Taxing Trip to Wal-mart? Wal-Mart’s made our list this week—this time it’s a breach of contract class action, alleging the discount retailer shortchanged customers over four years with respect to sales tax, is seeking certification. The lawsuit claims Wal-Mart defrauded its customers by as much as $9 million.
Filed in 2014, the Wal-Mart complaint specifically alleges that the retailer incorrectly applied lower sales tax rates to consumer returns. Plaintiffs are contending that Wal-Mart violated the terms of its sales agreement by refunding its customers less than the purchase price.
The lawsuit claims that an analysis done by Wal-Mart showed that there were nearly 20 million returns to stores with lower sales tax rates from 2007-09. During that time, the retailer used a flawed formula to recalculate how much customers spent, based on the sales tax of the store where the return was processed. The complaint alleges that Wal-Mart should have looked up how much customers paid for the items in the stores where they were purchased.
“Because the plaintiffs’ claims meet the requirements of Rule 23, and the representatives class counsel demonstrated the capacity to adequately represent the class, the court should certify the class and appoint the attorneys as class counsel,” plaintiffs Shaun Brandewie and John Newbrough state in the motion for certification. Both plaintiffs made several purchases at Wal-Mart, returned them to other locations, and were not refunded their full return. All of the discrepancies described in the complaint are for less than $1.
According to the motion for certification, the class is readily discernable because it includes anybody who purchased an item at Wal-Mart and was refunded an amount less than what they paid. Wal-Mart tracks sales and return data such that the amounts paid for items and the amounts refunded are easily ascertainable, the motion said. Hey—every penny adds up…
Defend this, Conesys… Conesys Inc, an aerospace and defense electronics parts manufacturer, is facing a potential unpaid wages and overtime class action lawsuit filed by employees who allege the company fails to pay them overtime or compensate them for meal and rest breaks.
Filed in California state court, on behalf of plaintiff Rafael A. Lozano, a machine operator at AEC, the Conesys lawsuit claims that for at least four years had a “consistent” policy of failing to pay all wages owing to their California-based employees, as well as failing to provide meal and rest breaks required under California labor law.
“As a result of the defendants’ unlawful conduct, plaintiffs and other members of the…class have suffered damages in an amount subject to proof, to the extent that they were not paid for all wages earned,” the lawsuit states.
Torrance, California-based Conesys, based in Torrence, CA, has over 1,000 workers worldwide, including several facilities located in Torrance. The lawsuit alleges that in California, the company unevenly rounds out the amount of time employees’ work, which denies them compensation for any time worked beyond that of eight hours per day or 40 hours per week.
Additionally, the lawsuit states that Conesys’ corporate practice of rounding out hours worked has resulted in its employees being issued with inaccurate wage statements, and, in some cases, being effectively paid below minimum wage.
Further, the complaint also states that Conesys failed to provide the necessary breaks, which in California requires employers to provide a short, paid rest break for shifts of at least four hours, and at least one uninterrupted 30-minute meal break when employees work a shift of more than five hours, and two, if the shift runs for longer than 10 hours.
The plaintiff is asking for compensation for missed pay for himself and other employees allegedly shortchanged by Conesys going back up to four years, as well as penalties against the company and “reasonable” attorneys’ fees and costs.
The case is Lozano et al. v. Conesys Inc. et al., case number BC570320, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
Here’s a Happy Ending. The fast food chain Wendy’s has reached a proposed settlement in a pending discrimination class action lawsuit. The complaint maintains that Wendy’s Pittsburgh-area restaurants have architectural barriers that limit access to wheelchair-bound individuals, a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Plaintiff Christopher Mielo and Wendy’s reportedly reached the settlement on January 26th. Meilo, a mobility disabled man who regularly used a wheelchair to get around, filed the lawsuit in 2014, alleging that within the Pittsburgh area 17 Wendy’s restaurants had excessively sloped parking spaces and access aisles, accessibility barriers that make it difficult for wheelchair users to access the restaurant’s facilities independently. According to the lawsuit, these accessibility barriers are a violation of the ADA.
