Week Adjourned: 2.24.17 – Walmart Beer, Kia Sorrento, Wells Fargo

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Walmart a purveyor of craft beer? Seriously? Maybe not. The world’s largest retailer is facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit over allegations its craft beer is mass manufactured, and is falsely marketed at an inflated price. You think?

Filed by Matthew Adam of Ohio, the Walmart craft beer lawsuit claims four brands of beer sold by defendant Wal-Mart Stores Inc, are falsely labeled as craft beers. The lawsuit states that the beer is mass-produced at industrial-scale breweries that don’t even resemble what a reasonable consumer would consider a craft brewer.

“Defendant’s Craft Beer has never been a ‘craft beer,’ nor has it been produced by a craft brewery,” Adam claims. “Rather, it is a wholesale fiction created by the Defendant that was designed to deceive consumers into purchasing the Craft Beer at a higher, inflated price.”

According to the complaint, Walmart has been marketing this line of beer since 2016, which includes Cat’s Away IPA, After Party Pale Ale, ‘Round Midnight Belgian White, and Red Flag Amber. Walmart currently stocks these beers at 3,000 retail locations in 45 states.

Further, while Walmart allegedly claims its craft beers are brewed by a company called Trouble Brewing, the Treasury Department lists a company called WX Brands, with the same brewery address as the offices of Genesee Brewing in Rochester, NY. Genesee does not meet the definition of a “craft brewer” put out by the Brewers Association, a trade organization that promotes and protects American craft brewers, the complaint states.

The lawsuit contends that consumers are willing to pay more for beer marketed as craft beer, on the assumption that craft beer is of a higher quality than other beers. Adam claims Walmart craft beer is purposely marketed to exploit that higher dollar value associated with craft beer, when it is, in fact, mass produced.

According to the lawsuit, Adam purchased a 12-pack of Trouble Brewing beer for himself from a Walmart in Sharonville, Ohio. He says he relied on Walmart’s representations that what he was buying was a genuine craft beer. However, the beer was not what he was led to expect, he claims. And he would not have paid a premium price for the beer, had he known the beer he was buying was not actually craft beer.

Adam’s proposed plaintiff Class would include all persons in the state of Ohio who purchased Walmart craft beer. Adam is represented by attorneys Brian T. Giles and Bryce Lenox of Giles Lenox.

The Walmart Craft Beer Class Action Lawsuit is Matthew Adam v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Case No. A1700827, in the Court of Common Pleas for Hamilton County, Ohio. 

Top Settlements

Kia Sorrento Settlement… Heads up all you current and prior owners and lessees of a Kia Sorento. Kia has reached a proposed settlement in a pending defective automotive class action lawsuit alleging that its Sorento model is prone to catastrophic engine failure. Remember that one?

Here’s the skinny: the lawsuit, known as Yvonne Robinson et. al., v. Kia Motors America, Inc. et. al., alleges that some 2003 to 2006 model year Kia Sorento vehicles with 3.5 liter engines were equipped with a defective crankshaft pulley bolt that, under certain conditions, could result in the bolt breaking. Those vehicles are referred to as the “Class Vehicles”. KMA has not been found liable for any of the claims alleged in this lawsuit. The parties have instead reached a voluntary settlement in order to avoid a lengthy litigation.

Under the proposed Settlement, and subject to proof and certain limitations, KMA will provide certain financial and/or other benefits to Class Members for past and future crankshaft pulley bolt repairs in Class Vehicles.

Purchasers of the 2003-2006 Kia Sorento automobile now have the opportunity to be reimbursed for their expenses if their crank shaft bolt snapped and caused additional engine damage. Part of the Kia Sorrento settlement includes the opportunity for new and used car purchasers of the 2003-2006 Kia Sorento to submit a claim for reimbursement up to $4,900.00.

Kia Motors Company produced over 200,000 Kia Sorentos and current and prior owners and lessees of Class Vehicles, known as “Class Members”, may be entitled to compensation if they submit valid and timely claims that are approved, and provided the settlement agreement receives final court approval.

Got it? 

Who’s calling? Wells Fargo? Perhaps not anymore… One Ringy Dingy, and we’re off to the bank—thank you so much. Wells Fargo has reached a proposed $15.7 million settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by a man who claims the bank violated the Telephone Consumer protection Act (TCPA) by allegedly using an autodialer to make calls to some 3.4 million consumers. 

If approved, the deal would compensate 3.38 million proposed class members who allegedly received collection calls to their cell phones regarding a retail installment sale contract from Wells Fargo. The calls were made, the suit claims, using an auto dialer, between April 2011 to March 2016.

The settlement amount per class member would be $4.65 each, according to the settlement motion. The lead plaintiff is seeking an incentive award not exceeding $20,000.

