Just how friendly are United’s friendly skies? Not very according to a potential consumer fraud consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed against United Airlines Inc. in Texas federal court this week. The lawsuit claims the airline routinely violates its website’s “low fare guarantee” when passengers buy multiple tickets on a flight at the same time.
Filed by plaintiff Scott Coulier, the lawsuit claims that if a customer attempts to purchase several tickets at the same time, but only a few seats are available at a relatively low price, United.com will offer all the tickets at a higher price instead of letting users buy the outstanding cheaper tickets and as many higher priced tickets as necessary.
According to the United Airlines lawsuit, there is no disclosure by United that its ticketing system sells multiple tickets at the same time only if they have the same price. Further, the lawsuit claims the airline deletes the lower priced tickets it skips overs. According to the complaint, the deletion is key, as United’s guarantee will only refund customers if the airline’s employees can find the lower priced fares after the transaction.
“The result of this systematic policy is the lower fare class tickets which actually exist at the time of purchase are not disclosed to the consumer and are systematically bypassed at the point of purchase in favor of higher fare class ticket,” the lawsuit states.
United’s guarantee states that if customers can find lower fares for the same flight, itinerary and cabin after they purchase a ticket through United.com, the airline will refund the difference and hand out a $100 credit if the difference is $10 or more. However, according to the complaint, the terms do not properly define “itinerary” and are impossible to satisfy because United does not allow customers to use screenshots taken before their purchase to prove there were less expensive options.
In the lawsuit, Coulier claims he bought three tickets on United, from Peoria, Illinois, to Orlando Florida, for his family for $182 per seat. However, he believes he could have paid less if he bought the tickets individually. He alleged United’s policies artificially restrict low class fares when bought together.
“Defendant engages in this deceptive and unfair practice as a way to profiteer from unsuspecting consumers, such that plaintiff and the putative class paid more than the lowest available price for the same tickets,” the lawsuit states. “Such conduct is a bait-and-switch sales practice.”
The case is Scott Coulier v. United Airlines Inc., case number 4:15-cv-00190, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
Wet Seal got slapped… with an employment class action lawsuit this week, alleging violations of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act by two employees who claim they and got soaked in the recent business closure.
Short version—the Wet Seal lawsuit, filed on behalf of some 3,700 employees, claims that the clothing retailer has violated California and federal labor laws by keeping their employees ignorant of the company’s financial struggles and impending closure. Wet Seal announced last week that it will file for bankruptcy.
The named plaintiffs, Katelin Pruitt, an employee in a store in North Carolina, and Lalaine Ortega, who worked in Georgia, allege the company failed to tell them about its precarious financial situation.
“Despite strong evidence that Wet Seal was in steep decline, it continued to keep its employees uninformed right up until they abruptly fired 3,695 of their employees,” the lawsuit states. The lawsuit seeks to represent a class of former Wet Seal employees who lost their jobs as a result of the layoffs the company announced January 7, 2015. According to the complaint, the class is seeking 60 days pay and benefits for class members.
FYI—the case is Katelin Pruitt et al. v. The Wet Seal Inc., case number 2:15-cv-00312, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
eBay reached a $6.4 million settlement agreement this week, potentially ending an unfair business practices class action brought against online retailer on behalf of approximately 1.2 million eBay account holders, although the number of actual users represented by those accounts was unclear as one person could have multiple accounts. They alleged they were charged hidden and recurring listing fees to sell their goods through the online auction site.
Under the terms of the proposed agreement, eBay would pay class members $4.5 million with the remainder going on legal and administration fees. The payments to class members would be made as an automatic credit to their accounts.
The lawsuit was filed by plaintiff Richard Noll in September 2011, alleging eBay suggested that the Good ‘Til Canceled listings, which automatically renew every 30 days until the seller cancels the listing or the item is sold, came “at no extra cost” when fees were actually charged on a monthly basis.
A second suit was filed by Rhythm Motor Sports LLC nearly a year later, and the cases were eventually consolidated. The allegations included breach of contract, unfair competition, false advertising, violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, unjust enrichment and fraud.
Hokee Dokee—That’s a wrap folks…Time to adjourn for the week. See you at the Bar!
Beasties vs. Monsters. That’s a headline copyright infringement lawsuit circa 2014. And who won? Well the first round went to the Beastie Boys. But—their lawyers are heading back into the ring for round two. This time—over legal fees. Monster Energy—no stranger to lawsuits—was found guilty by a federal judge in Manhattan, of using the Beastie Boys’ songs without their permission to market their energy drinks. Take what you need and pay the piper later—if you need to? Nice. But it seems that’s the way Monster rolls…an appropriately named business.
The back story? The rappers from Brooklyn took Monster to court over the drink manufacturer’s use of five (FIVE!) of the group’s songs for a 2012 promotional video of an event called “Ruckus in the Rockies.” The video included the group’s 1994 megahit “Sabotage”.
