Week Adjourned: 11.25.17 – Uber, Dave & Buster’s, Monitronics

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Uber trying to be hush-hush? Uber is facing a data breach class action lawsuit filed by a resident of Portland who alleges the ride share company was negligent in its safeguarding of customer data, resulting in a data breach in October 2016, in which hackers accessed and stole data from 57 million Uber customers and drivers.

What? You didn’t hear about the data breach? You’re not alone.

The Uber lawsuit contends that rather than reporting the data breach promptly, as required by state law, Uber paid hackers $100,000 to delete the data and keep the breach quiet. Seriously.

In a recent report to Bloomberg, Uber said it believes the information stolen in 2016 was never used but declined to disclose the identities of the hackers.

The proposed class action was filed by Medhi Seifian, alleging the compromised data includes names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million riders worldwide. Further, personal information of approximately seven million drivers also was accessed, including 600,000 US driver’s license numbers.

Contrary to Uber’s claims that the hacked data has not been used, Seifian alleges that since the data breach he has experienced undisclosed economic losses and his credit has suffered. Uber could have mitigated those losses had it promptly notified customers of the cyber attack, the lawsuit states. By the time it did, “the damage to their credit was already done.”

Seifian is seeking class action status, according to the lawsuit filed in US District Court in Portland. He says the cyber attack affected an estimated half-million Oregonians.

The lawsuit seeks fair compensation to cover credit repair and monitoring services on behalf of “an estimated 500,000 Oregon consumers harmed by Uber’s failure to adequately protect their personal information.”

Top Settlements

Buster’d benefits? Here’s one for the books. While the $7.425 million settlement is not huge, it is important. It will hopefully bring a satisfying conclusion to a class action lawsuit pending against the Texas-based restaurant and entertainment chain Dave & Buster’s Inc. The lawsuit alleged the company illegally cut its workers’ hours to deprive them of health-care benefits. Wow.

The two-year old lawsuit is brought by an employee who alleged her hours were cut from approximately 40 a week to less than 30. This resulted in her being ineligible for health benefits. According to the lawsuit, Dave & Buster’s reduced its workers’ hours to prevent them from continuing to receive health benefits under the company plan.

Should the proposed Dave & Buster’s settlement receive final court approval, some 1,200 class members would benefit. This is the first Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit that alleged an employer, in response to the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act, intentionally interfered with workers’ benefits by cutting their hours to make them part time. The number of full-time workers a company has factors into whether the mandate requires them to provide those workers with health coverage. The employee brought the case pursuant to an ERISA provision that prohibits employers from taking an employment action with the specific intent to interfere with benefits.

In 2016, a federal judge in New York refused to dismiss the lawsuit, finding instead that sufficient evidence existed to support the workers’ claims that the company acted with an “unlawful purpose” when it reduced the hours of hundreds of employees and thereby made them ineligible for health benefits.

A call you do want to get… If you received an unsolicited, automated phone call from Monitronics – this could net you some cash. The home security firm has agreed to pay $28 million to settle a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) class action lawsuit alleging it made automated telephone calls to phone numbers listed on the national Do Not Call Registry (DNCR) and to consumers who had not provided their consent.

The settlement will address claims made in a class action lawsuit brought against Monitronics in May 2011 by plaintiff Diana Mey, which has been consolidated with more than 30 similar Monitronics TCPA proposed class action lawsuits.

The complaints all allege Monitronics, a home security company, used an automated dialing system or an artificial or pre-recorded voice to make telemarketing calls to people’s cell phones without their consent, or listed on the national DNCR, in violation of the TCPA.

Eligible class members include all persons who, since May 18, 2007, received a telemarketing call from an authorized Monitronics dealer, or a Monitronics dealer’s lead generator or sub-dealer, on a residential or cell phone using an automated telephone dialing system or pre-recorded voice, or two or more calls within a 12-month period to a residential number listed on the national DNCR.

A final fairness hearing is scheduled for March 2018.

