Week Adjourned: 1.11.13 – Kia, AT&T Mobility, Chase Bank

This week, our wrap of top class action lawsuits and settlements is a consumer fraud hat trick! Read on for what’s been hot this week in class action news: Kia Sorento, AT&T Mobility, Chase Bank Overdraft Fees. All for the week ending January 11, 2013.

Kia LogoFYI…we’re going for a Consumer Fraud hat trick this week…

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Kia Sorento #EpicFail? Heads up anyone out there who owns a Kia Sorento 2002-2009 model…Kia Motors is facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit over allegations that these Sorento models are prone to catastrophic engine failure. That sounds rather alarming.

The Kia Sorento lawsuit, entitled Robinson et al v. Kia Motors America Inc. et al., Case No. 13-cv-00006 U.S. district Court for the District of New Jersey, claims that Kia Motors knowingly concealed a manufacturing defect in the crank sprocket of its 2002-2009 Sorento models. This alleged engine defect can lead to a catastrophic chain of events beginning with severe heat buildup, the release of debris, and subsequent loss of steering control, engine failure and the potential for a hazardous accident, the plaintiffs allege. (And you thought sprockets were just something George Jetson worried about…)

“Not only did Kia actively conceal the material fact that this particular component is defectively designed (and requires costly repairs to fix), but it also did not reveal that the existence of this defect would diminish the intrinsic resale value of the vehicle,” the Kia lawsuit states.

Other allegations include Kia having knowledge of the engine defect for several years, as evidenced by numerous online complaints. However, it allegedly chose to withhold this information from consumers while making numerous statements about the quality and reliability of the Sorento. As a result of Kia’s “scheme of false and misleading advertising and marketing” thousands of people have purchased a Sorento, without knowledge of the defect, in preference to another vehicle without the alleged defect. Getting the picture?

The lawsuit also alleges that Kia Sorento owners who sought repairs for their vehicles while under warranty received only temporary repair of damaged parts, which may have included using similarly defective parts. Not good.

Additionally, the plaintiffs claim that Kia profits from the alleged Sorento engine defect by performing unnecessary parts replacements, computer reprogramming and software updates, despite knowing the true cause of the problem.

This lawsuit seeks to represent a nationwide class of consumers that purchased or leased the first generation Sorento. Ok.

Top Settlements

AT&T Mobility Customers May Get Relief From 7-Year Itch. A settlement has been reached in the consumer fraud class action lawsuit pending against AT&T Mobility LLC. The lawsuit claims that AT&T improperly charged fees to certain wireless customers—over a seven-year class period. That’s alotta fees—and sadly, seems to be a trend these days.

So—if you were assessed Universal Service Charges or similar charges under state or other laws (collectively “USC”) on data pay-per-use plans, visual voicemail services, customer custom packaging plans, international calls outside the United States or voicemail services only (“Covered Services”) by AT&T Mobility LLC (“AT&T Mobility”) on bills issued from January 1, 2004 up to and including December 31, 2010, you might be eligible to receive benefits from a class action settlement.

We must stress, that the AT&T Mobility settlement has to receive final approval. If approved, it will resolve the lawsuit entitled, MBA Surety Agency, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, Case No. 1222-CC09746, concerning AT&T Mobility assessment of USC on the Covered Services. AT&T Mobility will contribute $152,634,430.00 (“Settlement Proceeds”) which will be payable in the form of credits and cash payments to the eligible Settlement Class members after deductions for attorneys’ fees etc. The final Fairness Hearing is scheduled for February 20, 2013. Watch this space—we’ll keep you posted.

And for the Hat Trick…after all, three’s a charm! A $110 million settlement that just received final court approval, ending an overdraft fees class action lawsuit against Chase Bank. Yes—this is a form of consumer fraud, because “it ain’t on the level.”

The Chase Bank overdraft fee settlement is the latest to be reached in the massive class action lawsuit involving over 30 banks who are alleged to have manipulated customers’ transactions in such a way as to maximize overdraft fees. What’s on the level about those business practices?

The allegations also state that rather than declining transactions on an account that has insufficient funds to cover a purchase, Chase Bank authorized the transactions and then processed them in highest to lowest dollar order, which effectively increased the number of overdraft fees charged. Oh—don’t get me started!

As part of the settlement agreement, Chase will, for a period of at least two years, cease charging overdraft fees on individual debit card transactions of $5.00 or less. No comment.