As anyone who follows the Beastie Boys knows, the rappers don’t shill. Let’s not even get into the fact that Monster didn’t ask BB if they could use the songs. Wait—there’s more—in an act of mindboggling gall, tastelessness, and just outright ‘profit where you can’, Monster added the words “RIP MCA” at the end of the video’s credits: Beastie Boys member Adam “MCA” Yauch passed away days before Monster’s marketing event. He died of salivary gland cancer at the age of 47. All of this without the Band’s knowledge (I’m guessing here) or permission.
So, the group sued Monster. They won. The jury awarded surviving band members Adam “Ad Rock” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond, and the wife of the late Adam “MCA” Yauch $1.7 million: $1.2 million for unauthorized use of their songs and $500,000 after finding Monster liable for false endorsement.
Cut to present day—a second suit has been filed seeking $2.5 million in legal fees. According to The New York Post—one of the group’s lawyers said the firm and its associates performed 4,227 hours of work on the case at a “reduced” rate that ranged from $675 to $840 depending on each lawyer’s rates. The $2.5 million ask included nearly $100,000 in expenses the firm claims it spent representing the rappers.
The rapper’s lawyers summed it up this way: “Monster failed to engage in good faith negotiations to resolve this mmatter and repeatedly sought to increase the cost of ultimately litigating this matter.”
Monster has admitted wrongdoing but believes it should be liable for no more than $125,000, based on the video’s viewership. The company says only about 13,000 viewers saw the four-minute video before it was pulled off YouTube. They’ve been drinking the koolaid.
According to The Post, Monster’s lawyers filed legal papers urging the Judge to deny an injunction request by the Beastie Boys, saying Monster already removed the video and has no plans to ever show it again. Really—you think? How considerate.
Toyota not Taking TCPA Siriusly? Toyota’s off to a banner start this year—they got hit with a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) class action lawsuit this week alleging the automaker gave customer information to Sirius XM Holdings Inc., which made a number of unsolicited calls to the plaintiff’s cellphone in violation to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
According to the Toyota lawsuit, plaintiff Brian Trenz claims he and others were victims of an information-sharing agreement between Toyota and Sirius. The alleged agreement enables Toyota to share customer data with Sirius in exchange for temporary free trials of Sirius’ radio entertainment services in new and preowned cars Toyota sells. The lawsuit claims that Sirius then used that information to make unauthorized calls to Trenz’s cellphone, which is a violation of the TCPA.
“Sirius makes these telemarketing calls in order to convert the recent purchasers of these Toyota vehicles into paid subscribers of Sirius,” according to the lawsuit.
According to the complaint, Trenz bought a Chevy truck from a Texas Toyota dealership in September 2014, after which, the plaintiff alleges, Sirius made more than 30 calls to his cellphone using an automatic dialing system, in violation of the TCPA. Trenzclaims that none of the sales documents from the Toyota dealership included a warning that Trenz’s information might be given to a third-party like Sirius, and Sirius never sought or received his consent for the call. When Trenz asked Sirius call representatives how they obtained his information, they were allegedly forthright about having obtained it from Toyota, the lawsuit states.
Similarly, Trenz claimed a Toyota dealership employee assured him it was “common knowledge” that the information would be passed along. According to the lawsuit, Trenz was unaware of a free trial of Sirius’ services included in the purchase of his truck, and did not become aware of the availability of the service until he began receiving the calls. Further, Trenz claims that Sirius radio never worked in his vehicle, and he never listened to it.
Even though Sirius is responsible for the calls, Toyota is vicariously liable for the TCPA claims because the company provided the customer information, the complaint states.
The lawsuit seeks certification of a nationwide class consisting of anyone who received unsolicited calls from Sirius in the four years prior to the complaint, regardless if they first bought a car from a Toyota dealership. In addition, the suit seeks a separate nationwide subclass of individuals who first bought a new or preowned car from a Toyota dealership with a free Sirius trial and received unsolicited calls from the company in the last four years.
The lawsuit is case 3:15-cv-00044, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
Is the Overdraft Fee Straggler Finally Settling? Capital One Bank NA has been ordered to pay in excess of $31.7 million to settle a multidistrict litigation (MDL) alleging several banks processed customer transactions in an order that would make the banks the most in overdraft fees.
The Capital One MDL settlement received preliminary approval Wednesday, and follows earlier settlement agreements made with several other banks named in the suits, which were filed in 2010. Hello!
A final approval hearing has been requested for May. The plaintiffs state that the agreement is “an outstanding result for the settlement class.” If approved, it will see a cash payment amounting to roughly 35 percent of the most likely maximum recovery the settlement class could have recovered through a trial.
Class members who do not choose to opt out of the settlement will automatically receive pro-rated shares from the settlement fund.