The case is In re: Monitronics International Inc. Telephone Consumer Protection Act Litigation, Case No. 1:13-md-02493, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

Ok Folks – Happy Thanksgiving! See you at the bar.

Week Adjourned: 4.28.17 – Uber, VW, Audi, Hard Rock Cafe

Top Class Action Lawsuits

I always feel like…Uber is watching me…? Uber just can’t seem to stay out of court these days. This week they got hit with a privacy class action lawsuit brought by Lyft drivers who assert that Uber used “secret” software to spy on them, allegedly allowing Uber to see Lyft’s coverage areas and which drivers worked for both ride share companies.

Allegedly referred to internally by Uber as “Hell”, the software enables Uber personnel to gain unauthorized access to Lyft computer systems, pose as Lyft customers and see the locations of Lyft drivers and their unique Lyft identification, according to the complaint.

Filed by a former driver for Lyft, Michael Gonzales, against three related companies, Uber Technologies Inc., Uber USA LLC and Rasier-CA, the lawsuit seeks to represent Gonzales and other Lyft drivers whose electronic communications and locations were allegedly intercepted, accessed, monitored or transmitted by Uber.

According to the Uber privacy lawsuit, “Each Lyft ID is unique, akin to a Social Security number, which allowed Uber to track Lyft drivers’ locations over time.” Uber used the “Hell” software program from at least 2014 to 2016, the lawsuit asserts.

Uber allegedly cross-referenced location data it gathered on Lyft drivers with its own internal records to determine which drivers were working for both companies so it could target them “in order to improve the Uber platform and harm the Lyft platform,” the complaint states. “Uber accomplished this by incentivizing drivers working on both platforms to work primarily for Uber, thereby reducing the supply of Lyft drivers, which resulted in increased wait times for Lyft customers and diminished earnings for Lyft drivers.”

Allegedly, Uber would direct “more frequent and more profitable trips” to drivers who it knew were also working for Lyft, thereby encouraging those drivers to primarily work for Uber, the complaint alleges.

Gonzales worked as driver for Lyft from 2012 to 2014 but never worked for Uber, according to the complaint. He seeks to represent a national class and a California class of drivers.

The proposed national class is defined in the complaint as “all individuals in the United States who (1) worked as drivers for Lyft, (2) while not working for Uber, and (3) whose private information and whereabouts was obtained by Uber by accessing computer systems operated or used by Lyft and the class.” The proposed California class is defined identically, except for removing the words “in the United States.”

According to the complaint, public reports estimate some 315,000 people have driven for Lyft in the United States, and 60 percent of them may have also driven for Uber. As such, the number of members in the proposed national class may be in excess of 126,000, while “common sense dictates that thousands of those individuals are California residents,” the proposed lawsuit states.

The proposed class action claims violations of the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, the California Invasion of Privacy Act and the California Unfair Competition Law and seeks injunctive relief and damages for the alleged privacy invasion.

The case is Michael Gonzales v. Uber Technologies Inc. et al, case number 3:17-cv-02264, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Top Settlements

It’s a Record Settlement—and it’s Official. A $2.1 billion settlement has received final approval, ending the massive Canadian Volkswagen (VW) emissions scandal class action caused by VW and Audi vehicles fitted with the now infamous defeat device, which allowed VW and Audi to cheat emissions standards testing.

According to a report in the Canadian national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, members of a Canadian class action can submit claims for reimbursement this week, as an Ontario court has approved a $2.1 billion settlement plan.

Some 105,000 people who either purchased or leased certain Volkswagen or Audi vehicles with two-litre diesel engines that were involved in the emissions scandal will each receive a payment between $5,100 and $8,000, according to the written judgment by Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba.

Additionally, many class members will be able to choose whether to return their vehicle at the buy-back price as of mid-September 2015, before knowledge of the defeat device was made public, or keep their car and receive an emissions modification that is approved by government regulators, according to the Canadian VW settlement.

