Week Adjourned: 10.31.14 – Trump U, Asbestos, Paper Carriers

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top stories include Trump University, Asbestos and Paper Carriers.

Trump-UniversityTop Class Action Lawsuits

You’re Fired! No wait—that’s the wrong show. This show is in fact a legal one—a consumer fraud class action lawsuit alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) filed against Donald Trump. And it just got certified baby! by U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel.

The Trump U lawsuit alleges that through false claims Trump made regarding Trump University LLC, he would gain tens of millions of dollars from attendees who believed they would learn Trump’s real estate secrets. (isn’t Trump University an oxymoron?)

The judge decided that California businessman Art Cohen, the lead plaintiff in the racketeering class action, had provided sufficient evidence that the marketing of the allegedly fraudulent live events, including mailers with prominent pictures and quotes from Trump, as well as a coat of arms and educational language, resulted in thousands of people to pay to attend.

In the lawsuit, Cohen accuses Trump of failing to teach the students his investment secrets, failing to contribute in any meaningful way to the curriculum for the live events or choose the seminar instructors and mentors. Moreover, the New York State Education Department warned the defendant that using the name “University” was illegal without a license, while multiple attorneys general launched investigations into the deceptive practices, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit further alleges that Trump uniformly misled Cohen and the class that they would learn his real estate secrets through him and his handpicked professors at the elite Trump University, which is now named the Trump Entrepreneur Institute. Cohen alleges he attended a free seminar after receiving a “special invitation” in the mail, then paid almost $1,500 to attend a three-day real estate retreat, where he paid almost $35,000 more for additional training.

In his certification, Judge Curiel wrote, “Although [Trump] may yet show that plaintiff and the putative class members knew or should have known that defendant had devised a scheme to falsely market Trump University via mail or wire prior to October 2009, the court is satisfied that determination of defendant’s statute of limitations defense in this case will not defeat the predominance of common issues in this case.”

Judge Curiel also ruled that Cohen’s claims were typical of those among other proposed class members because plaintiff’s description of his experience with Trump University matched the allegations alleged on behalf of the putative class in his complaint.

The case is Art Cohen et al. v. Donald J. Trump, case number 3:13-cv-02519, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. 

Top Settlements

Asbestos Settlement Stands. Asbestos—the problem that will not die. But here’s a good result from a bad situation. An $18 million dollar asbestos settlement will stand, as ordered by the judges involved in the Izell case in California. The lawsuit was filed by plaintiffs Bobbie and Helen Izell alleging Bobbie developed mesothelioma from asbestos exposure to defendant Union Carbide’s products, resulting in his death.

Until 1985, Union Carbide was a supplier of asbestos to companies that made and marketed products for the construction industry. According to their lawsuit, Bobbie Izell owned a construction company and built about 200 homes in California between 1964 and 1994. While he did not work as a laborer or supervisor, the plaintiff alleges he often visited the jobsites.

At the time the lawsuit went to court, just five defendants remained, including Union Carbide. The trial took four weeks and the jury found for Izell, awarding the plaintiffs $30 million in compensatory damages and $18 million in punitive damages. The award consisted of $5 million in past and $10 million in future non-economic damages and $5 million in past and $10 million in future loss of consortium damages. The jury assigned 65 percent liability to Union Carbide. However, the award for compensatory damages was reduced by $24 million to $6 million. 

Paper carriers taking checks to the bank! Read all about it! Yup—they won their employment lawsuit against the publishers of the now bankrupt North County News in San Diego. The $3.2 settlement ends claims against Lee Publications Inc, alleging the carriers they were misclassified and undercompensated as independent contractors, and unfairly dinged for missed or wet papers.

The  lawsuit was filed in 2008 by plaintiffs seeking to represent roughly 800 home-delivery carriers who alleged the publisher treated them like employees but paid them like contractors. The lawsuit further claimed Lee personnel supervised, trained and otherwise treated them like employees but, in violation of California labor laws, denied them overtime, meal and rest breaks, and other employee benefits, according to their complaint.

According to the complaint, the company also docked its carriers up to $5 for each customer complaint about damaged, wet or “allegedly undelivered” papers, which, the plaintiffs argued was an attempt by Lee to make the plaintiffs unlawful insurers of the company’s merchandise. Allegedly, the carriers were given more papers than they had customers on their delivery route, and then Lee would deduct from their compensation the cost for each extra paper. Nice bunch to work for, not.

In the settlement, the class members will be eligible to receive shares in the $3.2 million fund, minus plaintiffs attorneys’ fees and costs, and $36,000 total for eight lead plaintiffs. Bet they’re celebrating this weekend. 

Hokee Dokee—Time to adjourn for the week.  Have a fab weekendSee you at the bar!

Week Adjourned: 11.1.13 – iMac, Trump U, Verizon

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top stories include iMac faulty screens, Trump University and Verizon overtime class actions.

