What do you do when the city you love—the city you “rebuilt” arrests you? You sue, of course. Sandy Kane, the Naked Cowgirl of Times Square, is suing the city for wrongful arrest, to the tune of $2 million. Well, that should keep her off the streets for a while.
52-year old Kane is no shrinking violet. A bare-breasted busker, well actually she wears pasties—a cowboy hat and a guitar—or is that gittar—has been working Times Square for seven years. Long enough, she told a judge recently, to have “rebuilt Times Square . . . and made Manhattan and Times Square history.”
“I really feel that if there’s one thing I did in my life, I did that,” she told the New York Post. “All the Elmos and the Sponge Bobs, that wasn’t out there when I first came . . . I put a lot of people to work.” Um. So, what’s the problem? And why was she in court?
Hmm. Kane acted as her own lawyer, and the judge, according to Kane, laughed while dismissing the charges against her. “I feel like I inspired Bloomberg” to turn Times Square into a pedestrian mall, she said. “I gave it to the people. I gave it to the tourists.” That defense would have been worth seeing.
All this took place last year. Cut to 2015 and Sandy is now suing the City of New York for wrongful arrest. It’s not legal to go topless in New York, apparently, something worth noting if you’re planning on being in the Big Apple in August. So the guitar case does seem like a bit of a ruse, and New York’s finest have apparently been warned about making “controversial” arrests over public nudity. As well, there is no statute outlawing leaving a bag unattended, so, Sandy could have a slam dunk here. Well, I wish her luck and at the very least a new pair of pasties!
Fix my Ride! A California collision repairs chain has reportedly been tinkering with California labor law according to a class action lawsuit filed against it this week. Caliber Collision is being sued by its mechanics who allege they were not paid for all the hours they worked. Heard this before?
Filed by lead plaintiff Samuel Castillo, the lawsuit alleges Caliber Bodyworks of Texas Inc., which operates the car repair chain Caliber Collision, pays its mechanics on a piece-rate system for each task they perform, and that the workers are assigned piece-rate hours per tasks, regardless of the time it actually takes them to perform. Castillo claims he recorded the hours he worked, but Caliber only paid him under the piece-rate system.
“As a result, defendants did not pay plaintiff for all hours worked at the minimum wage, as defendants failed to pay plaintiff for nonproductive hours, i.e. hours that he was not performing piece-rate work,” the complaint states.
Further, the lawsuit contends that Castillo worked for Caliber from 2007 through to the end of January 2014 classed as a nonexempt technician under the piece-rate system. According to the suit, under Caliber’s pay system, if a task were assigned a value of 0.8 hours, the mechanic would be paid for 0.8 hours of work, regardless of whether the task took 10 or 90 minutes to perform.
According to the suit, the method Caliber uses, of meeting their minimum wage obligations, dividing daily piece-rate earnings by daily hours worked, violates California labor law. The suit also alleges Caliber paid Castillo nondiscretionary bonuses and other forms of compensation that aren’t excludable from the regular rate of pay.
“Despite defendants’ payment of incentive pay to plaintiff, defendants failed to include all forms of incentive pay when calculating plaintiff’s regular rate of pay, thereby further causing plaintiff to be underpaid all of his required overtime wages,” the complaint states.
Castillo alleges that he regularly worked in excess of eight hours per work day and over 40 hours each week, without receiving overtime compensation. Further, because the company only pays its workers in the piece-rate system, it also fails to maintain any compensation system for compensating rest periods.
“As a result of defendants’ failure to pay all overtime and minimum wages, defendants maintained inaccurate payroll records and issued inaccurate wage statements to plaintiff,” the suit states.
Finally, the lawsuit contends that Castillo requires its mechanics to buy their own tools that are necessary to perform their job duties, without reimbursing the workers for the cost of the tools.
The employment class action is seeking certification on behalf of classes of workers denied minimum wage, overtime hours, expense reimbursements and more.
The suit is Castillo et al. v. Caliber Bodyworks of Texas Inc. et al., case number BC572767, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
If the Shoe fits… Coming out the other end of an employment lawsuit we have Payless Shoesource, which has reached a $2.9 million settlement in an employment class action alleging the retailer violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by misclassifying its store managers as a means of avoiding overtime pay.
According to the terms of the Payless settlement agreement, two thirds of the funds will be shared among the 2,197 class members. According to court documents, most of the plaintiffs worked as store managers or leaders at Payless retail outlets from March 2011 on.
In 2006, Payless faced a similar lawsuit when employees in Mississippi alleged the shoe retailer had violated the FLSA by routinely requiring managerial employees to work 60 to 90 hours a week, and making them perform non-managerial tasks without paying them overtime. That case was settled out of court and the terms remain confidential.
