Week Adjourned: 3.10.17 – Nissan, Mesh Implants, Home Depot

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Nissan is listening…maybe literally & maybe too much. The automaker got slapped with a proposed privacy class action lawsuit this week, over allegations the company recorded calls between themselves and customers to or from customers’ cell phone without consent. Nice.

Filed in California state court by Dave Vaccaro, the complaint states that this is regular practice for Nissan, which records both inbound and outbound calls that are placed in California, without first obtaining permission or informing customers, in violation of the California Penal Code.

“Defendant concealed the fact that it was recording the aforementioned phone calls to create the false impression in the minds of plaintiff and those similarly situated without their knowledge or consent that they were not being recorded,” the complaint states. “At the outset of the phone calls there was no warning that the phone calls were, or even may, be recorded. Such warnings are ubiquitous today.”

According to the Nissan lawsuit, Vaccaro and Nissan were in contact by cell phone several times during February but at no time was he aware the automaker was recording the conversations, as they had not asked his permission to do so. Further, the complaint alleges that Nissan failed to provide an automated advisory at the beginning of the calls explaining that they could be monitored or recorded, nor did the company’s representatives give him warning. It’s enough to make you go back to writing letters…

Vaccaro states that he remained unaware of the recording until the end of one of the later calls. It was then that a Nissan agent informed him that Nissan’s calls, including collection and sales calls are recorded. Vaccaro claims that as he had no way of knowing the calls were being recorded until August and that recording calls is part of Nissan’s policy, he is justified in not bringing the claim earlier.

The plaintiff seeks to represent a class of all people in California who, in the last year, had inbound or outbound conversations on their cellphones recorded by Nissan without their permission. Although he doesn’t know how many members of the class there are, plaintiff believes the number to be in the tens of thousands, if not more, according to the complaint.

The complaint brings one count for invasion of privacy in violation of the California Penal Code, seeking the greater of statutory damages of $5,000 per violation or three times the actual damage per violation, as well as $2,500 per violation, exemplary or punitive damages, costs and prejudgment interest.

Vaccaro also seeks injunctive relief in the form of an order requiring Nissan to disgorge its ill-gotten gains and provide the class with full restitution, plus an injunction barring the company from recording calls with California residents without permission.

The case is Dave Vaccaro v. Nissan North America Inc., case number BC653385, in the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles. 

Top Settlements

Mesh Mess. A good ending for a bad story… A proposed $12.5 million settlement has been approved by a California federal judge, resolving litigation involving Caldera Medical’s transvaginal mesh (TVM) implant. Thousands of insurance claims were filed against Caldera alleging the TVM caused injuries to some 2,700 women.

According to the terms of the Caldera mesh settlement, in which class members are not able to opt-out, Federal Insurance will distribute $10.58 million among 2,710 class member claimants. Further, it will pay class counsel attorneys’ fees and costs. In exchange, the claimants release Caldera and Federal Insurance from all future claims, according to court documents.

The Caldera TVM implant was used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence in women. According to the suits, which were consolidated in California state court, Caldera knew or should have known that the TVM devices it manufactured and sold were hazardous and dangerous to people’s health. The claims were filed against Caldera which were then turned into insurance claims with Federal Insurance.

According to court documents, Federal Insurance had already paid out more than $6.3 million in settlements, notwithstanding the thousands of additional claims pending. Federal Insurance asked the court to certify a class of claimants and enjoin the claimants from pursuing further suits affecting the insurance policy.

The state litigation is In Re. Transvaginal Mesh Litigation, case number JCCP 4733, in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles. 

Home Depot bringing it home—$25 million that is—to the banks. A settlement has been reached between Home Depot and financial institutions who brought a class action against the home hardware retailer alleging it was negligent in preventing a massive data breach in 2014.

The putative class action alleged that the data breach compromised 56 million credit and debit card numbers of Home Depot customers.

According to court documents, if approved, the Home Depot data breach settlement would require Home Depot to pay $25 million into a non-revisionary fund to be distributed to financial institutions that have not already released their claims against the retailer for losses stemming from the catastrophic data breach.

For financial institutions with a valid claim, a fixed payment estimated to be $2 per compromised card could be forthcoming, without the institutions having to submit documentation of their losses and regardless of whether any compensation already has been received from another source, according to the agreement.

Class members that submit proof of losses also are eligible for a supplemental award of up to 60 percent of their documented, uncompensated losses from the data breach, documents state.

The retailer also has agreed to pay up to $2.225 million to institutions whose claims were released by a sponsor, such as a card processor, in connection with the card brand recovery program provided by MasterCard.

The MDL is In Re: The Home Depot Inc., Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, case number 1:14-md-02583, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

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

Week Adjourned: 7.8.16 – UPS, Home Depot, Cash Store

ups logoTop Class Action Lawsuits

UPS not Delivering… on reporting pay, allegedly. The global courier service got hit with a UPS employment class action lawsuit this week, alleging the company cheated employees out of their rightful wages by failing to pay “Reporting Pay,” as required by Massachusetts law.