This settlement, however, may not be the end of the litigation. Attorneys representing the plaintiffs said that if emissions modifications for any of the vehicles are not approved and implemented around summer 2018, and the owner chooses not to return their vehicle, they can choose to continue litigation. If enough such owners come forward, the court may choose to hear the case again as a class action lawsuit.

Currently, US regulatory authorities are evaluating fixes Volkswagen has provided for three generations of affected VW and Audi vehicles.

Another biggie this week… The Hard Rock enterprises has agreed to pony up a $51.5 settlement ending a consumer fraud class action lawsuit brought by the buyers of a Hard Rock Cafe condo-hotel complex and the company who alleged the developers of the condo hotel units violated land sale regulations. Get outta town!

According to the terms of the Hard Rock settlement, each class member would receive a payment of approximately $95K. Court fees and costs would also be paid from the settlement fund. The developer, Tarsadia Hotels, would contribute $10 million and third-party defendant Greenberg Traurig LLC would put in the remaining $41.15 million.

In May 2010, Laurie and Dean Beaver filed a lawsuit against the Hard Rock Café condo-hotel consortium, alleging the defendants failed to inform them that they could rescind their property purchases within two years of their signing date.

Development began on The Hard Rock San Diego in 2005. It is a 12-story building with 420 condo-hotel units located across the street from the San Diego Convention Center and a few blocks from the San Diego Marina and Seaport Village, according to court documents.

The proposed settlement requires final court approval.

The case is Dean Beaver et al. v. Tarsadia Hotels et al., case number 15-55106, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.



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

Week Adjourned: 6.3.16 – Baby Powder, Uber, Ticketmaster

Baby PowderTop Class Action Lawsuits

More Talc Powder Lawsuits…We’ve been seeing a lot about the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits here in the US, but a class action lawsuit has now been filed in Canada against J&J alleging its Baby Powder product causes ovarian cancer.

The named plaintiffs in the Canadian J&J talc complaint all developed ovarian cancer following long-term use of J&J’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene purposes. The representative plaintiffs in this case include, Marilyne Bernier who is the daughter of Thérèse Bernier, who died in March of this year following her battle with ovarian cancer, and Shaeda Farooqi of Mississauga.

According to the complaint, scientific researchers have established that over time, applying talcum powder to genitals, underwear, and sanitary napkins increases the risk of developing ovarian cancer by 33%. However, despite the evidence of a direct link, J&J has not acknowledged the connection and has kept its product on the shelves without warning.

The lawsuit aims to bring access to justice to the many women who have developed ovarian cancer due to long term use of Baby Powder and to modify behaviour of companies that place known carcinogens into the stream of the Canadian commerce without warning.

FYI—estimates suggest there are over 1,000 talc-powder induced ovarian cancer lawsuits pending in the US against J&J.

Uber Needs to Check the Definition of Stop? Wow—Uber just cannot stay out of trouble, it seems. It found itself on the end of another proposed class action recently, this one alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  The allegations? Uber sent text messages through an auto-dialer to people even after they had opted out of the messages by texting back “Stop”.

Filed by an Uber driver applicant, the lawsuit alleges the plaintiff provided his telephone number during the application process, which he did not complete. However, Uber then purportedly began sending him text messages asking him if he required help finishing his application.

According to the Uber lawsuit, the plaintiff replied to Uber, stating “stop” on numerous occasions because Uber’s automated system responded to these “stop” requests with a confirmation text stating “SMS from Uber is now disabled. To re-enable, reply START.”

Further, the lawsuit asserts after the plaintiff deleted his Uber rider account, Uber sent him another text message confirming he had deleted his account.

Top Settlements

Heads Up Ticketmaster Account Holders: The more than 10-year long consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed against Ticketmaster, Schlesinger v. Ticketmaster, has reached a $400 million settlement, which involves providing ticket vouchers as restitution to Class members —oh what a surprise.

