Week Adjourned: 4.14.17 – Nissan Sentra, Express Stores, DoorDash

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Senseless Sentra? They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity—I’ll bet Nissan would disagree. The automaker has just been hit with a defective automotive class action lawsuit…this one filed by a waste management company alleging the automotive manufacturer and Nissan World LLC, a local dealership in New Jersey, concealed transmission problems with the 2014 Nissan Sentra.

Here’s the skinny: the plaintiff, Pinto of Montville Inc, claims Nissan falsely advertised and sold its Sentras despite the presence of the alleged defect. “Notwithstanding this longstanding problem and extensive knowledge of the issue, Nissan and the dealership continued to advertise and sell the defective vehicles, failed to issue an appropriate recall, and, amazingly, continued to market the CVT as a more ‘durable’ and reliable transmission,” the complaint states.

FYI—the alleged defect, continuously variable transmissions, has been reported to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA) in consumer complaints during the past 10 years.

The Nissan lawsuit states that Pinto bought a Nissan Sentra in July 2014. The problems with the transmission began while the car had less than 20,000 miles on the clock. Those problems include engine revving during gear shifts and shaking and unexpected downshifts while driving. Despite bringing these issues to the dealership, managers claimed the vehicle did not have any problems, the plaintiff claims.

After being replaced four times between 2014 and 2016, (seriously?) due to damage from the alleged defect, Pinto states it tried to make a claim under New Jersey’s Lemon Law. The dealership, despite correspondence from retained counsel, allegedly refused to acknowledge the transmission had problems or preserve the defective transmission in the Sentra pending the lawsuit, amounting to evidence of spoilation, according to the complaint.

If any of this sounds familiar, the lawsuit seeks to represent a class consisting of all owners of the 2014 Nissan Sentra in New Jersey. In total, 11 claims are made, including those for violation of the state’s consumer fraud law, violation of express and implied warranties, product liability, false advertising, and violation of the state’s “lemon law,” among others. The complaint seeks damages and a recall and repurchasing of all 2014 Sentra models registered or sold in the state.

The case is Pinto of Montville Inc. v. Nissan North America, Inc. et al., case number L-753-17, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County.

Exempt at Express? Maaaybe not. It’s time for our weekly employment class action. A federal employment and labor law class action lawsuit has been filed against Express Inc., alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Specifically, the lawsuit claims the clothing retailer misclassified co-managers as exempt employees, and denied paying them for required overtime when they worked in excess of 40 hours per week.

The lawsuit was filed by a former New Jersey employee, Karla Reynosa, who alleges she worked as a salaried co-manager at Express stores in New York as well as New Jersey. During her employment with the defendant, Reynosa and other co-managers were frequently required to work overtime but were paid “supplemental” pay equal to one-half of an hourly rate calculated off her annual salary, the lawsuit states.

The FLSA stipulates that time and a half is the hourly overtime rate. “Defendant knowingly and willfully operated its business with a policy of not paying overtime premiums equal to one and a half times Plaintiff’s regular hourly rate for hours worked in excess of forty in a workweek,” the complaint states.

According to the Express unpaid overtime lawsuit, Reynosa worked for Express from 1999 to 2013 at stores in Manhattan. In 2012 she became a co-manager and generally put in between 43-45 hours per week, and on occasion as much as 49 hours per week. She then moved to an Express in Jersey City, where she worked as a salaried co-manager from June 2015 to about September 2016, and again generally worked 42 hours per week.

Despite her title, Reynosa didn’t have duties that were meaningfully different than the hourly sales associates and wasn’t involved in management, hiring or operational decisions at either store, the complaint states.

The complaint alleges failure to pay overtime in violation of the FLSA, violations of New Jersey labor law for overtime and unpaid overtime wages, and a violation of New York labor law for unpaid overtime wages.

Reynosa seeks to represent a class of anyone who worked as a salaried, exempt co-manager for Express and put in more than 40 hours per week during any workweek in the past three years. She also seeks to represent a class of those who were allegedly misclassified pursuant to the New Jersey and New York claims.

The case is Karla Reynosa v. Express Inc., case number 2:17-cv-02424, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. 

Top Settlements

DoorDash could be delivering checks… in the not so distant future. The food delivery start-up, has agreed to pay $5 million to settle an employment class action lawsuit brought by workers who claimed they were misclassified so the company would not have to pay expenses among other costs.

Two lawsuits were filed in September 2015, one by Cynthia Marciano and the other by Evan Kissner both alleging that DoorDash misclassified them and other delivery workers as independent contractors, and therefore violated certain provisions of the labor code.

Under the terms of the DoorDash settlement, both named plaintiffs, Marciano and Kissner, will receive $7,500 each. There are approximately 33,744 class members, including anyone who worked for DoorDash as an independent contractor at some point between September 23, 2011 and August 29, 2016, and completed at least one delivery. Each of those class members will receive payment as part of the settlement. According to the agreement, class members who “were most active” on DoorDash will “receive proportionally higher payments.”

For those of us who still venture out in person to the grocery store, DoorDash is a food delivery service located in 16 cities or regions throughout the country, which include San Francisco, San Jose/Silicon Valley, Oakland, Los Angeles, LA Valley, Orange County, San Diego, Boston, Phoenix, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Washington D.C., Minneapolis and Houston.

The settlement requires final court approval. Stay tuned! 

I wonder if the Easter Bunny is hiring? 

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