Week Adjourned: 4.1.11

Top Class Actions

Rosetta Stone getting a lesson in securities litigation? The manufacturer of learning software—and apparent sure-fire way to win the girl (see ad above), got hit with a securities lawsuit this week, over allegations that they’re not playing straight, so to speak. The suit, which has not yet been certified, was filed on behalf of purchasers of the common stock of Rosetta Stone, Inc. (“Rosetta Stone” or the “Company”) (NYSE: RST) between February 25, 2010 and March 1, 2011, inclusive (the “Class Period”).

The specific allegations? Violations of federal securities laws—such as the free and lower-priced competitive product offerings, not a temporary reduction in advertising, was having a material adverse effect on the Company’s Class Period revenues, particularly U.S. consumer revenues; and that the favorable sales booking numbers Rosetta Stone reported during the Class Period was the result of key retail partners maintaining inventory of the Company’s products well above historic levels; and—oh yes—there’s more—that Rosetta Stone’s reported sales bookings and revenues during the Class Period were the product of manipulation.

However, on February 28, Rosetta Stone announced fourth quarter revenue of $74.3 million, a 5% decrease from the prior year, net income on a GAAP basis of $5.0 million, a decrease of 60% from the 2009 fourth quarter. On this news, RS’s shares fell $1.77 to $13.19 per share. Let’s hope it’s not just the shareholders who get an education from this. 

Top Settlements

$17 million for workplace asbestos exposure. Sounds nice—but maybe not so much. As big as this settlement sounds on the surface, the facts of the case are not good, and sadly, all too familiar. A 66-year old man—Gordon Bankhead—was diagnosed with asbestos mesothelioma in January 2010. Short story, he and his wife filed an asbestos lawsuit against Carlisle and Pneumo Abex for products liability.

Bankhead had spent a good portion of his life working on brakes for heavy-duty vehicles—and those brakes contain asbestos. He worked mostly for Sea-Land Shipping Company in Oakland, and regularly handled asbestos-containing brakes, including being present for the inspection, replacement, grinding and blowing out of asbestos-containing brakes. According to his complaint, these activities caused him to breathe asbestos dust.

Notably, his lawyers claimed that despite the defendants knowledge of the health hazards associated with asbestos, Carlisle and Pneumo Abex didn’t stop selling asbestos-containing brakes until 1987; ArvinMeritor continued to sell asbestos brakes until 2000. 

He won his suit and was awarded $17,470,000 as settlement. He has reportedly undergone treatment for his asbestos mesothelioma, so this settlement should go some way to covering his medical costs.

Here we go again with Overdraft Fees…Plaintiffs involved in the class action against National City Bank—which recently merged into PNC Bank NA—should see letters in the post soon explaining the ins and outs of a preliminarily approved $12 million settlement.

The settlement is preliminary, and includes “all persons who hold or ever held a National City Account who at any time from July 1, 2004, through and including August 15, 2010, incurred at least one Overdraft Fee associated with at least one National City Debit Card Transaction that was not previously reversed, refunded or returned.”

According to the press release, the settlement will establish a Settlement Fund of $12 million. Notices will be mailed directly to Settlement Class Members, and be dispersed through various media including a website and, newspapers leading up to a hearing on July 15, 2011, when the Court will consider whether to grant final approval to the settlement. 

Okee dokee—that’s it for this week. See you at the bar.

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