Class members include anyone who (A) held a Chase, Bank One, or Bank of New York consumer deposit account accessible with a Chase debit card anytime between January 1, 2003 and March 29, 2010; and (B) were charged one or more overdraft fees as a result of Chase’s practice of posting debit card transactions from highest to lower dollar amount.

That’s it for this week. Off to you know where—see you there!


Week Adjourned: 11.9.12 – Hyundai, Kia, 7Up, MoneyGram

The weekly wrap of top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending November 9, 2012. Top lawsuits include Hyundai/Kia Motors, Snapple’s 7Up soft drink and MoneyGram scams.

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Less is More: Less truth + Less miles per gallon than advertised = More fraud. At least that’s the math on the consumer fraud class-action lawsuit filed against Hyundai Motor America, Kia Motors America and Kia Motor Company of Korea. The class action was filed after regulators announced the companies overstated the fuel economy for many vehicles they sold in the United States. Now there’s a surprise.

Hyundai Motor Corporation admitted it overstated the fuel-economy estimates after independent tests by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed a discrepancy. Busted!

The Hyundai/Kia fuel economy class action lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Central California, seeks to represent all consumers who own or lease Hyundai and Kia vehicles whose EPA fuel economy ratings were less than the fuel economy rating produced by the applicable federal test in that model’s year.

According to published reports, Hyundai will lower fuel-consumption estimates on most Hyundai and Kia models produced in 2012 and 2013. It will reportedly lower estimates by as much as five miles-per-gallon for its Kia Soul Eco, and by one or two miles-per-gallon for most other models.

The automaker apologized to consumers, according to published reports, and blamed the issue on what the South Korean company called “procedural errors” in its testing, which was done by a Korean lab.

The lawsuit was filed for a Seattle woman who purchased a 2012 Hyundai Accent; an Arizona man who purchased a Hyundai Genesis sedan; an Arizona woman who purchased a Hyundai Genesis sedan; and an Illinois man who purchased a 2012 Kia Sorento, all relying on the fuel-economy numbers provided by the car manufacturer.

The lawsuit contends that Hyundai, owned by Hyundai Motor Company of Korea (KSE:005380.KS), and Kia Motors America, owned jointly by Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motor Company of Korea (KSE:000270.KS), violated California’s Unfair Competition Law, its false advertising law and its consumer legal remedy act. The lawsuit also claims that Hyundai committed a breach of express warranty, and committed fraud and negligent misrepresentation under California Common Law, among other violations.

What’s Up 7UP? A consumer fraud class action lawsuit was filed against Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., the maker of 7UP, over allegations the company misleads consumers about the health benefits of an antioxidant used in some varieties of some of the 7UP soft drinks. Antioxidants in soft drinks? What time did you say the tooth fairy was coming?

According to report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group for food safety and nutrition, Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s advertising and packaging suggest that the 7Up beverages contain antioxidants from blackberries, cherries, cranberries, pomegranates and raspberries, rather than added Vitamin E.

According to the National Cancer Institute, antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules associated with cancer.

Thursday’s lawsuit, entitled Green v. Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., was filed US District Court, Central District of California, No.12-09567. It seeks class-action status on behalf of purchasers nationwide of the products, a variety of financial damages, and a halt to the alleged misleading advertising.

David Green, a resident of Sherman Oaks, California, and the named plaintiff in the class action lawsuit, alleges he would not have bought the soft drinks had he known their antioxidants did not come from fruit.

7UP Cherry Antioxidant was launched in 2009, and is also available as a diet drink. Other products include 7UP Mixed Berry Antioxidant and Diet 7UP Mixed Berry Antioxidant.

Top Settlements

MoneyGram Scam Busted. This is quite incredible. The money transfer company MoneyGram has agreed to forfeit $100 million and has admitted to wire fraud settling one of the biggest money laundering cases ever brought by the Justice Department.

According to documents filed on Friday, November 9, 2012, MoneyGram admitted that it failed to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program. The scams involved MoneyGram agents tricking customers into wiring money to the agents, who posed as relatives promising large cash prizes. MoneyGram reportedly knew about this, and the victims of the fraud–numbering in the thousands–complained to MoneyGram. However, the company took no action to stop it, instead they processed the transactions for those agents.

Customers reported fraud that added up to at least $100 million, the Justice Department said, and the money from the settlement will be used to compensate the victims. I should hope so.

And on that note- I’ll see you at the bar—time for some real antioxidants! Have a great weekend!