Not Paid for Prime Time? What would the week be without an employment class action? This week, among several employment class actions filed, is one against Prime Healthcare Centinela LLC alleging California labor law violations, specifically underpayment of overtime and failure to provide meal and rest breaks to 400 employees at its 12 California hospitals.
In the Prime Healthcare class action, lead plaintiff Evalyn Beauchamp, a social worker for Prime Healthcare’s subsidiary since March 2011, alleges “In violation of state law, defendants have knowingly and willfully refused to perform their obligations to compensate plaintiffs for all wages earned and all hours worked.” And “As a direct result, plaintiffs have suffered, and continue to suffer, substantial losses related to the use and enjoyment of such wages.”
The lawsuit, Evalyn Beauchamp et al. v. Prime Healthcare Centinela LLC et al., case number BC542351, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, claims that Prime Healthcare established policies under which hourly employees would be “taken off the clock” for a variety of reasons, including the indicating the end of a worker’s official shift or falsely accounting that a meal break was taken when the employee was actually forced to continue working.
According to the allegations, while Prime Healthcare frequently required its employees to work in excess of eight hours per day and over 40 hours per week, it failed to pay them one and a half times the regular hourly rate as required under California law.
Further, the lawsuit claims Prime Healthcare failed to provide its employees with accurate wage statements and failed to pay separated employees the amounts they were owed in a timely manner.
Beauchamp filed the lawsuit on behalf of all hourly, nonunionized social workers and others in similar positions, claiming the company established policies for employees to clock out when they were still working and did not compensate them for overtime hours worked.
The class action seeks to represent all hourly nonexempt social workers, discharge planners, case managers and others who worked for Prime Healthcare since April 2010, a class she estimates to include 400 people at 12 hospitals.
De-Fault of the Bank? Maybe…If the allegations in this new consumer banking and lending violations class action lawsuit prove true, then yes. Wells Fargo Bank NA is facing a potential lawsuit alleging it violated California consumer laws by billing late fees to, or foreclosing on, state homeowners who had loan modification applications pending with the bank. Something referred to as Dual Tracking. Read on.
The Wells Fargo lawsuit, Garcia et al. v. Wells Fargo Bank NA et al., case number 8:14-cv-00558, in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges Wells Fargo practices “dual tracking”, which is when a bank pursues a foreclosure while simultaneously processing loan modifications. On January 1, 2013, the California Homeowner Bill of Rights was enacted, forbidding this behavior.
“Because the dual-tracking system prevents homeowners from being evaluated for appropriate loan modifications before foreclosure, it has resulted in many unnecessary foreclosures,” the lawsuit states.
Lead plaintiffs, Orange County residents Henry and Renee Garcia, allege they applied for a loan modification with Wells Fargo but that the bank charged them $840 in late fees and prepared to foreclose on the property before the application process was complete. The bank later rejected the application, verbally denied their appeal, and scheduled the home for trustee sale.
According to the lawsuit, the Garcias defaulted on the mortgage for their San Juan Capistrano, CA, home on March 6, 2013. The following month they submitted a loan modification application to Wells Fargo and over the next several months they stayed in frequent communication with bank officials.
However, simultaneous to the processing of the Garcias’ application Wells Fargo recorded a notice of trustee sale on their home, moving forward with the foreclosure process in violation of the state’s consumer protection law, according to the lawsuit. It wasn’t until the following January that the Garcias loan application was denied, according to the complaint. Garcias appealed, but the bank denied the appeal in February and scheduled a trustee sale of the property for March 5, 2014.
In their lawsuit, the Garcias seek to establish two classes: one for alleged victims of dual tracking and another for homeowners who were illegally charged late fees.
The complaint alleges violations of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights’ restrictions on dual tracking and late fees and the California Unfair Competition Law. The plaintiffs are seeking class certification, unspecified damages and restitution, and injunctive relief forbidding the bank from engaging in the alleged activity.
Next Time Ask for Directions? With a name like Compass, you’d think they’d already know how not to go astray… At any rate, here’s proof that employment class actions are worth the effort—a proposed $1.1 million settlement has been reached in a class action accusing Compass Health Inc. of California labor law violations, specifically of underpayment of overtime. Heard that one before?
Under the terms of the settlement, Compass would pay a net settlement amount of up to $700,500 to all members of the settlement class, which is approximately 2,500 current and former hourly nonexempt employees in California who worked for Compass Health between March 29, 2009 and January 6 2014.
