Week Adjourned: 12.18.15 – Scottrade, GM Pickups, Security Guards

ScottradeTop Class Action Lawsuits

Not a Fair Trade? Here’s one that nearly slipped under the radar…Scottrade, the discount brokerage service, is facing a data breach class action lawsuit filed by a woman in Florida who claims the personal and financial information of herself and potential millions of others has been compromised as a result of the breach.

Filed by Angela Martin, individually and for all others similarly situated, the Scottrade lawsuit states Scottrade’s failure to protect and adopt adequate security, best practices and industry standards regarding data security and retention, has resulted in millions of customers’ sensitive personal and financial information being compromised.

Scottrade currently operates an online trading website, which was hacked over the course of several months from late 2013 to early 2014, the complaint states.

Further, the lawsuit states that Scottrade itself estimated nearly 4.6 million customers have been affected by the data breach. However, the company has only bgan notifying customers of the data breach in October, but its notice is deficient and fails to fully explain the nature and cause of the breach.

The lawsuit claims breach of express and implied contract, violation of consumer fraud laws of multiple states, and negligence. The lawsuit is Tampa Division of the Middle District of Florida Case number 8:15-CV-02791-SCB-EAJ.

General Motors being Generally Dishonest? Maybe just a little bit? Yes—according to a nationwide consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed in California federal court this week, alleging the auto maker promoted two types of pickup trucks that don’t live up to their advertised towing capacity.

According to the GM pickup lawsuit, filed by Richard Quintero who drives a GMC Sierra, at the end of 2014 the auto maker alerted owners of 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Series and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup trucks across the country that GM had miscalculated the trucks’ towing capacities and that the actual amount they could tow was about 2,000 pounds less than advertised.

“Had plaintiff and class members known the 2014 GMC Sierra’s and the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado’s actual towing capability at the time of purchase, and the safety hazard posed by towing loads in excess of a vehicle’s capacity, they would not have bought the class vehicles or would have paid much less for them,” Quintero states in the complaint.

Quintero accuses GM of breach of express warranty, negligent misrepresentation and of violating California consumer protection laws and seeks to represent all owners and lessees of the two truck models.

Quintero states in the complaint that he visited his local GMC dealership in California during the summer of 2013, originally intending to buy a 2013 Sierra. However, the complaint notes, after learning about the purportedly superior towing capacity of the 2014 model, Quintero purchased the newer, more expensive truck.

The complaint notes that Quintero owned a 5,000 pound trailer, which he used to haul a 1,000 pound golf cart. But, after seeing GM advertisements that said his new truck could haul 8,800 pounds, he decided to upgrade and bought a new 6,700 pound trailer to haul the cart.

After he bought the trailer, Quintero got the letter from GM telling him his truck could only pull 6,700 pounds, not enough capacity to tow the new trailer with the golf cart inside, the complaint states.

“This towing capacity reduction followed uniform and pervasive representations to the contrary from defendant to plaintiff and class members,” Quintero states. “Prior to GM’s precipitous recalculation, GM expressly and repeatedly touted the towing capacity of class vehicles, and its representatives confirmed that towing capacity is a material, and often dispositive, consideration for pickup truck consumers.”

The case is Quintero v. General Motors Company et al., case number 5:15-cv-02530, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. 

Top Settlements

They owe, they owe—it’s to the bank you go!!! Well, if the settlement deal is approved. A preliminary $11 million settlement has been reached between AlliedBarton and a class of workers who filed an employment lawsuit against the security services company alleging it failed to provide meal and rest breaks, to pay adequate wages and did provide inaccurate wage statements, in violation of California labor law.

According to the terms of the AlliedBarton settlement, each of the three named plaintiffs would receive $30,000 in service payments. The approximately 43,893 non-exempt hourly employees who worked for AlliedBarton in California from April 2004 through January 2015 would share the net settlement amount on a prorated basis, based on the number of weeks they worked, according to the proposed deal.

The lawsuit was filed by lead plaintiff Gregory Dynabursky in 2012 on behalf of thousands of security officers, alleging that AlliedBarton violated California labor and business laws by requiring guards to perform work duties during meal breaks. He also asserts that the workers had to sign a related on-duty meal period agreement.

The case is Gregory Dynabursky et al. v. AlliedBarton Security Services LP et al., case number 8:12-cv-02210, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Ok—That’s a wrap folks… Happy Friday…See you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 5.16.14 – Goodman AC, GM, Kashi Cereal

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top stories include Goodman air conditioning, GM Financial and Kashi Cereal.

