Yoohoo! Yahoo Breach…Again! Just in case you missed this—Yahoo got hit with a data breach class action lawsuit filed by a user who claims the internet company was negligent in protecting its customers data. Earlier this week, Yahoo revealed it had been the target of a data breach which affected 1 billion users. Yup—that’s ONE BILLION users.
Filed by New York resident Amy Vail, the suit alleges negligence, breach of express and implied contract, and violation of California’s unfair competition law.
In a statement issued Wednesday, December 14, 2016, Yahoo stated it believes that in 2013 hackers stole personal information related to 1 billion of its users by hacking their email accounts. This incident is separate from a similar one which Yahoo made public in September. However, the lawsuit contends that Yahoo has said some of the activity from both data breaches may be connected to a single state-sponsored actor.
According to the lawsuit, Yahoo does not know who took the information, and has been unable to identify the intrusion in which it was taken.
“As a result of defendant’s failure to maintain adequate security measures and timely security breach notifications, Yahoo users’ personal and private information has been repeatedly compromised and remains vulnerable. Further, Yahoo users have suffered an ascertainable loss in that they have had to undertake additional security measures, at their own expense, to minimize the risk of future data breaches,” the lawsuit states.
Yahoo revealed earlier this year that “state-sponsored actors” had hacked similar types of data from 500 million of its users in late 2014.
In a recent press release, Yahoo also noted that an investigation into the 2014 breach revealed the hackers’ ability, in some cases, to fake online “cookies”, enabling them to access users’ accounts without a password.
Vail is represented by Lee Cirsch, Robert Friedl, and Trisha Monesi of Capstone Law APC. The suit is Vail v. Yahoo, case number 3:16-cv-07154, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Teaching by Example? (Or Not…) A $100 million settlement has been reached between DeVry University and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over allegations of for-profit education fraud, specifically, that the for-profit university used false statistics about its graduates’ job placement rates in order to lure students and increase enrollment.
According to the terms of the DeVry Settlement, DeVry will pay $49.4 million, which will be distributed by the FTC, and forgive $30.4 million in student loans and $20.2 million owed by former students. DeVry also said it had agreed to change its practices to “maintain specific substantiation” about graduates’ outcomes.
The FTC filed the lawsuit against DeVry in January, claiming the for-profit school deliberately misled customers through advertising claims it made in print, radio, online and TV that 90 percent of its graduates landed jobs within six months of initiating a job search.
Additionally, the suit claimed DeVry misled students when it claimed that its bachelor’s degree graduates had 15 percent higher incomes a year after their studies ended than graduates of all other colleges and universities, the FTC stated.
The terms of the settlement now “prohibits DeVry from including jobs students obtained more than six months before graduating whenever DeVry advertises its graduates’ successes in finding jobs near graduation.”
Further, the settlement stipulates that DeVry must notify students who are receiving debt relief, as well as credit bureaus and collections agencies. DeVry has also agreed to release transcripts and diplomas that they had been withholding from students who had outstanding debt.
The case is Federal Trade Commission v. DeVry Education Group Inc. et al., case number 2:16-cv-00579, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
All is Not Gold…? And the final biggie to report this week: a $60 million settlement has been granted preliminary approval, potentially ending an antitrust class action lawsuit against Deutsche Bank AG which claims the bank engaged in illegal price-fixing of the gold market.
The lawsuit was brought by investors and traders in March 2014, alleging UBS Deutsche, HSBC, Societe Generale SA, The Bank of Nova Scotia and Barclays conspired to manipulate the London gold fix, which is used as a benchmark to determine the price of gold and gold derivatives.
Under the terms of the preliminary agreement, the class would include anyone who sold physical gold or derivatives based on gold or bought gold put options on COMEX or other exchanges from January 1, 2004, through June 30, 2013.
The MDL is In Re: Commodity Exchange Inc., Gold Futures and Options Trading Litigation, case number 1:14-md-02548, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Cha Ching! That’s a wrap folks! See you at the Bar!!