Justice at what Cost? Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, the makers of the diabetes drug Actos, has been ordered to pay $1,334,636 million in punitive damages by the jury hearing the case of a retired school teacher who developed Actos bladder cancer.
The jury found that Takeda had acted with reckless indifference for the health of Mr. Kristufek, who alleged that Actos had caused him to develop bladder cancer.
The $1.3 million in punitive damages is additional to a $2.3 million award the jury handed down the day before, after agreeing that Takeda had failed to provide adequate warnings about the drug’s association with bladder cancer and that the medication had been a significant cause of Mr. Kristufek’s condition.
Kristufek’s is the fifth Actos-related case out of eight in which juries have returned verdicts on behalf of plaintiffs, and only the second in which the company has faced punitive damages. Further, his is the second Actos-related case to win in Philadelphia, with a jury awarding $2 million in damages in a case that cited similar allegations for a woman.
Hokee Dokee- That’s a wrap folks…Time to adjourn for the week. See you at the bar!
Costume capers and the dancing “Left Shark”—ringing any bells? Think Super Bowl XLIX…Kate Perry’s half time show…and those dancing sharks. What is it about Super Bowl half time shows? This year, apparently Perry’s sidekicks—the dancing sharks—weren’t groovin’ to the same tune, which led to some interesting choreography. The “Left Shark” decided to ad lib a bit—or maybe the valium had kicked in—who knows—but he/it did its own thing which reportedly went viral on the Internet. Of course. Shortly thereafter—as in days, I think, an enterprising designer from Florida, one Fernando Sosa, started selling models of the “Left Shark” on the 3-D marketplace Shapeways. And, Katie Perry’s lawyers thought this a little fishy.
While Sosa was not the only one capitalizing on the “Left Shark’s” 15 minutes of fame, he did find himself on the end of a cease and desist letter ordering him to remove the $24.99 shark from Shapeways. While Sosa complied, he is offering a 3-D pattern of the shark as a free download on MarketBot’s Thingiverse site.
According to my favorite news site—The New York Post—Sosa sold about 14 of his 3-D-printed Left Shark models within 24 hours, before they were taken down. All the money was returned, and production was halted, he told Marketwatch.
“I did propose licensing, but the lawyer turned me down saying they don’t have anything set up,” Sosa said. That was a bit slow on their end. Sosa said lawyers informed him that the beach balls and palm trees dancing alongside Perry were also off limits. Dancing palm trees… just how much Bud Light had people had by half time?
The issue is who owns the costume copyright. According to Eric Goldman, a law professor specializing in copyright issues at Santa Clara University, that’s not so clear. If the design of the costume is unique it can be copyrighted. There’s a dilemma just waiting for a court room.
“Just because [Perry] was dancing near the shark doesn’t give her ownership,” Goldman told MarketWatch. She would need to have registered her copyright for the shark costume or provide written proof that one of her employees designed it before she could move forward with a lawsuit, he said. (really?)
Whether Shapeways or Sosa could be held liable if a lawsuit were to be filed remains a gray area because it’s not clear whether Perry has filed copyright paperwork or if the costume was based on someone else’s design, Goldman said.
You know, this whole costume copyright thing has more potential than the dancing sharks that spawned it. I think there may be a bright future ahead for copyright attorneys.
Spent but not exhausted… Far from it in fact, if plaintiff Tania Warchol is correct. She’s filed a lawsuit—are you ready—against the author of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and a British sex toy retailer for promoting Fifty Shades of Grey Sex Gel that does not live up to its promise of providing a “…a draining, soulgrabbing orgasm that leaves me spent and exhausted.” A quote apparently taken from the book.
Of course, it goes without saying that there could be several other reasons why Warchol failed to achieve the orgasm of lifetime (a widespread failing, I’m told), but we won’t go there, will we?
The consumer fraud lawsuit claims that author E.L. James and Lovehoney Ltd, among others, are peddling snake oil, essentially, and its subsidiaries are in violation of California’s unfair competition and false advertising laws by making misleadingly claims. (hey—everyone knows that writers never embellish).
The lawsuit also claims that the defendants use purported consumer endorsements as well as portions of James’ book to coax consumers into buying the product under false pretenses. Specifically, advertising for the over-the-counter “Fifty Shades of Grey Come Alive Pleasure Gel for Her”, claims to have beneficial and aphrodisiac properties to increase pleasure and enhance orgasms. According to Warchol, not so much. None of the ingredients in the product provide those benefits.
“Defendants prominently label the product as an ‘Intimate Arousal Gel,’ expressly and impliedly conveying to consumers that the product’s ingredients will help a user to experience heightened stimulation, pleasure and orgasm, despite that the product fails to be effective as an aphrodisiac,” the suit states. How are they defining aphrodisiac? I’ve always found a good red wine very helpful, taken orally, of course. A good lover is also helpful, but, in a pinch, not absolutely necessary.