The lawsuit states, “The architectural barriers described above demonstrate that defendant’s facilities were not altered, designed or constructed in a manner that causes them to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals who use wheelchairs.”
Under the terms of the settlement, Wendy’s would be required to remove the alleged architectural barriers in order to come into compliance with ADA standards and requirements. More specific terms have not been made public.
The Wendy’s Wheelchair Access Class Action Lawsuit is Christopher Mielo v. Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers of New York Inc., Case No. 2:14-cv-00893, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Hokee Dokee—That’s a wrap folks…Time to adjourn for the week. See you at the Bar!
Remember the tooth fairy? When you lose a tooth, if you put it under your pillow, a fairy will come in the night and replace your tooth with some money—you remember, right? Well, apparently, if you want bigger breasts, there’s a cream that you can use that will make them larger and firmer. And then all your problems will go away. If it doesn’t work—you can file a consumer fraud lawsuit and make more money than you spent buying the dodgy product in the first place. Note—if you got a nickel from the tooth fairy and she was a no show—there was no such recourse. But hey—times have changed.
US-based Talika is being sued by a women who claims the company’s breast enhancing cream did not live up to its advertising claims, and as a result, she wasted $60. Really?
Raisbel Pena who lives in the Bronx, not that that should have anything to do with her decision-making process, has filed a lawsuit in Manhattan against Talika—the maker of Bust Serum 2.0 for $5 million (that’s some exchange rate—spend $60 get $5M…) claiming that in her month and a half of use (I’m presuming she would have followed the instructions religiously) she did not see any progress. So, she’s suing for damages alleging she could have purchased a less expensive bust serum. No comment.
It’s false advertising and unfair trading—business as usual. According to Pena’s lawsuit, Talika’s “misleading marketing campaign begins with its “deceptive product claim” that after six weeks of use breasts will grow a cup size and also experience “push up effect” and be 70 percent firmer.
Ok—who’s on drugs here? Think about it, there’s a reason plastic surgeons live well.
“Both [claims] imply that the product is not just cosmetic in nature, but will actually cause physical alterations to breasts, including increased breast volume,” the lawsuit states. “[The] defendant’s exhaustive advertising campaign builds on this deception.”
According to Pena, she bought the product in 2014 and used it for long enough that she should have noticed the promised results, that is, if the cream did what the advertising claimed it could do, regardless of how well you followed the instructions. In any event, not surprisingly, Talika USA has yet to respond to the lawsuit.
I can’t help wondering what would happen if the cream actually did work…
Here’s the YouTube promo….
Another year, another Apple Lawsuit. Yup. This week, iPhone users in Miami filed a consumer fraud class action lawsuit against Apple Inc, alleging the Cupertino-based tech giant greatly overstated the storage capacity of devices that run its latest mobile operating system, iOS 8.
Lead plaintiffs filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Northern California claiming operating system itself requires a significant percentage of the storage capacity on the iPhones, iPads and iPods that run it, thereby making a large portion of the advertised space unavailable to device owners.
According to the lawsuit, in some cases, the space used is 23.1 percent. Further, the complaint alleges, Apple entices customers in need of more space to pay for extra storage on iCloud.
“Using these sharp business tactics, [Apple] gives less storage capacity than advertised, only to offer to sell that capacity in a desperate moment, e.g., when a consumer is trying to record or take photos at a child or grandchild’s recital, basketball game or wedding,” the lawsuit states. “To put this in context, each gigabyte of storage Apple shortchanges its customers amounts to approximately 400-500 high resolution photographs.”
The plaintiffs allege Apple is violating California laws prohibiting unfair competition and false advertising. They claim that reasonable consumers do not expect the “marked discrepancy” between the advertised level of storage capacity and the available level of capacity on Apple devices running the OS.
GM’s Record Year? GM must be facing some kind of record for the number of defective automotive class action lawsuits filed against it in 2014. The latest GM lawsuit, filed in December, alleges a defect in the steering system of its Chevrolet Volts which causes the steering wheel to freeze intermittently while driving. Yes—that could certainly cause a few problems.
