Copping out on COBRA? Brunel Energy Inc and Brunel Energy Group Health Plan got hit with a class action this week. It was filed on behalf of current and former participants in the Brunel Energy Group Health Plan (“the Plan”) who allege Brunel failed to provide health care coverage continuing health care coverage (commonly called COBRA coverage) to employees and their beneficiaries who were covered under the Plan through an insurance policy with BUPA International.
According to the complaint Brunel did not notify employees of their entitlement to COBRA coverage or of their right to obtain coverage at a reduced rate as authorized by Congress in its recent economic stimulus package.
According to the Complaint, when asked for a COBRA package by a terminated employee, Brunel advised the former employee that COBRA coverage was not available. Even after being notified by the U.S. Department of Labor that the former employee was entitled to elect COBRA coverage at the statutorily reduced rate, the Complaint alleges that Brunel did not offer the coverage. Would this come under the heading of ‘cost savings’?
The Complaint seeks an injunction requiring Brunel to bring its health care plan into compliance with the law and an order requiring Brunel to reimburse former employees and their beneficiaries for certain health care costs they would not have incurred had they been allowed to elect COBRA coverage. Wait—there’s more—the complaint also seeks civil money penalties of up to $110 dollars a day for Brunel’s failure to provide statutory notices describing the Plan and apprising employees and their beneficiaries of their COBRA rights as required by law.
Don’t Mess with our Vets. JP Morgan Chase was all apologies this week, on the back of a settlement reached with its customers who are or were military personnel, who had filed a class action against the bank alleging that it was wrongly foreclosing on families of service personnel and overcharging them on their mortgages to boot. Does that come under the definition of ‘free market economy’? (don’t get me started on that one)
Well, it obviously did in JP Morgan’s version. But, in February, a J.P. Morgan executive apologized at a U.S. House hearing on its behavior. Then they rolled out a series of programs to help active members and veterans—programs including educational initiatives. And, they said that the bank would no longer foreclose on any currently deployed military personnel. How generous of them.
The financial protections that the suit sought to have reinstated are in fact afforded US military personnel under the Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA). So, maybe it wasn’t just an attack of conscience on JP Morgan’s part.
In any event, Reuters reported that under the terms of the settlement “J.P. Morgan said it will pay $12 million to the class-action suit and set aside $15 million for additional damages on a case-by-case basis. Any unused funds will be used to benefit a charity selected by the U.S. military.” (Reuters.com)
Baby Brain Food? Guess Not. If you got duped into buying an expensive brand of infant formula—Enfamil, made by Mead Johnson & Co—you may be pleased to know they’ve reached a preliminary settlement in the class action they were facing concerning allegations of false advertising.
The suit claimed that Mead falsely represented that Enfamil LIPIL is the only infant formula that contains DHA and ARA—fatty acids it claims are “clinically proved to improve brain and eye function in infants.” Are you kidding? If that really were the case they’d be putting that stuff in the tap water.
If the settlement is approved, people who purchased Enfamil LIPIL formula for six months or less between October 13, 2005 and March 31, 2010, can file a claim to receive either one 12.5 oz container of Infant Formula or $6 in cash.
For those folks who purchased Enfamil LIPIL formula for more than six months between October 13, 2005 and March 31, 2010, you can file a claim to receive either two 12.5 oz containers of Infant Formula or $12 in cash. You can find out if you’re eligible to be a class member here.
Ok. That’s it for this week. See you at the bar.