Toyota rejoins the automotive class action lawsuit alumni this week—with the filing of a new consumer fraud class action alleging it concealed information regarding oil consumption in the engines of some of its most popular models. The lawsuit claims that the engines in certain Toyota vehicles were prone to rapidly burning through oil just as they approached warranty expiration, causing owners thousands of dollars in repair costs. Now that’s convenient.
Filed in California federal court, the complaint alleges the defect can cause safety risk that can lead to catastrophic engine failure. The lawsuit claims the models affected include the Toyota Camry, Corolla, Matrix and RAV4.
According to the complaint, Toyota Motor Corp. was aware of the defect, and it notified authorized dealers of the problem in 2011, however, Toyota refused to pay to fix the vehicles when contacted by the plaintiffs. Really?
“Plaintiffs … bring this claim since the oil consumption defect typically manifests shortly outside of the warranty period for the class vehicles—and given defendants’ knowledge of this concealed, safety-related design defect—Toyota’s attempt to limit the warranty with respect to the oil consumption defect is unconscionable here,” the complaint states. The lawsuit states that the plaintiffs’ vehicles exhausted their oil supply in 3,440 to 4,300 miles ??” well before an oil change would typically be performed at 5,000 miles under Toyota’s recommended maintenance schedule. And, according to the lawsuit, once the plaintiffs contacted Toyota, it refused to repair the vehicles under the warranty, claiming it had either expired or failed to cover the defect.
Toyota was made aware of the problem after receiving information from dealers and records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The company also knew the nature and extent of the problem from its internal record keeping and durability testing, and from warranty and post-warranty claims, the complaint alleges.
The claims, which seeks unspecified damages, were brought under various state consumer protection and business law statutes, on behalf of consumers in California, Florida, Washington, New York and New Jersey. Additionally, the lawsuit claims violations of express warranty, fraud, and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing.
The vehicles cited in the complaint are the 2007 to 2011 Toyota Camry HV, 2007 to 2009 Toyota Camry, 2009 Toyota Corolla, 2009 Toyota Matrix, 2006 to 2008 Toyota RAV4, 2007 to 2008 Toyota Solara, 2007 to 2009 Scion tC, and 2008 to 2009 Scion xB. The defect is found on 2AZ-FE engines.
Bicycles—that’s the answer… oh dear.
Walgreens may soon be dispensing settlement checks…the pharmacy chain reached a proposed $29 million settlement this week, which involves nine California wage and hour class action lawsuits, consolidated in federal court in California. The lawsuits had all alleged that Walgreens failed to provide its employees with adequate breaks, and pay them overtime for mandatory security checks.
Additionally, the wage and hour lawsuits claimed Walgreens failed to provide duty-free meal and/or rest periods, failed to pay all wages owed at termination, failed to reimburse employees for business expenses, failed to provide itemized wage statements.
The Walgreens settlement covers Walgreens nonexempt employees who worked at a California Walgreens store from May 13, 2007, including pharmacists and regular retail store employees.
A hearing will be held May 12, 2014, to determine whether to grant preliminary approval to the Walgreens unpaid overtime class action settlement.
Walgreens agreed to the settlement as a quick means for a resolution, despite its ongoing dispute of the claims. What – so it costs less to pay your employees than go to court? And the learning here would be?
Although the settlement was agreed in principal in August 2013, it has taken several months to finalize the details, consequently a preliminary settlement hearing will be held May 12, 2014. Here’s hoping…
Trader Joe’s trading a lawsuit for settlement? Heads up all you Trader Joe’s shoppers out there—a potential settlement is in the works regarding the consumer fraud class action lawsuit pending against Trader Joe’s. The class action claims certain food products carried and sold at the food retailers’ outlets are labeled as being “All natural”, when they contained synthetic ingredients. Yup. Heard that one before.