What’s Cooking in Wolfgang’s Kitchens? A $1.7 million settlement for a California unpaid overtime class action lawsuit, that’s what. The lawsuit was brought against Spago Beverly Hills, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill in Los Angeles, and Chinois in Santa Monica, California by some 900 current and former employees at the restaurants.
According to the terms of the Wolfgang Puck settlement, $7,500 will be paid to lead plaintiff Ruben Sanchez, who filed the lawsuit in December 2012. He claimed Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants violated wage and hour laws, and failed to reimburse employees for business-related expenditures, among other labor violations. According to court documents, there are 888 eligible employees who will participate in the settlement.
Additionally, the restaurant company will pay $10,000 to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and if more than $10,000 of the class checks should turn out to be uncashed, undeliverable or expired, the difference would go to class members who cashed their checks within 90 days of the mailing on a pro rata basis. If the amount is less than $10,000, it will instead go to the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice.
The case is Ruben Sanchez et al. v. Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group et al., case number SC119342, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
Hokee Dokee- That’s a wrap folks…Time to adjourn for the week. Happy New Year!
It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Or not. In any event, one 57-year old social worker from Brownville, New York decided she’d had enough—enough of her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, and father of her two-year old grandson, so she hired a hit man to kill him and feed him to the crocodiles. (Would I make this up?) Luckily for the ex—the “hit man” turned out to be an undercover detective and mamma has been arrested and charged with both second degree criminal solicitation and conspiracy in the second degree.
Melisa Rae Schonfield tried to hire Detective Dave Pustizzi to kill Erneto Negrillo, a resident of Florida. Pustizzi was also supposed to be the one serving Negrillo to the crocs. Nothing vague about those intentions.
Apparently, a tipster gave the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department a heads up about Melisa Schonfield’s plans. “We got a tip from a concerned citizen,” Detective Dave Pustizzi told HuffPost. According to court documents, Schonfield, met the undercover detective posing as a hit man at a Walmart parking lot in Watertown. What is it with Walmart parking lots?
Schonfield had the readies—she agreed to pay the undercover detective $11,000 for Negrillo’s murder, according to police. She suggested the best way to dispose of the body would be to “throw it to the alligators,” police said. She told the supposed contract killer that her husband, a Watertown dentist, was aware of what she was doing and “even made a smart remark about her getting caught,” according to the court documents. Mrs. Schonfield was taken into custody after giving the undercover officer a $5,500 down payment, police said. I wonder what the fee was for feeding the crocs? Of note, neither the daughter or her father have been implicated in the attempted “hit”.
Needless to say, Negrillo is shocked, and Alexis Schonfield—the ex-girlfriend—is also equally stunned.
“It’s just f–ked up,” 36-year old Negrillo, told The Huffington Post in an exclusive interview. “I don’t know why she would want to kill me. I haven’t spoken to her in a long time.” Maybe that’s why…
Negrillo and Alexis parted company in 2012, reportedly, with Alexis moving to New York with their young son. Negrillo stayed in Florida—in retrospect—not such a bad idea.
According to HuffPo, Negrillo said he had no recent issues with anyone in the family. “I wasn’t fighting” for custody, he said. “It was already settled.”
As for the murder plot, he said, “I have no idea why. I can’t believe she went this far.” Ah—just how far would have been acceptable?
“The only thing I can say, because I am a mother, is she was trying to protect my son and she got tired of watching me cry,” 31-year old Alexis said. “I’ve been an emotional basket case the past two years.” Had anyone thought of therapy?
But here’s the kicker—Alexis said she learned of her mother’s arrest on Facebook. Seriously. “I had no idea what was going on,” she said. “I thought she was going to go visit her friends in Rochester over the weekend. When I found out, I was in shock.” Bet the friends in Rochester are relieved.
Schonfield said her “on and off again “relationship with Negrillo was volatile. “I think emotional and verbal domestic abuse is a big joke to people … [but] it’s just as bad as physical violence,” she said. “It’s just that the scars are not visible,” she told HuffPo.
There’s a weird twist here, though, which is that this is not the first time Negrillo has allegedly inspired someone to want to kill him. Three years ago he was attacked by the pistol-wielding husband of yet another an ex-girlfriend, according to HuffPo. The husband clubbed Negrillo twice on the head with a .38-caliber pistol and a shot was fired during their struggle, police said. Negrillo was treated for head wounds. The not so lucky husband is reportedly awaiting trial on an assault charge. Has anyone here heard of talk therapy?
“He came to kill me,” Negrillo told HuffPost. “He attacked me with a gun and everything. It got ugly and I defended myself.”
While we might be tempted to think this guy is either very unlucky or has some really bad juju going on, Negrillo sees it quite differently. In addition to being grateful to the police, he said “God really looked out for me. He really did.”
