Week Adjourned: 3.24.17 – SoyNut Butter, Subway, Neiman Marcus

Top Class Action Lawsuits

SoyNut Butter & E. coli for lunch? Nasty stuff, literally. Check your cupboards! A food poisoning class action lawsuit has been filed against The SoyNut Butter Company of Illinois and the manufacturer of the product, Dixie Dew Products of Erlanger, Kentucky. The complaint was filed by the parents of a young child, identified as L.S. in the complaint, who became ill after eating E. coli O157:H7-contaminated I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter. They allege their daughter developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a life-threatening complication of E. coli infection, after ingesting the contaminated product.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 16 people from nine states have so far been confirmed as infected with the strain of E. coli O157:H7 connected to the SoyNut Butter outbreak. Like L.S., 14 of the 16 people who became ill in this outbreak are under the age of 18, eight of whom have required hospitalization.

The affected states include includes Arizona (4), California (4), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (1), Oregon (2), Virginia (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (1). That number is expected to increase.

The plaintiffs, Travis and Morgan Stuller, allege L.S. regularly ate SoyNut Butter in the days leading up to her illness. On or about February 21, 2017, L.S. developed painful gastrointestinal symptoms, which worsened to include grossly bloody diarrhea. She was seen by her treating physician for ongoing symptoms, but, on March 5, was hospitalized at Seattle Children’s Hospital and remained so until March 8. While in the hospital, an illness of E. coli O157:H7 was confirmed and she was treated for hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially life-threatening condition. L.S. continues to recover at home, but faces uncertain future medical complications, according to statements.

FYI—the case number is 1:17-cv-02138.

Top Settlements

Check those Subway receipts… Strap yourselves in—it’s a record $30.9 million settlement for the maker of “foot long” sandwiches, potentially ending a Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) class action brought against Subway, over allegations the company unlawfully printed full credit card expiration dates on receipts. If approved, this will be the largest settlement ever made under FACTA.

The lawsuit was filed against Doctor’s Associates Inc., which does business as Subway, on behalf of nearly 2.6 million people who claim their credit or debit card information was potentially compromised by the printed receipts.

Named plaintiff Shane Flaum filed his complaint in June 2016, alleging Subway violated FACTA through its practice of printing customers’ cards’ full expiration dates even after it had been sued in the past for similar violations, specifically twice in 2007, and again in 2008 and 2009, he states.

FACTA regulations require retailers to omit card expiration dates on receipts, as emphasized in the Credit and Debit Card Clarification Act.

According to the Subway lawsuit, the deal “sets a new record for FACTA class actions” and is believed to be the “largest FACTA settlement in the history of FACTA.”

The class includes all Subway patrons who received receipts upon purchase that showed their credit or debit cards’ full expiration dates between January 1, 2016, and the date of preliminary approval of the settlement.

The lawsuit is Flaum v. Doctor’s Associates Inc., case number 0:16-cv-61198, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Neiman Marcus hack? Neiman Marcus reached a $1.6 million settlement this week, potentially ending a data breach class action lawsuit its facing stemming from a cyber attach reported in December 2013. That hack allegedly affected some 350,000 customers. Ugly.

If the settlement receives approval, eligible class members will include US residents who held credit or debit card accounts used at any physical locations operating under the Neiman Marcus Group LLC name, including its namesake, Bergdorf Goodman, Cusp or Last Call, from July 16, 2013, to Jan. 10, 2014.

In March 2014, Neiman Marcus customers Hilary Remijas, Melissa Frank, Debbie Farnoush and Joanne Kao sued the retailer after it said that a December 2013 data breach had exposed the credit card data of 350,000 shoppers. The company had claimed that just 9,200 accounts were impacted.

The Neiman Marcus lawsuit asserted that the luxury Dallas-based retailer was negligent in its failure to protect its customers’ privacy and in waiting a full 28 days to inform them of that breach.

According to the terms of the deal, each class member who submits a valid claim is eligible to receive up to $100 from the settlement fund. The settlement also calls for each class representative to receive up to $2,500 in service awards.

The case is Hilary Remijas et al. v. the Neiman Marcus Group LLC, case number 1:14-cv-01735, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

Ok – That’s a wrap for this week. See you at the bar!

Week Adjourned: 12.30.11

A weekly wrap up of class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending December 30, 2011.

Top Class Actions

Neiman-Marcus Class Action Filed Over $1.50. That’s one dollar fifty cents, folks. This is interesting–and I have to admit I’d never thought about ATM fees in department stores. But this woman has–Marilyn Frey, from Sherman, Texas. She has filed a consumer fraud class action against Neiman-Marcus claiming unfair business practices over its charging $1.50 ATM fees at ATM terminals in their stores, without posting the fees. Umm. Ok.

The lawsuit, brought individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, claims that Frey made a withdrawal at an ATM on October 11, 2011, which is operated by Neiman-Marcus in their store, and was charged a “terminal fee” of $1.50 in connection with the transaction. The lawsuit claims that the fee is in violation of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, which requires a notice posted on or at the ATM regarding the fee that would be charged for use. Well, this could certainly open up a can of worms…all this for $1.50.

Top Settlements

A couple of biggies this week…

AIG Low-balling Workers’ Comp Claims. First up—American International Group Inc (AIG)—they received final approval from a federal judge to pay $450 million as settlement of the AIG class-action lawsuit brought by a group of other insurers alleging underreporting of workers compensation premiums.

The settlement is supported by AIG and Ace Ina Holdings Inc., Auto-Owners Insurance Co., Companion Property & Casualty Insurance Co., Firstcomp Insurance Co., Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Technology Insurance Co. and Travelers Indemnity Co. Liberty Mutual Group’s two subsidiaries, Ohio Casualty and Safeco, had opposed the settlement. In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit denied Liberty Mutual’s request to appeal the proposed $450 million settlement while the case is still ongoing. Liberty Mutual could still file an appeal down the road, and can still drop out of the settlement class to pursue a case against AIG on its own.

The lawsuit stems from allegations that AIG intentionally underestimated its workers’ comp premiums to avoid premium taxes and substantial residual market charges before 1996. In some states, from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the residual market losses were greater than the residual market and voluntary market premium combined, so the more voluntary premium a company wrote, the more it had to pay out to cover its share of the residual market losses. That, allegedly, gave companies an incentive to under-report workers’ comp claims. Got it? Hey—fraud is fraud…

Look Sharp? Next up…A $538.6 million settlement has been agreed between Sharp Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) and five other makers of liquid crystal display panels which, if approved, would end claims that the companies fixed prices on the panels used in computers and televisions. The attorney generals of eight states, including California, Florida and New York are part of the settlement agreements with the manufacturers.

In a nutshell—the antitrust lawsuit alleged that the companies fixed prices of thin-film liquid crystal display panels, between 1999 and 2006, which effectively increased the prices for purchasers of devices such as televisions, notebook computers and monitors.

How is a consumer supposed to know this stuff? Oh right, we’re not. All things considered maybe the term “trust” should be stricken from terminology relating to the free market… just a thought…

Apparently, this settlement will see about $501 million made available for partial refunds to consumers and about $37 million made available for compensation to governments and other public entities for damages.

Ok—That’s a wrap for this year. Happy New Year and all that jazz. See you in 2012!