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!

Week Adjouned: 5.29.09

So, where to start this week?

Top Class Actions:

Wanna be a Hooters girl? Cough up $9.95 for those hot pants (they’re for sale at Hooters—seriously). That’s what eight ladies who used to work at Hooters, specifically 4 Hooters franchises in California, claim in a class action they filed over the working conditions and costs associated with the infamous waitressing positions. Their allegations claim almost Victorian conditions, including having to buy their own trademark uniforms from the restaurants; paying for cash shortages or customer walkouts, or face being disciplined (what could that mean?); and not being paid to work special events. One wonders how much of their earning the waitresses actually take home. You Go Girls!

Many happy returns at Wal-Mart? Wal-Mart’s also back in the news, and the courts, this time the class action complaint alleges that the world’s largest retailer is not living up to the terms of its own return policy. It seems they’re getting petty over sales tax, in that people returning goods to a Wal-Mart store location with a lower applicable sales tax rate than where the merchandise was originally purchased, get reimbursed the lesser sales tax rate. So what happens to the left-over sales tax that’s not reimbursed? Does that go to the government?