Owners call “Time Out” on Timeshare! Owners are calling out Celebration World Resort’s Timeshare deceptive practices. Yep—a deceptive practices class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of timeshare owners at Festiva’s Orlando Resort, formerly known as Celebration World Resort, alleging that the resort’s developers and managers have engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in the sale of timeshare upgrades and reservation point allocation.
The resort timeshare class action lawsuit, Reeves, et al. v. Zealandia Holding Company Inc., et al., cause no. 13-CA-866-MF, was filed March 1 in the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, in Osceola County.
Here’s the skinny: According to the class action lawsuit, beginning in 2004, approximately 900 parties purchased timeshare interests in Celebration World Resort Owners Association, located in Kissimmee, FL, from B.L. Vacation Ownership Inc. Between 2008 and 2011, representatives of B.L. Vacation Ownership sold upgrades to existing timeshare owners that would increase the number of points they had to apply to timeshare reservations.
After the homeowners purchased the upgrades, B.L. Vacations sold the resort to Festiva Hospitality Group, now known as Zealandia Holding Co., and the resort’s name was changed to Festiva’s Orlando Resort. After the sale, the lawsuit alleges, the reservation point system was changed and the upgrades that had been purchased by the timeshare owners were not honored. Nice.
The lawsuit names the Orlando Homeowners Association, B.L. Vacation Ownership Inc., Zealandia Holding Co. and its subsidiary and affiliate companies, and RCI LLC as defendants. The suit alleges that one or more of the defendants:
Violated the resort’s declaration of covenants by improperly reallocating reservation points
Violated the resort’s declaration of covenants for failing to give proper notice of the reallocation
Breached the fiduciary duty owed to the timeshare owners
Violated Section 721.18(5) of Florida’s timeshare law
So—be interesting to see how this is resolved…
Another Big Asbestos Settlement this week. A construction worker who, is not named, and who developed a highly aggressive cancer after his exposure to asbestos, has resolved his lawsuit against the defendant companies for $7.5 million prior to trial. The plaintiff brought suit against several of the companies that manufactured the materials. The defendants severally denied liability.
Heads up all you construction workers out there: In the 1970s and 1980s, the plaintiff was a construction worker helping install underground water and sewer lines beneath the Sacramento Valley city of Chico. His job involved working with pipes made from a concrete-asbestos compound, which he would cut with a gasoline-powered saw. The cutting generated an enormous amount of cement-asbestos dust, which left the plaintiff covered head to toe by the end of the day. The plaintiff was later diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer, also rare except where attributable to asbestos exposure.
The plaintiff filed suit in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, seeking damages on a defective product liability action. The plaintiff sought recovery of medical expenses, lost wages, and non-economic recovery. The defendants named were several companies who manufactured, sold or delivered the asbestos-containing pipes the plaintiff worked with, including Parex USA, Westburne Supply, John K. Bice Co., Los Angeles Rubber, Hajoca Corp., Hanson Permanente Cement, Keenan, Properties, J-M Manufacturing, Certainteed Corp., Ferguson Enterprises, Grinnell Corp., Amcord, Ameron International and Calportland.
One Ringy Dingy—for anyone out there who received pre-recorded messages from AT&T: There is a proposed Settlement in a class action pending in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington. The class action lawsuit concerns the alleged failure by AT&T Corp. to comply with the law in its delivery of a pre-recorded telephone message between July 30, 2008, and May 29, 2012.
If you received the pre-recorded message during that time you may be eligible to receive a payment from the AT&T class action Settlement.
This lawsuit alleges that AT&T Corp. did not comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and the Washington Automatic Dialing and Announcing Devices Act (“WADAD”) in its program to deliver the following pre-recorded message (the “Calling Program”) between July 30, 2008, and May 29, 2012:
“Hi this is AT&T calling with an important message regarding your recent long distance calling. This call is to alert you that someone in your household recently made one or more international calls which will appear on your next AT&T bill at a non-discounted rate. Thank you for using AT&T. Our number is 800-235-9920.”
No judgment has been made, and AT&T Corp. has not agreed with the allegations or admitted any wrongdoing, but the parties have agreed to resolve the lawsuit with a Settlement that would provide payment to Class Members.
Class Members in the Settlement are:
All persons within the United States who between July 30, 2008, and May 29, 2012 received a telephone call pursuant to the Calling Program who had not selected AT&T Corp. as their presubscribed long distance carrier at the time of the call, plus all California residents who received a call under the Calling Program and were on AT&T’s internal do-not-call list at the time they received the call.
