Week Adjourned: 5.19.17 – Walmart, Airbags, Pelvic Mesh Lawsuits

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Walmart Not on Board with Babies? Well actually moms-to-be. Yes, Walmart is back in the news again…this time, Walmart is facing a potential discrimination class action lawsuit alleging the world’s largest retailer discriminates against pregnant women.

Filed by Talisa Borders and Otisha Woolbright, the complaint claims Wal-Mart forced pregnant workers to perform tasks that employees with similar limitations were excused from.

Specifically, the Walmart pregnancy discrimination lawsuit states: “Under its constellation of policies and practices, Walmart accommodated a large percentage of non-pregnant employees with physical limitations but failed to accommodate a large percentage of pregnant employees with physical limitations arising out of pregnancy.”

The named plaintiffs seek to represent a class consisting of all pregnant women who worked as Wal-Mart employees and were denied accommodations between March 2013 and March 2014, the period during which the defendant issued a revision to its disability accommodation policy that changed how pregnancy was classified.

The lawsuit states that managers at Wal-Mart’s O’Fallon, Illinois, store where Borders worked, refused her request to follow her doctor’s advice and avoid climbing ladders and heavy lifting. Rather, Walmart placed her on unpaid leave, according to the lawsuit. When Borders returned to work, she was not reinstated to her old position in the store pharmacy but was instead assigned to a number of lower-paying positions, the complaint asserts.

Further, according to plaintiff Woolbright, who worked as an associate at a Jacksonville, Florida, location, she was denied permission to follow medical advice and avoid heavy lifting or a transfer to another position until she sustained an on-the-job back injury. Woolbright states she was terminated just three days after requesting information on the company’s childbirth leave policies.

According to the proposed class action, Walmart had a three-tier disability policy, up until March 2014, with employees who sustained on-the-job injuries, pregnant employees and employees with all other disabilities receiving different treatment.

“Wal-Mart’s policies and practices provided that the only modifications or adjustments available to pregnant employees were those that would be both ‘easily achievable’ and ‘which will have no negative impact on the business,’” the complaint states. “Non-pregnant employees with disabilities, on the other hand, were entitled to ‘reasonable accommodations’ so long as the change would not create an ‘undue hardship’ for the company.”

Consequently, Borders was denied ladder and lifting accommodations that were granted to employees with similar medical limitations from on-the-job injuries, and Woolbright’s accommodation was denied until she sustained her on-the-job injury, the lawsuit asserts.

The lawsuit states that while the potential class size is unknown, based on statistics, about 48,000 Wal-Mart employees would have become pregnant during the relevant period, meaning the number of denied accommodations is likely “several thousand.”

The case is Talisa Borders et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., case number 3:17-cv-00506, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Top Settlements

Airbag Settlements… And so it begins—this week—$553.6 million in settlements were agreed in multi-district litigation (MDL) involving Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW, which will see the automakers pay the sum to end claims brought by plaintiffs over alleged defective Takata airbags. To date, the airbags, which can explode, have been linked with 11 deaths in the US.

According to the terms of the airbag settlements, BMW of North America LLC will pay $131 million, Mazda North American Operations will pay $75,805,050, Subaru of America Inc. will pay $68,262,257 and Toyota Motor Corp., $278,500,000.

Some 15.8 million vehicles currently have the defective airbag inflators installed, and the settlement is meant to expedite their removal. Additionally, compensation will be provided to class members who suffered economic losses as a result from the Takata air bag recall, such as car rentals. Additionally, a customer support program will be initiated that includes an extended warranty.

More than nine million Toyota vehicles, 2.6 million Subaru vehicles, 2.3 million BMW vehicles and 1.7 million Mazda vehicles, are covered by the settlement, according to the plaintiffs.

The airbag settlements also provide compensation to class members for their economic losses resulting from the recall in the form of reimbursement for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses; a possible residual distribution payment of up to $500; requirements to provide rental cars to the most at-risk class members while they wait for their recall remedies; and the provision of a customer support program for repairs and adjustments on the replacement inflators, including an extended warranty.

Further, a new independent outreach program that seeks to dramatically increase recall remedy completion rates will be established. The program will regularly contact class members through direct mail, phone calls, email, internet ads and social media to educate them about the settlement and incentivize them to receive the recall remedy and exercise their rights under this agreement.

Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW are the first automakers to exit the massive MDL, which covers the largest auto recall in US history.

The case is In re: Takata Airbag Products Liability Litigation, case number 1:15-md-02599, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. 

J&J to Pay after Mesh Verdict… What’s that expression—three strikes and you’re out? This week, a $20 million verdict was awarded against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in punitive damages, in the third bellwether Ethicon pelvic mesh injury lawsuit, part of the pelvic mesh mass tort.

The 12-member jury hearing the case in Philadelphia returned the verdict after testimony was given by Plaintiff Margaret “Peggy” Engleman, demonstrating she suffered life-altering injuries when the mesh eroded inside of her. The mesh lawsuit verdict also includes a $2.5 million award for compensatory damages.

According to court documents, Engleman alleged she had underwent surgery to implant Ethicon’s TVT-Secur mesh to help with her stress urinary incontinence. However, just two months later, her doctor discovered erosions in the material. She claimed that the eroding mesh began causing her pain and she was eventually forced to undergo three additional surgeries, under anesthesia, to remove the material. However, portions of the mesh remain in her body and she has developed chronic pain and urinary dysfunction, according to court papers.

Engleman alleged that Ethicon’s TVT-Secur mesh was “defective in design, warnings and instructions” and that J&J released the product to market in full knowledge of the significant risk associated with the mesh implants, specifically, that the mesh would erode inside patients. 

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

Week Adjourned: 2.24.17 – Walmart Beer, Kia Sorrento, Wells Fargo

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Walmart a purveyor of craft beer? Seriously? Maybe not. The world’s largest retailer is facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit over allegations its craft beer is mass manufactured, and is falsely marketed at an inflated price. You think?

Filed by Matthew Adam of Ohio, the Walmart craft beer lawsuit claims four brands of beer sold by defendant Wal-Mart Stores Inc, are falsely labeled as craft beers. The lawsuit states that the beer is mass-produced at industrial-scale breweries that don’t even resemble what a reasonable consumer would consider a craft brewer.

