GM, Toyota, now Chrysler—Welcome! to the defective automotive class action lawsuit hall of fame…Cast your mind back—when reports of alleged defects with the Chrysler Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) in 2011-2012 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos and Dodge Grand Caravans, began to surface…well, predictably, a Chrysler class action has been filed, alleging the alleged defective Chrysler TIPMs can cause numerous electrical problems and serious safety risks. no surprise there. I suppose the good news is that there don’t appear to be any reports of deaths associated with these defects. We hope.
According to the lawsuit, the associated TIPM problems range from difficulty starting the vehicles to stalling to fuel pumps not shutting off. Additionally, the affected vehicles may experience random activation of the built in alarm systems, windshield wipers or horns, headlights going out. Talk about having a bad hair day! That could send a person seriously over the edge.
The alleged defective TIPMs are so common that the replacement parts are backordered for weeks across the US. Terrific.
The plaintiffs allege that to date, Chrysler has refused to reimburse impacted affected owners for their rental car costs or the cost of expensive repairs. Further, Chrysler has to date refused to issue a recall for the TIPM, despite being aware that the defective TIPM pose serious safety risks to those who continue to drive the impacted Chrysler vehicles. So, sing it with me folks—you know the words—Hi Ho, Hi Ho—it’s off to court they go!
Revlon’s hit a Wrinkle with their DNA Advantage product marketing…Wonder if they can make it vanish? The beauty products manufacturer got hit with a consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week—filed by two women who allege the company makes false and misleading claims regarding the benefits of various beauty products. Well, they certainly wouldn’t be the first.
The Revlon lawsuit specifically claims that these products are advertised as providing a “DNA Advantage” despite the fact that none of the products can stimulate, interact with or otherwise affect the genetic code in human skin cells. (Really, we should be very grateful for that…)
Filed by Anne Elkind and Sharon Rosen, of Long Island and California respectively, the lawsuit states: “Revlon claims in its federal trademark registration that ‘DNA Advantage’ refers to an ‘ingredient in the manufacturing of cosmetics and makeup to protect against UV rays’ which is essentially sunscreen. Further, only one of its three ‘Age Defying with DNA Advantage’ products … even contains sunscreen.” Really?
The plaintiffs allege Revlon’s use of the term “with DNA Advantage,” rather than “with sunscreen,” could deceive consumers into believing that the three cosmetic products are scientifically important and beneficial over and above anything having to do with UV protection from sunscreen, Really, it seems to me that if Revlon had found the “Fountain of Youth” we would not be buying this stuff over the counter for under $100 bucks…
The complaint further states that even if the information on the packaging is referring to other ingredients with respect to the “DNA Advantage”, no ingredient identified by its customer service employees is capable of stimulating, interacting with or otherwise affecting the DNA in human skin cells, contrary to Revlon’s advertising claims. Further, Revlon’s packaging of the products features a double-helix design characteristic of the shape of deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA molecules, which could further deceive ordinary consumers.
“Plaintiffs paid more for the products than they otherwise would have absent these statements, and would not have been willing to pay the prices they did, or to purchase them at all, absent the misrepresentations,” the lawsuit states. Well this part adds up.
The complaint, Elkind et al v. Revlon Consumer Products, case number 2:14-cv-02484, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges fraud, false advertising and unfair business practices claims under both New York and California statutory and common law. The lawsuit is seeking class action status, injunctive relief including possibly a recall of the products and payment including punitive damages from the Manhattan-based Revlon Inc, unit.
Pfizer is in a Giving Mood… They agreed to pay a $190M settlement settling a consumer fraud class action lawsuit which alleges the pharmaceutical giant engaged in tactics to delay market entry of generic versions of its epilepsy drug Neurontin.
The lawsuit was filed by purchasers of Neurontin in 2002, claiming Pfizer undertook campaign of sham patent infringement lawsuits and promotion of the drug for unapproved uses in order to maintain market exclusivity. The case is In re Neurontin Antitrust Litigation, No. 02-1390, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. That’s an expensive process…
FYI—in 2004, Pfizer pleaded guilty to criminal charges of illegal marketing of Neurontin and paid $430 million to federal and state governments.
Ok—Folks—we’re done here—have a great weekend and we’ll see you at the bar!
Bad Apple! It seems Apple may be entering the ever-growing list of wage and hour offenders. This week, a class action lawsuit was filed against the tech giant, alleging that Apple store staff are not paid for the time they spend undergoing bag searches, as required by the company’s policy.