Goodman acTop Class Action Lawsuits

Is your air conditioning unit blowing a little defective hot air? Well, according to a class action lawsuit filed against Goodman Global, Inc., and certain affiliated companies, their central air conditioning units and heat pumps sold under the Goodman® and Amana® brands since 2007 are—defective that is. The bit that’s causing the alleged problems is the evaporator coil(s).

For those of us not intimately acquainted with the working innards of an air conditioning unit (most of us, I’m guessing) evaporator coils are generally located inside a consumer’s home and are essential to the proper functioning of any central air conditioning system or heat pump.

So–according to the lawsuit, Goodman and Amana central air conditioning and heat pump systems contain defective evaporator coils that improperly and prematurely leak refrigerant (a.k.a. Freon®). Oh that’s good. Not. The defect allegedly renders the systems inoperable because the cooling cycle will not work without refrigerant.

Although Goodman sells these units with a warranty, that warranty is limited in a way that provides insignificant protection to owners of the units. In particular, the Goodman warranty, by its terms, covers replacement parts, but not the labor costs associated with the replacement. According to the lawsuit, the result is that, when a defective evaporator coil fails, Goodman provides the owner with a replacement coil, but does not pay to have the old coil removed or the replacement coil installed. As alleged in the lawsuit, those labor costs typically run in the hundreds of dollars, and in some cases, thousands of dollars. Thus, in at least some instances, the owner is forced to spend as much or more to replace the defective evaporator coil as the cost to purchase a new Goodman unit.

The complaint also alleges that Goodman has known that its units sold since 2007 contained defective evaporator coils, but the company failed to inform consumers about the problem or issue a recall. Indeed, according to the lawsuit, Goodman continued to tout the quality of its air conditioning systems, claiming they were durable, dependable, and long lasting, even though it was aware that the defective evaporator coils would cause the units to fail prematurely and at rates far above the industry average.

The lead plaintiff in the case acquired his Goodman unit when he purchased his new house in September 2011. According to the lawsuit, in or about July 2013, after only one summer of use, the unit stopped cooling the plaintiff’s home. A service technician allegedly found that the unit was low on refrigerant and added four pounds of refrigerant, which immediately leaked out of the system. After observing this, the technician determined that the evaporator coil was leaking and needed to be replaced. According to the complaint, the service technician returned the old defective evaporator and replaced it with a new one, charging plaintiff approximately $650 for this service.

The civil action was filed on behalf of all consumers in North Carolina that purchased a central air conditioning unit or heat pump bearing the trade names Goodman® and Amana® from 2007 to the present.

GM—AGAIN! GM just cannot seem to get it right these days. No, this time it’s not the auto recalls…this week their loan re-financing subsidiary got hit with a class action lawsuit alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

Brought by Monique Perez of California, the GM lawsuit claims that beginning in late 2013, General Motors Financial Co. Inc. made “virtually daily incessant calls” to Perez’s cellphone regarding a debt allegedly owed by another person named “Melanie.”

Perez claims that by calling from an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS), which can store or produce telephone numbers to be called using a random or sequential number generator, GM Financial violated the TCPA. Don’t you love technology?

According to the lawsuit, “Plaintiff has never provided any personal information, including her cellular telephone number, to defendant for any purpose. As such, neither defendant nor its agents were provided with prior express consent to place calls via its ATDS to plaintiff’s cellular telephone.”

The plaintiff alleges members of the class not only suffered privacy violations but also suffered cellular telephone charges or saw a reduction in cellular telephone time that had already been paid for.

Perez is seeking to represent a putative class, made up of all US residents who received any telephone call from the company to a cellphone through the use of an ATDS within the past four years. She is seeking $500 per negligent violation and $1,500 per knowing or willful violation of the TCPA for each class member.

Top Settlements

So it was all corn after all… Kellogg’s, the maker of Kashi products, has agreed to a $5 million settlement, potentially ending a consumer fraud class action lawsuit that claimed Kashi’s labeling was misleading and fraudulent. Wait—don’t tell me—this stuff is so natural it makes Mother Nature look fraudulent—right?

Right. The Kashi lawsuit alleged that labeling on certain products used labels stating “All Natural” or “Nothing Artificial,” when in fact the products contain a variety of synthetic and artificial ingredients, such as pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate, hexane-processed soy ingredients, ascorbic acid, glycerin and sodium phosphate.

Under the terms of the settlement, Kellogg’s has also agreed to stop using the labels “All Natural” and “Nothing Artificial”. In a statement, Kellogg Co. said it stood by its advertising and labeling practices but that it would change its formulas or labels on Kashi products, nationally by the end of the year.

The settlement was filed May 2 in U.S. District Court in California and is subject to court approval.

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