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 !
Discount Wages as Well as Products? Well, we’re about to find out. Amazon got hit with an employment class action lawsuit filed by Plaintiff Kelly Pavuk (“Pavuk”) (Case No. 2013-11565-0, in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas) who alleges Amazon failed to compensate her adequately for time working at the Amazon facility in Pennsylvania. Pavuk makes this claim on behalf of herself and other similarly situated.
Specifically, the Amazon lawsuit claims the defendants failed to comply with the requirements of the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (“PMWA”), thereby violating the PMWA by not compensating all Warehouse Workers during the end-of-shift screening process that “approximately takes between 10 and 20 minutes, and, with delays … can last longer.”
Further, the lawsuit claims the defendants violated the PMWA by not compensating all Warehouse Workers for passing through the same screening process during meal breaks or for walking to that screening area. And, the lawsuit claims the defendants “automatically deduct 30 minutes from Warehouse Workers’ compensable time each shift for an unpaid meal break,” “require Warehouse Workers to remain at their work locations within the Facility until the start of the purported 30-minute meal break,” and that “[a]fter the start of the 30-minute meal break, Warehouse Workers walk to the [Facility’s] time clocks and clock-out.”
Okee dokee. One to watch.
OxyElite “light” on the Facts… including possible liver injury? A proposed defective products class action lawsuit has been filed against General Nutrition Center Holdings Inc., and USPLabs LLC, alleging OxyElite Pro energy and weight loss dietary supplements cause liver damage.
Filed by Sandeep Barot, the OxyElite lawsuit (U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey at Camden case number: 1:14-cv-000562) claims that OxyElite Pro is intended to safely provide weight loss, energy and mental focus, however, it instead causes severe adverse health effects.
The OxyElite complaint alleges that USPLabs sells a variety of energy and weight loss and dietary supplements under the brand name of OxyElite Pro through GNC, which are dangerous, sold pursuant to deceptive and unfair practices and are not fit for their intended purpose.
Barot claims that he and all others similarly situated “did not bargain for a product that causes adverse health effects in exchange for their payment of purchase price,” according to the lawsuit. And the lawsuit goes on to state that several adverse reactions, including serious liver injury and wrongful death, have been reported from consumers who have purchased and ingested the product.
According to the complaint, USPLabs and GNC had actual knowledge of the product’s shortcomings, but both failed to timely act to adequately warn consumers of the unfitness of the product, the extreme adverse side effects associated with the product or provide adequate relief to the class of consumers who purchased the product.
Further, On October 11, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to USPLabs regarding OxyElite Pro for its inclusion of aegeline or dimethylamylamine, known as DMAA, the lawsuit states.
Barot claims that he purchased the product based on claims made by the manufacturer that the products would safely produce energy, increase weight loss and increase mental focus so long as the consumer used the product as directed. However, Barot alleges he suffered economic damages as a result of purchasing and using the product. Further, he claims that neither himself nor any other reasonable consumer would have purchased the product had they known about the severe adverse effects the product can cause to humans, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants are in violation of the New Jersey Consume Fraud Act and was unjustly enriched at the plaintiffs’ expense.
Um, back to diet and exercise, I guess…
Hyundai Canada to Shell out Cash for False Mileage Claims. This week, the automaker announced that it has entered into an agreement with plaintiffs in Canada—representing current and former owners and lessees of vehicles affected by the auto company’s November 2012 restatement of fuel economy ratings. The adjustment affected approximately 130,000 Hyundai 2011-2013 model year vehicles, increasing their combined city/highway fuel consumption by 0.2-0.8 L/100km. While today’s agreement is valued at up to $46.65 million in cash compensation plus other available options, that number is dependent on how many customers elect to participate in the settlement’s one-time lump sum payment option or remain in the existing reimbursement program Hyundai introduced at the time of the restatement.
At the time of the restatement, Hyundai provided a reimbursement program to cover the additional fuel costs associated with the rating change—plus a 15 percent premium in acknowledgement of the inconvenience—to customers for as long as they owned or leased an affected vehicle. Affected owners and lessees are compensated based on their actual kilometers driven and the fuel costs for the region in which they live.
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, a single lump sum payment will be provided as an option to the original reimbursement program. The lump sum payments will vary by type of vehicle, and will be reduced for any amounts already received through Hyundai’s existing reimbursement program. For example, an individual owner who purchased a new 2012 Elantra would receive a lump sum payment of $361, minus any previous reimbursement payments. Affected Hyundai owners may elect the one-time lump sum cash payment or remain in the auto company’s ongoing reimbursement program for as long as they lease or own the affected vehicle; the choice is theirs. Consumers can also elect other options, such as a dealership credit of 150 percent of the lump sum cash payment amount, or a credit of 200 percent of the cash amount toward the purchase of a new Hyundai vehicle.
