Week Adjourned: 12.15.17 – Google, Marriott, Pier 1 Imports

Top Class Action Lawsuits

North of the 49th and just slightly south of the law? Google got hit with a Canadian privacy violation class action lawsuit this week, alleging the internet giant has been collecting location data from Android smart phone users even when “location services” are shut off and SIM cards are removed. Maybe I should be shocked, but hey…

Filed by Vancouver resident Kipling Warner, the complaint states “Google collects, uses, retains and commercialises [sic] the location data it takes from users, and profits from it. Google’s wrongful acts violated the Privacy Act … and unjustly enriched it at the expense of users. Through this suit, Canadian users seek to hold Google accountable for this unlawful conduct.”

The Google privacy lawsuit, filed on November 28 in BC Supreme Court, claims Warner owns a Samsung Galaxy S4 that runs Google’s Android operating system. Despite having had the phone’s location services feature disabled, Warner asserts that in 2017, Google “began a program of mass user surveillance.” The data, according to the lawsuit, enabled Google to monitor and identify users’ movements and locations.

“Google’s decision to collect the Location Data was planned and deliberate, and was made knowing that users had not consented to, and were not aware of, its collection,” the proposed class action states.

Further, Kipling claims, Android users’ privacy was violated and the data collection could allegedly facilitate “surveillance by hackers or undesireable state actors” while people who need their locations kept secret such as victims of abuse, journalists and confidential sources, or undercover police officers, are under “increased risk of personal harm from disclosure,” the claim states.

Kipling seeks an order certifying the lawsuit as a class proceeding, damages for breach of the Privacy Act, and “disgorgement of all benefits received by Google attributable to the unauthorised [sic] collection, retention, and use of the Location Data.”

Vacation spoiler? Those annoying and potentially illegal robocolls could put you off your poolside vibe for sure. This week, Marriott Vacation Club got hit with a proposed class action lawsuit alleging the company made unsolicited robocalls to the consumers’ cellphones using an autodialer, in violation of the Telephone Consumer protection Act (TCPA).

Filed in California federal court by lead plaintiff, Cheri Astrahan, the proposed action alleges Marriott Vacation Club had, without her permission, used an automatic telephone dialing system with an artificial or pre-recorded voice, to contact her cell phone. However, in 2003, she had added her cellphone number to the national do not call registry. Ah – does that matter?

“Plaintiff requested for defendant to stop calling plaintiff, thus revoking any prior express consent that had existed and terminating any established business relationship that had existed,” the complaint states. “Despite this, defendant continued to call plaintiff in an attempt to solicit its services and in violation of the National Do-Not-Call provisions of the TCPA.”

According to the proposed lawsuit, Marriott Vacation Club, a timeshare operator, made numerous unsolicited telephone calls to Astrahan’s cell phone over a 12-month period. Specifically, she claims that beginning in October, Marriott Vacation Club contacted her on her cellphone in an attempt to solicit her to buy the time share’s services.

However, on October 25, 2003, Astrahan claims, she revoked consent for the time-share company to call her cellphone by expressly requesting that the company cease its solicitation. The revocation ended any prior express consent that had existed and terminated any established business relationship that had existed between Astrahan and Marriott Vacation Club, according to the complaint.

In her complaint, Astrahan asserts Marriot Vacations Worldwide has committed four violations of the TCPA and she is seeking $500 in statutory damages for each negligent violation and treble damages of up to $1,500 for every knowing and willful violation.

The proposed nationwide class numbers in the thousands, so damages exceed the $5 million threshold for federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, according to the lawsuit.

The case is Cheri Astrahan v. Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp., d/b/a Marriott Vacation Club, case number 8:17-cv-02139, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. 

Top Settlements

Good news for the holidays! A preliminary $3.5 million settlement has been reached potentially ending a California labor law class action lawsuit pending against Pier 1 Imports.

The lawsuit, filed by Lauren Mathein and Christine Sabas, alleged Pier 1 failed to reimburse the class for hours spent working without pay while checking in to find out if they had to work a “flex shift.” This involved Pier 1 enforcing what is known as a Flex Shift policy, which requires associates to report for work either by phone or in person, before they are told they have to work that day.

Pier 1’s policy, the lawsuit claims, is in violation of California wage laws and the California Private Attorneys General Act because it required employees to “mold their lives around the possibility that they will work each and every” so-called call-in shift, even though the home goods store often chose not to put them to work.

According to the preliminary Pier 1 settlement, each plaintiff will receive $12,500 in addition to his or her entitlement as a class member, which will be determined after all other deductions are taken into account.

The case is Mathein v. Pier 1 Imports Inc. et al., case number 1:16-cv-00087, in the U.S. District Court for Eastern California. 

Ok Folks – That’s a wrap! See you at the bar.

Week Adjourned: 9.12.14 – SkinMedica, Intermountain Hotels, NFL Cheerleaders

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top stories include SkinMedica skin care, Intermountain Hotels including Hilton and Marriott, and the Oakland Raiders.