Overworked Oilers? Another week, another several employment lawsuits. This one, an unpaid overtime class action lawsuit, has been filed against oilfield services company Schlumberger Tech Corp, by workers who allege the company is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
According to the lawsuit, the defendant schedules workers for long shifts but pays them salaries plus a day rate, instead of overtime rates as required by both state and federal labor law. The laborers are not exempt from overtime as they perform manual duties that fit within a checklist set by their superiors, the lawsuit states.
“All these workers are regularly scheduled to work 84 hours per workweek, but often worked more,” attorneys for the plaintiff Andrew Fritchman state. “Instead of paying them overtime, SLB paid its [measurement while drilling] employees a base salary plus a day rate.”
According to the complaint, Fritchman worked as a “measurement while drilling” employee, a largely manual job that didn’t leave room to deviate from the company’s outlined plan for how each day was to be conducted. Measurement while drilling workers are tasked with recording data gathered during drilling operations. A college education is not required to do this work, the plaintiff asserts.
Fritchman is claiming that he and other workers performing the same job worked grueling schedules, working and living in the field sometimes for weeks. Typically, a schedule would require one worker on the “day” shift and the other on the “night” shift. Those shifts were 12 hours, and the employees worked seven days a week. Ah, yeah, that doesn’t sound good…
The plaintiffs assert that instead of paying its workers overtime as required by FLSA, the Ohio Prompt Pay Act, the Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act, and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, the company paid them a salary plus a day rate.
The lawsuit is seeking back pay, liquidated damages, attorneys’ fees and costs under FLSA for the company’s misclassifying its workers as exempt from overtime rules.
The case is Fritchman v. Schlumberger Tech Corp., case number 2:16-cv-01752, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
$1B Hip Award. I’m willing to bet Johnson and Johnson is not celebrating this weekend. A jury in Dallas this week awarded $1 billion to six plaintiffs who are suing Johnson & Johnson (J&J) alleging the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant made by the company’s subsidiary, DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., was defective and has caused them adverse health effects and subsequent surgeries to remove the device.
The DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant has an unreasonably high failure rate. The lawsuits filed against DePuy, claim the metal-on-metal design allows metal debris to come loose from the device, ultimately being absorbed by the patient’s surrounding tissue.
Although J&J won the first case in 2014, in March of this year another federal jury in Dallas awarded $502 million to five plaintiffs whose suits were combined. The DePuy Pinnacle hip award was later reduced to $150 million under Texas law. However, because this latest set of lawsuits was tried under California law, the award won’t be subject to a punitive damages cap.
J&J is currently facing 8,500 similar lawsuits brought together in an MDL in federal court in Dallas. All the plaintiffs allege the company failed to adequately warn of the side effects associated with the hip implant.
According to media reports, evidence presented in court showed J&J paid kickbacks to surgeons to promote the device, even though the company was aware that the implant was associated with greater risks than other similar devices.
DePuy stopped selling the metal-on-metal Pinnacle devices in 2013 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration strengthened its artificial hip regulations.
It would be interesting to know how many hours J&J spends in court each year, defending itself against defective products litigation…
AMEX Calling? A $9.25 million settlement has received final approval this week, ending a class action lawsuit against American Express. The lawsuit claimed the company made numerous unsolicited telemarketing calls, in violation of the Telephone Consumer protection Act (TCPA). You think?
According to the terms of the AMEX settlement, the funds will be distributed between two plaintiff classes, specifically, those who received debt collection calls on AmEx accounts and those who received telemarketing calls on behalf of the credit card company.
$1 million will be distributed among the debt collection class, defined as those who received calls from third-party vendor West Asset Management Inc. between 2009 and 2013 hoping to collect on AmEx debt. Attorneys for the plaintiffs state that as only 135 members of that class filed claims, each plaintiff will receive over $4,400 from the fund. That’s a nice little pay day.
The class of plaintiffs who received telemarketing calls from vendor Alorica Inc. between 2009 and 2016 will share up to $8.25 million after attorneys’ fees have been paid. There are a reported 55,000 members of that class who filed claims, so the payment per class member will be $88.