The lawsuit goes…certain Trader Joe’s food products were improperly labeled, marketed, supplied, and sold as “All Natural” and/or “100% Natural” even though they contained one or more of the following allegedly synthetic ingredients: ascorbic acid, cocoa processed with alkali, sodium acid pyrophosphate, xanthan gum, and vegetable mono- and diglycerides. The products at issue are: Trader Joe’s Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies; Trader Joe’s Chocolate Sandwich Creme Cookies; Trader Joe’s Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls; Trader Joe’s Buttermilk Biscuits; Trader Giotto’s 100% Natural Fat Free Ricotta Cheese; and Trader Joe’s Fresh Pressed Apple Juice.
The proposed Settlement Class (i.e., “Settlement Class Member”) covers a class of plaintiffs who purchased, on or after October 24, 2007 through February 6, 2014, the following Trader Joe’s food products: Trader Joe’s Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies; Trader Joe’s Chocolate Sandwich Creme Cookies; Trader Joe’s Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls; Trader Joe’s Buttermilk Biscuits; Trader Giotto’s 100% Natural Fat Free Ricotta Cheese; and Trader Joe’s Fresh Pressed Apple Juice (“Products”).
Trader Joe’s, being the latest in a long line of companies facing similar if not the same allegations, denies it did anything wrong or unlawful, of course. They claim, instead that the Products’ labels were truthful, not misleading, and consistent with the law.
For the complete skinny on the Trader Joe’s class action settlement and to download forms, visit: https://tjallnaturalclassaction.com/
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. See you at the bar!
Coke is it! (Really?) Coca-Cola Company—the company that wants to teach the world to sing (or did)—and Coca-Cola Refreshments USA Inc. had better get their song sheets sorted out. They got hit with a consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week, over allegations they violated federal and state laws by fraudulently and negligently making claims on its two-liter bottles and other packages that its products have “no artificial flavors. No preservatives added. Since 1886.” Ok—who’s away with the Fairies here—no change since 1886?
According to the Coca-Cola lawsuit, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois case number: 1:14-cv-01914 “This statement, as well as the entire premise of the Pemberton campaign, was false and misleading…In fact, Coca-Cola contains phosphoric acid. Phosphoric acid is both an artificial flavoring and a chemical preservative.”
Filed by plaintiff Ronald Sowizrol, the lawsuit goes on to claim that Coca-Cola falsely represented that Coca-Cola is still made with the “original formula” devised by John Pemberton in 1886. “In fact, the composition of Coca-Cola has repeatedly changed over time,” the lawsuit states. “These changes have included, among other things, an increase in the amount of unhealthy ingredients like sugar and corn syrup and the addition of artificial ingredients like phosphoric acid.”
Sowizrol claims that Coca-Cola knowingly and intentionally sold misbranded products to consumers with the intent to deceive. He alleges he purchased Coke, Diet Coke, Caffeine Free Coke and Sprite in 2-liter bottles, 20-ounce bottles and individual and various packages of 12-ounce cans and that all related containers failed to state that any ingredients are used as artificial flavoring or as a chemical preservative. Had he known, he claims he would not have purchased Coca-Cola products.
Sowizrol claims the defendants have violated the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by misbranding Coca-Cola products, and that Coca-Cola has been unjustly enriched by its unlawful and deceptive actions.
Better get in line to sign up for this one.
Another Bank Caught with its Hand in the Cookie Jar—or more specifically its customers’ bank accounts. This time its Synovus’ turn—and for their sins they will likely have to pony up $24 million—as settlement in the overdraft fees class action lawsuit it’s facing.
Filed in July 2010, the Synovus lawsuit covers the period between July 10, 2004, and February 3, 2014, and alleges Synovus banks charged excessive overdraft fees on debit-card purchases or ATM cash withdrawals using debit cards.
According to court documents, “A lawsuit filed by customers of Synovus Bank … claims that the fees Synovus charged in connection with overdrafts arising from a (point of sale) or ATM debit card transaction constitutes interest, and as a result, Synovus has violated Georgia’s usury laws, committed conversion and is liable to plaintiffs for money had and received.”
Synovus said the settlement agreement has been made “without admitting liability,” with current and former Georgia resident bank customers eligible to participate if they have been charged an overdraft fee over that nearly 10-year period. Over a dozen Synovus divisions are included in the settlement including Columbus Bank and Trust.
