Week Adjourned: 11.30.12 – Toys R Us, Generic Lipitor, Lucky Brand Jeans

Ploys R Us? Toy retail giant Toys R Us, Inc, got hit with a potential consumer fraud class action lawsuit by an angry customer who feels he was duped over the Thanksgiving weekend. Essentially, the lawsuit alleges engaged in a Toys R Us bait-and-switch scheme that lured in online shoppers with offers of valuable free gifts that turned out be small or non-existent.

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Ploys R Us? Toy retail giant Toys R Us, Inc, got hit with a potential consumer fraud class action lawsuit by an angry customer who feels he was duped over the Thanksgiving weekend. Essentially, the lawsuit alleges engaged in a Toys R Us bait-and-switch scheme that lured in online shoppers with offers of valuable free gifts that turned out be small or non-existent.

Naughty, naughty!

The backstory: William Probert, (who filed the lawsuit), claims he was lured to the Toys R Us website to purchase four Lego building sets, worth $62 and $112 each, based on an ad promising he would receive $15 Lego building set as a free gift with purchase. Instead, Probert was offered a $5 Christmas tree figurine and a $5 magnet.

The short version on the allegations: that Toys R Us used misleading sales tactics which included promising customers free gifts like a $15 Barbie clothing outfit when they purchased a $75 Barbie Doll. However, most shoppers received much cheaper incentive gifts because the company either stocked an “exceedingly limited” number of the advertised free gifts or had no intention of giving expensive gifts.

Specifically, the Toys R Us lawsuit states, “Under this business model, consumers almost always receive a ‘free gift’ of substantially lesser value than what was advertised and which served as the basis of the bargain, or no ‘free gift’ whatsoever.” And, “This business practice, thus, constitutes a modern ‘bait and switch’ scheme. Toys R Us does not honor its promises to provide the promised free gift, and indeed never intended to honor its promises.”

Statin Trouble. Heads up anyone taking Atorvastatin (generic Lipitor) manufactured and sold by Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals. A consumer fraud class action lawsuit has been filed in the United States District Court, District of New Jersey on behalf of a class of all purchasers of certain bottles of Atorvastatin (generic Lipitor) that were manufactured and sold by Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Read more on the generic Lipitor class action lawsuit here.)

In case you missed it—which was easily done by the way—the pharmaceutical company recently conducted a limited, voluntary recall of Atorvastatin calcium tablets, (generic Lipitor). The retail-only recall concerns its 10mg, 20mg and 40mg dosage strengths, packaged in 90’s and 500 count bottles and only with respect to certain select lot numbers. Ranbaxy admitted that the product contained glass particles.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants manufactured and sold a dangerous and defective product, violated consumer fraud laws, and otherwise acted improperly with respect to the tainted Atorvastatin. For example, when Ranbaxy learned that their product was tainted, Ranbaxy conducted a recall but it was only at the retail level. The recall by Ranbaxy did not include a notice to consumers who purchased the tainted product as to what they should do with the tainted product or what they should do if they ingested it. The limited recall also did not include a notice to consumers or retail pharmacies about how the consumers could obtain a refund of the money paid for the product. In fact, Ranbaxy has not offered a refund to consumers.

The class action seeks a total product recall, with notice to consumers about the tainted product. The lawsuit also seeks a refund of the money paid for the product. Hey Ho!

Top Settlements

Lucky Brand Jeans—Not So Lucky? Possibly not. A federal judge has preliminarily approved a $9.9 million settlement of a class action lawsuit filed against Lucky Brand Dungarees, Inc. and its marketing subcontractors. The Lucky Brand lawsuit alleged the clothing company was in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) because it sent unsolicited text spam as part of a 2008 back-to-school promotion.

The lawsuit, entitled Robles v. Lucky Brand Dungarees, Inc., Case No. 10-cv-4846, was filed by Juvenal Robles in October 2010, who represents an estimated 216,000 class members, all of whom may be eligible to receive up to $100 per claimant if the settlement receives final court approval.

The lawsuit claimed that Lucky Brand sent unsolicited spam texts to thousands of customers’ cellphones. Those messages offered $25 off Lucky jeans or offering store location services to consumers that responded with their ZIP codes.

According to the lawsuit, the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) prohibits companies from contacting people on their mobile phones by using an “automatic telephone dialing system” or using “an artificial or prerecorded voice” without their prior express consent. Some courts have even applied the TCPA to unsolicited text messages, or “text spam.”

Eligible class members include consumers that received the Lucky Brand text spam between August 24 and September 15, 2008. Further details on the preliminary settlement have not been made public.

And on that note—I’ll see you at the bar. Have a great weekend!

Week Adjourned: 10.21.11

The weekly wrap up of class action lawsuits and lawsuit settlements for October 21, 2011

Top Class Actions

Sex discrimination—still? Really? Yup—and this time the company doing the dirty was owned by a woman—Ruth U. Fertel. However, she passed away in 2002, and it looks like things have regressed since then. And the company is….Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Four former and current employees filed a sex discrimination class action alleging they were discriminated against for pay and promotions.

The women’s jobs ranged from national sales manager to bartender, and they brought the suit in October 2010. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has now granted the Ruth’s Chris Steak House discrimination suit plaintiffs the right to add class action claims to the lawsuit.

The women also allege that they suffered sexual advances in the work environment at the steak house chain, including physical groping, sexual innuendo and retaliation against those who complained or reported sexual harassment. Hey—the meat’s on the plate boys…

Top Settlements

Who says the little guy can’t win? A $160k settlement has been awarded to a former employee of retail giant Target, ending his discrimination lawsuit against the company. Jeremy Schott, who filed the lawsuit, took medical leave in 2004 due to his experiencing a seizure. He was 29 years old at the time. In his lawsuit, he alleged that when he returned to work his weekly hours had been reduced from 17 to eight. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Target on Schott’s behalf, alleging a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Target’s counsel contended that Schott’s work hours were decreased because of poor performance and a lack of motivation. The parties agreed to settle for $160,000. As part of the settlement Target has agreed to designate an ADA coordinator and implement a policy regarding reasonable accommodations.

Defective Pool Slide Settlement. This is very sad… The widower and child of a young woman who died as a result of a defective inflatable pool slide purchased from Toys “R” Us have been awarded a $20.6 million settlement this week by the judge hearing the personal injury lawsuit.

The accident that took Robin Aleo’s life happened five years ago, when she was just 29 years old. She had an 18-month old daughter at the time. Aleo was at a pool party at a relative’s home when she decided to go down the six foot Banzai Falls slide head first. When she neared the bottom the slide suddenly bottomed out and Aleo hit her head on the edge of the pool, breaking her neck and sending her to hospital unable to breathe on her own and paralyzed. She died at the hospital the following day.

According to a report in the EagleTribune, Aleo is the second person to have allegedly been paralyzed by an incident involving the Banzai Falls slide. According to court records, more than 4,000 of the slides were sold nationwide, without having been tested to see if it met federal safety standards.

Ok – That’s it for this week. See you at the bar.