According to the lawsuit, Frederick Luster claims Wells Fargo made autodialed calls to his phone number for the past four years in an attempt to collect debts apparently owed by two people he didn’t know. Luster states that at no time did he give permission to Wells Fargo to call his cellphone. However, Wells Fargo made the calls despite being aware that they were violating the TCPA.

“The telephone calls were intentionally, willfully and knowingly initiated,” the complaint states. “The telephone calls were not initiated by accident or mistake.” According to the settlement motion, Wells Fargo maintains that it had prior express consent to call the members of the proposed class.

The case is Luster v. Wells Fargo Dealer Services Inc., case number 1:15-cv-01058, 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: 4.8.16 – Hyundai, Kia, Hertz, J&J Hip Implants

Hyundai KiaTop Class Action Lawsuits

New Month, New Defective Auto Lawsuit… This time, it’s a Hyundai and Kia defective automobile class action. The car companies are facing the wrath of consumers, who allege the paint on 2006-2016 Hyundai Santa Fe, Sonata, and Elantra vehicles contain an identical and inherent defect which causes the paint to bubble, peel and flake off the vehicle, which can lead to rusting and corrosion.

Filed by Michelle Resnick, Shelby Cramer, Lauren Freed, Paul Sandlin, Patricia Reynolds, Christopher Baker, and Tara Mulrey, individually and for all others similarly situated, the lawsuit claims vehicle owners must either live with these problems or spend significant amounts of money to repair and repaint the vehicles.

The plaintiffs allege breach of express and implied warranties, negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment, violation of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, violation of California’s Business and Professions Code, and violations of unfair and deceptive trade practices acts in several states. Go get’em.

The case is US District Court for the Central District of California Case number 8:16-CV-00593-BRO-PJW. 


Some Hurtin’ for Hertz…Heads up Hertz customers…in yet another consumer fraud class action filing this week, America’s largest car rental company stands accused of not playing fair with its terms and conditions as stated on its website. The Hertz lawsuit, in fact, alleges violations of the New Jersey’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA). Read on.

The skinny is that named plaintiff, David Hecht, claims the terms and conditions states on the Hertz website violate TCCWNA because of a failure to state how they affect New Jersey residents.

Here’s what that looks like: Hecht’s allegations target Hertz’s website for enrolling in the car rental company’s Gold Plus Rewards Program. Hecht’s lawsuit specifically references a portion of the TCCWNA that states “No consumer contract, notice or sign shall state that any of its provisions is or may be void, unenforceable or inapplicable without specifying which provisions are or are not void, unenforceable or inapplicable within the State of New Jersey.”

Hecht seeks to represent two classes in his lawsuit. The first would be those New Jersey residents enrolled in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards when the case was filed. This class also would include New Jersey residents enrolled in the program six years prior to whenever the website’s Terms and Conditions stated “in words or substance, that Gold Plus Rewards offers are void where prohibited, without specifying whether these provisions are or are not void, unenforceable or inapplicable within the State of New Jersey.”

The second proposed class would include New Jersey residents who rented a Hertz vehicle for personal, household or family purposes via company’s website within six years of the date of the filing. That class would cover a period when Hertz’s Terms of Use said “that except as otherwise required by law, price, rate and availability of products or services are subject to change without notice and that the Hertz’ General Terms of Use are void where prohibited, without specifying whether these provisions are void, unenforceable, or inapplicable within the State of New Jersey.” 

Top Settlements

J&J $502M Hip Award. This should cause some serious thinking at J&J. The company was ordered to pay a whopping $502 million settlement this week, which was awarded by a jury in Dallas hearing the consolidated lawsuits of five plaintiffs who all allege that DePuy Orthopedics and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Ultamet hip implant is defective and caused them pain, injury and suffering.

The plaintiffs who accused the company of hiding flaws in its Pinnacle artificial hips that caused the devices to prematurely fail and left them facing surgeries and pain.

FYI—the DePuy Ultamet hip replacement devices are metal-on-metal. The problem with metal-on-metal devices is that metal debris can reportedly come loose, resulting in metals being absorbed by the patient’s surrounding tissue and causing excess levels of chromium and cobalt in the patient’s blood. Furthermore, patients may experience pain, inflammation and soft tissue damage in the area around the hip, making mobility difficult if not impossible.

The jury awarded $142 million in actual damages and $360 million in punitive damages. You want to say congratulations, but “really?”

Ok, that’s a wrap folks…see you at the bar!

Week Adjourned: 7.26.14 – Kia, Lexus, Johns Hopkins

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top lawsuits include Kia, Lexus and Johns Hopkins.

Kia Logo2Will 2014 be remembered as the year of the Car Recall?