While Warchol contends that the gel contains small amounts of extracts from organic substances including herbs and roots, some of which the defendants claim have an effect on the human body, it appears that not only are none of the ingredients effective as an aphrodisiac, but they may also cause an allergic reaction to genital areas. Oh, this is so going from bad to worse.
Even the FDA gets a mention, with Warchol claiming that Lovehoney didn’t seek US Food and Drug Administration premarket clearance required for patient lubricants that are used as accessories to condoms, Lovehoney is illegally marketing and selling the product at issue as “latex compatible.” No comment.
Warchol’s story is that she bought the pleasure gel at least twice in August 2014 at an Adam and Eve adult store owned by PHE Inc., another named defendant. While she relied on the defendants’ advertising, the product turned out to be “unsatisfactory,” she said. And that’s not subjective?
In case you’re interested in putting this stuff to the test personally, the “pleasure gel”, according to the complaint, is sold online and through retail stores for about $15. It is part of a larger group of products called the “Fifty Shades of Grey: The Official Pleasure Collection Approved by E.L. James.”
Bottom line, the truth really is stranger than fiction.
Birchbox not a Beautiful Thing? Ah, no—you can’t automatically send me stuff and charge me for it without telling me first….According to an unfair business practices class action lawsuit filed against high end cosmetics retailer Birchbox Inc, that’s exactly what the company has been going on. Birchbox, an online subscription-based cosmetics seller that allows customers to sign up for monthly boxes of cosmetic samples based on their preferences. According to the lawsuit, the company is in violation of California state business laws because it fails to disclose to its users that their shipments automatically renew.
Tiffany Lapuebla, the plaintiff who filed the Birchbox class action, purchased a subscription to Birchbox in January 2013. According to the suit, Birchbox failed to show Lapuebla the renewal terms clearly. They charged Lapuebla’s credit card without getting her affirmative consent to the automatic renewal terms and failed to give information about how to cancel the service. The lawsuit also claims there is no disclosure in Birchbox’s acknowledgment for free trials about how to cancel before getting charged for the recurring subscription.
Lapuebla is also accusing Birchbox of violating the state’s unfair competition statute based on the name of the subscription in her shopping cart: “Women’s Rebillable Monthly Subscription.”
The proposed class includes any Birchbox subscribers since 2011 and seeks unspecified damages.
The Long Road to Justice—this is amazing! An $11 million verdict was handed down to the plaintiffs in a Toyota sudden acceleration personal injury lawsuit resulting from a defect in a 1996 Camry. The jury ruled that the defect contributed to an accident which left three people dead and two seriously injured.
While the jury found that the Camry’s driver, Koua Fong Lee, was 40% responsible for the crash, they cited Toyota as being 60 percent responsible. In the 2006 crash Lee rear-ended an Oldsmobile after exiting a highway. The driver of the Oldsmobile, Javis Trice-Adams Sr., and his son were instantly killed. His niece, also in the Oldsmobile, became a quadriplegic as a result of the crash and died 18 months later. Trice-Adams’ father and daughter were also injured.
The jury awarded both families a combined $11.4 million, though due to Lee’s partial responsibility, his $1.25 million award will be reduced to $750,000, according to his lawyers.
This is incredible—in 2008, Lee was convicted of negligent homicide and sentenced to eight years in prison. However, his conviction was overturned after Toyota’s recalls of later-model cars for acceleration defects, tied to floor mats and pedals, brought new attention to the case. Lee had claimed that the Camry started to accelerate by itself and that the car didn’t respond when he hit the brakes. Prosecutors declined to re-charge Lee, who served more than two years in prison.
In 2010, the Trice-Adams family sued Toyota claiming a defect in the Camry caused it to suddenly accelerate. Lee and his family intervened as plaintiffs later that year. The plaintiffs argued the accelerator got stuck in a “near wide-open position,” calling other Camry owners to testify at trial that they experienced similar problems.
It’s all very hush hush…but a potential settlement has been reached in a discrimination class action lawsuit facing Bayer Corp. Brought by former and current employees, the $100 million lawsuit alleges Bayer Corp. and four other Bayer HealthCare entities engaged in systematic discrimination against female employees.
The Bayer discrimination deal, if approved, could end the three year legal battle. The plaintiffs have agreed to dismiss the suit with prejudice in a short stipulation filed in New Jersey federal court on Friday, though the terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The class action, originally filed in 2011, claimed that male employees greatly outnumber female employees in management positions at Bayer, and discrimination regarding pay, promotion and pregnancy bias claims.
Hokee Dokee- That’s a wrap folks…Time to adjourn for the week. See you at the bar!