaid overtime class action lawsuit filed in California federal court by pharmacists alleging the company violated California labor law and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to pay them minimum wage and overtime for training hours and time spent maintaining their uniforms.

According to the Walgreens lawsuit, lead plaintiff Debra Short was a nonexempt pharmacist with the company from September 1997 to April 2012. During that period, Walgreens denied its pharmacists overtime hours for training and failing to pay them all of their owed wages upon termination.

“As a result of defendants’ unlawful conduct, plaintiff and the other class members have suffered damages in an amount, subject to proof, to the extent they were not paid the full amount of wages earned during each pay period during the applicable limitations period, including overtime wages,” the complaint states.

Under the California Labor Code, if an employer does not maintain its own employee uniforms, then it is obligated to pay employees who must wear uniforms for one hour per week of uniform maintenance. According to the lawsuit, Walgreens failed to pay its pharmacists minimum wage for uniform maintenance time each week.

Further, the lawsuit claims that Walgreens failed to pay its pharmacists for class training time, which required at-home work and other training, all of which was necessary so the pharmacists would become certified in immunization and CPR administration.

Short also alleges that Walgreen’s pharmacists are required to work more than seven days in a row without rest days and that the company fails to compensate them for all of their wages earned upon termination of their employment, in violation of California Labor Code.

Heads up folks—the lawsuit is seeking certification of five subclasses, including one in California comprising pharmacists who were employed over the past four years and one comprising pharmacists across the country over the past three years. Short is seeking payment of all unpaid wages and damages.

The case is Short v. Walgreen Co. , case number 3:14-cv-03747, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. 

Top Settlements 

So LinkedIn may be about to settle a data breach class action lawsuit for $1.25 million.

Plaintiffs in a federal class action lawsuit are seeking approval of the settlement, potentially ending the action which stems from a 2012 data breach of LinkedIn Corp. The lawsuit claims the social media site misled customers about its data protection policies in connection with the data breach.

In the lawsuit, lead plaintiff Khalilah Gilmore-Wright claimed she and other class members purchased premium LinkedIn accounts believing that the company provided industry-standard security. However, LinkedIn’s security was in fac outdated and insufficient, resulting in a massive data breach in June 2012 in which a hacker posted 6.5 million user passwords onto the Internet.

According to the terms of the proposed LinkedIn settlement, if approved, LinkedIn would set up a $1.25 million fund from which class members could receive as much as $50. The class would include everyone who paid a fee to LinkedIn for a premium subscription between March 2006 and June 2012. Gilmore-Wright would receive $7,500. There are approximately 800,000 premium subscribers.

The case is In re: LinkedIn User Privacy Litigation, case number 5:12-cv-03088, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. 

Ok Folks—time to adjourn for the week.  Have a fab weekend–see you at the bar!

Week Adjourned: 8.8.14 – Gap, Hooters, MetLife

The top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week–top stories include the Gap, Hooters and MetLife

Gap logoTop Class Action Lawsuits 

Gap giving a whole new meaning to Loss Leaders …so much so they got slapped with a consumer fraud class action this week. The issue is Gap’s alleged misleading advertising over sale items…you know—it’s for sale—but the one next to it isn’t—that kind of thing… Essentially, the Gap class action lawsuit claims the clothing retailer uses advertisements for sale items that do not clearly indicate sale exclusions both in its stores and online.

The Gap lawsuit, entitled Misbah Etman, et al. v. The Gap Inc., et al., Case No. BC547161, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, alleges that lead plaintiff, Misbah Etman, was misled regarding which items were included in a sale display, which resulted in her paying full price for an item when she purchased it.

The backstory, in legal speak: “Because of the advertisement, Plaintiff believed that all the clothing on the rack bearing the advertisement was on sale at the price displayed on the advertisement and/or subject to the discount stated on the advertisement,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff looked through the clothing, selected three items she liked, waited in line for an open register, [Etman] found out at the register that Defendant would not sell her one of the items at the price displayed on the advertisement or would not discount one of the items in accordance with the advertisement.” Consequently, “[a]lthough she had been misled, Plaintiff purchased the non-discounted item and paid the higher price Defendant demanded.”

