Week Adjourned: 7.21.17 – Ford, Ashley Madison, Speeding Cameras

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Bigger not necessarily better? Possibly…Ford has been hit with a proposed consumer fraud class action lawsuit alleging the company sold car jacks with sports vehicles that are too small to fit their lifted trucks, so that car owners are unable to change their tires.

Filed in Oklahoma federal court, by lead plaintiff Matthew W. Leverett, the proposed national class action alleges the Ford’s trucks have a manufacturer’s window sticker that indicates that the vehicles come equipped with a jack and spare tire. However, the sticker doesn’t disclose that the jack and spare tire are only compatible with so-called stock trucks of the same model, and not with the higher lifted trucks, the plaintiff contends.

According to the Ford complaint, Leverett’s 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty Truck came with a jack that isn’t compatible with his vehicle because the tires on his truck are larger and the ride heights are higher than so called stock trucks. Leverett asserts Ford failed to inform him of the car jack’s deficiencies when he purchased the truck.

“Each person who has purchased or leased a lifted truck during the time period relevant to this action was injured by overpaying for a vehicle that did not come equipped with a functioning jack and spare tire, as Ford represented, and as each purchaser would have reasonably expected,” the lawsuit states. “These jacks cannot safely be used on, and are not compatible with, the relatively higher frames of the lifted trucks,” the complaint states.

Further, Leverett asserts that before buying the 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty Truck, he was told the lift kit and larger tires were covered under a vehicle service agreement he purchased through Ford Motor Credit Company LLC, a division of Ford Motor Co. However, after buying the truck, he discovered the lift kit and larger tires were not covered by Ford’s manufacturer’s warranty.

Leverett seeks to represent a class of car users who have had similar experiences. The proposed class action claims violations of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act and breaches of the implied warranties of merchantability under the Uniform Commercial Code. Leverett is seeking damages and equitable and declaratory relief on behalf of himself and a nationwide class and a statewide class of individuals who purchased or leased one or more new Ford trucks equipped with a lift kit and larger-than-stock tires.

Last week it was Ford Transit vans making class action headlines, this week it’s Lift Kits. What next, I wonder?

The case is Leverett et al. v. Ford Motor Co., case number 5:17-cv-00751, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Top Settlements

Shhhh—it’s a secret! Well, actually, it’s just not finalized. What, you ask? An $11.2 million settlement has been reached in the data breach multi-district litigation (MDL) pending against the dating site Ashley Madison, formerly known as Avid Dating Life Inc., and its parent company Ruby Life Inc. There may be millions of plaintiffs seeking compensation from the settlement, as the 2015 data breach affected some 37 million users.

The MDL joins multiple lawsuits filed against the dating website, which catered to married people. Ruby has stated that since the data leak it has enhanced its measures to protect client data.

According to the allegations made after the Ashley Madison data breach, Avid not only failed to secure customers’ confidential information, but also advertised a “full delete removal” service that in fact didn’t eradicate user account information from the website’s database. Further, the complaints claimed that Avid used artificial intelligence to fool men into believing they were interacting with women when they were in fact chatting with “bots.”

According to the terms of the proposed settlement, funds will be available to reimburse customers who paid for “full delete” services, reimbursements for credits on the website they may have pre-purchased and any losses caused by the data breach of up to $2,000. Class members may receive a maximum of $3,500 each, according to settlement documents.

The proposed program to notify potential class members will ads in People magazine, Sports Illustrated and more than 11 million targeted digital banner ads. That will probably be the best exposure the now defunct website ever receives.

The proposed settlement requires court approval.

The case is In Re: Ashley Madison Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, case number 4:15-md-02669 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

And while we’re talking scandals… This week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his administration said they’d pony up $38.75 million to settle an unfair business practices class-action lawsuit alleging the city failed to provide motorists with adequate notice regarding red light camera and speed camera operations within Chicago.

The windy city’s red light camera system consists of over than 350 cameras and has raised more than $500 million in $100 tickets since 2002. Ok, they’re not fooling around. But…

The lawsuit was brought by attorney Jacie Zolna in 2015, claiming the city violated its own rules by failing to send a second notice of a violation before guilt was determined, and by doubling the fine for late payment of tickets sooner than allowed.

Several lawsuits were brought and the attention they received unearthed a massive scandal and corruption in Chicago’s city hall. A Chicago Tribune investigation exposed a $2 million City Hall bribery scheme that brought the traffic cameras to Chicago as well as tens of thousands of tickets that were unfairly issued to drivers.

According to the terms of the settlement, more than 1.2 million people could be eligible to receive payment for half of the costs of their tickets. Zolna said those who qualify will receive letters in the mail in upcoming months notifying them they were part of the lawsuit, the Chicago Tribune reports.

So if you got a ticket—you’ll be hearing from them. A victory for the little people. And on that note…

That’s a wrap for this week. See you at the bar!

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