Cort Szafarz, the named plaintiff in the lawsuit, worked as a part-time package handler at UPS from September 2014 to May 2015 in their Chelmsford, Massachusetts facility. He was scheduled to work Monday through Friday from 6pm to 11pm. Although he planned to work for the full shift every weekday, and showed up at the Chelmsford facility every weekday ready to do so, his shift was often cancelled or shortened due to a lack of work. On such days, Mr. Szafarz and others were not paid for at least three hours of work. When Mr. Szafarz complained to Human Resources, he was told, “That’s just the way we do it here.”

Massachusetts, like many other states, requires employers to pay employees who show up for their scheduled shift, but are sent home due to a lack of work. This “Reporting Pay” law, as it is known, requires employers in Massachusetts to pay an employee for at least three hours of work, at the minimum wage, for every shift cancelled or shortened after an employee’s arrival at the job site.

Mr. Szafarz seeks to represent a class of other UPS hourly employees in Massachusetts who, like him, were not paid appropriately when their shifts were cancelled or shortened.

Giddy up!

They can Help? Maybe not at Home Depot… Consumer fraud class action against Home Depot hoping for a home run. This week the DIY giant found itself on the end of a consumer fraud class action lawsuit over allegations it failed to provide services and products as agreed.

To narrow that down just a bit, the Home Depot lawsuit, filed by plaintiff Ellen Coffen of California, claims that Coffen purchased new cabinets from the defendant for $12,000 with a $3,000 installation fee and additional $50 fee.

But… the cabinets Coffen purchased didn’t fit in the space designated for the kitchen installation, despite the fact that Home Depot installers had measured the space prior to their installation. Coffen claims that as a result, she had to return the cabinets to the defendant. Further, she had to pay for the second round of installation and the second set of new cabinets. Coffen asserts that the defendant allegedly failed to perform its duties and offer resolution when this issue arose.

Coffen states in the suit that Home Depot is in fact responsible as the DIY store allegedly assured her that they obtained the right measurement of the space to accommodate the cabinets that she purchased and that the cabinets were to be installed as part of their agreement.

The lawsuit cites alleged fraud and deceit, negligent infliction of emotional distress, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of express and implied warranties, false advertising, violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and unfair business practices.

The case is US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division Case number 3:16-cv-03302-MEJ.

Top Settlements

Meanwhile—back in Canada…Cash Store and Instaloans may need to borrow some dough. They have to pony up $10 million in settlement of a consumer fraud class action pending against the now defunct business. Class members in Ontario who took out loans, also called lines of credit, will now be able to collect their share of the settlement.

The lawsuit, which represents some 100,000 customers, alleged that Cash Store Financial Services Inc., broke the Payday Loans Act by exceeding the maximum cost of borrowing allowed. According to Ontario law, it is illegal for payday lenders to charge more than $21 on every $100 lent. The plaintiffs claims that the defendant skirted the rules around maximum interest rates by adding additional fees for setting up debit cards, bank accounts, and other products.

At its peak, the Cash Store Financial Services Inc, had 500 outlets at its peak.

Ontarians who took out payday loans, or so-called lines of credit from either Cash Store or Instaloans after September 1, 2011 are being asked to file claims to recover some of the illegal fees and interest they were charged.

Eligible class members with approved claims could receive at least $50, with some, including those who took out multiple loans, possibly receiving more. The final amounts will depend on how many claims are submitted. Timothy Yeoman filed the lawsuit was filed in 2012 alleging he borrowed $400 for nine days and was charged $68.60 in fees and service charges as well as $78.72 in interest, bringing his total borrowing cost to $147.32.

Cha Ching!!

Ok, that’s a wrap folks… See you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 10.3.14 – Home Depot, AMS Mesh, Lenovo

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top stories include Home Depot, AMS Mesh, Lenovo.

home depotTop Class Action Lawsuits

You Knew this was Coming… Home Depot got hit with a federal data breach class action lawsuit filed on behalf of all customers nationwide whose personal information was compromised as a result of the data breach announced in September 2014.

The Home Depot lawsuit alleges that Home Depot failed to take reasonable security measures to adequately protect its customers’ personal data. It also asserts that Home Depot failed to disclose the data breach in a timely manner to its customers. Well, sadly they are not the first to face these charges, and likely they won’t be the last.

In an official statement on September 18, 2014, Home Depot stated that an estimated 56 million credit and debit cards were exposed during a five-month-long attack on its payment terminals. That is a staggering number. As reported by the New York Times on September 19, 2014, in “Ex-Employees Left Home Depot Data Vulnerable,” former employees of Home Depot who have asked to remain anonymous have alleged that the retailer’s network was protected with outdated software, and that some cyber security team members left after managers allegedly dismissed their concerns. In the same article, the New York Times also stated that the breach may result in up to $3 billion in fraudulent charges.