 Top Class Action Lawsuits 

So, who’s lost count of how many defective auto recalls we’re up to now? Here’s a couple more…this time it’s Kia and Lexus…

Surprise! Kia Motors America Inc. got hit with a defective products class action lawsuit this week, filed in California federal court over allegations the car maker failed to disclose a defective brake switch in certain models. The defect can cause the brake light to fail to illuminate and cruise control to remain on, increasing the risk for accidents. Ok—that could be dangerous.

The Kia lawsuit, filed by lead plaintiff William Precht, claims that Kia was aware of the brake switch defect for years, and went as far as to initiate recalls for a number of different models in 2009. The company also initiated recalls in May 2013 which did not include its 2011 Sportage, 2008-2010 Optima and 2008-2011 Sedona vehicles, despite the fact that those models were also affected. Kia allegedly expanded the recall to include the vehicles in November 2013 but did not notify consumers, the complaint states.

According to the lawsuit, “Defendant does not dispute the safety risk caused by the brake switch defect, yet it has not effectuated any purported recall of the class vehicles and has left class members with an acknowledged safety risk and unreimbursed repair bills.”

The backstory—Precht alleges he purchased a new Sportage vehicle in 2011, but began having difficulty engaging the car’s automatic transmission during the winter of 2013. Precht alleges he was repeatedly unable to put the car in gear even after depressing the brake pedal, causing the anti-lock brake and front-wheel drive slippage icons to illuminate on the dash. He claims he was forced to manually access an override in order to place the vehicle into drive again.

According to the complaint, Precht took the car to an authorized Kia repair facility for assistance, only to be told that such repairs were not covered under the warranty, causing him to pay $140 to have the defect repaired.

The lawsuit alleges Kia knowingly hid from consumers that the vehicles’ brake switch contained a defect that leads to brake light failure, cruise control not cancelling with depression of the brake pedal, the push button start not functioning and the shift interlock remaining stuck in park so the vehicle cannot be moved.

The complaint states that once the defect occurs in the cars, it poses a safety risk to both driver and passengers, with the brake light failure increasing the risk of rear-end collision, and the failure of cruise control failure increasing the risk for a front-end collision. Further, if the push button start doesn’t function, the car cannot be shifted into drive or reverse from park, leaving individuals stranded, the lawsuit states.

The defect typically manifests itself shortly after the vehicles’ warranties expire, the suit claims, resulting in the automaker refusing to cover repair costs of an issue it hid from consumers.

The lawsuit is seeking certification of a nationwide class of owners and lessees of the affected models, as well as a Florida subclass, and includes claims for state law violations, breach of warranty and negligence.

The suit is Precht v. Kia Motors America, Inc., case number 8:14-cv-01148, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Lexus—what’s their tagline—something about the relentless pursuit of perfection? They are also facing a defective products class action lawsuit filed by two independent Lexus owners who allege the luxury vehicle company, and its parent, Toyota Motor Corp, sold defective vehicles with interiors that are unable to withstand the Florida heat. Are you kidding?

Nope. The Lexus lawsuit, contends that the dashboards and other, similar interior components of their Lexus vehicles grew sticky, oily, shiny, cracked and otherwise degraded in appearance when exposed to the natural heat and humidity in Florida. Yuk.

The skinny—Daniela Perez and Jesus del Rio allege that Lexus was aware of the problem with the dashboards but refused to make repairs in the affected vehicles once the warranties expired. While Toyota sent out a service bulletin to its dealerships in 2011, alerting dealers to the defect and instructing them to make repairs on the burned dashboards, the dealerships refused to repair damages in vehicles that are no longer covered by the Lexus comprehensive warranty.

Further, Perez and del Rio allege that the vehicles were marketed as being suitable for the climate in Florida yet the product disintegrated in the heat under normal conditions in the vehicles, “These vehicles are marketed as luxury vehicles and as the product of Lexus’ never-ending ‘pursuit of perfection,’” the plaintiffs alleged in the suit, and they state that the dealerships refused to do anything about it. The complaint names two Lexus dealerships, Lexus of Kendall, which serves Miami, Coral Gables and South Florida, and Scanlon Lexus of Fort Myers. It also names Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc.

The case is Daniela Perez et al. v. GFB Enterprises LLC d/b/a/ Lexus of Kendall et al., in the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit In and For Miami-Dade County.  

Top Settlements

This is just bad all round. A $190 million settlement has been awarded against Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in settlement of a medical malpractice class action lawsuit that alleges a gynecologist secretly photographed his patients. I don’t know—I’m thinking malpractice doesn’t quite get to the heart of this one.

The Johns Hopkins lawsuit, with more than 9,000 plaintiffs, claims that Dr. Nikita Levy used hidden surveillance cameras on his patients, including one hidden in a camera pen.

