Week Adjourned: 4.21.17 – Southwest Airlines, Bose, Google

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Southworst for Cancellation Credit? Think these guys are going to “Wanna Get Away” after dealing with all this…two men filed an an unfair business practices class action lawsuit against Southwest Airlines (SWA) this week, alleging the airline unfairly placed a redemption period on the money credits issued to travelers who cancelled their non-refundable tickets.

The Southwest Airlines lawsuit was filed by plaintiffs Paul Stewart and Michael Hicks who allege they bought Southwest Airlines non-refundable “Wanna Get Away” round-trip tickets from Tulsa, OK to Phoenix AZ in August 2013. They planned to depart Tulsa on November 14, 2013 and return on November 18, 2013. The complaint states the price for both round drip tickets was $695.

The plaintiffs were unable to travel on the dates they had booked and had to cancel their tickets, which they did, according to the lawsuit, by following the procedures stipulated on the Southwest website. Hicks and Stewart assert they cancelled their flight reservations on October 22, 2013.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs knew their tickets were non-refundable and did not expect a refund. However, Southwest subsequently provided them with a credit they could use toward future tickets on other Southwest flights, the lawsuit states.

“[The plaintiffs] were completely satisfied having money-credits to use in the future, and had good experiences in the past using other money-credits they had with SWA,” the complaint states.

However, when Hicks and Steward tried to use their travel funds they discovered the Southwest money credits were only good for one year from the date they bought their original round trip tickets, which they had cancelled.

The plaintiffs state in the lawsuit that Stewart required significant medical treatment in 2014 and most of 2015, so they were unable to travel in a non-emergency capacity. However, by August 2015, Stewart was able to travel which is when he and Hicks tried to use their Southwest money credits to buy tickets.

“To their surprise and chagrin,” Southwest representatives allegedly informed the plaintiffs that they could not use their money-credits to purchase airline tickets. According to the Southwest Airlines class action lawsuit, the plaintiffs were told the funds had expired, the funds were no longer available, and that the funds were lost, among other things.

They plaintiffs claim they “attempted to resolve their dispute with SWA over their expired, unavailable, and lost money, but SWA simply stonewalled them and stopped responding.”

“The only logical conclusion is SWA confiscated [the plaintiffs’] money, and has kept it as free, unearned profits since August 2013,” the lawsuit states. Hicks and Stewart allege that the funds include federal transportation taxes, 9/11 security fees and passenger facility charges, in addition to the actual fare.

“Unbelievably, SWA has provided nothing in return to [Stewart and Hicks] for the money they paid to SWA,” the complaint states.

The Southwest Airlines class action lawsuit asserts claims for breach of contract, fraud and tortious breach of the covenant of good faith.

FYI – The lawsuit is Paul Stewart, et al. v. Southwest Airlines Co., Case No. 5:17-cv-00429-F, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Nosy Bose-y? And what about those Bose headphones—who is listening with you? A lot of interested parties, if the allegations in this federal Wiretap Act class action are correct. Filed this week, the lawsuit claims that Bose collects and shares information about app users’ listening habits, which also violates the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practice Act.

According to the lawsuit, filed by Kyle Zak, who bought a pair of Bose wireless headphones for $350, the electronics company secretly collects, transmits and discloses to third parties, including a data mining company, the private music and audio selections of customers who downloaded its Bose Connect mobile app.

The Bose headphone lawsuit also alleges claims for intrusion upon seclusion and unjust enrichment.

Zak is seeking injunctive relief requiring Bose to discontinue its illegal practices and destroy all data it has collected, as well as actual and statutory damages arising from the invasion of privacy and from customers’ purchases of Bose wireless products, including the return of the products’ purchase price and disgorgement of profits. According to the lawsuit, damages likely exceed $5 million.

The case filed Wednesday is Zak v. Bose Corp., case number 1:17-cv-02928, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 

Top Settlements

Possible AdWords Settlement…Google’s about to pony up $22.5 million if a proposed settlement in a consumer fraud class action lawsuit gets the green light.

The Google lawsuit was filed by a proposed class of AdWords advertisers, who allege Google failed to disclose that it placed AdWords customers’ ads on websites known as parked domains and error pages. Oh, that’s a good use of your advertising buck – not.

According to the allegations, Google did this from July 11, 2004 to March 31, 2008. Parked domains, as you may or may not know, are websites with little or no content, and error pages are websites that users visit when they enter an unregistered address into their web browser.

