Nike Calorie Tracker Can’t “Just Do It”? Nike and Apple are facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit alleging the Nike+ FuelBand, which is supposed to track every step and calorie a wearer burns, doesn’t work as advertised. Now there’s a surprise. The device costs $150, which really is shocking.
Filed by Carolyn Levin of California, the Nike+ FuelBand lawsuit contends that both Apple and Nike knew that the Nike+ FuelBand is defective because it registers inaccurate readings. Nevertheless, they marketed and sold it, and made exaggerated claims about its capabilities.
Specifically, the lawsuit states “In truth, the Nike+ FuelBand cannot and does not track each calorie burned, and users experience wildly inaccurate calorie burn readings when using the FuelBand.” And, “As a result of defendants’ conduct, buyers of the FuelBand, including class members, were in fact misled into purchasing a device that defendants purported would track calories burned when in fact it cannot and does not track calories burned, misleading and damaging customers.”
The class action, entitled Carolyn Levin, et al. v. Nike Inc., et al., Case No. BC509363, in the Superior Court of the State of California, seeks to represent all consumers who purchased the wristband device since January 2012, when it was initially brought to market. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants have made negligent and fraudulent misrepresentations, and have violated California’s business and professions code.
Is Wolfgang Passing the Puck? Ah yes—at least according to an employment class action lawsuit just filed by two former servers who allege the company knowingly withheld their tips and failed to pay overtime. Filed in Manhattan by plaintiffs Kristin Noriega and Oliver Gummert, the Wolfgang Puck lawsuit contends that a Wolfgang Puck catering company was charging its client venues, such as Irving Plaza and the Gramercy Theater, with a 22 percent service charge and then denying its servers and bartenders their tips. “Any charge for ‘service’ or ‘food service,’ is a charge purported to be a gratuity and therefore must be paid over to service employees,” the lawsuit claims. Failing to pass on a service charge that clients have been charged, violates state and federal laws.
And…according to the lawsuit… Noriega, a waitress, and Gummert, a bartender, were paid between $10 and $18 an hour and were not compensated for up to 30 hours of overtime a week. Both Noriega and Gummert left Puck’s employment in 2012, after working for the company for two to three years. That’s not ok…
Penguin is re-writing the antitrust book on ebook pricing settlements—having agreed to a $75 million payment this week. Penguin’s settlement with the consumers and 33 states is the largest to date.
HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette and Macmillan have all settled with both the states and the Department of Justice (DOJ)—HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette settled for—get this—a combined $69 million, while Macmillan agreed to pay $20 million.
The settlement is the last of the major publishers to settle. Penguin settled with the DOJ several months ago. Apple, also a defendant in the class action, is going to court in a few weeks and will face the DOJ over antitrust pricing allegations.
The settlement is pending court approval, and a fairness hearing is scheduled for late summer. We’ll keep you posted—so watch this space.
Okee dokee—that’s it for this week—happy weekend—see you at the bar!
A roundup of recent asbestos-related news and information that you should be aware of. An ongoing list of reported asbestos hot spots in the US from the Asbestos News Roundup archive appears on our asbestos map.
Photographs of the devastation wreaked by the F5 tornado that tore through the town or Moore, OK earlier this week, cannot accurately convey the full risk residents face as they begin cleaning up. Apart from sharp metal and electrical debris, contaminated water, lead paint and broken glass, there is the very real risk exposure to asbestos.
As was done following the tornado that flattened Joplin, MO, nearly two years ago to the day, the experts are warning that many of the homes in Moore were built with asbestos. In Joplin, 2,600 tons of asbestos debris were removed following the 2011 tornado. A similar scenario could be facing residents of Moore.
There was a building boom in Moore in the 1960s and 1970s, at least a decade before the dangers of asbestos became publicly known, and a time when asbestos was widely used in the construction industry. Many houses and other buildings in Moore likely contain asbestos—in roofing tiles, electrical insulation, toilet gaskets, furnaces, and dry wall mud, for example.
Because the chronic health effects of asbestos exposure may not become apparent for up to 30 years, the experts are recommending caution when cleaning up—wearing gloves and masks at a minimum.
You can find comprehensive recommendations for cleanup can be found at the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality’s website: http://www.deq.state.ok.us/tornado/tornado.html
New York, NY: An asbestos lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Moriah Center, NY, resident, Norman Westover in the New York Supreme Court’s 4th Judicial District in Schenectady to recover damages for Mr. Westover’s lung cancer, which, according to the lawsuit, was allegedly caused by asbestos exposure.