If you are a member of the Settlement Class and received a pre-recorded message as identified above, you may be eligible to receive (a) a cash sum of $135 if you were NOT a resident of the State of Washington at the time you received the pre-recorded message, or (b) a cash sum of $270 if you were a resident of the State of Washington at the time you received the pre-recorded message.
The Court will determine whether to approve the Settlement at a Fairness Hearing scheduled to take place on March 8, 2013.
Ok—that’s a wrap. See you at the bar. Happy weekend everyone!
Faulty Wiring? There were some interesting suits this week. Among them—this one against AT&T, filed by an 82-year old woman who alleges that the $9.99 she pays every month for an “Inside Wire Protection Plan” is a service she doesn’t need and can’t use because she lives in an apartment building in which she doesn’t own the interior telephone wires. Therefore, she has no legal responsibility for maintaining them and therefore she should not have to pay the $9.99 demanded by AT&T. Who knew?
But that seemingly small monthly charge adds up to about $120 a year, and it’s being paid by thousands of AT&T customers across the US, who are in similar situations to Gloria Girton.
Consequently, Ms. Girton has filed a class action in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to end AT&T’s unlawful practice of wrongfully billing for such plans nationwide. Outside of North Carolina, they are known by such names as “Wire Pro,” “Inside Wire Maintenance,” and “Home Wire Protection.”
AT&T is illegally charging many of its land line customers who live in multi-tenant facilities for unnecessary wire insurance, the plaintiff’s lawyers state. “The company knows from prior litigation and its own internal investigations that this charge is improper, yet it continues to charge building tenants like Gloria for these worthless plans through deceptive sales actions that defraud and rob them of their hard-earned financial resources. We believe she and the class have sustained damages of at least $10 million and very likely much more,” says plaintiff’s counsel.
The complaint asks for the certification of two classes, a North Carolina class and a nationwide class, each comprised of all residents of residential or commercial property who had an AT&T account at any time in the past four years and were not responsible for the maintenance of their residence’s interior wire, but were charged a fee for an Inside Wire plan. You go Gloria!
Press Brake Operator Verdict. A laborer in Florida has won his personal injury case with the jury awarding him a $3.3 million verdict. What happened? Sadly, he who suffered amputation of all the fingers on his right hand—which is the hand he wrote with. It was a workplace accident, involving a mechanical press in 2005.
Phiteau Dalien had his hand caught in a vintage 50-ton mechanical press brake he was operating for List Industries Inc. As a result his hand was crushed and he and he had to have his fingers amputated. He was 33 years old at the time. He underwent a subsequent surgery to build a partial thumb, and he may need another operation to try and rebuild his other fingers.
In his suit, Dalien alleged that the outdated machine he was operating for List Industries lacked safety features and that a language barrier prevented him from being properly trained. List Industries claimed the accident was caused by operator error. Of course they did. But the jury wasn’t buying.
Getting Royally Stiffed? Not any more for about 25,000 landowners in Pennsylvania. They brought a class action brought against Texas-based Range Resources in 2008 over allegations that the company was miscalculating their royalty payments associated with the company’s current drilling in the Marcellus Shale region of the state. Land which these people presumably own. The suit also alleged that Range Resources improperly withheld management fees from royalties and failed to account to landowners for money it had collected from selling oil and residual by products of gas processing.
A settlement has now been approved by a federal judge and the terms dictate that Range Resources, will pay the landowners roughly $1.3 million now and subsequently increase the royalty payment to a maximum of $16.6 million over the next five years, according to court documents. Well Done.
Okee dokee—that’s it for this week. See you at the bar.
Phantom of the iPhone. Do you have a phantom AT&T account? It seems for every new technological gadget that requires connectivity—there’s an opportunity to take advantage. Most recently, AT&T Mobility got hit with a potential class action lawsuit over allegations associated with iPhone and iPad accounts. The suit claims that “AT&T’s bills systematically overstate the amount of data used on each data transaction involving an iPhone or iPad account.” And, the suit alleges that AT&T bills customers on data transactions even when customers have disabled their phones. Doesn’t a transaction require more than one party?—one party in the know?