According to the lawsuit, the workers alleged Compass miscalculated the regular rate of pay because it didn’t properly include the value of annual safety bonuses. They also claimed meal and rest period violations on the part of the defendant, as well as derivative penalty claims.
Court documents indicated that based on the number of valid claims filed, the average settlement payment would be about $425, with the highest payment being roughly $1,050, which is “an excellent result for the settlement class, particularly when compared to other, similar wage and hour class action settlements involving similar-wage workers.”
Ok—Let’s celebrate that news—Happy Easter—and we’ll see you at the bar!
Dog treats manufacturer to be treated to a little justice perhaps? IMS Trading Corp, aka IMS Pet Industries—maker of Cadet duck jerky treats, is facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit alleging it sold products containing duck jerky imported from China that caused dogs to become sick or die. The dog treat lawsuit alleges the company, IMS Trading Corp, aka IMS Pet Industries, is in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, and is guilty of unjust enrichment as they falsely assured consumers through the product packaging that the treats were healthy for dogs. Several unnamed companies involved in the manufacture and sale of the dog treats are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Lead plaintiff, Marie Dopico, who owns several small dogs, alleges her dogs nearly died after she fed them Cadet duck jerky dog treats she bought in October from a ShopRite grocery store in New Jersey. She claims she had to pay veterinary expenses and other related costs to save her dogs’ lives.
The proposed lawsuit claims that there could be thousands of plaintiffs, as other consumers in New Jersey and across the US have suffered similar damages as a result of defendants’ conduct. The putative class and subclass includes consumers who, up to six years prior to the January filing of the lawsuit, purchased IMS dog treats and whose dogs got sick or died as a result of consuming the allegedly unhealthy and dangerous treats.
According to the lawsuit, the packaging for IMS’ dog treats allegedly states the products do not contain artificial colors, additives, fillers or by-products. The packaging also states that the treats are “healthy and natural treats with only the finest ingredients.” The same claims are found on the company’s website, the plaintiffs allege.
The lawsuit states that in November 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration issued warnings stating that dogs can become ill after eating treats containing duck jerky made in China. The agency has said that more than 3,600 dogs in the US have become ill after eating Chinese jerky treats. This information was not fully disclosed on the company’s website, plaintiffs allege, and they accuse the defendants of hiding the warnings to increase or maintain sales.
“No reasonable person would feed dog treats to their dogs knowing that there was a substantial risk of death or illness from doing so,” the lawsuit states. “Dog owners consider their pets to be members of the family, and become very distressed when their dogs pass away or become seriously ill.”
Hey—no reasonable manufacturer would consider producing food that makes animals ill.
Hilton not honoring wage & hour laws? Maybe. They got hit with a putative wage and hour class action lawsuit this week, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the California labor law Act. In addition to Hilton Worldwide, named defendants include Doubletree LLC, and Crestline Hotels and Resorts LLC.
Filed by Nelson Chico, the Hilton wage & hour lawsuit, entitled Nelson Chico v. Hilton Worldwide Inc. et al., case number BC541043 in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, alleges failure to pay overtime wages and failure to provide meal or rest breaks. Chico, a former employee, claims the defendants also allowed or required employees to work off the clock.
Further, the lawsuit states the defendants failed to provide itemized statements for each pay period, failed to keep accurate records and failed to compensate employees for necessary expenditures.
Heads up people—the potential employment class action seeks to represent aggrieved employees who worked for the defendants within the past four years.
Actos maker ordered to pay up huge. Japanese drug maker Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, got hit with a heart-attack inducing jury award this week—they were ordered to pay $6 billion in punitive damages in settlement of allegations the company concealed information regarding the risk for cancer associated with its diabetes drug Actos. Eli Lilly and Co, a co-defendant in the case, was ordered to pay $3 billion in punitive damages and $1.45 in compensatory damages by the jury in Louisiana on Monday.
According to Lilly, 75 percent of the liability was allocated to Takeda and 25 percent to Lilly. Takeda plans to dispute the awards, stating that judgments were entered in its favor in all three previous Actos trials. This was the first federal case to be tried in a consolidated multidistrict litigation comprising more than 2,900 lawsuits. Germany and France suspended use of the drug in 2011 due to concerns of a possible link to cancer.
More to come on this? Very possibly. Stay tuned.
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. See you at the bar!
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!