According to the filed complaint, Mr. Westover was allegedly exposed to dangerous asbestos fibers on a daily basis during his twenty-plus-year career at the International Paper Mill located in Ticonderoga, NY. International Paper purchased the pulp mill, which had been operating on the western shores of Lake Champlain near the Vermont border since the late 19th century, in 1926. In the late 1960s, International Paper began decommissioning the original mill and, in 1971, opened a new mill at the location which is still operating today. The mill produces 850 tons of paper a day, employs approximately 600 workers and contracts with 650 loggers and truckers in New York and Vermont.
International Paper was formed in 1898 upon the merger of 18 paper mills in the northeast. The company was responsible for supplying 60% of the newsprint in the country. International Paper’s Hudson River Mill, located in nearby Corinth, where the Sacandaga River joins the Hudson, was a major pioneer in the development of the modern paper industry in the late 19th century. In the early 20th century, the Hudson River Mill was one of International Paper’s largest plants and served both as the company’s principal office and a place where paper workers helped shape the direction of the industry’s early labor movement.
As per the lawsuit papers, during his tenure at International Paper, Mr. Westover worked in both the original and new mill and he held a variety of positions that allegedly exposed him to asbestos fibers used in connection with mill machinery, including, but not limited to, cutters, dryers, rollers, boilers, pumps, and valves. Mr. Westover was also allegedly exposed to asbestos that was used in an abundance to insulate component parts of the original and new mill and the related piping and wiring. (digitaljournal.com)
Jefferson County, TX: Chevron USA is facing an asbestos lawsuit filed by the children of the late Nathan Guillory. In their lawsuit, Randall Guillory, Lindall Guillory and Beth Harper allege the company exposed their father, Nathan Guillory, to asbestos dust and fibers. As a result, he developed asbestos related diseases and died on May 23, 2011.
The suit alleges Chevron knew for decades that asbestos could cause cancer and yet still allowed employees to work around the mineral without warning them of the dangers.The plaintiffs are suing to recover exemplary damages. (setexasrecord.com)
In a recent ruling, US Bankruptcy Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald in Wilmington, Delaware has determined that Bondex International Inc., the bankrupt unit of Rust-Oleum maker RPM International Inc. (RPM), may owe current and future victims of asbestos poisoning $1.17 billion.
Bloomberg USA is reporting that “the judge sided with lawyers representing asbestos claims and rejected the method Bondex and Specialty Products Holding Corp. used to estimate they owed no more than $575 million.”
“We decline to accept debtors’ novel approach in this case,” Fitzgerald wrote in her opinion.
In May, 2010, Bondex and Specialty Products filed for bankruptcy in May 2010. (Bloomberg.com)
Bad Apple! The god of tech gadgets got slapped this week—with a potential defective products class action lawsuit (yes, another one), alleging its iPhone 4 has a defective power button, effectively preventing the operator from being able to use the phone. This power button failure allegedly occurs shortly after the phone’s one year warranty expires. And doesn’t that just figure…
The Apple iPhone 4 class action lawsuit, filed by plaintiff Debra Hilton, Debra Hilton v. Apple Inc., Case No. 13-cv-2167, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claims “The failure of the power button that has plagued the iPhone 4 is more than an inconvenience… As a method by which the phone is toggled on and off, the failure of the button precludes general use of the phone and thereby effectively prevents iPhone 4 owners from being able to use the phone.” Yup.
According to the lawsuit, Hilton alleges the iPhone 4 power button defect is caused by the premature deterioration of a flex cable that connects the power button to the phone. When this cable deteriorates, the power button becomes harder and harder to depress, and eventually fails to work. Yup.
The iPhone 4 lawsuit contends that thousands of consumers who purchased the iPhone 4 have experienced this failure forcing them to throw away their phone or pay Apple $149.99 plus shipping for a replacement. Yikes! Better get on it boys.
Two Better than One for Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo made headlines twice this week, two settlements to report—both biggies. The first was a judicial order to reinstate a $203 million judgment against the bank in settlement of an overdraft fees class action lawsuit.
In a nutshell, the judgment, based upon the court’s findings, as affirmed on appeal by the Ninth Circuit, states that Wells Fargo violated California’s unfair competition law by deceiving its customers that debit card purchases would be posted chronologically to their accounts when in fact Wells Fargo posted them in a high-to-low order for the sole purpose of generating overdraft fees.
The case was brought on behalf of California Wells Fargo customers who, from November 15, 2004 to June 30, 2008, incurred overdraft fees on debit card transactions as a result of the bank’s practice of sequencing transactions from highest to lowest.
The second settlement with Wells Fargo’s name on it involves a force-placed insurance class action lawsuit brought by homeowners in Florida. (Force-placed insurance, btw, is sometimes referred to as “lender placed insurance”.) The lawsuit alleged that the homeowners were overcharged for the insurance, and that Wells Fargo unfairly took commission on the insurance, which it assigned to the homeowners through QBE.