“Defendant’s Craft Beer has never been a ‘craft beer,’ nor has it been produced by a craft brewery,” Adam claims. “Rather, it is a wholesale fiction created by the Defendant that was designed to deceive consumers into purchasing the Craft Beer at a higher, inflated price.”

According to the complaint, Walmart has been marketing this line of beer since 2016, which includes Cat’s Away IPA, After Party Pale Ale, ‘Round Midnight Belgian White, and Red Flag Amber. Walmart currently stocks these beers at 3,000 retail locations in 45 states.

Further, while Walmart allegedly claims its craft beers are brewed by a company called Trouble Brewing, the Treasury Department lists a company called WX Brands, with the same brewery address as the offices of Genesee Brewing in Rochester, NY. Genesee does not meet the definition of a “craft brewer” put out by the Brewers Association, a trade organization that promotes and protects American craft brewers, the complaint states.

The lawsuit contends that consumers are willing to pay more for beer marketed as craft beer, on the assumption that craft beer is of a higher quality than other beers. Adam claims Walmart craft beer is purposely marketed to exploit that higher dollar value associated with craft beer, when it is, in fact, mass produced.

According to the lawsuit, Adam purchased a 12-pack of Trouble Brewing beer for himself from a Walmart in Sharonville, Ohio. He says he relied on Walmart’s representations that what he was buying was a genuine craft beer. However, the beer was not what he was led to expect, he claims. And he would not have paid a premium price for the beer, had he known the beer he was buying was not actually craft beer.

Adam’s proposed plaintiff Class would include all persons in the state of Ohio who purchased Walmart craft beer. Adam is represented by attorneys Brian T. Giles and Bryce Lenox of Giles Lenox.

The Walmart Craft Beer Class Action Lawsuit is Matthew Adam v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Case No. A1700827, in the Court of Common Pleas for Hamilton County, Ohio. 

Top Settlements

Kia Sorrento Settlement… Heads up all you current and prior owners and lessees of a Kia Sorento. Kia has reached a proposed settlement in a pending defective automotive class action lawsuit alleging that its Sorento model is prone to catastrophic engine failure. Remember that one?

Here’s the skinny: the lawsuit, known as Yvonne Robinson et. al., v. Kia Motors America, Inc. et. al., alleges that some 2003 to 2006 model year Kia Sorento vehicles with 3.5 liter engines were equipped with a defective crankshaft pulley bolt that, under certain conditions, could result in the bolt breaking. Those vehicles are referred to as the “Class Vehicles”. KMA has not been found liable for any of the claims alleged in this lawsuit. The parties have instead reached a voluntary settlement in order to avoid a lengthy litigation.

Under the proposed Settlement, and subject to proof and certain limitations, KMA will provide certain financial and/or other benefits to Class Members for past and future crankshaft pulley bolt repairs in Class Vehicles.

Purchasers of the 2003-2006 Kia Sorento automobile now have the opportunity to be reimbursed for their expenses if their crank shaft bolt snapped and caused additional engine damage. Part of the Kia Sorrento settlement includes the opportunity for new and used car purchasers of the 2003-2006 Kia Sorento to submit a claim for reimbursement up to $4,900.00.

Kia Motors Company produced over 200,000 Kia Sorentos and current and prior owners and lessees of Class Vehicles, known as “Class Members”, may be entitled to compensation if they submit valid and timely claims that are approved, and provided the settlement agreement receives final court approval.

Got it? 

Who’s calling? Wells Fargo? Perhaps not anymore… One Ringy Dingy, and we’re off to the bank—thank you so much. Wells Fargo has reached a proposed $15.7 million settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by a man who claims the bank violated the Telephone Consumer protection Act (TCPA) by allegedly using an autodialer to make calls to some 3.4 million consumers. 

If approved, the deal would compensate 3.38 million proposed class members who allegedly received collection calls to their cell phones regarding a retail installment sale contract from Wells Fargo. The calls were made, the suit claims, using an auto dialer, between April 2011 to March 2016.

The settlement amount per class member would be $4.65 each, according to the settlement motion. The lead plaintiff is seeking an incentive award not exceeding $20,000.

According to the lawsuit, Frederick Luster claims Wells Fargo made autodialed calls to his phone number for the past four years in an attempt to collect debts apparently owed by two people he didn’t know. Luster states that at no time did he give permission to Wells Fargo to call his cellphone. However, Wells Fargo made the calls despite being aware that they were violating the TCPA.

“The telephone calls were intentionally, willfully and knowingly initiated,” the complaint states. “The telephone calls were not initiated by accident or mistake.” According to the settlement motion, Wells Fargo maintains that it had prior express consent to call the members of the proposed class.

The case is Luster v. Wells Fargo Dealer Services Inc., case number 1:15-cv-01058, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

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

Week Adjourned: 1.20.17 – Walmart, Apple, J&J

Top Class Action Lawsuits

What are a few screws worth these days? A lawsuit—that’s what! Walmart is facing a class action lawsuit brought by customers who allege the big-box retailer is negligent in its in-store assembly of bicycles, a free service offered at all Walmart stores where bikes are sold.

Filed in Florida federal court by plaintiff Boyd Johnson, the Walmart lawsuit claims that Johnson purchased a semi-assembled Roadmaster Granite Peak bicycle from a Walmart in Pompano Beach, Florida. He had the bike assembled completely by store employees upon purchase. However, shortly after bringing the bike home and taking it for a ride the handle bars allegedly slid down due to an improperly installed bolt, causing him to lose control and fall to the pavement, injuring his face, shoulder and right side of his body.

Walmart began using its own employees to assemble bikes in 2014. Prior to that, the company had used third party vendors to do full assembly of the bikes. Walmart employees also assemble patio furniture and other products in-store, according to the complaint.

The employees that now carry out the bike assembly received “inadequate training,” according to complaint, and carry out the assembly of a bike with no assembly checklist, which are “crucial to maintaining safety standards” and readily available.

“Walmart has already been sued on the subject of improper bike assembly, yet injuries are still occurring due to the continuance of careless and sloppy in-house assembly of their bikes,” the lawsuit states. “The public should expect Walmart’s bike assemblers to be trained in bike assembly and require inspections before placing the bikes in the stream of commerce.”