Apple has a policy of requiring its retail store employees to undergo two mandatory bag searches per day. Two former Apple store employees from New York and Los Angeles filed a complaint in San Francisco federal court on Thursday regarding this policy. They allege they had to stand in lines up to 30 minutes long every day for store managers to check their bags and ensure they weren’t smuggling home stolen goods. The Apple unpaid wages lawsuit claims that the cumulative time employees spend having these bag searches done totals dozens of hours of unpaid wages, roughly $1,500 per year.
“Apple has engaged and continues to engage in illegal and improper wage practices that have deprived Apple Hourly Employees throughout the United States of millions of dollars in wages and overtime compensation,” the complaint reads.
“These practices include requiring Apple Hourly Employees to wait in line and undergo two off-the-clock security bag searches and clearance checks when they leave for their meal breaks and after they have clocked out at the end of their shifts.”
According to the complaint, Apple’s retail stores employ some 42,400 people in 13 countries. The retail outlets generated net sales of $156.5 billion in 2012. Most hourly workers make between minimum wage and $18.75 per hour and work 40 hours per week.
Amanda Frlekin and Dean Pelle, the two former employees who filed the wage and hour lawsuit, worked as “specialists,” essentially an in-store customer support position. The Apple lawsuit describes the bag searches as “required but uncompensated security checks,” claiming that Apple violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and New York labor law, and California labor law.
Off-label Drug Marketing Saga Continues—this week, it’s news that Pfizer will have to pony up $491 million to settle criminal and civil charges relating to its off-label marketing of Rapamune. The US Justice Department had claimed the drug company marketed the kidney-transplant drug for patients who received non-kidney organ transplants.
The Justice Department began its investigation over four years ago, and Pfizer inherited the probe when it bought Wyeth in 2009.
According to the Justice Department, Wyeth trained sales reps to push Rapamune for unapproved uses and offered bonuses to persuade them to flog the drug for patients it wasn’t cleared to treat. “This was a systemic, corporate effort to seek profit over safety,” U.S. Attorney Sanford Coats said in a statement. “Companies that ignore compliance with FDA regulations will face criminal prosecution and stiff penalties.”
Under the Pfizer Rapamune settlement agreement, Pfizer’s Wyeth division pleaded guilty to a criminal misbranding violation under the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. The deal includes a criminal fine of $157.58 million and asset forfeiture amounting to $76 million, or $233.5 million total. Civil payments to the government and states add another $257.4 million, for a total of $490.9 million. Okee dokee…
Looks like Chester Career College hit the Learning Curve on this one—at a cost of $5 million. That’s the settlement that was just approved ending a financial consumer fraud class action lawsuit pending against the college, formerly known as Richmond School of Health and Technology. The lawsuit alleged that the for-profit college practices predatory lending practices affecting thousands of students, primarily African American students, while offering sub-par education.
The back story—Chester Career College purportedly offers classes leading to careers in nursing, massage therapy and other medical-related fields, and specifically targeted inner city students with ads on hip-hop stations and other media aimed at their demographic. According to the lawsuit, the college enrolled “almost exclusively” students who qualified for federal financial aid, primarily in the form of student loans.
The Chester Career College settlement, approved by US District Judge John A. Gibney, will also see the school reimburse more than 4,000 students and for attorneys’ fees and requires Chester Career College to institute changes that will provide prospective students with “much more transparency” before they enroll. Further, the settlement also provides for continued tracking of students and career placement “to strengthen the school” and its educational mission as it moves forward.
Here’s the skinny—the settlement covers students enrolled at the school from July 2004 through February 2013. Students who qualify for claims will receive settlement notices by mail. Any money left unclaimed from the remaining funds in the escrow account after one year will be donated to nonprofit organizations dedicated to assisting the economically disadvantaged.
Ok folks, have a good one—see you at the bar!
What’s in an Expiration Date? According to three separate consumer fraud class action lawsuits filed this week, a whole lot of questionable motivation.
Filed against Pfizer (which makes Advil), Bayer (which makes Bayer aspirin) and Johnson & Johnson (which makes Tylenol Cold Multi-Symptom medications), the drug expiration date lawsuits allege the drug makers use “unconscionable, unfair, deceptive, unethical and illegal” means to promote the sales of their products. Specifically, the lawsuits claim that the these means involve the utilization of expiration dates to get consumers to throw away products that have passed their expiration dates, even though the companies know “that if stored properly these medications can and do remain chemically stable, safe and effective long after those dates.”
