Week Adjourned: 12.12.14 – SeaWorld, CA Temp Workers, Nissan

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top stories for the week include SeaWorld, California Temp Workers and Nissan.

SeaWorld LogoTop Class Action Lawsuits

Is SeaWorld EZPay not EZ to get out of? Jason Herman, Florida believes so. He filed a consumer fraud class action lawsuit against SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment in Florida this week, alleging the marine park automatically renewed annual passes without consumers’ consent and didn’t follow the terms as stipulated in its own contract when confronted by consumers who allege they were charged excessively. Nice. Know this song…

The SeaWorld lawsuit claims Herman, a Florida resident, purchased a one-year adult EZPay to SeaWorld in Orlando and Busch Gardens in Tampa. He anticipated his first payment of $35.40 on March 18, 2013 would be followed by 11 additional monthly charges of the same amount. However, payments continued to be charged to his credit card through to September 18, he alleges.

According to the proposed class action, Herman was later told by a SeaWorld customer service representative that the wording on the contract stated that if a pass was not paid for in less than 12 months, it would renew automatically on a month-to-month basis. Herman contends that this wording was not included in confirming emails, receipts, tickets or passes, and that his request for a refund was declined.

The lawsuit claims that two separate telephone conversations with SeaWorld customer service representatives failed to provide access to a contract with that wording. Herman found the information online at a later date.

The lawsuit further contends that despite SeaWorld’s allegedly hidden contract, the company was not authorized to automatically renew the passes. In Herman’s case, he purchased his pass on March 18, 2013, and the 11th subsequent payment was charged to his credit card on February 18, 2014 – fully paying off the cost of the annual pass in 11 months.

The lawsuit seeks to represent a class of SeaWorld customers from Florida, Texas, Virginia and California who continued to be charged for their EZpay passes after fully paying for them in less than 12 months.

California Temp Workers Getting Temporary Paperwork? According to a California woman, the temporary employment agency Career Strategies Temporary Inc., (CST), she worked for is in violation of  California labor law and she’s filed a class action lawsuit against CST as a result. She alleges CST intentionally failed to provide her and at least 1,000 others with accurate wage statements. That’s handy. The only thing worse than having to do paperwork is not having the paperwork to do the paperwork with, if you follow…

Heads up—the temp worker lawsuit seeks to represent a class of CST workers who were employed in California at any time from November 1, 2013, through the present and who were similarly deprived of accurate wage statements.

So, the allegations, specifically, are that CST violated California state labor law by issuing weekly wage statements that did not include the dates of the associated pay period. “Plaintiff and each class member suffered and suffer injuries as a result of the missing pay period because a reasonable person could not promptly and easily determine the pay period from the wage statement alone without reference to other documents or information,” the complaint states.

According to the employment class action, if an employer knowingly and intentionally fails to accurately itemize a wage statement, an employee can recover the greater of actual damages or statutory fines of $50 for the first violation and $100 for each subsequent violation up to $4,000.

Offering temporary and direct-hire staffing services, California-based CST has offices in seven states. It employed Bengel as a temporary employee “during the applicable statutory period,” during which time Bengal was paid on a weekly basis, according to the complaint. Wonder if anything else will come out of the woodwork on this one… 

Top Settlements

Nissan Settlement puts the Brakes on…a defective automotive class action lawsuit it’s facing. Under the terms of the deal, Nissan North America Inc.will  pay vehicle owners up to $800 each. If you’re confused as to exactly which defective automotive class action this settlement is for—cast your mind back—to a lawsuit that alleged the braking system in certain Nissan trucks and SUVs is prone to sudden failure, increasing the risk for injury and death.

The lawsuit was originally filed in April 2011 by Brandon and Erin Banks. It alleged the defective sensor posed a serious safety threat to consumers because it controls critical safety aspects of braking and was prone to failure. The defect caused drivers to be suddenly unable to stop their vehicles within a reasonably safe time and distance, or at all.

The complaint states the automaker knew about the defect but hid it from consumers “to [Nissan’s] significant financial gain.”

So to get to the deal, the proposed Nissan settlement terms would see current and former owners of approximately 350,000 2004-2008 Nissan Titans, Armadas and Infiniti QX56 vehicles in the US be able to file claims seeking reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses they incurred in replacing or repairing a defective delta stroke sensor, which is a component of the faulty braking system.

According to court documents, the plaintiffs asked the court to certify a proposed nationwide class of consumers who own or formerly owned the affected vehicles and were forced to replace the faulty sensor. Plaintiffs with personal injury claims relating to the affected vehicles are excluded from the class.

Nissan will begin reimbursement at $20 for vehicle owners who had in excess of 120,000 miles at the time of the repair. Reimbursement will go up to $800 for vehicles that had less than 48,000 miles at the time of repair.

According to the settlement motions, Nissan will distribute notices to the class members via direct mail and to addresses obtained through Nissan or public records utilizing vehicle identification numbers, the motion says. Class members will be directed to a website and a toll-free number maintained by the settlement administrator that will provide information concerning the settlement, including, if requested, a copy of the long form notice.

The case is Banks et al v. Nissan North America, Inc. et al, case number 4:11-cv-02022, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Hokee Dokee—That’s a wrap folks…Time to adjourn for the week.  Have a good one!

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