Week Adjourned: 12.4.10

The Gavel May be Coming Down in More Ways than One at QuiBids...Top Class Actions

The House Always Wins? So, some bad news for folks that thought they might be onto a good deal through an online auction site called QuiBids. QuiBids, LLC, got slapped with a class action this week, alleging deceptive and unfair trade practices and fraud in its operation of QuiBids.com.

For those not in the know, QuiBids.com is an interactive online website which allegedly allows its users to buy consumer products at greatly reduced prices by participating in online auctions. QuiBids.com claims that users of their website will pay 80-95% less than retail prices for thousands of consumer products, including high-end items such as HDTVs, laptops, and even automobiles, by bidding on their merchandise via online auctions. That sounds just a little too good to be true… 

The suit claims that virtually none of the consumers who participate in these “auctions” will win the right to purchase such high-end item products at those greatly reduced prices. And it also claims that the failure to win auctions is costly to QuiBids customers. Each auction draws hundreds or thousands of bids purchased at $.60 per bid. The losing bidders do not get back the cost of the losing bids. So—you guessed it—the overwhelming majority of customers will lose money using the QuiBids website, according to the suit.

The suit alleges that QuiBids.com does not tell its customers that they have virtually no chance to come out ahead financially. Thus, while QuiBids.com passes itself off as a legitimate auction house, its business operation is more akin to a casino or a lottery. Ummm.

By way of an example, in one auction, it is alleged in the suit, QuiBids’ profits exceeded $12,000 from the bidding on a $1,500 HDTV. “The ultimate winner paid $228.59, but 22,859 bids were purchased by all bidders in the total amount of $13,715.40. All of those bidders except one walked away with nothing, never knowing they were playing more of a lottery than bidding in an auction.” That sounds crazy to me. 

Top Settlements

Unskilled at Providing Skilled Labor? A $62.8 million settlement was approved by the Humboldt Superior Court in California this week against Skilled Healthcare. 

The class action lawsuit alleging that Skilled Healthcare failed to provide sufficient staffing levels for its patients at all 22 of its long-term care facilities. Up to $26 million of the settlement is expected to go to individuals represented by the class action lawsuit. The lawyer representing the plaintiffs said his office has received about 4,000 claims since it distributed news of the settlement over one month ago.

As part of the settlement, Skilled Healthcare will pay $12.8 million to comply with an injunction that requires the company to maintain state-mandated staffing levels, which is 3.2 nursing hours per patient day. The injunction, which will be in effect for two years, allows a third-party monitor to inspect each facility involved in the lawsuit for compliance with staffing requirements. If the facilities maintain compliance for 18 months the injunction could be reduced.

FYI—Class members have until January 5, 2011 to file claims.

Dis-Orderly Conduct? This settlement is getting almost as much media play as Wikileaks—well—not quite—but you get my drift. In the world of class action settlements it’s created a buzz.

Fifth Third has agreed to a settlement of a class action alleging that it improperly assessed overdraft fees for insufficient funds on debit card purchases and/or ATM withdrawals by “re-sequencing” transactions in order to maximize the number of overdraft fees.

The settlement agreement will see Fifth Third establish a settlement fund of $9.5 million and provide payments of up to three times the Overdraft Fees that Settlement Class Members paid in any continuous 45 day period between October 21, 2004 and July 1, 2010.

The Settlement Class includes all persons in the United States who hold or held a Fifth Third Account and who at any time from October 21, 2004 through July 1, 2010, incurred at least one Overdraft Fee associated with at least one Fifth Third Debit Card Transaction.

You can find out where and how to get Fifth Third claim forms here.

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

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