Week Adjourned: 12.27.13 – Target, Meningitis Outbreak, Costco

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements including Target data breach, the Meningitis outbreak of 2012, and Costco gender discrimination.

Target LogoTop Class Action Lawsuits

Guess that 10% Discount wasn’t enough… This one made international headlines in December—well the data breach did. This week, a class action lawsuit was filed against retail giant Target, over the data breach of up to 40 million customer’s credit and debit cards.

Filed in California federal court by lead plaintiff Lisa Purcell (“Plaintiff”), the Target lawsuit seeks to represent all those similarly situated to obtain damages, restitution and injunctive relief for the Class. “The information Target lost, including Plaintiff’s identifying information and other financial information, is extremely valuable to thieves. As the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recognizes, once identity thieves have personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up your credit cards, open new utility accounts, or get medical treatment on your health insurance,”’ the lawsuit states.

According to a statement issued by Target, the so-called track data was stolen in real time as payment cards were swiped in its stores between November 27, the day before Thanksgiving, and December 15.

The Target data breach lawsuit states “ Investigators believe the data was obtained via software installed on machines that customers use to swipe magnetic strips on their cards when paying for merchandise at Target stores.” And “The thieves may also have accessed PIN numbers for affected customers’ debit cards, allowing the thieves to withdraw money from those customers’ bank accounts. Thieves could not have accessed this information and installed the software on Target’s point-of-sale machines but for Target’s negligence, and that Target failed to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices appropriate to the nature and scope of the information compromised in the data breach.”

Among the allegations is the clam that Target was negligent in its failure to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices appropriate to the nature and scope of the information compromised in the data breach. Further, “Target unreasonably delayed informing anyone about the breach of security of Class Members’ confidential and personal information after Target knew the data breach had occurred,” the lawsuit states.

Not so very Ho Ho Ho.

Top Settlements

Remember this? 2012—Nationwide Meningitis Outbreak? Sure you do. The outbreak affected over 700 people, with 64 fatalities in 20 states? Well, this week a $100M settlement was reached between the compounding pharmacy allegedly behind a massive fungal meningitis outbreak last year and victims and their families.

Paul Moore, a trustee of the now bankrupt New England Compounding Center, supported the preliminary settlement agreement. “We are pleased that a significant amount of funds will become available for distribution to victims and their families as compensation for the deaths, injuries and suffering they endured as a result of this tragic meningitis outbreak,” Moore told CNN.com. If approved, the settlement will also be used to pay out the pharmacy’s creditors.

In a statement issued announcing the settlement, the pharmacy’s owners said they deny any liability or wrongdoing, but want to play a major role in establishing a fund for those who died or suffered “as a result of this tragic outbreak.”

Bet Women at Wal-Mart are Watching this one… Costco has agreed to a tentative $8 million settlement in a gender discrimination class action lawsuit At the heart of the lawsuit are allegations the wholesale retailer engages in promotion practices that disadvantage women in the company: rather than posting positions internally and letting qualified candidates apply, candidates were hand-picked for promotions to managerial positions. The result was that fewer women rose to senior managerial positions.

If the Costco settlement is approved, it would provide compensation for current and former employees who were incorrectly denied promotions. Claimants still with the company who were improperly denied promotions may be eligible to receive up to $50,000, and former employees up to $300,000, depending on the position. Also part of the settlement terms is an undertaking by Costco to reform its internal promotion process, to allow employees equal opportunity to apply for management jobs going forward. A fairness hearing is scheduled for February 2014.

The lawsuit alleges Costco has pursued policies and practices on a continuing basis which result in the denial of equal job opportunities to qualified women. Specifically:

Relying upon subjective, gender-based and/or arbitrary criteria utilized by a nearly all male managerial workers in making promotion and compensation decisions;

Failing to follow a uniform job posting procedure to guarantee that all employees have notice of openings;

Discouraging females from applying for senior level management positions;

Failing and refusing to consider females for promotion on the same basis as males are considered;

Failing and refusing to promote females on the same basis as males are promoted and compensated;

Failing to provide females with accurate and timely notice of promotional opportunities; and

Maintaining and fostering a reputation for discriminatory conduct which deters females from pursuing promotion opportunities with Costco.