The Home Depot data breach class action lawsuit is entitled Earls v. The Home Depot Inc., No. 3:14-cv-4315, and is currently pending in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Top Settlements

Mesh Mess gets Settlement… Endo made headlines this week after announcing it has reached a settlement agreement that reportedly will resolve most outstanding American Medical Systems (AMS ) transvaginal mesh lawsuits. The medical device manufacturer has agreed to pay more than $400 million to resolve the lawsuits, which claim the AMS vaginal-mesh implants eroded in some women and left them in pain. So far, no details have been released on the settlement.

What we do know so far is that the master settlement will resolve more than 10,000 outstanding AMS lawsuits in the US at an average of about $48,000 apiece, Bloomberg reports. AMS expects to fund the payments under all settlements in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Sources close to the Endo settlement stated that some 5,000 AMS vaginal mesh lawsuits remain outstanding. Stay tuned.

Lenovo Wifi not Working? Hey—there’s a Settlement for that.  In fact, there was a consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed against Lenovo that alleged the company knowingly sold Ultrabook computers with a design defect that impacted WiFi reception and accessing speeds.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that Lenovo marketed and sold defective Ideapad and “U Series” as being “ideal for any and all mobile needs.” The complaint alleged that in so doing Lenovo violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, the California Unfair Competition Law and that the company breached express and implied warranties to the purchasers of the Ultrabook computers.

For complete information on the Lenovo Ultrabook class action settlement visit: https://www.lenovolaptopwifisettlement.com 

Ok—Folkstime to adjourn for the week. Have a fab weekendsee you at the bar!

Week Adjourned: 2.28.14 – Obamacare Staff, Home Depot, Eden Memorial

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending February 28, 2014. Top class actions include Obamacare Staff, Home Depot, Eden Memorial

ObamacareTop Class Action Lawsuits

Is Maximus Maximizing an Unpaid Wages Scam on the Back of Obamacare? A call center unpaid wages class action lawsuit has been filed by employees at an Obamacare call center in Idaho, alleging the contractor, Maximus Inc, miscategorized employees as exempt for overtime, and is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). So, they clearly think so.

Specifically, the putative Obamacare call center wage and hour class action lawsuit alleges that most employees worked between 50 and 60 hours a week beginning in the summer of 2013, without receiving compensation for the overtime, and that they were made to clock off before they had actually finished their shifts. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges the employees were unable to take mandatory breaks including lunch.

The class action contains two putative sub classes, one consisting of first level supervisors, and the second of call center employee trainers at the Boise, Idaho branch.

Are you Getting Hosed by Home Depot? Home Depot USA Inc is facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed by a customer who alleges the do-it-yourself retail giant sells a line of defective expandable garden hoses that can rupture soon after purchase. An infomercial marketing firm, Telebrands, is also named as a defendant.

Specifically, the Home Depot lawsuit contends that the “Pocket Hose” and “Mini Max Hose” aren’t durable, and are not made of “heavy-duty fire hose construction,” as the companies advertise. Filed by plaintiff Micahel Klemballa, the Pocket Hose lawsuit states “In fact, the design of the Pocket Hose product is fundamentally defective and thus not suitable to be used as a garden hose as advertised.” “When used as instructed, the Pocket Hose will leak and/or burst, rendering the product useless.”

Klemballa alleges that he purchased a Pocket Hose in June which ruptured after he used it just a few times. He contends that thousands of similar complaints can be found on various product review websites and message boards.

The lawsuit, entitled Klemballa v. Telebrands Corp. et al., case number 2:14-cv-01245, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey goes on to states that in its online advertisements and infomercials, Telebrands misleadingly represents the Pocket Hose as “strong enough for any tough job,” backing the claim with a purported demonstration of the hose pulling a 5,000-pound sport utility vehicle.

However, according to the complaint, the hose, which retails for between $12.99 and $42.99, depending on length, is not even strong enough to withstand normal residential use. (Should I be surprised?) Klemballa states that Home Depot adopted many of Telebrands’ false and misleading claims about the product for in-store displays and ads on its website, and reviewed and approved advertising materials that included the retailer’s own logos and trademarks.

“Defendants’ false and misleading claims are in willful and wanton disregard of the interests of the consuming public, and constitute a knowing attempt by defendants to deceive consumers,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit seeks class certification to represent all consumers who have purchased the Pocket Hose in the US, along with a subclass of New York purchasers.

Top Settlements

Let’s hope this isn’t a trend. Service Corporation International (SCI) has reached settlement of a consumer fraud class action lawsuit involving allegations its employees desecrated graves at its Eden Memorial Park.

Specifically, the Eden Memorial class action, brought in 2009 on behalf of 25,000 Jewish families with loved ones buried at Eden Memorial, claimed that for 25 years, SCI employees routinely broke open outer burial containers and caskets and discarded human remains in a dump area on the cemetery grounds to make room for more graves.

SCI is a publicly traded company that runs the largest collection of the “death-care businesses” in the U.S. It has 1,644 funeral homes and 514 cemeteries in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

On February 27, the company announced it had reached a settlement of the lawsuit, four weeks into a trial in California state court. SCI said it would create a settlement fund of $35.25 million, of which $25.25 million will be contributed by insurance companies.

SCI denied any wrongdoing.

Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. See you at the bar !