According to the complaint, Wal-Mart’s bike assemblers are allegedly not properly trained or certified, which has led to the “negligent and reckless bike assembly procedures” that ultimately injured Johnson and likely other consumers, the suit states. The retailer could have provided that training and certification for less than $30 per employee.

Further, the complaint states that the Walmart bike assemblers are under such “pressure to assemble bikes as fast as they can” in order to meet customer demands that they can’t conduct inspections of the bicycles they assemble before handing them off to customers.

“They do not have time to properly inspect the bikes after assembly and fail to inspect even the most basic safety features, such as making sure that bolts are properly tightened or that brakes and tires are properly installed,” the complaint states. Yes, no, that’s not good.

The lawsuit claims negligence and breach of warranties and is seeking certification of a class of Florida and national consumers who purchased a bike from Wal-Mart that was improperly assembled. The suit also asks that Walmart be enjoined from continuing its allegedly negligent practices among other things.  The case is Johnson v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., number 0:17-cv-60116, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Here’s hoping everyone rides off into the sunset happily ever after on this one.

Unsafe Apples? This is interesting…A proposed unfair business practices class action lawsuit has been filed against Apple alleging the tech giant doesn’t install a “lock-out-device” on iPhones to prevent California motorists from texting while driving, putting profits ahead of customer safety.

Filed in California state court the complaint represents proposed class plaintiff Julio Ceja who claims that Apple has been granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2014 for the “lock-out-device” technology. However, Ceja claims the company has failed to modify iPhones with the device for fear of losing market share to other phone makers, to the detriment of public safety. According to the lawsuit, Apple has had the technology to prevent texting and driving since 2008.

The Apple complaint alleges unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business acts and practices by Apple. The suit seeks to block the company from selling iPhones in California that do not have the disabling lock-out device. Additionally, the suit seeks a court order that Apple update its existing iPhones with this technology.

BTW—if you were wondering how much Apple makes on sales of its iPhones—the complaint notes that the company generated $8.5 billion in profit from smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2016 alone, and an average of 586,000 iPhones per day in 2016.

Do here’s the math as it relates to texting and driving accidents:

“With 26 percent of these accidents being caused by motorists using their cellphones, and Apple’s 40 percent market share, this translates into at least 52,000 automobile accidents in California being caused by Apple’s iPhones each year,” the complaint states.  Wow.

Ceja, who lives in Orange County, CA, was waiting at a stoplight when a driver distracted by her iPhone struck him from behind, causing damage to his car and injuring his back, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit describes the proposed class as “all California residents whose safety has been put at risk as a result of Apple’s failure to install ‘lock-out devices’ on their iPhones,” starting from the time Apple began selling iPhones in the state, in 2007, to present day.

The case is Julio Ceja v. Apple Inc., case number BC647057, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

Don’t think there’s any likelihood of driving off into the sunset with this baby—with or without the device.

Top Settlements

Asleep at J&J? Heads up if you bought Johnson & Johnson (J&J) bath and bedtime products: J&J is seeking final approval of a $5 million settlement of a consumer fraud class action lawsuit pending against it for alleged false advertising of certain bedtime and bath products. If you’re eligible—you could be in for a wee pay day.

The back story: The original lawsuit was filed by a mother in Illinois in July 2015, and combined with other similar lawsuits, which claimed Johnson & Johnson had violated Illinois’ Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act by labeling and advertising its bedtime bath products as “clinically proven” to help babies sleep better, even though the products had not been shown to have that effect.

The class covers consumers who purchased J&J bedtime products for home use within the United States or any U.S. territories from July 1, 2010, through August 31, 2016.

The agreement received preliminary approval in August 2016. According to the terms, J&J would pay $5 million and revise the language on its packaging of its bedtime bath products.

The case is Leiner v. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc., case number 1:15-cv-05876, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Illinois.

Well folks –that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the bar.

Week Adjourned: 12.9.16 – Staples, Walmart, FloodSafe

staples-rewards-logoTop Class Action Lawsuits

It’s Easy!! Let’s Hope So. Staples will be wanting that “it’s easy!” button as it responds to the consumer fraud class action lawsuit it’s facing this week over allegations it cheats consumers on its reward program. Naughty, naughty…

Filed by Staples customer Neil Torczyner, the lawsuit asserts the company spreads discounts for coupons across a customer’s total collected points in a purchase rather than applying them against the item the coupon was used for, allegedly shorting the total number of rewards points the customer racks up.

The Staples lawsuit states that the points are valuable to consumers because they can be credited against purchases at Staples stores and online. Therefore, the points should be added up in the way the company advertises.

“By employing this deceptive method of calculating rewards points, Staples shorted its members’ account credit which could have been used towards the purchase of most merchandise in Staples’ stores, online at staples.com, or by phone,” the lawsuit states.

Here’s the skinny: Torczyner claims he noticed the problem when he used a coupon for a package of bottled water. The coupon took $1.50 off the cost of the water itself, making it a non-qualifying purchase for rewards points purposes, according to the suit. He claims that when he looked at his rewards points it seemed that Staples had spread out the value of the coupon over the whole transaction, limiting the number of points he could collect for items that were qualifying and that weren’t impacted by the coupon. He should have received $7.98 in points, but received $7.02 instead, according to the complaint.

Torczyner is looking to represent a class of customers who were allegedly cheated out of rewards points when they used coupons. The case is Neil Torczyner v. Staples Inc., case number 3:16-cv-02965, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Top Settlements

Rainbow Effect at Walmart? Here’s a happy ending…a $7.5 million settlement has been reached in a discrimination class action against Walmart. The lawsuit was brought by several thousand workers who claimed they were denied healthcare coverage for their same sex spouses.

Initially brought on behalf of gay workers at Walmart, the lawsuit was filed in July 2015, a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage under the 14th Amendment. Former Walmart employee Jacqueline Cote brought the lawsuit, claiming she was denied spousal health insurance for her wife, Dee Smithson. The couple had married in 2004. In 2012, Smithson was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The couple subsequently incurred $150,000 in debt from uninsured medical expenses.