Courts in Ontario and Quebec are expected to review the agreement for approval in early 2014. Assuming approval is granted, notices will then be provided to all affected customers.
Hopefully the snow will have stopped by then—and the roads will be driveable!
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. See you at the bar!
Bad Apple! Tech giant Apple Inc, got slapped with a class action lawsuit this week, you may have seen it, alleging the company illegally collected and sold its customers’ personal information. Filed in Boston by plaintiffs Adam Christensen, Jeffrey Scolnick, and William Farrell, the Apple lawsuit alleges “Apple compelled its customers to provide their zip codes when making credit card transactions at Apple stores.” Here’s hoping they don’t get hacked!
This type of data collection is prohibited by state law which makes it unnecessary for customers to submit any personal identification information (PIN) that’s not directly necessary to the transaction. Apple collected the zip codes of their customers in violation of this statute, the plaintiffs argue, then sold that data to third-party companies for marketing purposes.
According to the Apple lawsuit, plaintiffs Adam Christensen, Jeffrey Scolnick, and William Farrell shopped for and purchased items from Apple retail stores in Massachusetts between 2012 and 2013. “To consummate each purchase, plaintiffs elected to use their credit card as their chosen form of payment,” the lawsuit states. “As a condition of using their credit cards, plaintiffs were required by Apple to enter personal identification information associated with the credit card, including their full and complete zip codes. Apple would not allow plaintiff to complete their purchases without supplying such information.”
“Apple is not required by credit card issuers to require this information from consumers,” the lawsuit claims, which suggests that Apple is in violation of state law.
The lawsuit notes that Apple acknowledges openly on their website that they reserve the right to “make certain personal information available to strategic partners that work with Apple to provide products and services, or that help Apple market to customers.” “First, Plaintiffs and the Class have been injured because they have received unwanted marketing materials from Apple as a result of having provided their zip codes when using credit cards at Apple. Second, Plaintiffs and the Class have been injured by Apple’s sale of Plaintiffs’ and the Class’ PII to third-parties, which was collected by Apple in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws chapter. 93 § 105(c).And third, Plaintiffs and the Class have been injured because Apple misappropriated their economically valuable PII without consideration,” the lawsuit states.
If the court agrees, Apple would be deemed responsible for committing what the state of Massachusetts considers an “unfair and deceptive trade practice.” The plaintiffs are reportedly asking Apple to pay $75 per violation, as well as interest on those damages, litigation expenses, attorneys’ fees, and “such other and further relief as may be just and proper.” Apple would also be required to stop collecting PINs across the state.
So—one to watch…
Relief at the Truck Stop? A massive $130 million antitrust settlement made the books this week, potentially affecting some 4,000 independent truck stops and other retail fueling merchants. (That’s alota dosh!) The antitrust lawsuit is against Comdata Inc., the leading trucker fleet payment card issuer, and three national truck stop chains for a combined amount of $130 million plus valuable prospective relief in the form of enforceable changes to certain of Comdata’s allegedly anticompetitive business practices.
This lawsuit has been in the works since 2007!
The back story—Comdata operates a payment card network used by over-the-road truckers and fleets to purchase fuel and other items at truck stops and other retail fueling merchants. The lawsuit alleged that Comdata imposed anticompetitive provisions in its agreements with class members that artificially inflated the fees these truck stops and other retail fueling merchants paid when accepting the card for payment. The lawsuit also challenged allegedly anticompetitive arrangements among Comdata, its parent company Ceridian LLC, and three national truck stop chains: defendants TravelCenters of America LLC and its wholly owned subsidiaries, Pilot Travel Centers LLC and its predecessor Pilot Corporation, and Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, Inc.
The Plaintiffs alleged that Comdata, with the assistance of its parent, Ceridian, engaged in anticompetitive behavior with the truck stop chains in which the chains agreed not to compete with Comdata in exchange for Comdata providing the chains with a transaction fee advantage versus their smaller, independent truck stop competitors. Plaintiffs alleged that this conduct insulated Comdata from competition, enhanced its market power, and led to independent truck stops’ paying artificially inflated transaction fees.
If its approved, these settlements would resolve all claims of the named Plaintiffs and the proposed class in exchange for aggregate payments from all defendants totaling $130 million plus a legally binding commitment from Comdata for prospective relief in the form of changes to certain allegedly anticompetitive contractual provisions in its merchant agreements. Plaintiffs and Co-Lead Class Counsel believe that this relief will promote competition among payment cards used by over-the-road fleets and truckers and lead to lower merchant fees for the independent truck stops.
FYI—the Comdata truck stop fee settlement approval process is expected to take several months. The named Plaintiffs and proposed Class representatives are Marchbanks Truck Service, Inc. d/b/a Bear Mountain Travel Stop, Gerald F. Krachey d/b/a Krachey’s BP South, and Walt Whitman Truck Stop, Inc.
