Week Adjourned: 5.8.09

Top Class Actions: Hydroxycut, 3M

A Body Image to Die For? Last week we mentioned the Hydroxycut nightmare – people suffering permanent liver damage from using the product. Worse, so far one death has been associated with the use of this popular diet product. Sure enough, the class action lawsuits have started, filed in both the US and Canada by separate entities—this issue will be one to watch. Why? Because while drugs are very tightly regulated, over the counter supplements are not—the FDA in fact has very little control. Maybe these lawsuits will help change that. 

Surprise Retirement Parties at 3M. Seems 3M’s been planning some retirements that were real surprises—even to those retiring. It’s just been slapped with a class action alleging violations of the Age Discrimination and Employment Act (ADEA). This isn’t the first time 3M has been sued for unfair employment practices. However the suit centers on the allegation that “3M fires or forces these older employees into retirement or resignation. And, in an effort to protect itself, the company has forced departing employees to sign releases that misrepresent their rights and fail to give them required information necessary to determine whether they have been the victims of age discrimination.”

Nice.

The complaint was filed in California, a state that sees more than its fair share, if there is such a thing, of employment law violations, including unpaid overtime for IT personnel, test engineers and quality assurance engineers.

Top Settlements: Aerotek, Costco, Wal-Mart, and Anna Mae Ahern

“Hasta la vista baby.”  This week saw the ultimate pay day for disgruntled employees at Aerotek, as they announced the settlement of their employment class action for $1.25 million. This case involved more than 1,300 employees, past and present, who claimed that Aerotek had not reimbursed them for accrued leave when they were let go. That’s pretty good closure.

Big-Box Discounters…Big-Time Losers. A couple of big retailers were also in the news this week – Costco and Wal-Mart. Costco has agreed to provide up to 3 months free membership for people who had their renewed memberships unfairly backdated to the membership expiration date.

And remember that truly “Black Friday” last year – when a temporary clerk was trampled to death in a New York Wal-Mart when it opened its doors for the “sale event of the year”? Well, in order to avoid criminal charges, the retail giant has pledged $2 million to improve safety at its 92 outlets in the state. And it couldn’t have done this without the threat of criminal charges?

Talk about Betting the Farm. A pretty neat piece of justice took place this week.  A 101 year old lady who just happens to live on a 93-acre golf course in a Chicago suburb will receive $25 million for her property—at least that’s what the jury said the developer must pay if he wants the land. Anna Mae Ahern was born on the property—her family owned it. Then in 1921 they converted it from a restaurant and farm to a golf course. She’s been living there her entire life. Needless to say it’s worth a pretty penny to property developers today. To her credit, Anna knew that and so did her lawyers, who are no doubt celebrating with her. Question is, where to now?

More to come next week. We’re off to the bar again (yeah, that one)…see you there!

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