Week Adjourned: 9.12.14 – SkinMedica, Intermountain Hotels, NFL Cheerleaders

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top stories include SkinMedica skin care, Intermountain Hotels including Hilton and Marriott, and the Oakland Raiders.

SkinmedicaTop Class Action Lawsuits

Is the fountain of youth cancer-inducing? Possibly…at least according to a dangerous drugs class action lawsuit filed this week against Allergan Inc’s subsidiary SkinMedica Inc. The lawsuit claims that the cosmeceutical company withheld information from consumers regarding its anti-aging creams specifically, that they contain human foreskin cells, and that these creams pose a risk for cancer.

Filed by plaintiff Josette Ruhnke, the complaint alleges that the sale of SkinMedica Inc.’s line of “Tissue Nutrient Solution” (TNS) products containing the compound “NouriCel” is illegal, because the products haven’t received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ruled the case can go forward.

According to the complaint, TNS products are marketed for “skin rejuvenation” purposes. However, they contain a proprietary mix of human growth factors that originate from human foreskin tissue. The products are trademarked as NouriCel. The TNS creams have the ability to initiate cell division, which, according to Ruhnke’s complaint, are thought to contribute to the growth of tumor cells or other abnormalities.

The complaint, filed in 2013, also claims that, in addition to lacking FDA approval, SkinMedica had not performed required controlled safety studies before marketing TNS products. Judge Carter rejected arguments from SkinMedica that TNS products aren’t drugs under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act because the growth factors they contain are “naturally occurring.”

“SkinMedica promotes TNS Products as ‘cosmeceuticals’ containing a mix of endogenous ‘growth factors’ for skin rejuvenation. The term ‘cosmeceutical’ conveys that a product is both a cosmetic and pharmaceutical,” Judge Carter wrote. “A product which occurs naturally or is derived from natural ingredients is capable of regulation as a drug.”

Additionally, Judge Carter noted that the creator of NouriCel has stated that more double-blind and controlled studies are needed to confirm the preliminary clinical effects of growth factor products. Judge Carter also cited the fact that the complaint stated that the two FDA-approved products on the market containing human growth factors provide prominent safety warnings the TNS products lack.

“The thrust of defendants’ argument is essentially that the evidence does not support plaintiff’s claim,” Judge Carter wrote. “Plaintiff’s allegations, taken as true, suggest that there are serious safety concerns associated with TNS Products.”

The case is Josette Ruhnke v. SkinMedica Inc., et al, case number 8:2014-cv-00420, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

It seems that growing old gracefully may be vastly underrated.

Hotels less than Hospitable? What would TWA be without our weekly update on unpaid wages and overtime class action lawsuits. This week, workers at the Hilton and Marriott properties filed against Intermountain Management LLC alleging the company failed to pay overtime and other wages due to employees. The lawsuit contends that Intermountain Management misclassified its current and former workers so as to make them exempt from payment for overtime and wages and missed rest and meal breaks.

Further, former Intermountain manufacturing engineer Indica Heredia, who filed the lawsuit, alleges the company failed to pay all wages due to employees when they were terminated.

“Intermountain routinely understaffs knowing that scheduled shifts will not permit employees to take their legal meal and rest periods and will require them to work through meal and rest periods as well as off the clock,” the complaint states. Heredia alleges the Louisiana-based hospitality management company had a policy of making its employees work five-hour shifts or longer without a 30-minute meal break within the first five hours or compensation for the missed break and didn’t pay all wages due to ex-employees when they were terminated.

Heredia performed routine system testing on Intermountain products, among other duties, and claims he was misclassified as exempt from overtime compensation in violation of California labor lawthe complaint states. The lawsuit proposes the class would include current and former hourly, nonexempt employees who worked in the four years preceding the filing of the complaint at hotels owned, managed or operated by Intermountain in California, including Residence Inn, Courtyard Inn, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites hotels.

The lawsuit alleges Intermountain Management violated California labor law, specifically that the class, consisting of at least several-hundred employees, was not paid all regular and overtime wages, given meal and rest periods, or provided wage statements and personnel records.

Heredia seeks unpaid wages at time-and-a-half or double-time rates for all overtime work, as well as damages and penalties and a declaratory judgment against the company.

The case is Indica Heredia v. Intermountain Management LLC et al., case number 5:14-cv-04006, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

They owe, they owe—so off to court they go…

Top Settlements

And while we’re on the subject of unpaid wages …

Hip-Hip-Hooray! A $1.25 million settlement has been reached in the landmark unpaid wages class action pending against the Oakland Raiders football team. The employment lawsuit was filed by the Oakland Raiders’ Cheerleaders alleging wage theft and other unfair employment practices.

If approved, the NFL cheerleader settlement would cover 90 cheerleaders who worked for the Raiders between 2010 and 2013 seasons. The Raiderettes would receive an average of $2,500 to $6,000 per season, depending on which seasons they worked, according to a joint statement by the parties.

Under the deal, Lisa T. and Sarah G., a second named plaintiff, would each receive a class representative payment of $10,000. The settlement is subject to court approval. A hearing on the motion has been scheduled for September 26.

Filed by lead plaintiff and Raiderette “Lacy T., the lawsuit alleged ” in January, alleged that the Raiders withheld all pay from the Raiderettes until after the end of the season, didn’t pay for all hours worked, and forced the cheerleaders to pay many of their own business expenses.

According to the class action, pursuant to their contract, the Raiderettes were each paid $1,250 for working a full season, amounting to less than $5 per hour for the time they spent rehearsing, performing and appearing at events. Further, the lawsuit claimed wages were also withheld until after the end of the season.

The case is Lacy T. et al. v. The Oakland Raiders et al., case number RG14710815, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda. 

Ok – Folks –time to adjourn for the week.  Have a fab weekend –see you at the bar!

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