.appleTop Class Action Lawsuits

More Bad Apples! It seems Apple just can’t stay out of the news – but is publicity really good publicity in this case? The tech Wunderstar is facing a defective products class action lawsuit over allegations that iMacs sold with 27 inch screens have faulty displays.

Filed by Corbin Rasmussen, the Apple lawsuit contends that half of Rasmussen’s iMac display failed after only 18 months. The lawsuit further claims that Apple wanted $500 to fix the problem.

Rasmussen alleges this is not an isolated incident, that the problem with the iMac screen is widespread, and that Apple refuses to address the problem. Rasmussen alleges Apple misled consumers by selling them iMacs with displays that failed prematurely.

The iMac screen lawsuit states that hundreds of consumers who purchased 27-inch iMac had half the display fail just months after their warranties expired. It also alleges that when Apple updated the iMac line in 2011 it failed to make any changes to the display or video card in order to prevent the issue from affecting future iMac buyers.

Rasmussen alleges Apple’s marketing led him to believe the iMac was “designed for a long productive life,” and that 18 months of usability he experienced fails to live up to that claim.

The class action seeks to represent Rasmussen and all those similarly situated who purchased 27-inch iMac in the US before December 2012. The suit targets iMacs that used LG’s LED backlit display.

And, Speaking of Bad Apples… Donald Trump is facing consumer fraud class action lawsuit brought by a California businessman who alleges he was duped into spending $35,000 on essentially bogus programs at Trump University.

Filed in the Southern District of California, Plaintiff Art Cohen seeks to represent other buyers of the programs in a class-action lawsuit against Trump.

According to the Trump University lawsuit, Cohen learned about Trump University in 2009 through a newspaper ad. He alleges he received a “special invitation” from Trump, by mail, to the school which included two VIP tickets to a free seminar. Cohen subsequently took programs which, he alleges he would not have paid for had known he wouldn’t have access to Trump’s real estate investing secrets. He further alleges that Trump had “no meaningful role” in selecting the instructors and that Trump University was not a “university.”

“Trump did not fulfill the promises he made to student-victims around the country — he did not teach students his coveted real estate investing ‘secrets’ at the Live Events, he did not contribute in any meaningful way to the curriculum for the Live Events, and he did not handpick the Live Event seminar instructors and mentors who ‘taught’ student-victims at three-day Live Events and Elite mentorship programs — both of which were upsells from the free introductory Live Event called the ‘Preview,’” the 34-page complaint claims.

Cohen is not alone in his complaints against Trump University. According to the lawsuit, nearly a dozen state attorneys general and the US Department of Justice have received “numerous” complaints about Trump’s institution. In August, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against Trump and the Trump Entrepreneur Institute, formerly known as Trump University LLC, for allegedly engaging in deceptive and illegal conduct.

I wonder if The Donald should be teaching courses in “Dodging Consumer Fraud Lawsuits” instead…

Cohen is seeking damages and equitable relief on behalf of himself and the class, including, but not limited to, treble their monetary damages, restitution, injunctive relief, punitive damages, costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees.

Top Settlements

Guess the Employees have been Heard Now! Verizon Communications has been ordered to pay $7.7 million to settle an unpaid overtime class action lawsuit brought by its retail employees.

The wage and hour class action alleged the wireless carrier was in violation the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage laws, because it refused to its workers overtime and bonuses.

The Verizon settlement, approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez, will end the Verizon unpaid overtime class action lawsuit which was filed over two years ago.

Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. Have a good one—see you at the bar !

Week Adjourned: 5.7.10

A BIG week—in all the wrong ways…This oil stain's gonna take more than some Shout to get out

Top Class Actions

Crude-ites Not On the Menu? Just as the toxic oil begins to roll in along the northern coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico—so, too, do the lawsuits against BP, Haliburton, Transocean, and Cameron International, among others.

At least two class actions were filed this week, one in Alabama, and the other in Florida, over potentially different but related outcomes from what may turn out to be the environmental death of the northern Gulf.

In Alabama, the owner of Tacky Jack’s restaurant filed a class action on behalf of all restaurant owners along the Alabama Gulf Coast for losses resulting from the massive oil spill. The suit alleges negligence and wanton misconduct. Defendants named in the suit are BP, Haliburton, and Cameron International. The restaurant owners are deeply worried that they will have lost their livelihoods as a result of this oil disaster. And unfortunately this baby’s gonna take more than a few Shout wipes to clean up.

According to a press release about the lawsuit, travel in Alabama’s Gulf Coast Region accounted for 35 percent of the state’s tourism revenue, as well as 36 percent of the state’s travel-related employment in 2009. Travel related expenditures in Alabama’s Gulf Coast region in 2009 totaled $3,222,382,869. That’s not insignificant.

It seems that this is restaurant owners as good corporate citizens week—as a second suit was filed by a Florida restaurateur together with a homeowners’ association. They filed a class action Continue reading “Week Adjourned: 5.7.10”