Week Adjourned: 5.6.16 – Wendy’s Data Breach, Honeywell, More Talc Powder

WendysTop Class Action Lawsuits

Drive Around to the First Window and… It’s been a while since we’ve reported a data breach class action. This week, one such lawsuit was filed against Ohio-based Wendy’s by First Choice Federal Credit Union, alleging a five-month long data breach could have been prevented if the company had acted faster.

From October 22, 2015 through to March 10, 2016, hackers accessed Wendy’s computer systems and stole what could be millions of consumer credit cards that had been used at certain Wendy’s locations. So someone besides was making change on your burger and fries. And let’s not get started on the issue of inconvenience!

“As a result of Wendy’s data breach, plaintiff and class members have been forced to cancel and reissue payment cards, change or close accounts, notify customers that their cards were compromised, investigate claims of fraudulent activity, refund fraudulent charges, increase fraudulent monitoring on potentially impacted accounts, and take other steps to protect themselves and their customers,” the Wendy’s data breach lawsuit claims.

Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that Wendy’s holds on to credit card information longer than necessary and failed to meet the October 2015 deadline for EMV cards and terminals.

“Despite the growing threat of computer system intrusion, Wendy’s systematically failed to comply with industry standards and protect payment card and customer data,” the lawsuit states, noting that as a consequence, financial institutions have borne the brunt of the data breach.

The complaint asserts that Wendy’s used outdated and easily hackable computer and credit card systems, and that the company failed to meet federal regulations and guidelines around computer and data security, stating that Wendy’s “refused to take steps to adequately protect its computer systems from intrusion.”

A Wendy’s spokesman has said that malware was discovered by third-party investigators, but the company has yet to confirm how many of its 6,000 stores had been hacked.

Honeywell Warranty Class Action Warranted… This is why you want your day in court: A proposed defective products class action brought by consumers against Honeywell International was given the green light this week, by a judge who just wasn’t buying the corporate line. US District Judge Berle M. Schiller of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania told the defendant, Honeywell International, that essentially they couldn’t make a case to have the suit tossed.

The Honeywell class action asserts that Honeywell TrueSTEAM humidifiers were defectively designed and inadequately covered by warranty. Feel the swamp waters rising? Yes, well, read on.

According to the complaint, the humidifiers are unreliable, difficult to maintain, and prone to malfunction and deterioration.

Judge Schiller wrote in his memorandum, “According to plaintiffs, Honeywell is aware of the problems with its humidifiers, but uses an ‘overly burdensome warranty claims process that is designed to, and does, deter customers from making claims under their warranties.” And, “Honeywell’s remedy to repair fails of its essential purpose because Honeywell simply replaces defective humidifiers with ‘the same defectively designed humidifiers that are prone to the problems complained of by plaintiffs and members of the classes.'” Thank you Judge Schiller.

The plaintiffs also allege they were told their defective units would not be serviced until technicians inspected them. They are seeking recovery for the related removal and repair costs, since they claim Honeywell promised that each unit would be free from defect, and if it wasn’t, the company would repair the unit. Oh yes, the fine print—but just wait…

“According to the amended complaint, however, that promise was false. Instead, plaintiffs were required to satisfy Honeywell, through an authorized technician and/or a contractor’s inspection, that the humidifier actually was defective,” Schiller wrote. “Thus, Honeywell placed an additional burden upon plaintiffs seeking to repair or replace their defective unit.”

The judge wrote that the plaintiffs have adequately alleged that the humidifiers were defective five years after the purchase date as the warranty promised, and that Honeywell failed to replace the units as it expressly warranted.

The plaintiffs asserted breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, unjust enrichment, and other claims.

I’ll bet those plaintiffs are happy campers this weekend.

Top Settlements

A Bittersweet Victory… This week, a $55 million settlement was leveled against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) by a jury hearing the case of a woman who alleges her use of the company’s talc-powder products for feminine hygiene caused her to develop ovarian cancer.

This is the second J&J talc powder verdict in a row against J&J in talc-cancer lawsuits J&J plans to appeal. The company is facing some 1200 such lawsuit all claiming the company failed to adequately warning consumers about its talc-based products’ cancer risks.

The trial took three weeks, and returned the verdict in favor of Gloria Ristesund in a day. She was awarded $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.

According to her suit, Ristesund used J&J’s talc-based powder products, which include the well-known Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder, on her genitals for decades. According to her lawyers, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had to undergo a hysterectomy and related surgeries. Her cancer is now in remission.

The verdict in the first J&J talc-cancer lawsuit awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer. She had also used the talc powder for feminine hygiene for years. 

Ok, that’s a wrap folks…Have a good one. See you at the Bar!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *