Week Adjourned: 12.10.10

Top Lawsuits

Hilton’s in the news this week. This time it’s not Paris who’s behaving badly, but rather the hotel chain that is her family namesake. A former employee of Hilton Worldwide Inc, is suing the company over allegations of unlawful employment practices. No. Really? 

Yes. Specifically, the Hilton lawsuit contains facts related to nonpayment of wages, harassment, and sexual favoritism.

In a nutshell, Brian Marcus was employed by Hilton as the Director of Food & Beverages at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel (“Bayfront”) in San Diego and during his employment, Marcus alleges that he was subjected to harassment and then terminated so that Hilton could avoid having to pay him a bonus that he had already earned. Both of these actions are in violation of California law.

Mr. Marcus alleges that “just over a month before the end of 2009, Hilton terminated Mr. Marcus’s employment and refused to pay him any portion of his bonus for 2009 which he had earned under Hilton’s bonus program. The Complaint alleges that Mr. Marcus’s termination was part of a plan by his supervisor to eliminate him from the hotel so that the supervisor could continue to take additional control without intervention. Hilton created the system by which this supervisor was able to manipulate others for her financial gain and the financial detriment of people like Mr. Marcus.”

In addition, “Hilton subjected Mr. Marcus to a hostile, abusive and intimidating work environment in which sexually inappropriate behavior permeated the workplace. Mr. Marcus is seeking lost pay and benefits and damages associated with mental suffering.”

Bad behavior, it seems, is the Hilton Modus Operandi…                                  

Top Settlements

Just in time for Christmas—five years on. A jury in El Paso has awarded a $132 million settlement to the victims of a bus crash that killed two people and critically injured several others. This is one of the largest jury awards in the nation. You think? That’s a large settlement by anybody’s standards.

The case, pending in state court since 2005, alleged that a Los Paisanos van carrying 11 people had bald tires and no safety belts. These defects resulted in the deaths and injuries to the passengers when the bus slid off a state highway just outside Denver. Add to this the fact that the driver, according to testimony given during the trial, Heriberto Flores-Garcia, began speeding and eating at the same time. No surprise, he lost control of the van, which went over the embankment and rolled. (I hope you’re not reading this as you’re driving…)

The survivors joined with the family members of the deceased to file a civil lawsuit against Los Paisanos, and the jury found the bus company and its owner Uriel Chaivira at fault. How did that take 5 years to figure out? 

Securities full of semiconductors this week. There were numerous securities actions this week, including a preliminary $20 million settlement in a securities fraud class action lawsuit against Semtech Corp, which makes analog and mixed-signal semiconductors.

And Apple Inc, the folks who made semiconductors sexy, has also reached a preliminary settlement in its securities litigation of $16.5 million in cash, plus interest.

A hearing will be held on February 18, 2011, to determine whether the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate, to consider the proposed plan of allocation, and to consider the application for attorneys’ fees and expenses.

If you want to find out how to participate in the settlement or object to it—read the details here. Bottom line, you must have purchased Apple Inc (“Apple”) common stock during the period between August 24, 2001 and June 29, 2006, both dates inclusive (the “Class”) in order to have anything to do with the suit.

Okee dokee. That’s it for this week. See you at the bar.

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