The proposed settlement has been preliminarily approved by the court, according to the Synovus notice to customers. A fairness hearing will take place May 20.
A&F to Pay up…Abercrombie & Fitch, no stranger to lawsuits, reached a preliminary $575,000 settlement this week, potentially ending an unpaid overtime class action lawsuit pending against it in Pennsylvania. The lawsuit, filed by lead plaintiff Paul Oliver in November 2012, alleged the clothing retailer had violated the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act with its overtime wage policy.
This week, a state judge in Pennsylvania granted the approval, creating a class of 702 plaintiffs, consisting of all eligible A&F employees in that state between November 2009 and the beginning of January 2014.
According to Pennsylvania state law, employees are entitled to overtime wages that are at least 1.5 times the regular rate. Oliver filed the employment class action against Abercrombie alleging that the retailer, which operates at least 44 stores in the state, relies on an overtime calculation that violated the PMWA. Under a fluctuating work week, which is the model Abercrombie used, non-exempt employees get paid a fixed amount per week and receive half their hourly wage for each hour of overtime. This system is allowed under the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), but is, Oliver alleged, in violation of state employment law.
Under the terms of the settlement, Oliver will receive $7,500 for bringing the lawsuit and acting as lead plaintiff. “Based on plaintiff’s counsel’s review and analysis of the relevant payroll data, the $403,750.00 in available class member payouts will enable each participating class member to recover (free and clear of attorneys’ fees) over 50 percent of his/her alleged unpaid overtime during the class period,” according to the settlement.
The case is Oliver v. Abercrombie & Fitch Co., case number 121102571 in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. See you at the bar!
TD Bank Teed Up for Another Overdraft Fee Lawsuit? If at first you don’t succeed—is that the mantra here? TD Bank got hit with a consumer banking class action lawsuit this week alleging the financial institution continues to manipulate the order of debit card transactions so that it can profit through the maximization of overdraft fees. The lawsuit comes less than a year after the bank paid $62 million to settle a multidistrict litigation alleging the same practice. I’m sad to say I’m not surprised by these allegations.
Filed in Pennsylvania federal court by lead plaintiffs Sheila and Emilio Padilla, the complaint specifically alleges that TD Bank has continued to use a software scheme to illegally collect overdraft fees, and that it assessed the fees even when customers have sufficient funds in their account to cover the debit card payments.
“Defendant employs sophisticated software to automate its overdraft systems,” the complaint states. “These programs maximize the number of overdrafts, and thus the amount of overdraft fees charged per customer.”
The TD Bank class action complaint further states, “Many of the complained of practices continued as before, even after the class action settlement. Shockingly, unlike nearly all other banks sued in the multidistrict litigation, … TD has continued these practices even after it settled claims of wrongdoing based on these very same practices.”
The class action seeks to represent all TD Bank customers who opened a new account after the settlement class period ended on August 15, 2010, and who were charged improper overdraft fees. The class also seeks to represent those customers that had an account prior to August 2010 but were not charged overdraft fees until after that time.
Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s back to court they go!
Pays to Know Who’s in your Network? Well, maybe that’s what Adobe, Apple, Google and Intel thought—they’re facing a potential employment and salary fixing class action lawsuit over allegations they conspired to hire engineers from each other’s employee pools and knowingly shared salary data to establish pay ceilings. Nice.
Filed in California, the engineer and programmer class action lawsuit allegedly follows on from a 2012 investigation by the US Department of Justice which found that these practices were also evident at Lucasfilms, Pixar and Intuit. According to a report by the New York Times, the DOJ’s report suggests as many as 64,000 engineers and programmers were involved, which means the class action lawsuit could see billions in damages, if successful.
Rumor has it the sainted Steve Jobs was involved in cooking this one up. One to watch for sure.
Finally—a Data Breach Class Action Settlement! And a finalized one at that. That’s right, final approval of a $3 million settlement has just been granted, ending the long-running AVMed data breach class action. Cast your mind back to 2009, when health insurance provider AvMed got hit with what was to become one of the first in a string of data breach lawsuits. This one alleged that sensitive data from 1.2 million customer records had been breached from unencrypted laptops. “Sensitive”? I think we’re talking health records, FYI.