Filed in New Jersey federal court, by plaintiffs Christopher Johnson and Tara Follari-Johnson, the GM lawsuit claims that GM knew, or should have known, about the alleged defect, but continued to sell the cars. The lawsuit further claims that the alleged defect poses a hazardous safety risk to drivers and that even when GM agrees to fix the steering system, it only replaces the allegedly defective steering rack with the same or similarly defective components.
“When class members present to GM’s authorized dealerships complaining of the steering defect, the dealerships recommend repairs such as replacing the steering rack or steering gear assembly,” the plaintiffs said. “However, these repairs only temporarily mask the problem.”
The lawsuit alleges GM is in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and in breach of implied warranty of merchantability and express warranty and common law fraud.
The plaintiffs propose to represent a nationwide class of owners and lessees of 2011-2014 Chevrolet Volt bought or leased new in New Jersey and a subclass of national class members who live in New Jersey. There are at least 100 members of the proposed class, according to the plaintiffs, and their claims are more than $5 million.
“Complaints that consumers filed with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and posted in discussion forums demonstrate that the defect is widespread and dangerous and that it manifests without warning,” the complaint states. “The complaints further indicate defendants’ knowledge of the defect and its danger.”
Wells Fargo Agreed to Pony Up $14.5 million as part of a preliminary settlement agreement reached in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) class action lawsuit. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of millions of customers who alleged Wells Fargo Bank NA called them on their cellphones to collect credit card debt.
Brought by lead plaintiff Lillian Franklin, the Wells Fargo settlement motion, if approved, will resolve her suit claiming the bank violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by making automated calls to alleged debtors without their consent. She filed suit in August, claiming the financial institution called her multiple times on her cellphone in 2010, to collect an alleged debt on her credit card. The calls featured a pre-recorded message and were made without Franklin’s consent, according to the lawsuit.
According to the settlement terms, a settlement fund will be shared evenly between class members who submit claims. Currently, the class consists of 4 million members. The fund will established after consideration of attorneys’ fees and administration costs, according to the motion.
The case is Franklin v. Wells Fargo Bank NA, case number 3:14-cv-02349, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
Hokee Dokee—That’s a wrap folks…Time to adjourn for the week. Happy New Year!
Heads up all you Designers and Creatives out there…Adobe Creative Suite billing may just be a little too creative. Adobe got his with a consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week alleging the software maker charges an illegal termination penalty for cloud subscription access to its blockbuster applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator.
Filed by Scotty Mahlum, in California Federal Court, the Adobe lawsuit alleges that Adobe’s early termination fee, which can add up to hundreds of dollars, violates California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumers Legal Remedies Act. It sure seems to be a blatant cash grab—opinion here…
“[The fee] is designed to maintain recurring revenue by preventing subscribers from cancelling, rather than to compensate for any damages sustained by [Adobe],” Mahlum said. [If Adobe] “has suffered any damage upon early cancellation, the ETFs are not a reasonable measure or approximation of such damages.”
According to the complaint, a monthly subscription for access to Adobe’s complete cloud suite is $49.99 or $9.99 per month for access to individual programs. But if consumers end their contracts early, Adobe charges them 50 percent of the remaining value of the contract. “Because Adobe has no expenses after a subscriber downloads Creative Cloud Software to a computer, 50% of the remaining contract obligation is a windfall for Adobe,” the lawsuit states.
The Creative Cloud programs include Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, After Effects, Audition, Dreamweaver and other programs.
The subscription contract is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition and gives consumers no opportunity for term negotiation, the Adobe lawsuit contends. Mahlum alleges Adobe phased out the option to buy copies of the software outright in the spring of 2013 and that he signed up for a complete plan in October but canceled it in March.
Mahlum seeks a permanent injunction against collection of the ETFs and wants the company to pay back all ETFs it has collected from the class, which he says should include all current or former subscribers in the U.S. who were charged the fee.
In a December earnings report, Adobe revealed it had ended the 2013 fiscal year with 1.4 million Creative Cloud paid subscriptions, an increase of 1.1 million over the course of the year. The lawsuit contends that Adobe’s revenue from the cloud model jumped from $160 million in the second quarter of 2012 to $255 million in the second quarter of 2013.