The Walmart settlement effectively ends the class action that alleged, specifically, the big box retailer had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act and state employment law by not offering health insurance benefits to same-sex spouses before January 1, 2014.

Under the terms of the agreement, the $7.5 million will be divided among the few thousand employees who were unable to obtain coverage for their spouses from January 1, 2011, through December 31, 2013.

According to the settlement motion, nearly 1,000 class members have already been identified, and there could be hundreds more. Approximately 1,200 workers had enrolled their same-sex spouses in health insurance and around 1,100 of them would be covered by the class period.

The claim terms are such that class members can file a long-form claim to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket health care expenses of more than $60,000, at a rate of 2.5 times the qualifying costs, or at a rate at 100 percent of the cost for amounts of less than $60,000. Class members can also file a short-form claim without documentation for a pro rata payment of up to $5,000 per year or $15,000 for the three-year class period. For her role as class representative, Cote will receive a $25,000 service payment.

The case is Cote v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., case number 1:15-cv-12945, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

FloodSafe Auto-Shutoff Settlement…to the tune of $14 million. This settlement received final approval this week, ending two defective products class action lawsuits brought against Watts Regulator Co., and its insurer.

The two lawsuits represent two classes of homeowners who claimed that Watt’s defective water shut off devices and water heater supply lines caused massive plumbing damage to people’s homes.

The two lawsuits were filed separately, by Curtis Klug and Durwin Sharp who both claimed a defective line of water supply and heater connectors caused extensive property damage. Specifically, Klug’s complaint stated that Watts’ FloodSafe Auto-Shutoff Connectors, which are used to supply water to faucets, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, icemakers and other common household appliances, have defective shut-off devices, allegedly let water leak, resulting in property damage. Similarly, Sharp’s suit claimed Watts manufactured and marketed certain water heater supply lines that malfunctioned, when the inner-tubing in certain water heater connectors failed, causing leaks and eventually major property damage.

According to the settlement terms Watts will pay $14 million into a common settlement fund, $10 million for Sharp’s action and $4 million for Klug’s settlement class. Sharp and Klug will each receive $5,000 as class representatives.

The settlement class in Klug’s case includes everyone in the United States who owns, leases or resides in a built structure with a FloodSafe connector since November 2008.

Sharp’s settlement class covers all people, also after 2008, who own, lease or live in a house or building containing a water heater connector.

The cases are Klug v. Watts Regulator Company, case number 8:15-cv-00061 and Sharp v. Watts Regulator Company, case number 8:16CV200 in United States District Court for the District of Nebraska.

So that’s it for this week. See you at the Bar!!

Week Adjourned: 11.25.16 – Comcast, Walmart, Telemarketing

comcastTop Class Action Lawsuits

Phantom at the Cable Co.? No stranger to the class action lawsuit, Comcast got hit with a proposed unfair business practices lawsuit filed by a former customer who claims the telecom company overbilled, misrepresented certain charges, and billed “phantom” charges upon account cancellation. Sound familiar?

According to the Comcast lawsuit, filed by Keven Danow, Comcast Corp., and its cable subsidiary continued to bill his late stepfather’s estate for two years following the man’s death in 2014. They did this through recurring automatic bank withdrawals. When Danow complained to Comcast, he was told that because the company had no active account information there was no business relationship and therefore they had no grounds upon which to address his concerns. Nice.

“Defendant routinely engages in deceptive and unfair business conduct to extract money from customers to which it is not entitled,” the proposed class action states. “Comcast is now targeting former customers who have no business relationship with Comcast.” Hard to have a business relationship if you’re deceased. Just sayin’.

Citing a similar proposed class action against Comcast, recently filed in California, and a $2.3 million fine paid by the company to the Federal Communications Commission for unauthorized charges for unwanted equipment or services, Danow asserts that Comcast’s behavior is part of a pattern of deceptive or unfair business practices. No comment.

“Having engaged in deceptive and unfair trade practices as a core component of its business, Comcast has now targeted former customers, who no longer have any business relationship with Comcast,” the complaint states. “Comcast has illegally accessed former customers’ bank accounts months or years after the end of any business relationship between the parties and absconded with funds on deposit.”

Danow is claiming violation of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, unjust enrichment, violation of New York business law and applicable statutes for other states.

The case is Keven Danow v. Comcast Corp. et al., case number 2:16-cv-06052, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Top Settlements

Walmart Pays Up. $54 million in damages has been awarded by a California federal jury against Walmart in an employment lawsuit brought by 839 truckers.

The Walmart lawsuit alleges the big box retailer violated California labor law as well as federal labor law by failing to compensate its drivers for pre- and post-trip inspections and California-required rest breaks.

The jury found in favor of the truckers on those charges, but did not award damages for time spent washing trucks, fueling, weighing the trucks’ load, waiting at vendor and store locations, performing adjustments, complying with U.S. Department of Transportation inspections, or meeting with driver coordinators.

Additionally, the jury found that the drivers were under Walmart’s control during federally mandated 10-hour layover breaks. The truckers alleged that during these breaks, for which they were required to stay with their trucks, they were paid $42 for the time, not the $67 to $90 they would have earned had they been paid minimum wage during the class period. The jury awarded the drivers $44.7 million in compensation.

Determinations for penalties and liquidated damages have yet to be made. Attorneys for the truckers stated that should the court find that Walmart’s defense was not carried out in good faith, the jury’s award would be doubled. Further, the jury found Walmart intentionally failed to pay class members for more than 100,000 pay periods, and that, according to the class attorneys’ math, each unpaid period will carry a $250 fine, adding approximately $25 million to the total settlement figure.

The case is Ridgeway et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. et al., case number 3:08-cv-05221, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Take that Telemarketers! Here’s a win—one for the little guy and a hoorah on behalf of all of us who get those pesky unsolicited phone calls. This week, preliminary approval of a $1.1 million proposed settlement was granted, in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) class action lawsuit pending against Alpha Gas and Electric in New York.

Filed by Stewart Abramson in July 2015, the lawsuit asserted that Alpha Gas, which provides gas and electrical services for both residential and commercial customers in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio, used telemarketing to obtain new clients and allegedly made a telemarketing call to Abramson’s cell phone.