Among the settlement terms is the stipulation that AvMed implement increased data security measures including mandatory security awareness training and encryption protocols on company laptops.
The $3 million settlement fund is set aside for plaintiffs to make claims for $10 for every year that they purchased insurance from AvMed, with a $30 cap: class members who experienced identity theft are reportedly eligible to make additional claims to recover their monetary losses.
Reportedly, this is the first settlement of a data breach lawsuit that provides compensation to plaintiffs who did not experience identity theft.
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. See you at the bar!
Is Maximus Maximizing an Unpaid Wages Scam on the Back of Obamacare? A call center unpaid wages class action lawsuit has been filed by employees at an Obamacare call center in Idaho, alleging the contractor, Maximus Inc, miscategorized employees as exempt for overtime, and is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). So, they clearly think so.
Specifically, the putative Obamacare call center wage and hour class action lawsuit alleges that most employees worked between 50 and 60 hours a week beginning in the summer of 2013, without receiving compensation for the overtime, and that they were made to clock off before they had actually finished their shifts. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges the employees were unable to take mandatory breaks including lunch.
The class action contains two putative sub classes, one consisting of first level supervisors, and the second of call center employee trainers at the Boise, Idaho branch.
Are you Getting Hosed by Home Depot? Home Depot USA Inc is facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed by a customer who alleges the do-it-yourself retail giant sells a line of defective expandable garden hoses that can rupture soon after purchase. An infomercial marketing firm, Telebrands, is also named as a defendant.
Specifically, the Home Depot lawsuit contends that the “Pocket Hose” and “Mini Max Hose” aren’t durable, and are not made of “heavy-duty fire hose construction,” as the companies advertise. Filed by plaintiff Micahel Klemballa, the Pocket Hose lawsuit states “In fact, the design of the Pocket Hose product is fundamentally defective and thus not suitable to be used as a garden hose as advertised.” “When used as instructed, the Pocket Hose will leak and/or burst, rendering the product useless.”
Klemballa alleges that he purchased a Pocket Hose in June which ruptured after he used it just a few times. He contends that thousands of similar complaints can be found on various product review websites and message boards.
The lawsuit, entitled Klemballa v. Telebrands Corp. et al., case number 2:14-cv-01245, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey goes on to states that in its online advertisements and infomercials, Telebrands misleadingly represents the Pocket Hose as “strong enough for any tough job,” backing the claim with a purported demonstration of the hose pulling a 5,000-pound sport utility vehicle.
However, according to the complaint, the hose, which retails for between $12.99 and $42.99, depending on length, is not even strong enough to withstand normal residential use. (Should I be surprised?) Klemballa states that Home Depot adopted many of Telebrands’ false and misleading claims about the product for in-store displays and ads on its website, and reviewed and approved advertising materials that included the retailer’s own logos and trademarks.
“Defendants’ false and misleading claims are in willful and wanton disregard of the interests of the consuming public, and constitute a knowing attempt by defendants to deceive consumers,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit seeks class certification to represent all consumers who have purchased the Pocket Hose in the US, along with a subclass of New York purchasers.
Let’s hope this isn’t a trend. Service Corporation International (SCI) has reached settlement of a consumer fraud class action lawsuit involving allegations its employees desecrated graves at its Eden Memorial Park.
Specifically, the Eden Memorial class action, brought in 2009 on behalf of 25,000 Jewish families with loved ones buried at Eden Memorial, claimed that for 25 years, SCI employees routinely broke open outer burial containers and caskets and discarded human remains in a dump area on the cemetery grounds to make room for more graves.
SCI is a publicly traded company that runs the largest collection of the “death-care businesses” in the U.S. It has 1,644 funeral homes and 514 cemeteries in 43 states and the District of Columbia.
On February 27, the company announced it had reached a settlement of the lawsuit, four weeks into a trial in California state court. SCI said it would create a settlement fund of $35.25 million, of which $25.25 million will be contributed by insurance companies.
SCI denied any wrongdoing.
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. See you at the bar !