Here’s the skinny: On or around June 18, 2016, class members should receive at least one Ticket Code by email redeemable for two tickets for General Admission seating at designated concert events at Live Nation owned or operated venues, subject to availability and limitations.

The Class includes all consumers who (1) purchased tickets on Ticketmaster’s website (“Website”) from October 21, 1999 through February 27, 2013; (2) paid money to Ticketmaster for an OPF that was not fully refunded; (3) did not and do not opt out of the Class; and (4) were residents of one of the fifty United States at the time of their purchase, including persons who placed, and then cancelled, a ticket order without obtaining a full refund of the OPF. If you also purchased UPS delivery for your tickets, then you are also a member of the “UPS Subclass.”

Certain people are excluded from the Class. They are (a) Ticketmaster, (b) any entities in which Ticketmaster has a controlling interest or which have a controlling interest in Ticketmaster, (c) the officers, directors, employees, affiliates, and attorneys of Ticketmaster, or (d) any employee or officer of the Court or their immediate family members.

For more information on the settlement and a list of guidelines regarding using your Ticket Code(s), please visit the official Settlement Website.

It would seem that Ticketmaster has mastered the class action settlement.  

Ok, that’s a wrap folks…Have a good weekend. See you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 5.20.16 – Uber, BMW, Hip Implants

uber-serp-logo-f6e7549c89Top Class Action Lawsuits

Dueling Rides… An unfair business practices class action lawsuit has been filed by the ride share company Lyft against its rival company Uber, alleging Uber creates and uses shell accounts to hurt business for Lyft. Yeah, that sounds pretty unfair, if true.

Lyft driver Ryan Smythe and “others similarly situated”, filed the Uber class action complaint against Uber Technologies Inc, and 100 unnamed entities said to exist as “mere shells and conduits” for Uber’s affairs.

Here’s the skinny: according to the complaint, Mr. Smythe started as a Lyft driver in September 2014, one month after accusations began concerning “Operation SLOG,” an alleged Uber-sponsored campaign that involved spamming Lyft drivers with false ride requests in an effort to negatively impact Lyft’s business.

This allegedly involved Uber creating dummy Lyft accounts with prepaid cellphones and credit cards which were then used to place fake requests with Lyft drivers. According to the lawsuit, Uber’s alleged operation amounted to unfair business practices under California law as well as intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.

The complaint asserts that Uber engaged in a “systematic course of creating fraudulent Lyft accounts from which sham orders were placed, at least in part to deprive Class members from earning income in violation of California Business and Professions Code which prohibits unfair business practice.”

Further, Smythe claims in the proposed class action that Uber directed its drivers and third-party companies to make these requests “for the sole purpose of luring Lyft drivers to locations in which a false request for service directed them.” So much for “just making a living.”

“Uber Technologies did this to discourage Lyft drivers from contracting with Lyft, to deprive the marketplace of Lyft drivers so that Uber drivers could benefit and to create a higher wait time for Lyft customers in order to steer their patronage to Uber Technologies in violation of California Business and Professions Code,” the complaint states.

75 to 45 in 2 Seconds? This sounds just a tad dangerous. BMW got hit with a nationwide defective automotive class action lawsuit for alleged defects in the electric BMW i3 vehicles—defects which cause the vehicle to rapidly drop speed. Read on.

The BMW lawsuit centers around the BMW i3 “Range Extender” feature. This option, called REx, outfits the vehicle with a two-cylinder gasoline engine producing 34 horsepower that switches on when the battery charge depletes to five percent, giving the vehicle another 70 miles of range. BMW claims that the Range Extender “doubles your electric driving range” from the vehicle’s standard 81-mile range.

However, the lawsuit alleges that in practice, when the gasoline engine kicks in, it doesn’t produce enough power to prevent a dramatic decrease in the vehicle’s performance. As alleged, if the car is under any kind of significant load (such as going up a hill, or loaded with passengers), the speed of the car will dramatically decrease as the battery charge diminishes. According to the complaint, this can result in the car slowing to speeds of 45 miles per hour on the freeway, without warning. This sudden and unexpected loss of power in a motor vehicle can result in a catastrophic situation for all those on the road. Yes, no—not a good thing at all.