The initial lawsuit was filed in 2002, and refiled in 2004. It was not certified until September 2012. Talk about “keeping the faith!”

Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. Happy Holidays, be safe, and we’ll see you at the bar in 2014!

Week Adjourned: 10.12.12 – Meningitis, Nexium, Strip Club Dancers

The weekly wrap of top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending October 12, 2012. Top stories include the Meningitis Outbreak, Nexium and Exotic Dancers.

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Outbreak Turning into a Rash?—of lawsuits, that is. The first in what could be a string of fungal meningitis class actions was filed on Thursday against New England Compounding Pharmacy—the maker of the steroid injections suspected to be the cause of the multi-state meningitis  outbreak.

The meningitis outbreak class action lawsuit entitled Barbe Puro v. New England Compounding Pharmacy Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, No. 12-2605, was filed in federal court in Minnesota.

According to the lawsuit, the victim, Barbe Puro, of Savage, MN, experienced headaches and nausea after receiving the steroid shots. Puro claims she suffered “bodily harm, emotional distress, and other personal injuries” after she received the steroid injection on September 17.

The contaminated steroid injections were recalled on September 26 by Framingham, MA based compounding pharmacy, New England Compounding Center (NECC). As many as 14,000 individuals may have received the tainted injections which were distributed to medical facilities across 23 states. To date, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 14 deaths associated with the contaminated steroid.

The meningitis lawsuit proposes a class comprised of Minnesota residents who may have received tainted steroid injections since June of this year. According to the CDC, so far there have been three cases of fungal meningitis reported in Minnesota  connected to the contaminated steroid injections.

Top Settlements

This might Help your Heartburn…A proposed settlement has been reached in a consumer fraud class action lawsuit against AstraZeneca alleging deceptive marketing practices around their anti-heartburn medication Nexium.

In the Nexium lawsuit, entitled Commonwealth Care Alliance v. AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals L.P., Docket No. 05-0269, the plaintiffs allege Astra Zeneca violated a Massachusetts state law by deceptively marketing the drug Nexium as superior to another drug, Prilosec or its generic version, omeprazole.

The lawsuit asks the Court to order AstraZeneca to pay restitution to purchasers for amounts they allegedly overpaid, to award money damages, or to grant other relief.

The terms of the proposed Nexium consumer fraud class action settlement have not been disclosed. However, the Court has certified a class of individuals and entities that purchased Nexium in Massachusetts (the“Class”). The Court has not made any finding or reached any conclusion as to whether AstraZeneca is liable to the Class.

You are a member of the Class if you have purchased Nexiumin Massachusetts since March 2001. If you purchased Nexium since March 2001 in Massachusetts, you may be eligible to receive money or benefits from the Lawsuit, if any are recovered. For more information on the status of this settlement visit massachusettsnexiumlitigation.com.

Good News at the Poles…I love this one. A $12.9 million settlement has been approved by a federal judge ending a three year long employment class action brought by exotic dancers who alleged the strip clubs they worked for denied them benefits by classifying the dancers as independent contractors.

The strip club dancer lawsuit alleged that the owners of the nightclubs, located in California, Kentucky, Idaho, Texas, Nevada and Florida, helped themselves to over half of the dancers’ tips, penalized them for not selling enough drinks to customers and made the dancers pay stage fees for dancing. The Spearmint Rhino nightclub is among the defendants.

Under the terms of the strip club settlement, the clubs will treat dancers as employees, partners or shareholders in their businesses, and in California, dancers will no longer have to cough up pay-to-perform fees. Dancers who do not make a written claim to the fund will not be paid; any remaining funds will go back to the strip clubs. The dancers who were named plaintiffs in the class action will receive incentive fees for the time and “professional and personal risk” they incurred by being named in the lawsuit.

And on that note—I’ll see you at the bar (no, not the strip joint). Have a great weekend!