According to the consumer fraud lawsuits, studies by the Food and Drug Administration, Harvard Medical School, and Johns Hopkins University have found 90% of more than 100 prescription and over-the-counter drugs were fine and could be used for as much as 15 years after their expiration dates: this excludes certain drugs like tetracycline, nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics.
The lawsuit claims that the purpose of the expiration dates is “[T]o increase defendants’ sales and profits because consumers have to purchase replacement medications for those they have thrown out.” The class is seeking actual and punitive damages for consumers that purchased products from Pfizer, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson.
And Speaking of Drug Marketing… A $15 million settlement has been reached in the consumer fraud class action against Bayer regarding allegations of false advertising around certain combination aspirin products that were sold without FDA approval.
The lawsuit, entitled In re: Bayer Corp. Combination Aspirin Products Marketing & Sales Practices Litigation, alleges Bayer violated state consumer fraud and deceptive business practices acts, express and implied warranty statutes, and unjust enrichment laws in connection with the sale and marketing of Bayer Women’s Low-Dose Aspirin plus Calcium and Bayer Aspirin with Heart Advantage.
If you purchased Bayer® Women’s Low Dose Aspirin + Calcium or Bayer® Aspirin with Heart Advantage, you may be a member of the Bayer Heart Advantage Class or the Bayer Women’s Class (collectively referred to as the “Settlement Classes”) – and thus eligible to receive money from the settlement – depending on (1) which Combination Aspirin Product you purchased, (2) whether you purchased it for personal, family or household uses, and (3) when it was purchased. Each Settlement Class only includes purchases of specific Combination Aspirin Products during specific periods of time.
If you purchased one or more of the Combination Aspirin Products for personal, family or household uses then you are eligible to participate in one or both of the Settlement Classes described in this Notice, provided that your purchase occurred during the time periods specified for each Settlement Class.
Class Members of the Bayer combination aspirin class action settlement include US consumers who purchased one or more of the following combination aspirin products for personal, family or household use during the following time period:
Bayer Aspirin with Heart Advantage Settlement Class: Purchase Date: January 1, 2008 to July 20, 2012
Bayer Women’s Low-Dose Aspirin plus Calcium Settlement Class: Purchase Date: January 1, 2000 to July 20, 2012
To learn more about making a claim and to download forms go to the Bayer Combination Aspirin Class Action Lawsuit Settlement at BayerCombinationAspirinSettlement.com.
Convenience Food not so Convenient… A proposed settlement has been reached in a discrimination class action lawsuit pending against Burger King. The lawsuit, brought by individuals who use wheelchairs and scooters for mobility, allege that they encountered access problems at certain California Burger King leased restaurants.
Specifically, the Burger King class action lawsuit alleges individuals who use wheelchairs and scooters for mobility have been subjected to discrimination at the restaurants that allegedly contain unlawful architectural barriers to access. The Burger King ADA lawsuit sought to remove the alleged barriers, and monetary damages for Class Members denied access to restaurants on or after October 16, 2006.
The proposed settlement terms includes a total of $19 million for monetary relief, which will provide an estimated average recovery per class member of over $8,200, after deductions for attorney’s fees and costs.
Burger King Corporation and the restaurant operators deny they did anything wrong. The parties have reached a settlement of this case. It is now up to the Court approve the proposed settlement.
To find out more and to obtain claim forms for the Burger King wheelchair class action, call 1-888-569-9477.
And on that note—I’ll see you at the bar. Have a great weekend!
Seems Green Mountain may have been Roasting More Than Coffee. The company got hit with a securities class action lawsuit this week alleging it has been cooking the books.
The class action is brought against GMCR, certain of its officers and directors, and the underwriters of the Offering for violations of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. GMCR, based in Waterbury, Vermont, is a leader in the specialty coffee and coffee maker businesses.
FYI—GMCR produces coffee, tea and hot cocoa from its family of brands, including Tully’s Coffee(R), and manufactures the popular Keurig single-cup brewing systems that use “K-Cup” portion packs.
The lawsuit alleges that, during the Class Period, certain defendants systematically and strategically manipulated GMCR’s revenues. To do so, defendants used one of GMCR’s key fulfillment vendors, M. Block & Sons (“MBlock”), as a captive warehouse to harbor expired, excessively manufactured, or otherwise unsold product. Pursuant to the fraudulent scheme, GMCR improperly booked revenues associated with falsified sales orders for hundreds of millions of dollars in K-Cup and Keurig Brewer products, which resulted in the material overstatement of the Company’s profits, inventory, and product demand levels. GMCR also fraudulently overstated its assets in proportion to its fictitious revenues by carrying the proceeds of phantom sales as assets on its balance sheet throughout the Class Period.