The lawsuit seeks to have the vehicles redesigned and repaired at BMW’s expense, and to halt the sale of all i3 vehicles until repairs can be made. The claim also seeks compensation for all the owners of the vehicles, who were not told of the serious safety defect.

The case Edo Tsoar v. BMW North America, LLC (Case No. 2:16-cv-03386) was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. 

Top Settlements

Hip Settlement in Canada. Some news from north of the Border—two Canadian class actions have been certified—one in British Columbia (Jones v. Zimmer) and another in Ontario (McSherry v. Zimmer). Authorization (Certification) is pending in a proposed class action filed in Quebec (Major v. Zimmer), and the parties have consented to authorization (certification) of that action.

Translation? Settlement. Yup—subject to court approval, the hip implant settlement applies to “all persons who were implanted with the Durom Cup in Canada” and their estates and family members. Nice one.

No dollar figures to report, and of course, the defendants to the three actions do not admit liability, but have agreed to a settlement providing compensation to class members with certain injuries upon approval after receipt of supporting documentation, less deductions for legal fees.

FYI—Public health insurers are also entitled to compensation under the settlement agreement.

Motions to approve the settlement agreement will be heard in Vancouver on June 28, 2016, Ontario on July 14, 2016, and in Montreal on June 28, 2016.  

Ok…that’s a wrap folks! Have a good one–and see you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 2.19.16 – Amazon, Maytag, Uber

amazon logoTop Class Action Lawsuits

Amazon Primed for a Lawsuit? How much was that again? Amazon got hit with a consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week, alleging false advertising and consumer fraud. Brought by named plaintiff Gregory Harris, the lawsuit claims Amazon charged Harris, and others similarly situated, fees that were additional to advertised products’ purchase prices. Heard this one before? Oh yeah baby!

Specifically, Harris claims that Amazon represents to consumers they can use its services to purchase products directly from its website at no cost to the consumer besides the cost of the product. However, the lawsuit alleges, Amazon.com charged Harris and others in the class additional fees, specifically an “Amazon Prime” membership fee.

The Amazon lawsuit claims violations of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law.

Harris and others in the class seek injunctive relief, actual damages, punitive and statutory damages, interests, attorney fees and other costs of the suit. The case is: Superior Court of California County of Los Angeles Case number BC606984 

All Coming out in the Wash..? Round and round and round we go… what number lawsuit is this for Whirlpool? We’ve lost count. This consumer fraud class action lawsuit alleges the company misrepresents the efficiency of certain models of its washing machines.

Specifically, that Whirlpool promoted certain Maytag Centennial model washing machines as Energy Star-qualified, labeling the machines with the Energy Star logo. However, these washing machine models do not meet the Energy Star efficiency standards and in fact use more water and energy than stated on the labels. Oh, that’s great. So, just slap a sticker on and you’re good to go, is that the idea? Maybe…

According the Whirlpool Maytag lawsuit, the US Department of Energy requires that Energy Star-qualified washing machines must use approximately 50 percent less water and 37 percent less energy than standard models. However, the plaintiffs claim that he and others similarly situated paid more for these models but did not save as much as they should have on water and energy bills over time using the machines.

Filed by Walt Famular, individually and for all others similarly situated, the lawsuit alleges breach of express warranty, unjust enrichment, and violations of the New York General Business Law.

The lawsuit seeks statutory, compensatory and punitive damages, plus interests, restitution and disgorgement, injunctive relief, attorney fees and other costs of the suit. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Case number 7:16-VC-00944-VB.

Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Scott A. Bursor, Joseph I. Marchese, Frederick J. Klorczyk III and Neal J. Deckant of Bursor & Fisher PA in New York. 

