Week Adjourned: 3.31.17 – Windows 10, Wells Fargo, GT’s Kombucha

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Windows 10 OS not Operating? Perhaps this doesn’t come as a surprise—particularly if you run Windows 10. Microsoft got hit with a consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week by Windows 10 users who allege the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system (OS) causes problems, including loss of data, and that Microsoft failed to ensure the operating system wouldn’t cause problems prior to launch.

The three named plaintiffs, Stephanie Watson, Robert Saiger, and Howard Goldberg, allege in the complaint that Windows 10 caused their computers to lose data and stop functioning properly. While Saiger and Goldberg said they voluntarily installed the new OS, Watson claimed her computer was upgraded to Windows 10 without her permission.

The Windows 10 lawsuit alleges that the plaintiffs have lost time and money trying to recover lost data and resolve other problems caused by the upgrade. Further, Watson alleges she had to buy a new computer because her old one could not be successfully repaired following the Windows 10 install.

Cast your mind back to 2015—when Windows 10 was released as a free upgrade—for one year—to Microsoft users running previous versions of the company’s operating system. Currently installed on more than 400 million devices, Microsoft promoted the platform as its most advanced and secure OS to date. Of course it did.

However, post-launch, many customers have complained about the company’s aggressive efforts to get people to upgrade.

The lawsuit also claims that the prompts and upgrade offers for Windows 10 sent out by Microsoft were difficult to dismiss and remove and, once installed, the operating system itself was not easy to uninstall, if users found the upgrade caused problems.

“A great number of people have installed the Windows 10 system inadvertently or without full realization of the extent of the download,” the complaint stated. “Once downloaded, the Windows 10 system does not have an option for its deletion. The program can be deleted but it takes a significant effort to find out how to do so; a typical user will not have the expertise to remove the system without professional IT help.”

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the complaint is seeking in excess of $5 million in damages. The suit seeks to represent a class comprised of all users in the US who lost data or whose devices were damaged after installing Windows 10.

Top Settlements

Wells Fargo to Pay? The big news this week? Wells Fargo will pony up $110 million according to a preliminary settlement agreement that could potentially end 12 banking fraud class action lawsuits. The Wells Fargo lawsuits allege the bank workers opened accounts in customers’ names without those customers’ authorizations.

According to the terms of the deal, if approved, eligible class members would be reimbursed for fees they were charged related to the unauthorized accounts and out-of-pocket expenses. Once those losses have been reimbursed, together with court costs and attorneys’ fees, the remaining funds would be split among all claimants, based on the number and kinds of unauthorized accounts or services claimed.

Heads up—eligible class members would be anyone who alleges Wells Fargo opened an account in their name without consent, enrolled them in a product or service, or submitted an application for a product or service in their name without consent between January 1, 2009, and the date the settlement is executed.

As well, Wells Fargo has said it will continue its voluntarily review of bank accounts opened between 2009 to 2010, to determine and remediate any customer harm. It has also said it will continue its nationwide mediation program to address customer concerns.

The back story? A federal investigation uncovered 1.5 million fraudulent bank and 565,000 credit card accounts set up by bank employees in order to boost or hit sales targets. Further, the employees also made up PIN numbers and email accounts in connection with the false accounts, to get people to sign up for online banking services, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said in a statement. This has already cost the bank $185 million in fines. Lesson learned? Maybe…

Nearly 5,300 employees were fired after the scheme was revealed, and in February, Wells Fargo’s board of directors voted to fire four senior managers in connection with an ongoing investigation stemming from the scandal.

Kombucha Mislabeling Mess. Kombucha! Bought it? Then realized it’s not what it’s advertised to be?  Read on. A proposed GT’s Kombucha settlement has been reached in a consumer fraud class action lawsuit pending against Millennium Products Inc., and Whole Foods over allegations the defendants misrepresented the alcohol, sugar, and antioxidant content of certain GT’s Kombucha products. Under the terms of the proposed deal, a fund of up to $8,250,000 will be established to pay claims for those who purchased one or more flavors of GT’s Classic Kombucha, GT’s Classic Synergy, GT’s Enlightened Kombucha, and GT’s Enlightened Synergy beverages.

Class members can receive up to $35 in cash or product vouchers without Proof of Purchase or up to $60 in cash or product vouchers with Proof of Purchase. To qualify, class members must have purchased one or more specified Kombucha beverages from March 11, 2011 through February 27, 2017.

What’s the issue? The class action lawsuit alleged that Millennium mislabeled certain Kombucha products, stating the products were non-alcoholic despite containing more alcohol than is permitted in order to label them as non-alcoholic beverages; failing to include added sugar as an ingredient on the label even though the products allegedly contain added sugar; understating the amount of sugar included in the Kombucha products; and including the term “antioxidant” on the labels even though the Kombucha products do not actually contain antioxidants.

Whole Foods was named as a defendant in the Kombucha class action lawsuit because the grocery chain allegedly violated the law by reselling the allegedly mislabeled GT’s Kombucha products.

The settlement agreement, if approved, would also see Millennium make labeling changes to address the issues alleged in the Kombucha class action lawsuit and to have samples of the products tested by a third-party laboratory to ensure they continue to comply with federal and state labeling standards.

The final hearing for settlement approval is scheduled for July, 2017. The case is Retta, et al. v. Millennium Products Inc., et al., Case No. 2:15-cv-01801-PSG-AJW, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. 

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