Asbestos Settlement for Young Victim. This is sad, bittersweet Justice. Forty-year old John Panza, an English professor at Cuyahoga Community College and drummer with a popular Cleveland rock trio, Blaka Watra, has been awarded $27.5 million in settlement of his asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit. The settlement is reportedly the largest award of its kind ever in Ohio.
Panza was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2012, resulting from prolonged second-hand or take home exposure to clothing worn by his father, who picked up the asbestos dust at his job at the Eaton Airflex brake company. John Panza Sr., 52, died of lung cancer in 1994. He had worked at Airflex for 31 years, and previously served as president of the company’s union.
The asbestos brake pads were manufactured by the former National Friction Products Corp. John Jr. and his wife Jane, filed suit against Kelsey-Hayes Co., the Michigan-based successor to National Friction Products, and the lone remaining defendant at the time of the verdict, returned December 18, 2013.
The verdict breaks down the settlement as economic damages of $515,000 and $12 million in non-economic damages. The jury also awarded Jane Panza, who is just 37, $15 million for her loss of consortium claim, or the deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship due to her husband’s asbestos mesothelioma.
The eight-member jury attributed 60 percent of the liability to Kelsey-Hayes, finding that the company’s brake products were defective and primarily responsible for causing Panza’s cancer.
The Panza’s testimony was emotional, according to the judge. The couple went to high school and attended college together They have a 6-year-old daughter.
Prior to the trial, Panza underwent four separate surgeries and almost died, said John Mismas, one of Panza’s lawyers. Panza’s right lung was removed, and the invasive cancer is almost certain to eventually spread to his left lung, he said. “He’s going to die,” Mismas said.
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. See you at the bar.
Stewart’s not-so-sweet deal for employees? According to company staff, yes indeedy. They filed an unpaid wage and hour class action lawsuit against Stewart’s Shops alleging violations of state and federal wage and hour laws.
Filed on January 9, 2014, in Federal District Court (Northern District of New York), the Stewart’s wage and hour lawsuit specifically claims that Stewart’s Shops failed to compensate employees for all hours worked by routinely requiring employees to perform work before and after their scheduled shifts without compensation.
The lawsuit also alleges that the defendant routinely deprived employees of mandatory meal breaks; failed to implement an accurate and effective method to record time worked by employees; failed to provide employees with mandatory disclosures concerning their rate of pay; and failed to pay for the cost to launder and maintain required uniforms.
The lawsuit is seeking class action status on behalf of 4,500 current and former Stewart’s Shops employees throughout New York and Vermont. FYI- Stewart’s Shops, headquartered in Saratoga Springs, NY, operates over 300 stores located across upstate New York and southern Vermont.
What a Blow Out! It’s approved! The proposed $4.5 million settlement in the Brazilian Blowout class action lawsuit has received final approval. Cast your minds back to 2013 – when a consumer fraud lawsuit was filed against the company alleging BB failed to warn customers that its hair straightening product emit toxic formaldehyde gas, while the label states the product is “formaldehyde-free”.
Specifically, the lawsuit, entitled formaldehyde gas, GIB LLC Cases, JCCP No. 4657 and in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, in a case entitled In Re Brazilian Blowout Litigation, Case No. CV 10-08452 JFW (MANx), alleged that Defendants’ hair smoothing – products known as Brazilian Blowout Solution and Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution (hereinafter referred to as “Brazilian Blowout Products”) contain formaldehyde and other harsh chemicals, which Defendants failed to disclose and affirmatively represented as “formaldehyde free,” “contain[s] no formaldehyde,” and “contain[s] no harsh chemicals,” and as being “100% salon safe.”
The Proposed Brazilian Blowout Settlement provides, among other things, for the creation of a Gross Settlement Fund in the amount of $4,225,000, and the distribution of payments from the Settlement Fund to Class members who submit Valid Claims for monetary settlement payments.
Eligible class members may be covered by the Proposed Settlement if (1) they are a person in the United States who purchased Brazilian Blowout Products directly from GIB, LLC or one of its authorized distributors on or before June 6, 2012 (“Stylist” Class member), or (2) they are a person in the United States who underwent a treatment using Brazilian Blowout Products on or before June 6, 2012 (“Consumer” Class member).
To download claim forms and for more information on the Brazilian Blowout class action settlement, visit http://www.brazilianblowoutsettlement.com/
Elite – a Model Defendant? Elite Model Management is being praised (?) for its speed in agreeing to a $450K out of court settlement of an unpaid intern class action lawsuit filed last February.
The Elite Model Management lawsuit was filed by plaintiff Dajia Davenport, who interned at the agency in the summer of 2010. It states that Elite “deliberately misclassifies its interns as exempt from wage requirements,” despite the fact that they work over 40 hours per week.