The case is Mahlum v. Adobe Systems Inc., case number 5:14-cv-02988, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
It would appear there’s Nothing Fluid about this Crap… at least according to some very pissed off consumers who filed consumer fraud class-action lawsuit against Fluidmaster Inc., this week. The lawsuit claims that the plumbing product and toilet repair company knowingly sold defective toilet connectors that spontaneously broke, causing millions of dollars in property damage at homeowners’ expense. Nice!!!
The Fluidmaster complaint, filed April 24, 2014, in the US District Court for the Central District of California, states that Fluidmaster elected to sell faulty plastic toilet connectors even when it was mechanically and financially feasible for the company to sell an existing, safer alternative design. According to the lawsuit, more than a million defective toilet connectors were sold in the US. Ok—that’s a lot of folks. That’s a lot of damage.
Apparently, upon realizing that its plastic toilet connectors were routinely cracking, leaking and causing significant damage, Fluidmaster responded by lowering its 10-year warranty to five years, according to the lawsuit. The complaint’s two named plaintiffs experienced massive property damage after their Fluidmaster toilet connectors spontaneously failed. One of the plaintiffs, Brian Kirsch, received a call while on vacation from his garbage collector informing Kirsch that water was spilling from an upstairs window of his home and raining into his garage. Kirsch’s home had to be gutted and completely renovated while he and his family were displaced.
Due to the material and design of the toilet connector, the plastic was susceptible to bending with weight and pressure over time, according to the suit. The complaint also cites the company’s poor instructions and warnings that failed to provide the customer with sufficient information to safely and properly install the connectors.
After reducing the product’s warranty, Fluidmaster began to redesign the toilet connector in mid-2011, marketing and selling a new, reinforced connector. According to the complaint, the company never publicized that the product was redesigned and did not recall the defective products from its distribution networks. It also did not notify property owners that the defective products could spontaneously fail and should be replaced, keeping the defective products in use, according to the complaint. That’s just plain shitty (couldn’t resist!)
J. Crew to pony up for Illegal Zip Code Collection….Yup—a preliminary settlement has been approved in a zip code collection class action lawsuit pending against J. Crew Group Inc. The lawsuit alleged the retailer unlawfully collected customers’ ZIP codes during credit card purchases and used the information to send unsolicited marketing materials to those customers.
According to the terms of the J. Crew settlement, J Crew will provide $20 vouchers to eligible class and a $3,000 award to the class representative, lead plaintiff Lauren Miller, who alleged the company began sending her unsolicited junk mail after she made two credit card purchases in 2011 and 2012. Prior to providing her ZIP code during those transactions, she hadn’t received any promotional materials, according to the complaint.
Miller had urged the judge to approve the settlement earlier in the month, telling the judge that the settlement sufficiently covered the damages stemming from J. Crew’s allegedly improper ZIP code collection.
“The action seeks to redress J. Crew’s alleged unlawful invasion of its customers’ privacy and its alleged violation of the laws of the commonwealth of Massachusetts designed to protect consumers’ rights to be free from intrusive corporate data collection and marketing. The settlement substantially achieves this goal,” Miller said in a memorandum.
The settlement will put to bed claims of the proposed class of Massachusetts customers who used a credit card at the retailer’s stores after June 20, 2009, and whose ZIP code was subsequently recorded. J. Crew denies any wrongdoing.
The class action is Miller et al v J. Crew Group, case number 1:13-cv-11487, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Ok Folks—Happy Fourth of July—Have a wonderful weekend—and we’ll see you at the bar!
Is your air conditioning unit blowing a little defective hot air? Well, according to a class action lawsuit filed against Goodman Global, Inc., and certain affiliated companies, their central air conditioning units and heat pumps sold under the Goodman® and Amana® brands since 2007 are—defective that is. The bit that’s causing the alleged problems is the evaporator coil(s).
For those of us not intimately acquainted with the working innards of an air conditioning unit (most of us, I’m guessing) evaporator coils are generally located inside a consumer’s home and are essential to the proper functioning of any central air conditioning system or heat pump.