The proposed Google AdWords settlement was granted preliminary approval on March 9, 2017. If granted final approval, Google will pay $22.5 million into a settlement fund, which will be used to pay class members who submit valid claims, proportionate to the amount each class member spent on ads displayed on parked domains and error pages during the class period.

Heads up—if you are a United States resident and had a Google AdWords account and were charged for clicks on advertisements appearing on parked domains or error pages, during the period from July 11, 2004 through March 31, 2008, you are a class member and may be entitled to a settlement payment. Cha ching!

To receive payment, you must submit a claim form no later than June 21, 2017.

The case is In Re Google AdWords Litigation, No. 5:08-cv-03369-EJD.

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

Week Adjourned: 4.17.15 – Source Naturals, Southwest Airlines, HAMP Mortgages

Source Naturals LogoTop Class Action Lawsuits

Source Naturals a little light on the content? According to a consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed this week, it is. The plaintiff alleges the amounts of vitamins and minerals in the vitamins are inaccurate.

In her Source Naturals complaint, Jennifer Dougherty alleges she purchased the products online for about $20 in November. According to the lawsuit, Source Naturals advertised that its multivitamins contained 12,500 IU per serving of vitamin A. Dougherty claims that the amounts of the of six vitamins and minerals in its multivitamins were off by as much as 90 percent, which was shown in tests. Those same tests also revealed that the vitamin B-3 contained in the product was about 19 percent less than represented; calcium per serving was about 22 percent less; zinc was under by about 24 percent; manganese was under by about 36 percent; and magnesium was under by about 12 percent than what Source Naturals claimed, according to the lawsuit.

The Source Naturals lawsuit is seeking class action status for those that purchased the multivitamins and seeks less than $5 million plus court costs. The $5 million figure represents a threshold for removal under the Class Action Fairness Act.

Southwest Early Bird Check-In a scam? At least one passenger thinks so. Teri Lowry filed a consumer fraud class action lawsuit over allegations the airline misleads customers into purchasing early flight check-ins, billed as “Early-Bird” priority boarding.

Specifically, the Southwest Airlines lawsuit contends that the airline deceived her into purchasing an “Early-Bird” priority boarding cost for a flight she took in March 2014 from Los Angeles to Indianapolis.

Lowry claims she purchased a “Wanna Get Away” ticket offered by Southwest, and then added on the “Early-Bird Check-in” feature for $25 roundtrip. She states in her lawsuit that she purchased the feature based on previous experience when she traveled with Southwest and received a “B” boarding group assignment.

The lawsuit states that when Lowry contacted others who had received a higher boarding position than she did for her trip to Indianapolis, none of them had purchased the “Early Bird Check-In.”

According to the complaint, Southwest Airlines allocates boarding in the order in which a customer checks in online, with boarding broken into three groups of about 60 board positions each. According to the lawsuit, Southwest Airlines’ website states customers can obtain an A boarding position by purchasing an “Early Bird Check-in.”

In her complaint, Lowry alleges Southwest’s website says customers who purchased “Anytime” fares receive priority over other fare types including “Early Bird Check-ins.” The lawsuit alleges that contradicts other areas of the website that say “Anytime” or “Wanna Get Away” fares don’t have priority over other fares.

Top Settlements

A $4.5 million settlement has been reached in a consumer banking deceptive practices violations class action lawsuit against a unit of Morgan Stanley (Saxon). The lawsuit was filed by homeowners who allege the finance company denied thousands of California homeowners new terms through the federal Home Affordable Modification Plan (HAMP), which they claim resulted in some people losing their homes.

The Morgan Stanley HAMP settlement is preliminary and requires final approval, which, if granted, would pay the approximate 2,705 class members an average of $1,663 each. According to court documents, the settlement represented about 15 percent of the roughly $30 million in total trial payments made by the class.

According to the lawsuit, plaintiff Marie Gaudin alleged Saxon delayed processing her loan while urging her to make trial payments as part of its Home Affordable Modification Program, meant for homeowners who were behind on loan payments. Saxon later pulled the offer of permanent loan modification without cause, according to the lawsuit.

If approved, 1,365 class members who lost their homes after Saxon denied them permanent loan modifications would be paid back. All class members would receive a base award of approximately $184, with tiered payments being made to those who lost their homes in foreclosures or short sales without being offered loan modifications, and to those who entered into alternative modifications elsewhere.

