Week Adjourned: 10.7.16 – American Airlines, iPhone, VW

american-airlinesTop Class Action Lawsuits

Travel Insurance Woes…A consumer fraud complaint against American Airlines took off this week, alleging the airline markets travel insurance as a pass-through charge paid to a third party but doesn’t disclose its profits.

Filed by Kristian Zamber, the multi-million dollar complaint asserts American Airlines misled its customers about its interests in selling the insurance policies and that it aggressively marketed travel insurance sold through its website.

The American Airlines lawsuit is seeking class certification, a jury trial and injunctive and equitable relief for alleged unjust enrichment and violations of Florida’s consumer protection statutes prohibiting companies from posing as revenue conduits.

According to the complaint, Zamber paid roughly $24 to purchase travel insurance in April for a domestic flight from Tampa to Pennsylvania. American Airlines stated the policy had no affiliation with the airline, but instead came from Allianz Global Assistance, with plans underwritten by Jefferson Insurance Co. or BCS Insurance Co. But in reality, the policy sales contributed to a “hidden profit center” for the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline, the complaint states.

The complaint also claims the airline forces customers to choose whether or not to purchase trip insurance policies before allowing them to complete online ticket purchases. Yup—been to that destination….

Touch Disease has Spread North of the border. Apple is facing a defective products class action lawsuit in Canada over allegations that it’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models have a defect which effectively results in the smartphone freezing or not responding to touch commands.

Following on from a similar defective products lawsuit filed in the US, the Canadian lawsuit claims Apple was aware of the problem but failed to take action to remedy it.

Filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan, the Canadian iPhone complaint would include all Canadian iPhone 6 and 6 Plus customers. It alleges that Apple was negligent because it supplied a defective phone, “knowingly and intentionally concealed” from customers the defect and failed to provide a proper remedy.

According to attorneys who filed the Canadian complaint, Apple has so far only offered its customers around $300 as compensation.

Shortly after the product was launched in 2014, one of the plaintiffs in the class action alleges she bought the iPhone 6 for around $200, hundreds of dollars less than the regular price because she locked into a two-year phone plan contract. Then, a few months after the warranty had expired on her phone, it began to intermittently freeze up and failed to respond to touch commands.

The lawsuit alleges that that the underlying problem is the touchscreen controller chips in the phone’s motherboard, which are not properly secured and can malfunction with regular use.

Top Settlements

Here’s a whopper—but then the size of the Volkswagen defeat device scandal is, likely, unprecedented. A $1.2 billion settlement has been reached between Volkswagen AG and 650 US VW franchise dealerships, ending litigation brought by the dealerships over the VW emissions scandal. Specifically, the dealerships alleged that the value of their businesses had decreased as a result of Volkswagen’s attempts to cheat on vehicle emissions tests through its so called “defeat devices.” According to documents filed Friday in California federal court, the deal will provide an average payout of $.185 million to each Volkswagen-branded franchise dealer in the US.

Additionally, the VW settlement provides for VW buying back from its franchisees, affected vehicles that can’t be put into emissions compliance, using the same terms granted to car owners as part of the tentative consumer settlement.

“This recovery to the franchise dealer class is outstanding, particularly given the immediate need for cooperation among Volkswagen and its franchise dealers to effectuate the terms of the $10 billion-plus consumer class action settlement that is presently pending approval before this court,” the motion states. “Without any obvious deficiencies, the settlement agreement readily meets the standards for preliminary approval.”

Further, there will be no claims process, as dealerships that don’t opt out of the settlement will automatically receive a cash payment based on a formula of 71 times the monthly support payment VW made to dealers in November 2015. Take it or leave it? Almost.

The MDL is In re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, case number 3:15-md-02672, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Well, that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the Bar!

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