Week Adjourned: 2.3.12

A wrap up of the week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements, for the week ending February 3, 2012

Top Class Actions

Write this one up…The Hearst Corporation got hit with an employment lawsuit this week.

The Hearst lawsuit claims that the publishing giant illegally employs hundreds of unpaid interns in violation of federal and state labor laws, according to a newly filed employment class action complaint. Specifically, the lawsuit, filed on behalf of a former Harper’s Bazaar intern—Xuedan Wang, of Brooklyn, N.Y., accuses Hearst of paying interns no compensation for the work they perform, including minimum or overtime wages, and committing recordkeeping violations in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law. Wang alleges that she regularly worked more than 40 hours per week, and sometimes as many as 55 hours per week (had she not seen “The Devil Wears Prada“?) , without compensation while at Harper’s Bazaar in 2011.

Lawyers representing the plaintiff state that unpaid interns are becoming the modern-day equivalent of entry-level employees, except that employers are not paying them for the many hours they work. The practice of classifying employees as ‘interns’ to avoid paying wages runs afoul of federal and state wage and hour laws. (Btw, if this sounds familiar, it is—we reported on the Black Swan movie production unpaid interns complaint a while back.)

The lawsuit seeks class action certification to recover unpaid wages, overtime pay, liquidated damages, interest and attorneys’ fees for unpaid interns who worked for Hearst between February 1, 2006 and the date of a final judgment. So, it’s been going on for a while.

Time to Foreclose on Dodgy Foreclosures. At least that’s what 16 Nevadans and fellow potential class members are aiming for. They filed a foreclosure class action lawsuit against five companies hired by banks and lenders to handle the foreclosures on properties owned by the plaintiffs and against one additional defendant who purchased property through the foreclosure process. The case was filed as a class action lawsuit because it is estimated that there are thousands of potential plaintiffs who were victims of these foreclosure companies.

The defendants named in the Nevada foreclosure class action lawsuit are: Quality Loan Service Corporation; Appleton Properties, LLC; MTC Financial, Inc. dba Trustee Corps; Meridian Foreclosure Service dba MTDS, Inc. dba Meridian Trust Deed Service; National Default Servicing Corporation; and California Reconveyance Company. Ringing any bells?

The specific allegations include illegal debt collection activities and deceptive trade practices by the defendants against the plaintiffs during the foreclosure process as the defendants were not licensed or registered in the State of Nevada to carry out the foreclosure process.

The plaintiffs are Nevadans who not only lost their houses in one of the hardest hit real estate markets, but were also adversely affected by foreclosure companies that did not follow the law during the foreclosure process.

The lawsuit alleges that the debt collection activities of the defendants are and/or were illegal and improper because each of the defendants did not hold a license to engage in debt collection activities in the State of Nevada and each also failed to register as a foreign debt collection agency with the Nevada Financial Institutions Division.

The illegal and improper debt collection activities include the issuance of debt-related notices, demands, collection communications and/or foreclosure sales and processes. In addition, the plaintiffs also claim deceptive trade practices, consumer fraud, unjust enrichment, trespass, quiet title and in two instances, elder abuse.

Plaintiffs are asking for compensatory and consequential damages in excess to $10,000, disgorgement of any amounts paid to defendants for their respective illegal and improper debt collection activities, attorney’s fees and injunctive relief.

Go get’em and good luck!

Top Settlements

$200M Motorola Proposed Settlement. A $200 million settlement has been reached with Motorola Solutions Inc, bringing to an end a securities lawsuit filed in 2007 by company shareholders. Motorola has denied any wrongdoing.

The securities lawsuit alleged the electronics manufacturer had artificially inflated its stock by making misrepresentations about the company’s projected revenues for the third and fourth quarters of 2006.

Lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Macomb County Employees’ Retirement System and St. Clair Shores Police and Fire Pension System.

Lawyers representing all plaintiffs said the settlement represents an extraordinary recovery for investors in a case where there was no financial restatement or (Securities and Exchange Commission) investigation.

If you were a Motorola shareholder between July 19, 2006, and January 4, 2007, you may be eligible for a recovery.

According to the terms of the Motorola proposed settlement, the plaintiffs’ attorneys are seeking fees of 27.5 percent of the settlement, or $55 million, and expenses of up to $4.95 million.

OK—they’re buying—that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the bar!