Filed in February, the lawsuit sought a minimum of $50 million in unpaid wages, overtime pay, liquidated damages, interest and attorneys’ fees for unpaid interns who worked for Elite between February, 2007, and the date of a final judgment.
The terms of the settlement will guarantee participating the over 100 interns who make up the “Class” a minimum payment of $700, and as much as $1,750. It is reportedly the largest of an unpaid intern class action lawsuit settlement so far.
A final settlement hearing is scheduled for May 1, 2014.
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. See you at the bar.
Hashtag Privacy Please! Naughty, naughty! Facebook’s allegedly been peeping into your privates—messages that is…which, a potential class action lawsuit claims, is in violation of federal and state laws.
Filed by two Facebook users against Facebook the lawsuit alleges the social media platform scans messages between users labeled “private” for links and other information that can be sold to third parties including advertisers, marketers and data aggregators. The Facebook lawsuit is seeking class action status, with a potential 166 million Facebook users in the US eligible to join the class, if it is certified.
Plaintiffs Matthew Campbell from Arkansas and Michael Hurley from Oregon filed the lawsuit in a US district court in Northern California, alleging Facebook data mines “private” messages without disclosing it does so, or seeking users’ consent. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges Facebook’s intercepting and using links in “private” messages between users is in violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and California privacy and unfair competition laws.
“Facebook’s desire to harness the myriad data points of its users has led to overreach and intrusion … as it mines its account holders’ private communications for monetary gain,” the lawsuit contends.
Great start to the New Year guys!
Holy Hyundai! (ok, bad, I know) A preliminary $395 settlement has been reached in a consumer fraud class action pending against Hyundai Motor Corp. and Kia Motors alleging gas mileage rating were overstated by the automotive manufacturers. The settlement will affect some 600,000 of Hyundai’s 2011-13 models and about 300,000 of Kia‘s 2011-13 models in the US.
The back story? ….In November 2012, Hyundai and Kia Motors agreed to restate expected gas mileage for 1.1 million vehicles in North America, following an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency. The automakers admitted they after overstated mileage claims on vehicle window stickers for 900,000 vehicles in the United States. The settlement impacts about 600,000 of Hyundai’s 2011-13 models and about 300,000 of Kia‘s 2011-13 models in the U.S. Hyundai’s settlement is valued at up to $210 million, while Kia’s is valued at $185 million.
The 2012 restatement reduced Hyundai-Kia’s fleetwide average fuel economy from 27 to 26 mpg for the 2012 model year. Individual ratings, depending on the car, will fall from 1 mpg to 6 mpg. Most vehicles saw combined city-highway efficiency drop by 1 mpg, the Detroit News reports. Exact figures will depend on how many customers elect to participate in the settlement’s one-time lump sum payment option or remain in the lifetime reimbursement program, the automakers said.
The Hyundai Kia settlement will resolve more than 50 lawsuits filed across the country to address the issue. Hyundai agreed to add the option of taking a lump sum payment. The proposed cash amount, which varies by vehicle model and ownership type, will result in an average payment of $353 to Hyundai owners and lessees. For example, an owner of a 2012 Elantra would receive a lump sum payment of $320 minus any previous reimbursement payments. For Kia owners, the proposed average cash lump-sum amount will be about $667.
A federal judge is expected to review the proposed settlement for preliminary approval in early 2014. If approved, settlement notices will be sent to individual class members. To get the full skinny on initial details of the settlement, you can visit hyundaimpginfo.com or www.kiampginfo.com.
Royal Health to Shell Out a Royal $1.94 Million …in unpaid overtime. Yup. A preliminary settlement has been reached in an unpaid overtime class action lawsuit pending against Royal Health Care of Long Island LLC. Employees who filed the class action alleged the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York state labor laws by not paying them overtime pay.
In their employment lawsuit, the 411 plaintiffs allege Royal Health misclassified their positions as Representative, which are exempt from the overtime provisions stipulated under the FLSA and NYLL, and thereby failed to pay Plaintiffs overtime when they worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.
Under the terms of the Royal Health settlement, the Royal Health will pay $1.94 million to plaintiffs who worked eight weeks or more, between May 2006 to May 2013. If approved, funds will be distributed proportionally among the Class Members based on number of weeks each worked at Royal Health Care. An incentive award of $10,000 each will also be given to the four original named plaintiffs.
A Fairness Hearing is scheduled for January 6, 2014. The Royal Health Care Unpaid Overtime Class Action Lawsuit is Chandrakalli Sukhnandan et al. v. Royal Health Care of Long Island LLC, Case No. 1:12-cv-04216, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. Happy New Year! Here’s to a peaceful and prosperous 2014 for all.