The named plaintiff, Patrick Hendricks, claims that AT&T’s overbilling “was discovered by an independent consulting firm retained by plaintiff’s counsel, which conducted a two-month study of AT&T’s billion practices for data usage, and found that AT&T systematically overstated web server traffic by 7 percent to 14 percent, and in some instances by over 300 percent. So, for example, if an iPhone user downloads a 50 KB website, AT&T’s bill would typically overstated the traffic as 53.5 KB (a 7 percent overcharge) to as high as 150 KB (a 300 percent overcharge),” the complaint states.
Here’s the kicker—Hendricks also alleges that “Not only does AT&T systematically overbill for every data transaction, it also bills for phantom data traffic when there is no actual data usage initiated by the customer. This was discovered by the same independent consulting firm, which purchased an iPhone from an AT&T store, immediately disabled all push notifications and location services, confirmed that no email account was configured on the phone, closed all applications, and let the phone sit untouched for 10 days. During this 10-day period, AT&T billed the test account for 35 Read the rest of this entry »
No Answer for No Answer Charges? A couple of major players in the telecommunications game got hit with class actions this week. First up—AT&T. The suit alleges violations of federal truth-in-billing laws, false advertising and deceptive trade practices under New York law, and breach of contract, among other things.
Lead plaintiff, Los Angeles resident Kenneth Thelian, claims he was charged $12.90 partly for calls that he did not answer. He allegedly complained to AT&T who reversed $8 of the charges, but the company representative “did not adequately explain why these charges were incurred.”
Thelian faced a further $15.81 in roaming charges while traveling in Montreal, Canada in August 2005, again for calls he did not answer. Then, in February and March of 2007, Thelian was billed $92.72. “The bill did not indicate which of these charges were for calls that he did not answer while traveling abroad,” the suit alleges.
So, maybe time to be checking those phone bills…
And, second up—T-Mobile. This class action alleges that the company puts limits on its unlimited data plan. Ummm. who would have thought…
The suit claims that advertisements for T-Mobile’s “Unlimited Web & E-mail” plans, offered for both Blackberry and other brands of smartphones, promise the consumer access to Read the rest of this entry »
Net Taxes Paid? Well, seems like they shouldn’t a been. AT&T is facing a class action lawsuit—and no you’re not experiencing dÃ©jÃ vu—this lawsuit is over allegations that the Internet access fees the company charges its smart phone customers is in violation of the law.
Apparently, the boffins that make law up on the hill had a flash of wisdom years ago, and made it illegal for taxes to be collected on internet access service. Of course, there were no such things as smart phones when the Internet Tax Freedom Act came into being in 1998. Nevertheless, it has been updated several times and suffice to say is good until 2014.
Apparently, the suit states that AT&T’s Internet access tax is listed as a separate line item on monthly bills. Naughty, naughty. Actually, really naughty—one media report states that “AT&T says in a court filing that 40 class-action suits have been filed in 37 separate districts.”
If you had to pay tax for internet access on top of all the other charges tacked on to your phone package, would you bother with the service?
Dying to lose weight? Be careful what you wish for. Very sadly, a young woman who signed up to shed the extra pounds through LA Weight Loss Centers Inc, subsequently died from liver failure as a result of taking some diet supplements that had not been tested or regulated by the FDA, but were apparently recommended by the ‘professionals’ at LA WLC.
Pamela Hoppe’s sister brought a lawsuit against LA WLC on behalf of Pamela’s estate. The suit was settled out of court for $700,000, half of which will be split between Pamela’s two surviving children.
Freight Co. Older and Wiser Now, Too? This case reminds me of that wonderful film “Up in The Air”…the story line part…not George Clooney, sadly. Mr. Donald Wayne Smith was laid off by his employer, Central Freight Lines Inc, after 45 years of service. He was a dockworker, and 62 years old at the time he was laid off. That should have made finding another job a piece of cake…Not.
And so, Mr. Smith sued his ex-employer alleging age discrimination. In his suit, Mr. Smith alleged that during his last months of employment he received a disproportionate number of disciplinary write-ups and that the company changed its layoff guidelines. Ummm.
And he claimed that new guidelines were introduced that exempted part-time and supervisory employees, to ensure he was laid off while younger workers with worse work records remained employed.
But wait—Central Freight was just cutting costs—it was a legitimate business decision they argued. Wouldn’t it cost the company less in the long run to keep their experienced employees on who don’t make mistakes—or likely make fewer mistakes?
Well, anyway, unlike Up in the Air, this story has a happy ending. Mr. Smith won his suit and was awarded $257,500.
That’s it for this week—see you at the Bar!