SkinmedicaTop Class Action Lawsuits

Is the fountain of youth cancer-inducing? Possibly…at least according to a dangerous drugs class action lawsuit filed this week against Allergan Inc’s subsidiary SkinMedica Inc. The lawsuit claims that the cosmeceutical company withheld information from consumers regarding its anti-aging creams specifically, that they contain human foreskin cells, and that these creams pose a risk for cancer.

Filed by plaintiff Josette Ruhnke, the complaint alleges that the sale of SkinMedica Inc.’s line of “Tissue Nutrient Solution” (TNS) products containing the compound “NouriCel” is illegal, because the products haven’t received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ruled the case can go forward.

According to the complaint, TNS products are marketed for “skin rejuvenation” purposes. However, they contain a proprietary mix of human growth factors that originate from human foreskin tissue. The products are trademarked as NouriCel. The TNS creams have the ability to initiate cell division, which, according to Ruhnke’s complaint, are thought to contribute to the growth of tumor cells or other abnormalities.

The complaint, filed in 2013, also claims that, in addition to lacking FDA approval, SkinMedica had not performed required controlled safety studies before marketing TNS products. Judge Carter rejected arguments from SkinMedica that TNS products aren’t drugs under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act because the growth factors they contain are “naturally occurring.”

“SkinMedica promotes TNS Products as ‘cosmeceuticals’ containing a mix of endogenous ‘growth factors’ for skin rejuvenation. The term ‘cosmeceutical’ conveys that a product is both a cosmetic and pharmaceutical,” Judge Carter wrote. “A product which occurs naturally or is derived from natural ingredients is capable of regulation as a drug.”

Additionally, Judge Carter noted that the creator of NouriCel has stated that more double-blind and controlled studies are needed to confirm the preliminary clinical effects of growth factor products. Judge Carter also cited the fact that the complaint stated that the two FDA-approved products on the market containing human growth factors provide prominent safety warnings the TNS products lack.

“The thrust of defendants’ argument is essentially that the evidence does not support plaintiff’s claim,” Judge Carter wrote. “Plaintiff’s allegations, taken as true, suggest that there are serious safety concerns associated with TNS Products.”

The case is Josette Ruhnke v. SkinMedica Inc., et al, case number 8:2014-cv-00420, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

It seems that growing old gracefully may be vastly underrated.

Hotels less than Hospitable? What would TWA be without our weekly update on unpaid wages and overtime class action lawsuits. This week, workers at the Hilton and Marriott properties filed against Intermountain Management LLC alleging the company failed to pay overtime and other wages due to employees. The lawsuit contends that Intermountain Management misclassified its current and former workers so as to make them exempt from payment for overtime and wages and missed rest and meal breaks.

Further, former Intermountain manufacturing engineer Indica Heredia, who filed the lawsuit, alleges the company failed to pay all wages due to employees when they were terminated.

“Intermountain routinely understaffs knowing that scheduled shifts will not permit employees to take their legal meal and rest periods and will require them to work through meal and rest periods as well as off the clock,” the complaint states. Heredia alleges the Louisiana-based hospitality management company had a policy of making its employees work five-hour shifts or longer without a 30-minute meal break within the first five hours or compensation for the missed break and didn’t pay all wages due to ex-employees when they were terminated.

Heredia performed routine system testing on Intermountain products, among other duties, and claims he was misclassified as exempt from overtime compensation in violation of California labor lawthe complaint states. The lawsuit proposes the class would include current and former hourly, nonexempt employees who worked in the four years preceding the filing of the complaint at hotels owned, managed or operated by Intermountain in California, including Residence Inn, Courtyard Inn, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites hotels.

The lawsuit alleges Intermountain Management violated California labor law, specifically that the class, consisting of at least several-hundred employees, was not paid all regular and overtime wages, given meal and rest periods, or provided wage statements and personnel records.

Heredia seeks unpaid wages at time-and-a-half or double-time rates for all overtime work, as well as damages and penalties and a declaratory judgment against the company.

The case is Indica Heredia v. Intermountain Management LLC et al., case number 5:14-cv-04006, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

They owe, they owe—so off to court they go…

Top Settlements

And while we’re on the subject of unpaid wages …

Hip-Hip-Hooray! A $1.25 million settlement has been reached in the landmark unpaid wages class action pending against the Oakland Raiders football team. The employment lawsuit was filed by the Oakland Raiders’ Cheerleaders alleging wage theft and other unfair employment practices.

If approved, the NFL cheerleader settlement would cover 90 cheerleaders who worked for the Raiders between 2010 and 2013 seasons. The Raiderettes would receive an average of $2,500 to $6,000 per season, depending on which seasons they worked, according to a joint statement by the parties.

Under the deal, Lisa T. and Sarah G., a second named plaintiff, would each receive a class representative payment of $10,000. The settlement is subject to court approval. A hearing on the motion has been scheduled for September 26.