On October 17, 2011, David Einhorn, a prominent activist investor, released a comprehensive report, including witness testimonials by former GMCR and MBlock employees, disclosing GMCR’s misconduct and questionable relationship with MBlock. Following the release of the report, the price of GMCR shares fell approximately 10% from its closing price of $92.09 on October 14, 2011 to close at $82.50 on October 17, 2011, the next trading day, on unusually heavy trading volume.
On October 19, 2011, after Einhorn’s presentation was more widely distributed, the price of GMCR common stock fell another 15% to close at $69.80 on October 19, 2011, on unusually heavy trading volume.
Finally, on November 9, 2011, GMCR announced disappointing earnings results and skyrocketing inventory. On this news, GMCR shares dropped 40%, from a close of $67.02 on November 9 to a close of $40.89 on November 10, 2011, on extremely heavy trading volume.
The securities lawsuit has been brought on behalf of purchasers of the common stock of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (“GMCR” or the “Company”) between February 2, 2011 and November 9, 2011, inclusive (the “Class Period”), including purchasers of GMCR’s common stock pursuant and/or traceable to the Company’s public offering on or around May 5, 2011 (the “Offering”).
HRT Breast Cancer Settlement. This one was all over the news this week. Three women who filed lawsuits against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Pharmacia Upjohn alleging that their diagnoses of breast cancer were directly attributable to their use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) drugs, were awarded $72.6 million by a jury in Philadelphia hearing their consolidated lawsuit. The jury awarded $20 million to Ms. Elfont, $27.85 million to Ms. Kalenkoski and $24.75 million to Ms. Mulderig, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
The three women filed individual lawsuits in July 2004 against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Pharmacia Upjohn, both of which have since been acquired by Pfizer.
The back story, in brief, is that Elfont, 66, had taken hormone therapy drugs for over two years before being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. Sixty-eight year old Kalenkoski was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, having taken Prempro for over four years, while Mulderig, also 68, took Premarin and Provera for 11 years before she received her breast cancer diagnosis, the PennRecord reported. It’s tragic and shocking.
According to a Bloomberg News report, Pfizer’s Wyeth and Upjohn units have lost 10 out of the 18 hormone therapy cases against them in civil court trials since 2006. Earlier this year Pfizer announced it had settled a third of the pending Prempro cases, it had set aside $772 for related claims, Bloomberg reported.
Another Bank Biggie this Week… Bank of America (BofA) agreed a $315 million settlement in a securities fraud class action lawsuit that alleged the bank was misled about mortgage-backed investments sold by its Merrill Lynch unit. The settlement needs court approval in order to fly–and guess who’s making that decision? US District Judge Jed Rakoff–so all bets are off that this one get’s approved…
The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi pension fund led the lawsuit, alleging that the investments contained questionable subprime mortgages written by lenders Countrywide Financial Corp., First Franklin Financial, and IndyMac Bancorp – IndyMac went under in 2008.
Ok – That’s enough for this week. See you at the bar.
Recently it was announced, in a joint statement by Health Canada and Pfizer Canada, that Thelin (sitaxsentan) was being taken off the market in Canada, as well as every country in which it had been sold, due to risk for potentially fatal liver damage.
Never heard of Thelin? There’s a reason for that. Thelin is not available in the US. Never was. That’s because the FDA refused to approve the drug designed to treat pulmonary hypertension. In the view of the FDA, the benefits did not outweigh the risks.
In a bid to win FDA approval for marketing Thelin in this country, Pfizer Inc. launched a series of clinical trials. However, those trials have been abandoned following the deaths of three trial participants.
According to a report in the Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, liver damage was a known complication of Thelin. However, in announcing that it was abandoning further clinical trials, Pfizer noted that it had discovered a “new potentially life-threatening idiosyncratic risk” of liver injury among patients that is difficult to predict or guard against.
Thus, there will be no further clinical trials, and Thelin will be coming off the market in Australia, Europe and Canada where it had been previously approved. Given the known risks associated with Thelin, Canadians are wondering how Thelin ever won Health Canada approval in the first place.
The FDA has been maligned, chastised, ridiculed and kicked to the curb over the appearance of lax oversight both in the approval, and ongoing supervision of drugs and medical devices. And to be sure, much of that criticism is warranted.
However, on this occasion the FDA stuck to its guns and has been vindicated. There can be Read the rest of this entry »