An example of an alleged advertisement Gap emailed “with a hyperlink to Defendant’s website stating clearly in dark letters against a white background ‘Hours to Shop!; Happy Monday; 40% Off Your Purchase; Ends Tonight.’” However, continues the complaint, “the email also states in barely noticeable lettering against a colored background ‘EXCLUSIONS APPLY.”

Further, “[o]nce a consumer clicks the hyperlink…the consumer is taken to Defendant’s website to shop [and], [w]hile shopping, Defendant’s website does not identify for consumers the items that are included in the sale, nor does it identify that items that are excluded from the sale,” alleges the Gap class action lawsuit.” And, “Defendant’s website does not even disclose whether an item is included in or excluded from the sale when a consumer selects an item to place in the consumer’s ‘shopping cart,’” the lawsuit states.

The consumer fraud lawsuit further claims that Gap also misleads consumers through its online stores by “enticing consumers to shop for, and to purchase, products from Defendant through Defendant’s website by means of false and misleading advertisements Defendant emails to consumers.”

The lawsuit seeks certification for a proposed Class of all other consumers who purchased products at Gap stores in California, or purchased products on the Gap website while in California, on days when Gap displayed the advertising described in the class action lawsuit.

So—heads up all you California Gap shoppers… 

Not caring a Hoot for Hooters Text Messages.…What are you supposed to do when tits and ass just ain’t enough to get bums in seats in anymore (bad pun, I know). Send text messages to advertise your booty. Umm, maybe not. Hooters is facing class action lawsuit alleging the restaurant chain violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)—just the TCPA? Filed by lead plaintiff Peyman Zandifaez, the lawsuit alleges that on June 14, Zandifaez received an unsolicited text message on his cell phone from Hooters and a second unsolicited text message on July 5.

“The… SPAM text messages were form texts that were sent consumers on mass and just solely to the plaintiff, which is indicative of the use of an automatic telephone dialing system,” the complaint states. “[The] defendant used telephone number 368-32 to send this unsolicited SPAM text message to plaintiff’s cellular telephone.”

The Hooters lawsuit alleges that at no time did the plaintiff provide Hooters with his cellular phone number, through any medium, nor did he consent to receive such an unsolicited text message. Further, the plaintiff alleges that at no time did he sign up for nor use the defendant’s services or products, nor has he ever had any form of business relationship with Hooters.

“Through the unsolicited SPAM text message, defendant contacted plaintiff on plaintiff’s cellular telephone regarding an unsolicited service via an ‘automatic telephone dialing system,’” the lawsuit states. The ATDS has the capacity to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator, according to the suit.

According to the lawsuit, Zandifaez is charged for incoming calls and text messages and the text message constituted a call that was not for emergency purposes. “Plaintiff did not provide defendant or its agent prior express consent to receive text messages, including unsolicited text messages, to her cellular telephone,” the complaint states. Nice…Go get’em!!

Top Settlements 

And as one TCPA lawsuit is filed, so another is settled… This week, in Los Angeles, a settlement agreement was reached in a class action lawsuit against Metlife which alleges a former agent faxed millions of advertisements for life insurance to consumers and businesses in violation of the federal Telephone Consumer protection Act (TCPA).

According to the terms of the MetLife settlement, the company, one of the largest life insurance companies in the US, will pay $23 million to resolve two related lawsuits, one in state court in Illinois and the other in federal court in Florida.

Incredibly, an estimated 1 to 2.8 million recipients of the faxes across the country will be covered by the settlement. The settlement will cover faxes sent between 2008 to 2014, even though the lawsuits focus on faxes sent by the agent between 2010 and 2012.

According to the lawsuits, the former MetLife agent Scott Storkick paid a fax-blasting specialty firm run out of offices in Fort Lauderdale, to help generate leads so that he could maintain his standing as one of the company’s top-performing agents. Ultimately, Storick said that the fax blasting campaign generated between 30 and 50 of the approximately 200 MetLife life-insurance policies he sold annually between 2010 and 2012.

Ok – Folks –time to adjourn for the week.  Have a fab weekend –see you at the bar!