Week Adjourned: 3.16.18 – Orbit Baby, Family Dollar, GMO Corn

It’s all settlements this week.

Parent Alert! First, heads up for owners of Orbit Baby car seats and accessories. A settlement has been reached in a consumer fraud class action lawsuit against Orbit Baby, Inc, which alleges deceptive marketing practices.

The lawsuit was filed by named plaintiff Jordana Lee Kopin, who represents all members of the class. The lawsuit claims that the defendants advertised infant and toddler car seat products (including the Orbit Baby, Inc. stroller system, car seat, bassinet, travel system, and including the individual components or accessories for each product) as being free of certain types of chemicals, such as brominated and chlorinated flame retardants or other unsafe chemicals.

Here’s the skinny: the settlement class is comprised of consumers who (a) purchased a new Orbit Baby, Inc. infant or toddler car seat between April 26, 2012 and February 23, 2018 while residing in the State of California and (b) have not yet received a full monetary refund from Orbit Baby, Inc. for purchase of the car seat. In order to receive a settlement payment, consumers must submit a claim form and provide a copy of the receipt as proof of purchase for each car seat being claimed.

The Settlement Agreement provides that Defendants will pay $995,000.00 to a Settlement Fund for Class Members. This amount includes allocations for: (i) settlement payments to members of the Settlement Class; (ii) class representative service award for Plaintiff Kopin in an amount up to $7,500.00 to be requested from the court.

A Final Approval Hearing is scheduled for June 15, 2018.

The lawsuit is entitled Kopin v. Orbit Baby, Inc. and The ERGO Baby Carrier, Inc., Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG16813239.

Family Dollar to pony up $45 million! That’s not chump change. It’s the finalized sum agreed in the Family Dollar settlement that ends a 15 year employment discrimination class action. The lawsuit was brought by 37,000 former and current female managers for Family Dollar Store Inc, who alleged that Family Dollar Store paid them less than their male counterparts. Better late than never?

Under the terms of the agreement, there will be a “comprehensive programmatic relief” requiring Family Dollar to review its manager compensation setting process in consultation with labor economics experts.

The settlement deal will cover nine class representatives, each of whom shall receive $10,000. The remaining named plaintiffs will receive a service award of $5,000. The deal also provides for up to $1 million in litigation expenses.

According to court documents only nine class members have opted out of the settlement, leading the judge to believe the settlement was fair and reasonable.

The case is Scott et al. v. Family Dollar Stores Inc., case number 3:08-cv-00540, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.

A Win for Corn Farmers…  Let’s close out the week with a biggy—to the tune of $1.51 billion. Yup. Syngenta AG got nailed. The agro-chemical company has agreed to settle a nationwide class action alleging it should have delayed the release of its genetically modified corn seed until Chinese authorities, who represent a major corn market for US farmers, approved importing the GMO corn.

The settlement deal for multidistrict litigation (MDL) covers all cases brought by corn growers, grain facilities and ethanol plants across the US, who bought insect-resistant GMO corn seeds from Syngenta during the class period. Only four plaintiffs have not opted in.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said the deal is believed to be “the largest agricultural litigation settlement in US history.” The firm also noted that even farmers who may have opted out of previous Syngenta lawsuits are eligible for the settlement, and said funds could be distributed as soon as the first half of 2019.

According to the settlement statement, “America’s corn farmers and related businesses were hurt economically and this settlement will provide fair compensation for their damages.” Farmers in Kansas, who cases were the first to win class certification representing some 7,000 plaintiffs, alleged Syngenta rushed its genetically modified pest-resistant Viptera seed to market in 2010, willfully ignoring the importance of Chinese regulatory approval.

The farmers further alleged that varieties of harvested corn were mixed together indiscriminately on their export journey. China discovered the rogue strain in November 2013 and immediately rejected American corn cargo, shutting down the Chinese market for US corn, which cost the domestic US industry more than $1 billion in lost revenue.

The case is In re: Syngenta AG MIR162 Corn Litigation, case number 2:14-md-02591, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.

Ok folks – that’s a wrap. See you at the Bar!

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