The class is defined as California borrowers who entered into HAMP TPPs with Saxon through October 1, 2009, and made at least three trial period payments but did not receive HAMP loan modifications.

Ok—that’s it for this week—see you at the bar!

Week Adjourned: 11.22.13 – Beneficial WV, SouthWest Airlines, Google

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top stories include Beneficial West Virginia, Southwest Airlines and Google.


Top Class Action Lawsuits

Bad Beneficial! Heads up Beneficial West Virginia Insurance Policy Holders—yup—it’s a bad faith insurance class action lawsuit. This one filed against Beneficial West Virginia Inc, and Household Insurance Co, by two policy holders. Denzil and Cathy Shaw allege they are owed payments under the terms of their credit-disability insurance policy.

The Shaws state in their Beneficial West class action complaint that they submitted a claim to their insurer in October 2009, when Denzil Shaw became permanently disabled. They ha

d purchased the disability policy through Beneficial, and it was issued by Household Insurance. The lawsuit contends that the Shaw’s policy states that if either of the plaintiffs become disabled during the mortgage term, their mortgage would be paid for a period up to 180 months. The lawsuit states that the Shaw’s mor

tgage payments were paid through the policy until they received a letter stating the payments would stop in December 2012, which is in violation of the policy-stipulated 180 months.

The lawsuit claims that the defendants are in breach of contract, consumer credit and protection act, unfair claims settlement practices act, failure to disclose and first-party insurance bad faith.

Top Settlements

The Settlement Fund will be divided equally among all Class Members (after fees and costs are deducted), who timely submit a valid Claim Form and do not exclude themselves from the settlement. It is estimated that approximately $1,132,053 will be available to be divided among Class Members who timely submit a valid Claim Form. Based on claims rates in other cases, the range of expected recovery per Class Member who submits a valid Claim Form is estimated at between $25 and $200. This is only an estimate. The actual amount paid out will depend on the number of Class Members who submit valid Claim Forms. Printing Error? SouthWest has agreed to pay $1.8 million in settlement of a class action lawsuit concerning allegations it “willfully” violated the Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act (FACTA) by printing the expiration date on customers’ credit or debit card receipts at airport ticket counters between October 17, 2007 and October 30, 2012 or at cargo counters between October 17, 2007 and January 25, 2013. Got all that? Did you even know SouthWest was doing this?

If you made a non-business related credit or debit card purchase or transaction at a Southwest Airlines Co. airport ticket counter between October 17, 2007 and October 30, 2012 or a cargo counter between October 17, 2007 and January 25, 2013 and received a printed receipt, you may be entitled to benefits as part of a class action settlement.

Wait—there’s more—a settlement has been proposed in two related class action lawsuits alleging that Southwest Airlines Co. willfully printed credit card and debit card expiration dates on certain customer receipts. The settlement will provide benefits to any Class member who used a credit or debit card to make an individual, non-business related purchase or transaction at a Southwest airport ticket counter between October 17, 2007 and October 30, 2012 or a cargo counter between October 17, 2007 and January 25, 2013 and received a printed receipt.

To get the whole picture and for information on downloading and submitting claim forms, visit: www.SouthwestFACTASettlement.com, or write to Southwest Airlines Co. Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 3059, Faribault, MN 55021-2659.

Google to pay for Oogles —sorry that’s Ogles… to the tune of $17 million. A settlement has reportedly been reached in an Internet privacy class action lawsuit pending against Google Inc. The lawsuit concerns allegations that Google and another three online companies circumvented default privacy settings on Apple’s Safari web browser, for the purposes of placing tracking cookies without consumers’ knowledge. Oh that my Internet practices were that interesting!

Nevertheless, “Consumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the web with them,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. Well, preferably, no other eyes.

As part of the Google settlement, Google has not admitted to any wrongdoing and stressed that they had “taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information from Apple’s browsers.” Other terms of the settlement reportedly stipulate that Google honor default privacy settings on web browsers. Google will also “provide a separate stand-alone page or pages on the Google.com domain designed to give information to users about Cookies (the “Cookie Page).”