Levy, an obstetrician-gynecologist, was employed at Johns Hopkins from 1988 to 2013. The lawsuit claimed that the hospital should have been award of what Levy was doing, and that they failed to supervise him properly or investigate him.

In February 2013 Levy was fired from the hospital and just 10 days later he committed suicide.

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


Week Adjourned: 1.3.14 – Facebook, Hyundai Kia, Royal Health

Top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending January 3, 2014. Top class actions include Facebook, Hyundai, Kia and Royal Health.

FB Dislike buttonTop Class Action Lawsuits

Hashtag Privacy Please! Naughty, naughty! Facebook’s allegedly been peeping into your privates—messages that is…which, a potential class action lawsuit claims, is in violation of federal and state laws.

Filed by two Facebook users against Facebook the lawsuit alleges the social media platform scans messages between users labeled “private” for links and other information that can be sold to third parties including advertisers, marketers and data aggregators. The Facebook lawsuit is seeking class action status, with a potential 166 million Facebook users in the US eligible to join the class, if it is certified.

Plaintiffs Matthew Campbell from Arkansas and Michael Hurley from Oregon filed the lawsuit in a US district court in Northern California, alleging Facebook data mines “private” messages without disclosing it does so, or seeking users’ consent. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges Facebook’s intercepting and using links in “private” messages between users is in violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and California privacy and unfair competition laws.

“Facebook’s desire to harness the myriad data points of its users has led to overreach and intrusion … as it mines its account holders’ private communications for monetary gain,” the lawsuit contends.

Great start to the New Year guys!

Top Settlements

Holy Hyundai! (ok, bad, I know) A preliminary $395 settlement has been reached in a consumer fraud class action pending against Hyundai Motor Corp. and Kia Motors alleging gas mileage rating were overstated by the automotive manufacturers. The settlement will affect some 600,000 of Hyundai’s 2011-13 models and about 300,000 of Kia‘s 2011-13 models in the US.

The back story? ….In November 2012, Hyundai and Kia Motors agreed to restate expected gas mileage for 1.1 million vehicles in North America, following an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency. The automakers admitted they after overstated mileage claims on vehicle window stickers for 900,000 vehicles in the United States. The settlement impacts about 600,000 of Hyundai’s 2011-13 models and about 300,000 of Kia‘s 2011-13 models in the U.S. Hyundai’s settlement is valued at up to $210 million, while Kia’s is valued at $185 million.

The 2012 restatement reduced Hyundai-Kia’s fleetwide average fuel economy from 27 to 26 mpg for the 2012 model year. Individual ratings, depending on the car, will fall from 1 mpg to 6 mpg. Most vehicles saw combined city-highway efficiency drop by 1 mpg, the Detroit News reports. Exact figures will depend on how many customers elect to participate in the settlement’s one-time lump sum payment option or remain in the lifetime reimbursement program, the automakers said.

The Hyundai Kia settlement will resolve more than 50 lawsuits filed across the country to address the issue. Hyundai agreed to add the option of taking a lump sum payment. The proposed cash amount, which varies by vehicle model and ownership type, will result in an average payment of $353 to Hyundai owners and lessees. For example, an owner of a 2012 Elantra would receive a lump sum payment of $320 minus any previous reimbursement payments. For Kia owners, the proposed average cash lump-sum amount will be about $667.

A federal judge is expected to review the proposed settlement for preliminary approval in early 2014. If approved, settlement notices will be sent to individual class members. To get the full skinny on initial details of the settlement, you can visit hyundaimpginfo.com or www.kiampginfo.com.

Royal Health to Shell Out a Royal $1.94 Million …in unpaid overtime. Yup. A preliminary settlement has been reached in an unpaid overtime class action lawsuit pending against Royal Health Care of Long Island LLC. Employees who filed the class action alleged the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York state labor laws by not paying them overtime pay.

In their employment lawsuit, the 411 plaintiffs allege Royal Health misclassified their positions as Representative, which are exempt from the overtime provisions stipulated under the FLSA and NYLL, and thereby failed to pay Plaintiffs overtime when they worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.

Under the terms of the Royal Health settlement, the Royal Health will pay $1.94 million to plaintiffs who worked eight weeks or more, between May 2006 to May 2013. If approved, funds will be distributed proportionally among the Class Members based on number of weeks each worked at Royal Health Care. An incentive award of $10,000 each will also be given to the four original named plaintiffs.

A Fairness Hearing is scheduled for January 6, 2014. The Royal Health Care Unpaid Overtime Class Action Lawsuit is Chandrakalli Sukhnandan et al. v. Royal Health Care of Long Island LLC, Case No. 1:12-cv-04216, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. Happy New Year! Here’s to a peaceful and prosperous 2014 for all.