Filed by lead plaintiff and Raiderette “Lacy T., the lawsuit alleged ” in January, alleged that the Raiders withheld all pay from the Raiderettes until after the end of the season, didn’t pay for all hours worked, and forced the cheerleaders to pay many of their own business expenses.

According to the class action, pursuant to their contract, the Raiderettes were each paid $1,250 for working a full season, amounting to less than $5 per hour for the time they spent rehearsing, performing and appearing at events. Further, the lawsuit claimed wages were also withheld until after the end of the season.

The case is Lacy T. et al. v. The Oakland Raiders et al., case number RG14710815, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda. 

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

Week Adjourned: 2.8.13 – Hipster, YoPlus, Ritz-Carlton

Nemo’s coming and your top class action lawsuit & settlement wrap for the week is now live! Latest class action lawsuits for the week ending February 8, 2013 include Hipster, YoPlus and the Ritz-Carlton

hipster logoTop Class Action Lawsuits

Hipster ain’t so hip after all…at least according to the plaintiffs who have filed an in Internet privacy class action lawsuit against the photo-sharing App. The Hipster lawsuit alleges the company illegally obtained iPhone users’ personal information and contact lists without their permission.

The internet privacy lawsuit, entitled Francisco Espitia v. Hipster Inc., Case No. 13-cv-00432 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that a function of the Hipster App found and retrieved subscribers’ personal contacts and other highly sensitive information, including passwords and geo-location, and then transferred the data over unencrypted, publicly accessible data channels to Hipster’s third-party servers. (Maybe they should rename the App “Fetch”).

Specifically, the lawsuit states: “These actions involved the deliberate and intentional circumvention of technical measures within the mobile computing device in order to bypass the technical and code based barriers, including the plaintiffs’ and class members’ privacy settings which were intended to limit access by anyone other than the owner of the device.” Having transferred the users’ contact address data to its remote computing service, Hipster then allegedly proceeded to access and use such data without authorization or consent, according to the lawsuit.

The laundry list? Violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Stored Communications Act, the California Computer Crime Law, and the California Invasion of Privacy Act, among other things.

The Hipster lawsuit seeks to represent all US residents that downloaded the Hipster App to their mobile phones from January 1, 2011 to the present.

Very uncool.

Top Settlements

Yo Dude! You may be eligible to share in the YoPlus $8.5 million settlement agreed this week by General Mills. If approved, the settlement would end a consumer fraud class action lawsuit alleging the food manufacturer misrepresented the digestive health benefits of its YoPlus probiotic yogurt. Well, they certainly wouldn’t be the first, and likely, they won’t be the last.

Filed in 2010, the consumer fraud class action lawsuit, entitled J Johnson v. General Mills Inc. et al., Case No. 10-cv-00061, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claims that consumers who purchased the YoPlus yogurt products were deceived into paying more for them as a result of General Mills misleading advertising.

In their motion to accept the settlement, the plaintiffs noted “Considering the strengths and weakness of this case, including the amount of potential damages available to the class after trial here and in other jurisdictions around the United States, the settlement represents an excellent result and includes relief for purchasers of YoPlus on a nationwide basis.”

Under the terms of the settlement, consumers who purchased YoPlus will be entitled to $4 per person for each unit they purchased. Not bad, really.

Putting on the Ritz? Em, maybe not. More like this one’s on the Ritz…The Ritz-Carlton that is. This week, the famous hotel chain agreed to pay $2 million in settlement of the Ritz-Carlton overtime class action lawsuit filed by 1,500 (yup—that’s the right number of zeros) current and former employees in California who allege they were not paid overtime wages.

Bottom line—eligible plaintiffs in the California overtime employment class action are for those who either work or worked at Ritz-Carlton hotels in San Francisco, Half Moon Bay and Lake Tahoe at any time from November 2007 on.

And just in case you need the details—the settlement, when approved, will resolve Lambson v. Marriott International, Inc. et al, Case No. 11-cv-06669, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and allegations the Ritz Carlton, a subsidiary of Marriott International, violated California state wage and hour laws.

So—see you at the bar—who’s buying?


Week Adjourned: 7.3.09

clear-air-security-copy1Top Class Actions

Whiz-through security fizzes out? As if air travel wasn’t fraught with enough obstacles, delays, and frustrations frequent flyers last Monday found themselves SOL at Clear Airport Security Kiosks across the country. The problem? They’d closed their doors, gone out of business, shut down. See ya bye.

Clear operated the Registered Traveler program in 20 airports, serving a reported 260,000 customers. The company pre-screened frequent fliers taking fingerprints, iris scans and credit information, which it then gave to the US Transportation Security Administration, in order to fast track people through the security line-ups.

So, Verified Identity Pass, the parent company of airport security provider Clear, was hit with a class action lawsuit over reimbursement of its US$199 annual fee, by one very disgruntled customer. Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 7.3.09”