Top Settlements

Uber Feeling the Sting…of high fees—in the form of a settlement, that is. The ride share and taxi company has agreed to pay $28.5 million to settle a consumer fraud class action lawsuit involving some 25 million riders who allege it mislead customers about its fees and safety procedures.

Specifically, the lawsuit claimed that Uber, which uses a smartphone app to receive ride requests and then sends the requests to its drivers, charged an extra “safe rides fee” to cover what the company called “industry-leading background checks” on its drivers.

Additionally, under the terms of the Uber settlement, Uber will not describe or title any fee that it charges for its services, including any charge for its rideshare services, as the “safe rides fee.” Further, the company agreed that it will not use the terms “best available,” “industry leading,” “gold standard,” “safest” or “best-in-class” in connection with its background checks, in any of its commercial advertising.

Uber has also agreed not to use the phrases “safest ride on the road,” “strictest safety standards possible,” “safest experience on the road,” “best in class safety and accountability,” “safest transportation option,” “background checks that exceed any local or national standard” or “safest possible platform” to describe its rideshare services.

Uber said it will rename the safe ride fee a “booking fee,” explaining that “It will be used to cover safety as well as additional operational costs that could arise in the future.”

Better buckle up! 

Ok…So, that’s a wrap folks… See you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 5.8.15 – Dog Chews, Uber, Western Union

Dog Bone TreatTop Class Action Lawsuits

Dogs: Don’t Chew on This… Allegedly defective dog bone chew toys are killing and injuring dogs? That seems to be the sum of a consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed against Dynamic Pet Productions and its parent company, Frick’s Meat Products. The dog bone chew class action was filed by a dog owner who alleges her basset hound suffered fatal injuries after it swallowed a piece of a splintered dog bone chew toy made by the defendant.

In the putative class action, Khristie Reed alleges that she and thousands of other dog owners watched their pets suffer, and in some cases die, after splinters from Dynamic’s “Real Ham Bone For Dogs” injured their pets, despite the company’s claims that the bone is a safe chew toy for dogs.

“The Real Ham Bone For Dogs is not appropriate for dogs and is not safe for its intended purpose, despite defendants’ contrary representations,” the complaint states. “Thousands of dogs have suffered a terrible array of illnesses, including stomach, intestinal and rectal bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and seizures, and have died gruesome, bloody deaths as a result of chewing [Dynamic’s] Real Ham Bone For Dogs.”

Since Dynamic began selling the dog bones in 2001, thousands of customers have purchased them through stores such as Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Dollar General, according to the complaint. Frick’ Meat Products, the parent company, created the products Dynamic as a way to market waste from its meat products.

The lawsuit states that in 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a statement warning dog owners that splinters from dog bones could result in injury or even death. Further to that warning, and in response to public outcry, the Missouri Better Business Bureau alerted Dynamic and Frick’s to the dangers of their product. However, Frick’s and Dynamic continued to market the dog bone chew toys without providing a safety warning.

Reed contends, in the complaint, that Dynamic was aware of the dangers associated with the dog bone as early as 2006, following consumer complaints to the company about pet injuries and deaths. Pet owners also began posting complaints about the bone to online forums, claiming the bone splintered easily, the lawsuit states.

“Nowhere do [the two companies] state the truth that the Real Ham Bone For Dogs is a dangerous product that should not be given to dogs,” the suit states.

The complaint goes on to state that Frick and Dynamic’s continued marketing of the bone is a violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act and the Business and Professions Code, as it misrepresents the product as a safe one. Reed and other owners also allege that the company committed fraud, as it had a duty to alert consumers to the dangers of the product and did not do so. Finally, Reed alleges that Dynamic and Frick’s had a “secret warranty program, paying off pet owners who persistently complained about their products to “keep them quiet.”

The lawsuit seeks damages, including punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, an injunction preventing the companies from continuing any unlawful practices, and the awarding of the profits the two companies made from unethical practices to the plaintiffs involved.