Here’s the skinny: eligible class members are defined as: all persons who, at any time, used, regularly placed or received calls on or from or owned any of the phone numbers that are listed and/or contained in the Class List, and who, from July 8, 2011 through the date of class certification, the defendant called using an automated telephone dialing system or prerecorded voice, or who were listed on the Do Not Call list or otherwise did not consent to the receipt of such calls, or who otherwise have claims against the Released Parties arising under the TCPA or similar federal, state or local laws governing such matters, including, without limitation, the claims alleged in the Action, including calls placed to cell phones without the recipients’ consent.

Abramson, as named plaintiff, is seeking an incentive award of $10,000.00. Further, Alpha has agreed to review and amend its future telemarketing compliance with the TCPA and related laws.

A final settlement hearing is scheduled for April 2017. Potential class members will have until February 8, 2017 to object to the settlement agreement or otherwise opt-out of the settlement.

Well, that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the bar…

Week Adjourned: 9.16.16 – Perdue & Tyson Chicken, Walmart & Sam’s, Farmers

chickenTop Class Action Lawsuits

Don’t know what to say about this. Tyson and Perdue Farms are facing an antitrust class action lawsuit over allegations they engaged in a chicken price-fixing scheme. The lawsuit calls the industry’s means of destroying its livestock “unparalleled.” There are other terms that come to mind, but let’s get to the allegations.

Which are, specifically, that the companies were involved in killing hens and flocks and destroying eggs to limit production and raise the price of 98 percent of the chicken sold in the U.S. by nearly 50 percent.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 14, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division states that the laundry list of defendants control 90 percent of the wholesale broiler chicken market, an industry with more than $30 billion in annual revenue.

If you purchased chicken from any of the following suppliers, you may be entitled to your money back: Tyson, Perdue Farms, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms, Simmons Foods, Koch Meats, JCG Foods, Koch Meats, Wayne Farms, Mountaire Farms, Peco Foods, Foster Farms, House of Raeford Farms, Fieldale Farms, George’s Farms or O.K. Foods. Find out your rights to compensation.

The Tyson and Perdue lawsuit describes in detail how the chicken industry conspired together to raise prices, stating that in 2007, Pilgrim’s and Tyson attempted to cut production levels enough to cause industry prices to rise, but failed to impact the market due to their market share.

“In January 2008 Pilgrim’s and Tyson changed tactics and concluded that only through broader cooperation among major producers in the Broiler industry could supply be cut enough to force prices to increase,” the suit states.

Pilgrim’s and Tyson publicly told the industry that neither company would continue to cut production while their competitors used the opportunity to take away Pilgrim’s and Tyson’s market share. But a few days after an industry event in late January 2008, things changed. The lawsuit says that “other Defendant Producers followed Pilgrim’s and Tyson’s call to arms and made substantial cuts to their own production.”

After attending the industry event, Tyson’s CEO announced Tyson would be raising prices because “we have no choice.” A day later, a Pilgrim’s executive announced publicly that Pilgrim’s would be cutting its production and “the rest of the market is going to have to pick-up a fair share in order for the production to come out of the system.”

According to the lawsuit, unlike Pilgrim’s and Tyson’s prior production cuts, in 2008 the defendant chicken producers did not rely solely on ordinary mechanisms to temporarily reduce production, which would have permitted production to be quickly ramped up if prices rose.

“Instead, Defendant Producers cut their ability to ramp up production for 18 months or more by destroying Broiler breeder hens in their Broiler breeder flocks responsible for supplying the eggs Defendant Producers raise into Broilers. This destruction of the Broiler breeder flock was unparalleled,” the lawsuit states. 

Top Settlements

Walmart & Sam’s Club Head into OT (Sort of…) Hey, football season just started up so forgive the pun… So there’s a couple of nice unpaid overtime settlements to report this week. First up…Walmart and Sam’s Club. They were facing an unpaid overtime class action lawsuit brought by certain employees who worked at the big box retailers. The plaintiffs asserted that they were not paid for missed meal and rest breaks or for off-the-clock work while employed by Walmart.

The potential class of plaintiffs in the lawsuit who may be entitled to benefits from the settlement is approximately 187,000 current and former hourly Pennsylvania employees at Walmart of Sam’s Club.

The class period is between March 19, 1998 and May 1, 2006.

The Walmart settlement amount is $62.3 million in statutory damages.

The lawsuit is Braun v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., et al., March 2002 Term, No. 3127 and Hummel v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., et al., August 2004 Term, No. 3757, in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County.

Farmers’ Time to Pay Up. And…a $4.9 million settlement has been reached in an unpaid wages and overtime class action pending against Farmers Insurance Exchange.

The lawsuit was filed by Farmers’ adjusters in February 2014, who claimed that their work volume, deadlines and competitive rankings meant they frequently worked overtime without meal and rest breaks. It also claimed that up to 2015, Farmers had no stated break policy. Farmers’ practices violated state and federal overtime statutes, as well as California meal and rest breaks and unfair competition laws.

Under the terms of the Farmers settlement, the funds will be divided among the 2,114 plaintiffs, less 25 percent to cover legal fees.

The class is made up of claims representatives specializing in liability, automotive damage and residential property who worked in California between September 2011 and August 2016. On average, I is estimated that each plaintiff will receive $2,000, and members who worked throughout the class period could see more than $7,000.

The case is Alvarez et al v. Farmers Insurance Exchange et al., case number 3:14-cv-00574, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Ka Ching! That’s a wrap folks—see you at the Bar.

Week Adjourned: 2.26.16 – Walmart, Mercedes, J&J Talc Powder

Walmart Parmesan CheeseTop Class Action Lawsuits

Pulp Reality at Walmart? If this is true, it has to be some kind of new low—even for Walmart. The discount retail behemoth got hit with a proposed consumer fraud class action this week, over claims its in-house brand of allegedly pure grated parmesan cheese contains a significant amount of fillers such as wood pulp. OMG.

So, in the spirit of, well, less is more—let’s cut through the filler and get to the allegations. Filed by Marc Moschetta of Dutchess County, New York, the Walmart parmesan cheese complaint states that the labels on Walmart’s Great Value brand grated parmesan cheese contains 100 percent parmesan cheese, and is false. The cheese is sold at Walmart stores across the US.