“Google shall maintain systems configured to instruct Safari brand web browsers to expire any Cookie placed from the doubleclick.net domain by Google through February 15, 2012 if those systems encounter such a Cookie, with the exception of the DoubleClick opt-out Cookie. Such systems shall remain in place until Feb. 15, 2014, at which time all Cookies placed from the doubleclick.net domain by Google on Safari brand web Browsers through Feb. 15, 2012 should have expired by design,” the settlement states.

The $17 million settlement fund is set to be split among each of the Attorneys General who filed against Google, in amount yet to be designated. The states are listed as beneficiaries of the settlement are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, and District of Columbia. Umm.

Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. Happy Thanksgiving!


Week Adjourned: 1.25.13 – Lance Armstrong, Subway, Southwest Airlines

Top class action lawsuits and settlements of the week, for the week ending January 25, 2013.

Lance ArmstrongTop Class Action Lawsuits

File Under “Fiction”. You would pretty much have to be living on the dark side of the moon not to have heard of the consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed against the publishers of Lance Armstrong’s book “It’s Not About the Bike.” Indeed it’s not.

Filed following the interview/confession with Oprah Winfrey earlier this week, the lawsuit alleges the publishers sold Lance Armstrong’s latest book as fact, when it was fiction. Quelle Surprise!

And, the lawsuit, filed this week in federal court in California, also mentions Armstrong’s other book, “Every Second Counts,” and accuses the cyclist and his publishers of fraud and false advertising.

The lawsuit, filed by Rob Stutzman in federal court in California, also mentions Armstrong’s other book “Every Second Counts, and alleges Armstrong and his publishers are guilty of consumer fraud. Specifically, the lawsuit states “At that time, Stutzman thanked Defandant Armstrong for writing his book and told him it was very inspiring and that he recommended it to friends who were fighting cancer.” Stutzman contends that had he and others similarly situated known Armstrong’s accounts were lies, they would not have purchased the book, or have enjoyed it less.

“Throughout the book, Defendant Armstrong repeatedly denies that he ever used banned substances before or during his professional cycling career,” the lawsuit states. The lawsuit also states that the plaintiffs purchased the book “based upon the false belief that they were true and honest works of nonfiction when, in fact, Defendants knew or should have known that these books were works of fiction.” Well, everyone likes a good story, and this is certainly no exception.

Is Subway selling a Whopper? …instead of a Footlong? We’ll have to wait and see… A consumer fraud class action lawsuit was filed this week against the sandwich chain Subway, alleging it advertises the $5 Footlong sandwiches when they are not a foot long.

The Subway Footlong lawsuit, Pendrak & Farley v. Subway Sandwich Shops Inc., et al., Superior Court for the State of New Jersey, claims the famous sandwiches actually measure between 11-11.5 inches, instead of 12 inches as advertised. (no comment).

The lawsuit further claims that Subway is aware its Footlong sub sandwich is not 12 inches, because sandwich prices are set at the corporate level then sent down the line to the individual franchises. Consequently, Subway is purposefully defrauding its customers by selling so-called “$5 Footlongs,” according to the lawsuit.

Top Settlements

This round’s on Southwest! Yes, indeed—Southwest Airlines reached a tentative settlement of a pending class action lawsuit over drink vouchers. Included in this Settlement are Southwest customers who received a drink coupon with the purchase of a Business Select ticket prior to August 1, 2010, and did not redeem the drink coupon.

Filed in 2011, Southwest Airlines class action lawsuit plaintiffs, Adam Levitt (an attorney himself) and Herbert Malone, alleged the airline’s policy changes around its drink vouchers, which became effective after August 1, 2010, amounted to a breach of contract and made the coupons worthless. The policy change stipulated that while the drink vouchers had no expiration date, they could only be used on the dates voucher holders were traveling. The vouchers were issued to passengers for alcoholic drinks.

Southwest Airlines drinks vouchers changes were brought in because, the airline claimed, passengers were photocopying them to get free drinks.

The settlement includes Business Select passengers who were issued vouchers before August 1, 2010. Based on Southwest’s charges of $5 per alcoholic drink, the settlement may cost the airline as much as $29 million, with some 5.8 million vouchers up for redemption. The final fairness hearing is set for May, 2013.

The proposed settlement includes damages for Class Members who received Southwest drink coupons through the purchase of a Business Select ticket prior to August 1, 2010, but did not redeem those drink coupons for a free drink. Eligible class members must file a claim before September 2, 2013.

So—see you at the bar—and don’t forget your voucher!