The class was certified in 2012, and more than 24,000 homeowners were notified. During the class period, from April 2006 to February 2013, the class members were charged $77 million for force-placed insurance, according to the settlement documents, the South Florida Business Journal reports.
But wouldn’t you know it, just two months before they were due to go to court, the parties reached a $19.5 million settlement.
The settlement will provide a refund of the amount charged for force-placed insurance to the members of the class. Borrowers who were charged and paid the premium will be refunded 25 percent in cash. Those who were charged the premium but didn’t pay will get a credit of 25 percent off their bill.
Bet those homeowners are breathing a huge sigh of relief this weekend.
Largest Generic Drug Safety Fine. Ever. We’d be completely remiss if we didn’t mention this one… Ranbaxy has pled guilty to federal drug safety violations and will pay $500 million in fines to resolve the claims. The generic drug manufacturer is alleged to have sold subpar drugs and made false statements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about its manufacturing practices at two factories in India.
According to the Justice Department, the settlement is reportedly the largest in history involving a generic drug maker. Part of the settlement involves Ranbaxy pleading guilty to three felony counts of violating the federal drug safety law and four of making false statements to the FDA.
According to a report by the New York Times, Ranbaxy acknowledged it had failed to conduct proper safety and quality tests of several drugs manufactured at its Indian plants, known as Paonta Sahib and Dewas, including generic versions of many common medicines, such as the epilepsy drug gabapentin, and the antibiotic ciprofloxacin.
In the case of gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, Ranbaxy reportedly admitted that between June and August in 2007, it was aware that certain batches had tested positive for “unknown impurities” and had unreliable shelf lives. Nevertheless, the company didn’t report this to the FDA and announce a recall until October of that year. The recall ultimately involved more than 73 million pills.
Further, testing of certain batches of drugs to ensure their effectiveness was reportedly not done for weeks or months after the company had told the FDA the testing had been carried out.
Ranbaxy has set aside $500 million in anticipation of the penalties, which will break down as a $150 million in a criminal fine and forfeiture, and the remainder going to settle civil claims brought by the federal government and all 50 states. A former Ranbaxy executive who alerted the federal government to the problems will receive close to $49 million in compensation for his role as a whistleblower, the Times reports.
That’s a wrap. It’s cocktail hour—somewhere in the world—see you at the bar!
A roundup of recent asbestos-related news and information that you should be aware of. An ongoing list of reported asbestos hot spots in the US from the Asbestos News Roundup archive appears on our asbestos map.
As wild fires devastate homes in southern California, many people will be faced with cleaning up and rebuilding, and may be at risk for asbestos exposure. Across California, asbestos was used heavily in many building materials up until the mid-1980s. If these asbestos containing materials are disturbed through renovations or demolitions, or become friable with age, the asbestos may become airborne and spread throughout a property. Eventually these asbestos fibers will settle and may contribute to dusts found in buildings. This puts people working or living in those buildings at risk for asbestos exposure, without their knowledge.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during product use, demolition work, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling.” The EPA goes on to report, “Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung disease. That risk is made worse by smoking. In general, the greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects.”
In 1987, asbestos was added to California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, better known as Proposition 65. Prop 65 lists chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm to people living in the state of California.
Charleston, WV: 67 companies have been named as defendants in an asbestos lawsuit filed by John B. Kenyon and his wife Peggy E. Kenyon. Diagnosed with bilateral pleural plaques on May 11, 2011, Mr. Kenyon alleges the defendants caused his lung injury by exposing him to asbestos.
The Kenyons’ lawsuit alleges Mr. Kenyon was exposed to asbestos and/or asbestos-containing products from 1964 until 2002, throughout his employment as an estimator, warehouse employee/delivery person and sales person.
Kenyon is suing the defendants for negligence, contaminated buildings, breach of expressed/implied warranty, strict liability, intentional tort, conspiracy, misrepresentation and post-sale duty to warn.
Certain defendants are also being sued as premises owners and as Kenyon’s employers for deliberate intent/intentional tort, according to the lawsuit.
The 67 defendants include: 3M Company; 4520 Corporation Inc.; A.W. Chesterton Company; Aurora Pump Company; Bechtel Corporation; Borg-Warner Corporation; Brand Insulations Inc.; Buffalo Pumps Inc.; BW/IP Inc.; and CBS Corporation. (wvrecord.com)
Charleston, WV: On January 7, 2013, Jimmie Elliott Epling Sr, was diagnosed with asbestos mesothelioma. In his recently filed asbestos lawsuit, he and his wife, Ernestine Epling, name 56 companies they claim are responsible for his diagnosis.