He feels sorry for Melisa Schonfield. “It didn’t have to go this way—she didn’t have to do what she did,” he said. “She ruined her reputation and now there’s no grandma in the picture for my son. I feel bad.”
Did you get hosed by DAP? A defective products class action lawsuit has been filed against hose manufacturer Dap Products, Inc, alleging the the Xhose and the Xhose Pro are defective and do not perform as advertised. No comment.
According to the DAP Xhose complaint, the hose is made out of a thin plastic internal tube with a thin cloth layer on the outside. Dap advertises the hose as providing an alternative to standard garden hoses because it is lightweight and can contract without “kinking.” “Defendants’ marketing and packaging states that the XHose is tough, durable, and long-lasting,” the lawsuit states. “Contrary to defendants’ representations, however, the XHose is defective and predisposed to leaking, bursting, seeping and dripping due to no fault of the consumer.”
According to Cynthia Finnk, who filed the complaint, she purchased two XHose Pros in December 2013 both of which eventually exploded during use. Oh yes—that could send you over the edge. Apparently, the company sent her a total of eight replacement hoses after the products continued to explode when in use, according to the lawsuit. Ok, what’s your first clue that quality control is an abstract concept here. The company allegedly refused to give a refund because the 90-day refund period had expired. Bingo!
The lawsuit was filed on December 24th, by plaintiffs Michael Carton, Cynthia Finnk, Rocco Lano, Laurina Leato, Marilyn Listander and Roger Mammon filed the lawsuit also names National Express and RPM International as defendants. The plaintiffs are seeking class status for the suit, and in excess of $5 million in damages. The case is United States District Court for the Northern District of Maryland case number 1:14-cv-04015.
Naughty Nissan! They got hit with a federal defective automotive class action lawsuit this week, alleging Nissan North America failed to warn consumers about dangerously defective transmissions in 2013-2014 Pathfinder vehicles. The alleged defect poses a potentially serious problem at any time, particularly when a car is merging onto high-speed traffic on a freeway, according to the lawsuit. Really?
The Nissan lawsuit alleges that, on acceleration from 15 to 30 mph, the vehicles are subjected to unexpected shaking and violent jerking (“juddering” or “shuddering”), preventing the vehicles from accelerating. And no doubt putting fear into the hearts of drivers and passengers alike.
The lawsuit states: “This transmission defect creates an unreasonably dangerous situation and increases the risk of a crash; it is inevitable that an individual will be injured or killed due to a collision caused by this safety defect.” But hey—if it hasn’t happened yet—why worry about it, right?
The lawsuit alleges that Nissan concealed and knowingly sold and leased vehicles with the dangerously defective transmissions, and through its dealers failed to honor express and implied warranties to repair and replace the dangerously defective transmissions. Instead, the 77-page lawsuit claims, consumers’ complaints were delayed, deflected, and ultimately denied.
Heads up folks—this defect potentially affects tens of thousands of consumers throughout the country. The Consumer Class Action Complaint seeks damages in excess of $5 million, injunctive and declaratory relief, and punitive damages for claims of breach of express and implied warranties, violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The action, filed December 15, 2014, is Batista vs. Nissan North America, Inc., no. 1: 14-cv-24728-RNS, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Honda got its knuckles wrapped this week, as they agreed to pony up $70 million in fines to resolve allegations made by US federal regulators that from 2003 to 2014, the auto maker failed to report 1729 deaths and injuries related to possible safety defects in its vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Honda will pay two $35 million civil penalties, effectively resolving its alleged lapses in early-warning reporting.
The early-warning reporting requirements are part of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act, which requires car manufacturers to submit reports to the NHTSA every quarter to alert the agency of deaths or injuries arising from possible safety defects. The NHTSA states that Honda failed to provide early-warning reports to the agency to alert it about safety-related issues. The fines also address Honda’s alleged failure to report some warranty claims and customer satisfaction-related claims during that time, according to the agency.
Honda faced a barrage of class actions related to defective Takata air bags late in 2014, after which the NHTSA issued a special order directing Honda to explain its failure to fully report deaths and injuries related to possible auto safety defects, as required under the TREAD act.
According to the early-warning reports filed with the NHTSA, the 1,729 unreported injuries and deaths that Honda allegedly failed to report constituted more than double the number of incidents the automaker reported to the NHTSA during the past 11 years.
According to Honda, the under-reporting of those death and injury notices was due to “errors related to data entry, computer coding, regulatory interpretation, and other errors in warranty and property damage claims reporting.” Yeah—blame it on the help. Good one guys.
So, under the terms of the settlement, Honda has also agreed to conduct third-party audits of its reporting, train its staff in fulfilling TREAD Act requirements and devise compliance procedures.
Hokee Dokee—That’s a wrap folks…Time to adjourn for the week. See you at the bar.