Are you sitting down? According to the suit, independent lab testing on the cheese product has shown it contains “significant quantities of adulterants and fillers” and between 7 percent to 10 percent of the cheese is made of cellulose, a filler and anti-clumping agent derived from wood pulp.

“Defendant makes only one marketing representation on the label: the product is ‘100%’ grated parmesan cheese [and] consumers, including plaintiff, reasonably rely on the label and believe defendant’s statement that the product consists of ‘100%’ parmesan cheese,” court documents state. “Because the product does in fact contain fillers and substitutes, the ‘100%’ parmesan claim is literally false and is also misleading to consumers.”

Moschetta stated that Walmart’s sale of the grated cheese was executed through deceptive marketing, labeling and advertising and the retailer has violated New York business laws, various consumer protection laws in a majority of the contiguous US, breached an implied warranty and benefited from unjust enrichment.

The complaint is seeking certification of both a nationwide class and a New York subclass of consumers and that Walmart be ordered to pay unspecified treble damages and punitive damages.

The case is Moschetta v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., number 7:16-cv-01377, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

O Lord, won’t you Give me a Clean Diesel Car? Mercedes, seemingly the only automotive maker not be sued for defective airbags, ignition switches and/or uncontrolled acceleration—to name but a few issues among the litany of defective automotive class actions currently winding their way through the courts, found itself on the end of a consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week.

What for, you ask? Allegations the company knowingly programs its Clean Diesel vehicles to emit illegally high levels of nitrogen oxide. Specifically, the Mercedes emissions lawsuit claims that like Volkswagen defeat devices certain Mercedes models contain a device that causes the vehicles to violate US emissions standards when run at cooler temperatures, making them less environmentally friendly than advertised.

The lawsuit was filed by a Mercedes owner in Illinois, who claims the automaker uses the device in its BlueTec cars to turn off a system meant to reduce nitrogen oxide in its exhaust. The law firm representing the plaintiff said in a statement that on-road testing had shown Mercedes’s Clean Diesel cars produced average on-road NOx emissions that were 19 times above the U.S. standard, with some instantaneous readings as high as 65 times more than the US limit.

According to the complaint, the device in Mercedes’s diesel models turns off pollution controls at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius), allowing the autos to violate emissions standards.

Further, according to a study done by independent testing agency TNO for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, in real-world testing, the Mercedes C-Class 220 emits more nitrogen oxide than measured in laboratory results.

“Mercedes never disclosed to consumers that Mercedes diesels with BlueTEC engines may be ‘clean’ diesels when it is warm, but are ‘dirty’ diesels when it is not,” according to the complaint. “Mercedes never disclosed that, when the temperature drops below 50 degrees, it prioritizes engine power and profits over people.”

The lawsuit also contends that even if Mercedes is able to make the cars compliant with emissions standards, those who drive them will suffer harm because the vehicles won’t perform as promised or advertised.

The plaintiff is seeking to represent a nationwide class of includes all US-based residents and entities that bought or leased an affected vehicle as of this month, and a court order compelling Mercedes to recall the affected models or replace them for free, in addition to unspecified damages.

Among the enumerated models are Mercedes’s ML320 and 350 sport utility vehicles, its E- and S-Class cars, and GLE crossovers.

The lawsuit is Lynevych v. Mercedes-Benz USA, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. 

Top Settlements

Pyrrhic Victory for Talc Powder Ovarian Cancer Victim. Here’s a stunner—in more ways than one—and it’s just the beginning for J&J. This week saw $75 million in damages awarded against the company in a lawsuit suit alleging the talcum powder Jacqueline Fox used caused her to develop ovarian cancer.

Fox claimed that for over 35 years she had used baby powder made by J&J and another talc product for feminine hygiene until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She passed away at the age of 62, on October 6, 2015.

Her case was heard by a jury in St. Louis, Missouri, and is just one of more than 60 cases consolidated into a single suit alleging cancer caused by talcum powder.

During the trial, Fox’s attorney presented a document which revealed J&J knew their talcum powder was causing cancer. The letter, dated from 1997, was by a former J&J consultant and it warned the responses by the company to findings from no less than nine scientific studies could result in the talc industry being compared to the cigarette industry.

While the jury found 10-2 against J&J on claims of failure to warn, negligence and conspiracy, it did not find talc manufacturer Imerys Talc America Inc, another defendant, liable.

Another woman is scheduled to go to trial on April 11, 2016. Attorneys for Fox said that J&J is currently facing hundreds of lawsuits over talcum powder use.

Lawsuits have been filed against some talc companies alleging talc powder contains asbestos and consumers were not adequately warned about the risk of asbestos in talc powder. Although home talcum products are supposed to be asbestos-free, there are concerns some talcum products still contain asbestos. Furthermore, it can take decades for exposure to asbestos products to result in mesothelioma and other illnesses, meaning people who were exposed in the 1970s may still be diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses. 

Ok…So, that’s a wrap folks… Cocktails are in order—see you at the Bar!



Week Adjourned: 7.17.15 – Walmart, Gerber, Hotel Wrongful Death

walmart logoTop Class Action Lawsuits

Save Money. Live Better…? Words to live by…except for…Walmart got hit with a discrimination class action lawsuit this week, filed by an employee alleging the company denies its staff benefits for same-sex spouses. Filed by Jacqueline Cote, the lawsuit claims that Walmart repeatedly denied medical insurance for her wife before 2014, when the retail giant started offering benefits for same-sex spouses.

The back story…Cote and Simpson met in 1992, while they were both working at Walmart in Augusta, Maine. They subsequently moved to Massachusetts and remained employees of Walmart. They were married in May 2004, days prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in that state.

In 2007, Smithson quit her job at Walmart to take care of Cote’s elderly mother. As a result Cote attempted to have Smithson added to her employee health plan the following year.

In 2012, Cote’s wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which resulted in the couple incurring $150,000 in medical bills.

According to the proposed Walmart class action, Cote tried to enroll her spouse online, but the system wouldn’t let her proceed when she indicated her spouse was a woman. When she sought an official explanation, she was told that same-sex spouses were not covered. Cote continued to try and have Smithson enrolled in her Walmart employee health plan every year thereafter including the year Smithson was diagnosed with cancer.