The couple allege the defendants exposed Mr. Epling to asbestos and/or asbestos-containing products during his employment as an orderly, machinist and operator from 1952 until 2000.
The defendants are being sued based on theories of negligence, contaminated buildings, breach of expressed/implied warranty, strict liability, intentional tort, conspiracy, misrepresentation and post-sale duty to warn. Certain defendants are also being sued as premises owners and as Epling’s employers for deliberate intent/intentional tort.
The 56 defendants named in the suit include: 3M Company; A.W. Chesterton Company; Amdura Corporation; Bucyrus International Inc.; Buffalo Pumps Inc.; CBS Corporation; Caterpillar Inc.; Clark Equipment Company; Certainteed Corporation; and Cleaver Brooks Company Inc. (wvrecord.com)
Jefferson County, TX: Chevron has been named as a defendant in as asbestos lawsuit brought by the children of the late Nathan Guillory. Randall Guillory, Lindall Guillory and Beth Harper allege Chevron USA exposed their father to asbestos dust and fibers throughout the course of his employment with the oil company. As a result, he developed asbestos related diseases and died on May 23, 2011, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims Chevron knew for decades that asbestos could cause cancer and still allowed workers to work around the mineral without warning them of the dangers. (setexasrecord.com)
A death sentence for a 7-year old Sheltie is causing a stir in upstate New York—so much so that there’s a Facebook page dedicated to getting a stay of execution for the pup. What’s interesting in this case, too, is that normally we hear of dog bite injury lawyers representing the dog bite victim; this time, the attorney is representing the dog owner.
Back on March 27th, Natalie Beratta’s dog, Jack (at left), bit her four-year-old granddaughter in the cheek. There were no witnesses to the attack except for the little girl—and she needed four stitches to close the wound. According to the “Help Save Jack” Facebook page, the cheek bite was Jack’s first offense (though one news report does quote Beratta referring to the dog as “nippy”; ok, a lot of dogs are “nippy”).
Hard to know what happened—some surmise the child may have startled or provoked the dog in some way. That we’ll never know. But the series of events that followed the dog bite injury have created a groundswell of support for the dog and his owners—including the sale of t-shirts that read, “I’ve got Jack’s back”.
So how did a dog who’s been described as “friendly” and “gentle” come to be on death row?
It all started with a 911 call.
Once Beratta’s daughter, the child’s mother, called 911, and the little girl was taken to the hospital where she was treated. The 911 call apparently resulted in the animal control officer, Nick Morosco, being notified, which then resulted in Jack winding up at the Steven Swans Humane Society where he was to be quarantined, by law, for ten days.
But things didn’t stop there.
The next stop was New Hartford (NY) Town Court. Beratta, according to the Facebook page, thought she was heading to court because Jack had not been licensed (note to dog owners—get your dog licensed, it’s the law), however, the license was the least of her worries. Rather, Judge James Van Slyke ruled that the dog should be put to death. The judge’s decision was in accordance with what NY law stipulates–that any domestic animal determined to be “dangerous” be euthanized.
Needless to say, the ruling came as a bit of a shock to Beratta and her family.
The family is now appealing the judge’s decision—which otherwise would’ve had Jack put down on April 6th. Until the appeal of the case is heard, Jack remains at Stevens Swan Humane Society, which WIBX950.com reports is costing the family $40 per day—and Jack may need to stay at the shelter for up to sixty days until the appeal is heard.
Given that the family didn’t have an attorney–why would they have thought they needed one?—and given the now costly and time-consuming position they now find themselves in in order to try and appeal the judge’s decision, what happened next is interesting.
According to the Facebook page, a New York attorney—who is only referred to as “Louis”—has taken on Jack’s case pro bono. Here is an excerpt from the Facebook page:
“An attorney by the name of Louis, read the article which was posted by Dana on the WKTV’s Facebook page and offered his services Pro-bono. Louis currently lives in NYC, but is originally from this area..and he obviously has a love for dogs!! He is a very busy man but has taken his time to help us with this case.”
Mind you, Beratta is just trying to keep Jack alive—she isn’t wanting to bring him back home and risk any other possible incidents. In fact, according to WKTV, Beratta has found a home for him in a neighboring county.
“They’re older people,” Beratta told WKTV. “They don’t have any children and we made the arrangement to have him go there and we can see the dog whenever we want. So it’s a safe situation for everybody. He’s a wonderful pet, a wonderful pet. I mean, he’s been in our family. He’s our family member.”
While Beratta awaits the appeal decision, local supporters of Jack have also created a petition at change.org.