Week Adjourned: 3.22.13 – John Hancock, Dialysis Centers, Ab Circle Pro

The weekly wrap on top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending March 22, 2013. Top class actions include John Hancock Insurance, DaVita Dialysis Centers and Ab Circle Pro.

John Hancock logoTop Class Action Lawsuits

Do You Trust John Hancock Insurance?…The John Hancock ad campaigns center on “trust”, but after a bad faith insurance class action lawsuit was filed against John Hancock Life Insurance Company over allegations it fails to settle death benefits, that trust may be out the window for some.

This latest class action lawsuit, filed by Richard Feingold and entitled Richard Feingold v. John Hancock Life Insurance Company, Case No. 13-cv-10185, U.S. District Court Massachusetts, Boston, claims that John Hancock only paid him as a beneficiary of his late mother’s life insurance policy, four years after her death in 2006, when Feingold discovered she had the policy. Feingold alleges he found information on the Illinois treasurer’s website which showed he had unclaimed property owed to him from John Hancock through his late mother’s policy. Up until that point, Feingold was unaware, he claims, that his mother had a life insurance policy, or that he was owed death benefits. He subsequently contacted the insurer and was paid, however John Hancock refused to provide him with a copy of his late mother’s policy, or any explanation about the benefits he received.

The potential class action claims that John Hancock routinely checks the Social Security Administration’s master death list so it can halt payments to annuity holders who have become deceased; however the insurer fails to check the same database to see if a life insurance policy holder has died so the company can promptly pay beneficiaries. Essentially, the John Hancock class action lawsuit claims, the insurer uses the information solely for its own benefit.

FYI—John Hancock recently ponied up $13 million to settle allegations brought by six states that it didn’t work hard enough to pay life insurance benefits. Slow learners maybe? Um. Maybe not.

More on Granuflo Lawsuits. This has been all over the news recently. DaVita Healthcare, a national dialysis treatment provider that uses Granuflo and Naturalyte during hemodialysis, is facing four potential personal injury class action lawsuits.

The DaVita dialysis class actions allege the clinics should have known of the risks for serious adverse health effects associated with Granuflo and Naturalyte and acted accordingly to reduce those risks to patients. Those serious health issues include cardiac arrest and sudden death.

Granuflo and Naturalyte are dialysis products made by Fresenius Medical Care. In March 2012, prompted by reports of adverse events, the Food and Drug Administration issued a Class I recall of both Naturalyte and Granuflo.

The four class action lawsuits have been filed by plaintiffs Donald Thornton, Melvin Nunes, Donald Young and Armando Moreno, all in the US District Court for the District of Colorado. The lawsuits seek to represent any person treated at a DaVita Healthcare clinic with Granuflo or Naturalyte products.

Top Settlements

3-Minute Abs? Really? How are your abs, by the way? Feeling a tad underutilized, ignored even? Are they retaliating by morphing into some indistinguishable, gelatinous shape that is slowly obliterating any view you had of your feet? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about…

So do the folks at Ab Circle Pro. Problem is, their fix ain’t on the level. So the makers of Ab Circle Pro have agreed to pay as much as $25 million to settle charges of consumer fraud brought by The Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You may be familiar with the consumer fraud claims, but if not, according to the FTC, Ab Circle Pro claimed, among other things, that their device could cause rapid and substantial weight loss and that three minutes of exercise on the Ab Circle Pro was equal to 100 sit-ups. (Oh yeah baby—sign me up!)

The official short version…According to the FTC, in advertisements, the defendants promised that a three-minute workout on the Ab Circle Pro—which is a fiberglass disk with stationary handlebars and two knee rests that roll on the edge of the disk, allowing consumers to kneel and rotate side-to-side—was equivalent to doing 100 sit ups. In the infomercial, pitchwoman Jennifer Nicole Lee compared the Ab Circle Pro to a gym workout, saying, “You can either do 30 minutes of abs and cardio or just three minutes a day. The choice is yours.” The infomercial claimed that consumers using the Ab Circle Pro for three minutes a day would “melt inches and pounds,” and featured Ab Circle Pro users claiming they had lost as much as sixty pounds. Consumers buying through the infomercial typically paid $200 to $250 for the device, while the price for those buying from retailers varied more widely. I think $250 could buy a lot of situps…

And, the FTC charged all the defendants except Lee and her companies with making false and/or unsupported claims, including that using the Ab Circle Pro caused rapid or substantial weight and fat loss; resulted in loss of weight, fat, or inches in specific parts of the body, such as the abdomen, hips, buttocks, and thighs; provided fat loss and weight loss equivalent to, or better than, a much longer gym workout; and provided the same rapid and substantial weight loss that people who provided testimonials for the infomercial said they experienced. The complaint also charges the Fitness Brands, Inc. defendants with providing the means to Direct Holdings Americas, Inc. and Direct Entertainment Media Group, Inc. to deceive consumers.

The defendants are Fitness Brands, Inc., Fitness Brands International, Inc., and the two individuals who control them, Michael Casey and David Brodess; Direct Holdings Americas, Inc. and Direct Entertainment Media Group, Inc.; infomercial producer Tara Borakos and two companies she controls, Tara Productions Inc. and New U, Inc.; and Jennifer Nicole Lee and two companies she controls, JNL, Inc. and JNL Worldwide, Inc.

So, in the interests of honesty and fair play, the defendants have agreed to pay money to provide refunds to eligible consumers who bought the Ab Circle Pro. The amount of the refund will depend on the number of claims submitted and approved. To find out about making a claim visit: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/cases/abcirclepro/9—which doesn’t necessarily have to involve getting off the couch…

Ok—that’s a wrap. See you at the bar—and make mine a diet soda this time. Happy weekend!


One thought on “Week Adjourned: 3.22.13 – John Hancock, Dialysis Centers, Ab Circle Pro”

  1. John Hancock HAs Bonds left to me by my Grandfather and I still have not received them and they have denied my claim and played with my name and my grandfathers documents. I would never trust this company. Every one of them belong in Jail.

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