The lawsuit seeks damages for the couple and any other Walmart employees who weren’t offered insurance for their same-sex spouses. A federal commission concluded that Walmart’s denial amounted to discrimination and said in May that Cote could sue.

Although no other Walmart employees are named in the suit, it seeks damages for those who come forward. Further, the suit seeks damages for Cote and her wife, Diana Smithson, and it asks Walmart to acknowledge a legal responsibility to continue offering benefits for same-sex spouses. 

What’s Gerber been Puffing On? Gerber, famous maker of healthy baby foods and an instantly recognizable household brand, got slapped with a consumer fraud class action lawsuit alleging the company is misleading parents into buying a product that is far from nutritious. The product? Graduates Puffs food for toddlers. Puffs? Really?

According to the Gerber Graduates lawsuit, the packaging for Puffs is dominated by pictures of fruit or vegetables: juicy peaches, slices of ripe banana, nutritious sweet potatoes. But the ingredients list belies these pictures. Banana-flavored Puffs contain no bananas, only a trace amount of banana flavoring. Sweet potato-flavored Puffs don’t contain actual sweet potatoes, or any other vegetable, only miniscule amounts of sweet potato “flavor.” The closest thing to a fruit or vegetable in Puffs is a very tiny amount of dried apple puree, powder, in other words.

The suit alleges that parents trying to buy healthy and nutritious snacks for their toddlers have trusted Gerber’s reputation and package presentations, paid Gerber’s premium prices based on that reputation, and, in exchange, unwittingly provided their toddlers with empty calories. Far from the healthy treat the labels and Gerber’s reputation suggest, Puffs are little more than flour and sugar. Doesn’t sound like brain food to me…

The lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, and is titled Gyorke-Takatri, et al., v. Nestle USA, Inc. and Gerber Products Company. 

Top Settlements

Huge Settlement for a Huge Loss…and a cautionary tale in more ways than one…a Florida jury awarded a $24,057,83.00 verdict in a wrongful death lawsuit involving The Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. In 2012, a newlywed couple were visiting the hotel on their honeymoon. They were killed by a speeding car. The lawsuit alleged that the Riverside Hotel had actual or constructive knowledge that motor vehicles regularly and routinely exceeded the posted speed limit in proximity to the hotel property.

Michael and Alanna DeMella, who were seven months pregnant, checked into the hotel and went to the pool. According to media reports they had stepped into the cabana restroom moments before the incident. Mrs. DeMella was killed on hotel property while in an on-site pool cabana, by Rosa Kim, who drove into a structure on hotel property utilized by hotel guests in the pool area as she used excessive speed on the adjacent road.

In hearing the evidence, the civil jury entered a verdict that found the Riverside was 15% responsible for the tragedy and that they should pay that portion of the verdict.

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

Week Adjourned: 12.13.13 – Lumber Liquidators, Visiting Nurses, Wal-Mart

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements including Lumber Liquidators, Visiting Nurses and Wal-Mart gas can explosions.

Lumber LiquidatorsTop Class Action Lawsuits

Lumber Liquidators is in the woods over allegations it sold defective Chinese wood flooring that emits excessive levels of formaldehyde (raising memories of the Chinese Drywall debacle… )

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the lawsuit states, “Indeed, contrary to Lumber Liquidators’ repeated, detailed representations that its flooring complies with strict formaldehyde standards on its product labels, website, and elsewhere, the toxic formaldehyde emissions from the company’s Chinese flooring products are multiple times the maximum permissible limits set by those standards at the time of purchase.”

FYI—in 2011, formaldehyde was described as “known to be a human carcinogen,” by the US National Toxicology Program: a carcinogen is a substance or agent suspected to cause cancer. Terrific.

The plaintiffs in the Lumber Liquidators class action lawsuit, Donnie Williamson, Melissa Stini and Jennifer Hogencamp, further claim that the floor is illegally sourced through China from other countries, including Russia, threatening “critical habitat and endangered species.”

“Plaintiffs would have paid significantly less, if they purchased Chinese flooring at all, had they known that the products were sourced from endangered habitats and contained elevated levels of the toxin formaldehyde,” the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs contend their flooring purchases—all of which were installed in their homes—are now “markedly less valuable.”

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for installation and removal costs, remediation costs, restocking fees, loss of use and diminished value, in addition to attorneys’ fees and costs, and pre-judgment and post-judgment interest “at the highest rates allowed by law” on the damages awarded.

Another Case of Overworked and Underpaid? You know, the week just wouldn’t be complete without an unpaid wages and overtime class action. This week, it’s Nurses at Baystate Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) and Hospice who filed a class action lawsuit against Baystate Health. The Nurses are seeking to recover unpaid overtime and wages that have allegedly been withheld illegally by the employer—for several years.

The VNA nurses are routinely required to make preparations before their first home care visits for the day and subsequently to complete lengthy documentation of their visits, but are frequently not paid for that work which can sometimes take several hours per day. Computerized documentation has become more lengthy and cumbersome in recent years, but no accommodation has been made to allow nurses time to complete the required documentation during the normal course of the workday. As a result nurses have been forced to work many hours of unpaid time each week.

Baystate has been locked in a two-year dispute with its nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center regarding its demand to limit those nurses the right to overtime pay, while at the same time the organization has been failing to pay its BVNA&H nurses for their hours of work. Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice is a wholly owned subsidiary of Baystate Health. While allegedly withholding wages illegally from the nurses, Baystate Health is one of the most profitable health care conglomerates in the state, and its. CEO, Mark Tolosky, is one of the highest paid hospital CEOs in New England with a salary and benefits package of nearly $2 million annually.

Top Settlements

Wal-Mart Settles Exploding Gas Cans. Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer (and among the most frequently sued), will pay $25 million as a settlement contribution to resolve a raft of personal injury lawsuits filed by people who were injured or had someone they knew killed by exploding portable plastic gas cans, NBC News reports. Wal-Mart is the largest US retailed of plastic gas cans, and sold tens of millions of Blitz gas cans, which, the lawsuits allege, had a safety defect. Blitz, the manufacturer of the gas cans, is in bankruptcy, largely due to the litigation and settlements.