The case is Khristie Reed, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated v. Dynamic Pet Products and Frick’s Meat Products Inc., case number 3:15-cv-00987 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Is Uber a Bad Deal for Drivers? An employment class action lawsuit was filed against Uber this week by a former driver who was stabbed in the face by a passenger, and who claims that he and others similarly situated, are misclassified by the company as being independent contractors, when they are employees, in violation of California labor law.

Why? In the Uber lawsuit, Abdo Ghazi, claims that he is owed worker’s compensation by Uber, which he would automatically receive if he were classified as an employee.

According to the complaint, “As a consequence of misclassifying its drivers, Uber illegally lowered its cost of doing business by fialing to secure payment of workers’ compensation insurance covering its drivers pursuant to California Labor Code 3700. Uber’s misclassification of drivers as independent contractors gave it an unfair advantage over competing transportation companies, harmed Uber’s drivers and violated California law.”

The lawsuit seeks to reclassify Uber drivers as employees. Anyone who is an Uber driver, or who has worked in that capacity, is included as a plaintiff in the suit.

The case number is CGC15-545532, Abdo Ghazi vs. Uber Technologies, Inc, Rasier LLC; Rasier-CA, LLC and Does 1-10. Plaintiffs are represented by Lohr, Ripamonti & Segarich LLP.

Top Settlements

Ever had a Wire Transfer go Sideways and the Funds Disappear? Then this settlement may interest you. Western Union looks set to pony up $133 million in settlement of an unfair business practices class action lawsuit that claims the company kept money from failed wire transfers for five years, even though they had the contact information for the senders. Where do you start…

Under the terms of the Western Union settlement, class members will recover interest for the time during which Western Union held these funds, something they would not have received simply by asking Western Union to return their money, court documents show.

Additionally, the settlement terms stipulate that Western Union must change its business practices such that it informs customers when their wire transfers fail.

The suit resulted from Western Union’s practice of keeping money from failed transfers and earning interest, electing not to inform customers until their money was due to be absorbed by states’ unclaimed and abandoned property departments.

According to the lawsuit, the period of time Western Union waited to inform customers of the failed transfers often meant that the contact information for those customers was no longer valid.

The case is Tennille, et al v. Western Union, et al, case no. 13-1310 in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. 

Hokee Dokee- That’s a wrap folks…See you at the Bar!

Week Adjourned: 11.29.14 – Uber, Dollar General, Apple

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top stories include Uber, Dollar General, Apple

UberTop Class Action Lawsuits

Uber Drivers being taken for a ride? Maybe… Uber Technologies got slapped with a class action filed by a Boston cabdriver who alleges the mobile app-based car service routinely violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by using background checks without applicants’ knowledge or authorization to make hiring decisions.

Filed on behalf of lead plaintiff Abdul Mohamed, the Uber class action claims that by failing to obtain his authorization for a background check and not disclosing that the company would check his background when he applied for a job as an “Uber X” driver, Uber, its wholly-owned subsidiary Rasier LLC and their employment screening agency Hirease LLC knowingly violated fair credit reporting laws in Massachusetts and California in addition to the FCRA.

The lawsuit also claims that Uber violates the FCRA and state credit reporting laws by using background checks in hiring decisions without providing applicants with copies of their reports.

“In direct violation of the FCRA [and state laws], whenever adverse action is taken against an applicant on the basis of information disclosed on a consumer report, the defendants fail to afford the applicants the procedural safeguards mandated by law… including by failing to provide pre-adverse action notices and a reasonable opportunity to dispute information in such reports before taking adverse action,” the complaint states.

According to the Uber lawsuit, Mohamed applied to be an Uber X driver in September, after having previously worked for Uber as an “Uber Black” driver using his own car. Uber told him he must purchase a new car for the position, which he did at a cost of $25,000. Mohamed then began working as an Uber X driver in early October. However, on October 28, Mohamed received an email from Hirease stating that his contract with Rasier was terminated because of information obtained through a consumer reporting agency, the complaint states.

