Week Adjourned: 3.19.10

WTF eBay? Top Class Actions

Hey eBay, maybe try Email? eBay’s in trouble this week—facing a class action brought by a deaf woman in Missouri on allegations that the online auction site is discriminatory regarding its telephone registration system.


Apparently, Melissa J. Earll of Nevada, MO, tried multiple times to register to sell items on the site but couldn’t because the company requires sellers to verify their identities via telephone using PINs (short for pain in (@##$)). Despite Ms. Earll’s numerous attempts to explain her hearing issue to the company over email and online chat support asking for an alternate method to authorize her account, eBay reportedly refused to accommodate her.

Now, you can’t blame eBay for requiring security, and rest assured they would likely be sued if they didn’t have any in place. But really, the phone?

It strikes me that there are a couple of interesting assumptions here, the first and obvious one being that everyone should be able to use the phone—to hear instructions—and the second is that you’ll be able to understand those instructions when you hear them—and that has nothing to do with how well you can hear. What about people with cognitive dysfunction?

Ms. Earll’s lawsuit is being filed on behalf of all deaf or hard-of-hearing persons who have been prevented from registering as sellers with eBay as a result of this phone registration policy.

Chantix, Champix, Schmampix…call it what you will but… After years of witnessing Chantix lawsuits get filed in the US, Pfizer is now bracing for a class action in Canada over its highly controversial ‘quit smoking drug’—also known as a ‘prescription smoking cessation aid’—Champix—as it’s known north of the 49th.

Champix has been associated with an increased risk for suicide, suicidal ideation, depression and neuropsychiatric injury. A worrisome list of potential ‘adverse events’ to be sure.

One of the lead plaintiffs in the case, Patricia Clow, filed suit on behalf of her late daughter, Heidi Clow, who committed suicide at the age of 22 after taking Champix for just a few months. Two other lead plaintiffs allege developing depression and suicidal thoughts after starting on the drug, in one case just days afterwards.

Sadly, these women are likely not alone. We shall see.

Top Settlements

Settlement for Electrocution Victim. A $1,642,475 net settlement has been awarded to the two children who lost their father to a workplace accident. Actually, he was electrocuted at work, let’s be accurate. How does that happen in this day and age?

Daniel Raya, a 49-year old employee at a Salinas lettuce-packing plant, cut into a cable while installing a scale installation at the plant. He received an electrical shock with a 100 volt electrical current and died. Not surprising.

Mr. Raya’s 19-year old daughter and five-year old son sued JCJ Electric Inc, for leaving a live cable source on the ground without warning about it and failing to turn off the power source at the main grid.  And, the jury saw things their way. I don’t suppose for a moment the money’s going to make up for losing their father, but if there is a positive side, it would likely be that it is highly unlikely that that type of accident will ever happen again at that facility, at least, as a result of the lawsuit.

That’s it for this week. See you at the bar! (yes, that bar).

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