During the past decade more than 80 lawsuits have been filed by people who allege the exploding gas cans caused them burn injuries. Defendants include some retailers as well as the manufacturer. Wal-Mart told NBC News it’s been named as a defendant in 24 of the lawsuits.

In those lawsuits, Blitz and Wal-Mart are accused of knowingly selling a defective product that could explode and produce catastrophic and sometimes fatal injuries. The lawsuits further claim the defendant (Blitz) refused to add a safety device, known as a flame arrester, to make the cans safer.

Parties to the Wal-Mart gas can lawsuits, including Blitz USA’s estate, debtors, participating insurers and Walmart, have agreed to contribute $161 million to settle with many of the plaintiffs, while denying liability. Wal-Mart’s settlement contribution amounts to just over 15 percent of the proposed $161 million fund that would settle dozens of lawsuits. A hearing on the proposed settlement is set for early next year NBC News reports.

Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. See you at the Bar!


Week Adjourned: 8.9.13 – Walmart, Health Juice, Gentek Siding

The top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending August 9, 2013. Top stories include Walmart, Mona Vie and Gentek siding.

Walmart CartTop Class Action Lawsuits

What’s the Straight Talk, Walmart? Well, Walmart, it seems just cannot stay out of court. This time—a consumer fraud class action lawsuit alleging false and deceptive advertising has been filed against the world’s largest retailer and alleged co-conspirator StraightTalk.

The litany of alleged wrongs committed by the defendants include breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, and violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, California’s Unfair Competition Law and California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act. That’s all.

Among the goals of the class action is to get clarity on the limitations of the data service. Straight Talk representatives, it seems, have allegedly refused to explicitly define throttling points for data access, and many customers have complained about receiving inconsistent data service without using much data at all, while others are able to use gigabytes of data without much issue.

The plaintiffs are seeking certification of the proposed class, an order permanently enjoining defendants from their improper conduct, and a judgment awarding restitution, actual damages, exemplary damages, prejudgment and post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees and costs.

Mona Vie Super Juice a Super Scam? Yes—according to a consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed this week. The Mona Vie class action lawsuit claims that it’s no more than a multi-level marketing scheme to promote an expensive “super juice” (Mona Vie).

Filed in federal court by lead plaintiff Lisa Pontrelli, the lawsuit states “The Mona Vie juice scam is the newest creation of noted multi-level marketing scheme architect, and prior ‘super juice’ creator, Dallin Larsen, after his last venture was halted by the Food and Drug Administration because of false and misleading advertising.” Dallin Larsen is not a named defendant in the complaint but his companies are, namely Mona Vie Inc. and Mona Vie LLC, both of South Jordan, Utah.

“Mona Vie’s story is almost identical to that of Royal Tongan Limu—another ‘super juice’ product with too-good-to-be-true alleged health benefits,” the complaint reads.

Larsen created both products, which are based on an exotic ‘superfood’. Marketing for both products is based on claims that they provide outlandish health benefits when consumed, including curing cancer and diabetes. Both Royal Tongan Limu and Mona Vie were allegedly sold by untrained ‘distributors’ extolling the unproven health benefits to unwitting customers.

“The propaganda created through the Mona Vie scheme is false and misleading about the nature of and benefits attributable to consuming Mona Vie juice. The propaganda is an essential component of the scheme because the perpetuation of the belief that Mona Vie juice will cure or treat whatever health problems a consumer might have is the main reason defendants are able to charge the wrongfully inflated price of approximately $45 for a 25 ounce bottle,” according to the lawsuit.

Further, the Mona Vie lawsuit claims that the independent distributors, as an essential part of the scam.”Defendants and their ‘independent distributors’ sales force work together in a symbolic fashion to sell as much wrongfully overpriced Mona Vie juice as possible,” the lawsuit states.

“Defendants know that their co-conspirator ‘independent distributors’ generate false and misleading advertising about the health benefits of Mona Vie juice, but do not stop them because such advertisements generate sales of Mona Vie juice. The most insidious form of this false and misleading advertising are the testimonials where individuals attribute miraculous medical breakthroughs to their individual chronic health condition to drinking Mona Vie juice. Defendants, of course, taught their ‘independent distributors’ how to generate such testimonials by themselves hiring individuals of modest celebrity to make their own misleading testimonials.”

The lawsuit alleges the class has been defrauded by paying “outrageously inflated” prices for products that fail to deliver the promised “substantial prophylactic, healing, therapeutic and curative powers for an almost limitless universe of diseases and conditions.” Pontrelli is seeking an injunction and punitive damages for fraud, consumer fraud and unjust enrichment.

Top Settlements

Gentek Siding Steel Peel Case Settles. Gentek, makers of exterior siding that suffers from “steel peel” (that’s certainly confidence inducing), will have to honor its warrantees, as ordered by US District Court Judge Benita Y. Pearson, in a Final Order, approving a defective products class action settlement against the building products company.

The lawsuit, entitled Eliason, et al. v. Gentek Building Products, Inc., et al., Case No.: 1:10-cv-02093-BYP, alleged the siding manufactured and sold by Gentek is defectively designed and manufactured in such a way that it will prematurely fail, causing damage to consumer homes.

The Gentek siding lawsuit was filed on behalf of a number of Plaintiffs who alleged that the exterior siding manufactured by Gentek is defective and fails within the warranty period. The manufacturer’s warranty is supposed to cover cracking, chipping, flaking, peeling or splitting for the life of the purchaser. The warranty is in effect for 50 years from the original installation in the case that the property is sold to a new owner.

According to the lawsuit, the siding peels, cracks and chips are within the warranty period. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleged that Gentek failed to honor its warranty. The Plaintiffs claim that instead of repairing, replacing or refinishing the siding as promised, Gentek only offers a small amount of money as compensation or offer to repaint the affected area only. The lawsuit claimed that the sum of money offered was inadequate to reverse the damage, and that repainting only the affected area would only lead to future repairs because it did not address the underlying problem. How helpful.

According to the Judge’s Order, for settlement purposes, the class in this litigation was certified to be all persons, organizations, municipalities, corporations and entities that own property, whether commercial or residential, on which Gentek Steel Siding was applied during the period January 1, 1991 through March 15, 2013, that are covered by a Gentek Steel Siding warranty and which siding experienced Steel Peel.

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