Minor League Baseball Players Hoping for Home Run? A federal class action lawsuit was filed this week on behalf of minor league baseball players who allege they are paid less than the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) federal minimum wage. Aaron Senne, former Marlins player and lead plaintiff in class action, together with Co-plaintiffs Michael Liberto and San Jose Giants pitcher Oliver Odle filed the lawsuit, which claims: “Most minor leaguers earn between $3,000 and $7,500 for the entire year despite routinely working over 50 hours per week (and sometimes 70 hours per week) during the roughly five-month championship season. They receive no overtime pay, and instead routinely receive less than minimum wage during the championship season.” Who knew?
Here’s the skinny—according to the minor league class action—“Since minor leaguers do not belong to a union, nothing has prevented the defendants from artificially and illegally depressing minor league wages. Indeed, MLB’s exemption from antitrust laws has only made it easier. Given that MLB carefully controls the entryway into the highest levels of baseball, and given the young minor leaguer’s strong desire to enter the industry, MLB and the defendants have exploited minor leaguers by paying salaries below minimum wage, by not paying overtime wages, and by often paying no wages at all.” The lawsuit is seeking class certification and damages for FLSA minimum wage and overtime violations, recordkeeping requirements, state wage and hour violations, payday requirements, waiting time penalties, itemized wage statement violations, unfair business practices and quantum meruit.
The plaintiffs are also seeking an injunction preventing the defendants from implementing their unlawful practices and requiring them to pay all wages pursuant to state and federal law.
The named plaintiffs all wish to represent to Minor League Collective class, and classes that play in Florida, North Carolina and New York (Senne), Arizona (Liberto), and California (Odle). This should be interesting.
Is Jimmy Johns Under-Delivering on Wages? The delivery drivers think so. They filed a federal unpaid wage and hour class action lawsuit against Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich shop this week. In fact, it was filed by Scott Lewis of Witchita, a delivery driver from Witchita, Kansas. The Jimmy John’s lawsuit alleges that Bushwood Investments LLC, which owns and operates more than 30 Jimmy John’s restaurants throughout the country, failed to properly compensate its 300 delivery drivers for the use of their own vehicles, and numerous other allegations. Read on.
According to the lawsuit (Lewis v. Bushwood Investments LLC, Case No. 2:13-cv-02610, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas), Bushwood, which operates more than 30 Jimmy John’s restaurants across the country, makes its delivery drivers “use their own automobiles to deliver sandwiches and other food items to customers…Instead of compensating delivery drivers for the reasonably approximate costs of the business use of their vehicles, defendant used a flawed method to determine reimbursement rates.”
“[Jimmy John's] delivery drivers incur costs for gasoline, vehicle parts and fluids, automobile repair and maintenance services, automobile insurance, depreciation, and cell phone use while delivering sandwiches for the primary benefit of the defendant,” the lawsuit states.
AND—the lawsuit states that Jimmy John’s delivery drivers are allegedly required to cover the costs of maintaining their vehicles in safe and in good working condition as well as paying for insurance coverage for the automobiles.
AND the lawsuit claims that Jimmy John’s does not reimburse its delivery drivers for insurance costs nor does it provide its drivers with GPS systems to use while driving but rather leaves drivers to rely on GPS systems the driver’s cell phones, for which they are also not reimbursed. Additionally, the lawsuit claims the defendant pays its employees through direct deposit or a payroll card from inTrust Bank, and so do not receive a paycheck stub which details how deductions and reimbursements are made. In order to get this information, the drivers must make special requests from the defendant.
RBS Pays Up on Mortgage-Backed Securities Fraud….A consumer financial fraud class action lawsuit pending against Royal Bank of Scotland Group, PLC has reached preliminary settlement,with the bank agreeing to pay $275 million.
The lawsuit was brought by New Jersey Carpenters Vacation Fund et al against the financial institution alleging it misled investors regarding mortgage-backed securities.
Specifically, the lawsuit relates to over $15 billion of the issued mortgage-backed securities which the plaintiffs claimed were sold despite not meeting underwriting guidelines. No comment.
Ok—that’s it for this week—see you at the bar!