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September 16, 2018
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New California Class Action Lawsuit Targets Deceptive Bank Fees
New California Class Action Lawsuit Targets Deceptive Bank Fees
San Diego, CA Bank fees are growing rapidly, and consumers are feeling the pinch. Furthermore, many customers feel that they are somehow being hoodwinked into paying hidden, undisclosed costs. On August 2, 2018, Reyna McGovern filed a class action excessive bank fees lawsuit against U.S. Bank, N.A. (US Bank). Her lawsuit tackles two thorny issues: out-of-network ATM fees and overdraft fees charged when her account showed a sufficient account balance.

Talcum Cancer Lawsuit in California Based on Trust
Talcum Cancer Lawsuit in California Based on Trust
Los Angeles, CA: In the sixth talcum powder-cancer trial that began last month in California, Johnson & Johnson is accused of knowing its talcum powder contained asbestos, a carcinogen known to cause mesothelioma. Plaintiff Carolyn Weirick last year was diagnosed with the rare form of terminal cancer. She claims her illness was caused by using J&J’s baby powder.

California Court Saves Class Action Wage Claims from Forced Arbitration
California Court Saves Class Action Wage Claims from Forced Arbitration
San Francisco, CA On August 14, 2018, the California Court of Appeals preserved a worker’s right to bring a class action wage lawsuit against Robert Half International (RHI). RHI tried to force Jessica Gentry to arbitrate, alone, her claim that she was cheated out of pay for the time she spent prepping for assignments. The California Labor Code requires that workers be paid for paid for time worked, regardless of how brief. Few, however, can afford the cost of arbitration when the personal financial stake is small. Had RHI been successful, the legal maneuver that would have ended her California labor lawsuit and deprived others of their only effective legal remedy. What happened was very different.

Are Tutors Independent Contractors or Employees Under the California Labor Code?
Are Tutors Independent Contractors or Employees Under the California Labor Code?
San Francisco, CA: The education company General Assembly agreed to pay $1million to settle an overtime lawsuit brought by two former full-time tutors ( education instructors) who taught at the company’s San Francisco campus. This California labor law settlement may have implications for similar companies that hire independent contractors to work in the education “gig economy.”

Amputees’ Fight for Insurance Coverage Focuses on ‘Medical Necessity’ of Microprocessor Prosthetics
Amputees’ Fight for Insurance Coverage Focuses on ‘Medical Necessity’ of Microprocessor Prosthetics
Washington, DC Lucky to live, unlucky to lose a foot or a leg, survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing soon found themselves facing the harsh truth of inadequate insurance coverage for their prosthetic care. Years on, the good news is that microprocessor-enhanced artificial limbs have gotten better. The bad news is that insurance companies like Anthem and United Healthcare still balk at paying for them. Insurance lawsuits since then have taken particular aim at the internal review standards insurers use to determine whether a medical treatment or device is “medically necessary.” The standards do not line up with what amputees need most and what these modern devices can really do. Cost cutting vs. good health – it’s the match of the century.

Aetna Denies Disability – Is there a Doctor in the House?
Aetna Denies Disability – Is there a Doctor in the House?
Los Angeles, CA: California's insurance commissioner in February 2018 launched an investigation into Aetna after discovering a former medical director for the insurer (independent medical examiner) admitted under oath that he never looked at policy holder’s records to decide whether to approve or deny their long term disability benefits. Now a California woman has filed a complaint against the huge insurance provider claiming a similar issue.

CFPB Moves to Protect Students from Overdraft Fees
CFPB Moves to Protect Students from Overdraft Fees
Washington, DC On July 20, 2018, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) offered to settle its claim that TCF National Bank engaged in deceptive practices to market its overdraft protection services. In its bank overdraft fees lawsuit the CFPB alleged that these practices affected students at the University of Minnesota, with which TCF has a beneficial financial relationship. As their bright young things head off to college, should parents be concerned? Students and other inexperienced and lower income banking customers are particularly vulnerable to excessive overdraft fee schemes.

Lawsuits Brewing over Insurance Denials for “Smart” Prostheses
Lawsuits Brewing over Insurance Denials for “Smart” Prostheses
Los Angeles, CA In California and other states, amputees are denied insurance coverage for modern prostheses. These legs and ankles are hugely better than the old titanium alloy stilts because of their microprocessors. Lt. Dan was glad to stand with his bride, but imagine running up the stairs or dancing at a Gump-ish wedding. Nonetheless, Anthem, United Healthcare and other insurers plead shock, confusion, and a general lack of evidence when asked to pay for the more modern prosthetics. The ensuing insurance lawsuits have taken aim at the insurers’ claims that the advanced prostheses are not medically necessary or still experimental.

H&M Plaintiffs Rely on Starbucks Workers’ Win To Bolster Case
H&M Plaintiffs Rely on Starbucks Workers’ Win To Bolster Case
San Francisco, CA When an employee brings a lawsuit alleging that they were not paid for all the time that they were lawfully owed under federal law, employers will frequently raise something called the de minimis doctrine in defense. This doctrine holds that working time that is trivially small, for instance a few seconds or minutes beyond working hours, may be disregarded (and unpaid). Recently, in Troester v. Starbucks, Starbucks attempted to raise this defense to claims brought under California state law, and the California Supreme Court rejected it—finding that a Starbucks shift supervisor should have been paid for work performed before and after clocking out for the day. Now, Plaintiffs in another California unpaid wages lawsuit, Ser Lao v. H & M, have filed a notice of “new authority” to support their claim, citing the Troester decision. The Troester decision could open doors for many similar lawsuits.

Will the New Asbestos Regulation Put the Public at Risk?
Will the New Asbestos Regulation Put the Public at Risk?
Washington, DC: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has enacted a new rule to purportedly strengthen oversight on asbestos: it will review applications for using asbestos in consumer products. But the agency’s critics and consumer groups argue that this rule makes it easier for asbestos to be used in consumer products, from construction materials to plastic bags.

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