“[Uber and Rasier] terminated Plaintiff because Hirease’s consumer report concerning Plaintiff indicated he had a minor criminal record that, in fact, stems from his seven children receiving much-needed Medicaid benefits,” the lawsuit alleges. “[Uber] termination of Plaintiff deprived him of his livelihood and left him without an alternative means of providing for his family, including his seven children.” Mohamed alleges that despite an email stating he had received a copy of his consumer reports and rights under the FRCA, he did not receive the described materials.

Further, the lawsuit states that Mohamed did not have an opportunity to review the information on his consumer report and discuss it with Uber and Rasier.

As part of its employment screening services, Hirease provides a package that automatically generates pre-adverse action and adverse action notices to an applicant, along with a copy of the consumer report, whenever Hirease makes an adverse hiring decision based on pre-determined criteria.

“Consumer reporting agencies routinely provide a similar service and many employers purchase it,” the lawsuit states. “Uber and Rasier could have easily and cost-effectively complied with the mandates of the FCRA, CCRAA, and MCRA by purchasing such services, but failed to do so.”

The case is Mohamed v. Uber Technologies Inc et al., case number 3:14-cv-05200, in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California. 

Top Settlements

Dollar General Can’t Cheap Out on Its Staff. An $8.3 million settlement agreement has been approved by a federal judge in Alabama, potentially ending an unpaid overtime class action lawsuit pending against Dollar General. The Dollar General lawsuit alleged the discount retailer failed to properly pay store managers for overtime, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The lawsuit dates back to 2006.

Specific allegations against Dollar General and its subsidiaries and sister companies, are that they required the store managers to work as much as 90 hours per week and misclassified them a exempt from overtime, even though they generally spent less than 10 hours weekly performing managerial duties. The settlement will cover some 2,722 individual claims.

According to the complaint, most of the store managers’ work hours involved non-managerial tasks such as operating cash registers. As a result, Dollar General allegedly short-changed the employees on overtime pay, according to the suit. Dollar General denied that it had misclassified the workers.

U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler granted approval of the settlement stating “The court finds that: the amended settlement agreement is fair; it reflects reasonable compromises of issues actually in dispute; the settlement was reached in an adversarial context in which the plaintiffs were represented by competent and experienced counsel; and the totality of the proposed settlement is fair and reasonable.”

The case is Richter v. Dolgencorp Inc. et al., case number 7:06-cv-01537, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

Settlement Takes a Bite out of Apple…Final approval of a $450 settlement has been granted ending an antitrust class action lawsuit against Apple Inc. The lawsuit alleged that Apple conspired publishers to raise e-book prices. While all the publishers settled their claims, only Apple went to trial.

The lawsuit was brought by the US Department of Justice and 33 states and claimed that in 2010 Apple signed distribution deals with five top publishers, namely Simon & Schuster Inc., Penguin Group USA, Macmillan Publishers USA, Hachette Book Group Inc. and HarperCollins Publishers LLC, that raised the prices for digital books from $9.99 to as much as $14.99. This resulted in consumers paying hundreds of millions of dollars. In July 2013, Judge Denise Cote ruled that Apple had “played a central role in facilitating and executing” the conspiracy. The company has since appealed that decision to the Second Circuit.

Under the terms of the settlement, consumers will receive $400 million. According to court documents, a claims administrator and e-book retailers have sent emails or postcards to almost 23 million addresses of people eligible to receive compensation.

The settlement contains a provision allowing Apple to pay $50 million to consumers and $10 million each to the states and class counsel if Judge Cote’s 2013 decision finding Apple liable is vacated and remanded on appeal or reversed and remanded with instructions for reconsideration or a new trial. If the decision is simply reversed, Apply will pay nothing.

The cases are In re: Electronic Books Antitrust Litigation, case number 1:11-md-02293, and State of Texas et al. v. Penguin Group (USA) Inc. et al., case number 1:12-cv-03394, both in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

Hokee Dokee—Time to adjourn for the week. Happy Thanksgiving!! Gobble Gobble!