So–according to the lawsuit, Goodman and Amana central air conditioning and heat pump systems contain defective evaporator coils that improperly and prematurely leak refrigerant (a.k.a. Freon®). Oh that’s good. Not. The defect allegedly renders the systems inoperable because the cooling cycle will not work without refrigerant.
Although Goodman sells these units with a warranty, that warranty is limited in a way that provides insignificant protection to owners of the units. In particular, the Goodman warranty, by its terms, covers replacement parts, but not the labor costs associated with the replacement. According to the lawsuit, the result is that, when a defective evaporator coil fails, Goodman provides the owner with a replacement coil, but does not pay to have the old coil removed or the replacement coil installed. As alleged in the lawsuit, those labor costs typically run in the hundreds of dollars, and in some cases, thousands of dollars. Thus, in at least some instances, the owner is forced to spend as much or more to replace the defective evaporator coil as the cost to purchase a new Goodman unit.
The complaint also alleges that Goodman has known that its units sold since 2007 contained defective evaporator coils, but the company failed to inform consumers about the problem or issue a recall. Indeed, according to the lawsuit, Goodman continued to tout the quality of its air conditioning systems, claiming they were durable, dependable, and long lasting, even though it was aware that the defective evaporator coils would cause the units to fail prematurely and at rates far above the industry average.
The lead plaintiff in the case acquired his Goodman unit when he purchased his new house in September 2011. According to the lawsuit, in or about July 2013, after only one summer of use, the unit stopped cooling the plaintiff’s home. A service technician allegedly found that the unit was low on refrigerant and added four pounds of refrigerant, which immediately leaked out of the system. After observing this, the technician determined that the evaporator coil was leaking and needed to be replaced. According to the complaint, the service technician returned the old defective evaporator and replaced it with a new one, charging plaintiff approximately $650 for this service.
The civil action was filed on behalf of all consumers in North Carolina that purchased a central air conditioning unit or heat pump bearing the trade names Goodman® and Amana® from 2007 to the present.
GM—AGAIN! GM just cannot seem to get it right these days. No, this time it’s not the auto recalls…this week their loan re-financing subsidiary got hit with a class action lawsuit alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
Brought by Monique Perez of California, the GM lawsuit claims that beginning in late 2013, General Motors Financial Co. Inc. made “virtually daily incessant calls” to Perez’s cellphone regarding a debt allegedly owed by another person named “Melanie.”
Perez claims that by calling from an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS), which can store or produce telephone numbers to be called using a random or sequential number generator, GM Financial violated the TCPA. Don’t you love technology?
According to the lawsuit, “Plaintiff has never provided any personal information, including her cellular telephone number, to defendant for any purpose. As such, neither defendant nor its agents were provided with prior express consent to place calls via its ATDS to plaintiff’s cellular telephone.”
The plaintiff alleges members of the class not only suffered privacy violations but also suffered cellular telephone charges or saw a reduction in cellular telephone time that had already been paid for.
Perez is seeking to represent a putative class, made up of all US residents who received any telephone call from the company to a cellphone through the use of an ATDS within the past four years. She is seeking $500 per negligent violation and $1,500 per knowing or willful violation of the TCPA for each class member.
So it was all corn after all… Kellogg’s, the maker of Kashi products, has agreed to a $5 million settlement, potentially ending a consumer fraud class action lawsuit that claimed Kashi’s labeling was misleading and fraudulent. Wait—don’t tell me—this stuff is so natural it makes Mother Nature look fraudulent—right?
Right. The Kashi lawsuit alleged that labeling on certain products used labels stating “All Natural” or “Nothing Artificial,” when in fact the products contain a variety of synthetic and artificial ingredients, such as pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate, hexane-processed soy ingredients, ascorbic acid, glycerin and sodium phosphate.
Under the terms of the settlement, Kellogg’s has also agreed to stop using the labels “All Natural” and “Nothing Artificial”. In a statement, Kellogg Co. said it stood by its advertising and labeling practices but that it would change its formulas or labels on Kashi products, nationally by the end of the year.
The settlement was filed May 2 in U.S. District Court in California and is subject to court approval.
Ok Folks—we’re done here—have a great weekend and we’ll see you at the bar!