The case is Ossola et al. v. American Express Co. et al., case number 1:13-cv-04836, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Well, that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the bar.
Galaxy on Fire. Well folks, you knew it was coming…take Note (bad pun)… Samsung, not surprisingly, got hit with a defective products class action lawsuit this week, alleging its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone is prone to catching on fire and exploding. No kidding…
Specifically, the Samsung Galaxy lawsuit alleges that as a result of the defect, Samsung customers had to wait days or weeks for a replacement phone. In the meantime, they’re charged monthly fees by carriers for phones they can’t use.
The three plaintiffs from New Jersey who filed the suit allege users should be compensated for the money they paid for devices and plan charges to cellular operators while the South Korean phone maker took its time replacing and finally discontinuing the Note7’s.
The complaint alleges that many Note7 users were unable to use their devices due to the possibility they could overheat and burst into flames. When consumers who tried to exchange their phones during the initial recall period, they were often unable to because of limited stock.
Consequently, some customers were told that they would have to wait weeks until a replacement phone was available. “It was not until September 21 that Samsung announced that it would begin the Note7 exchanges nationwide. And even on that date, only an estimated 500,000 replacement devices had arrived in the United States,” the complaint states.
Further, the complaint alleges that users incurred monthly device and plan fees during that same period from their phone carriers.
The case is re: Waudby vs Samsung Electronics America, U.S. district court, district of New Jersey, Newark, No . 16-cv-07334-CCC-JBC.
Bed, Bath & Beyond has gone Beyond, according to the details of an unpaid overtime class action lawsuit filed by former department and assistant managers. They claim the retailer is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The allegations in the Bed, Bath & Beyond overtime lawsuit are that BB&B improperly denied the plaintiffs overtime by not meeting the FLSA requirements for a “fluctuating work week” model, which are that employees’ hours to change from week to week, they have a fixed salary that meets minimum wage requirements, and a 50 percent overtime premium for hours worked in excess of 50 hours. According to the lawsuit, the Bed Bath & Beyond department managers had relatively stable schedules and did not meet the fluctuating work week model.
“Upon information and belief, plaintiffs’ weekly work hours as [department managers] did not meaningfully fluctuate, their scheduled work hours and the actually hours they worked, including the numbers of overtime hours, were largely consistent from week to week,” according to the lawsuit. “Because the [department managers’] weekly work hours were substantially the same from week to week, defendant [unlawfully] applied the FWW model to avoid paying the [department managers] their overtime compensation under the regular 1.5 overtime premium.”
The plaintiffs also assert that assistant managers were unlawfully classified as exempt employees who did not receive any overtime pay, that the company violated labor laws by failing to provide a wage notice at the time of hire outlining terms and conditions, and that employees didn’t properly receive pay stub information.
“Consistent with defendant’s policy and pattern or practice, plaintiffs regularly worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek without being paid at premium overtime rate 1.5 times of their respective regular rate of compensation for the hours they worked in excess of 40 per workweek,” the complaint states.
The plaintiffs are claiming violations of the FLSA and state labor laws, and seek unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, prejudgment and post-judgment interest and attorneys’ fees. The complaint seeks to create a collective action for FLSA overtime compensation violations, consisting of those who are or were department managers or assistant managers from October 2013 through the present. Additionally, the lawsuit seeks to create a class of all non-exempt Bed Bath & Beyond employees within the past six years for failure to pay overtime and failure to provide proper wage notice at the time of hiring.
The case is Thomas et al. v. Bed Bath and Beyond Inc., case number 1:16-cv-08160, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Poached Dreams? If this doesn’t prove it pays to stand up for yourself, what does? A $50 million settlement has been agreed in an antitrust anti-employee poaching class action lawsuit pending against Dreamworks Animation. The lawsuit, filed in 2014, alleged that the animation company perpetuated a “no poach” gentleman’s agreement with other studios over the hiring of animators. Gentlemen’s agreement?
According to a statement by a group of animators and visual effects employees who worked for the studios, “The Proposed Settlement Agreement was the product of a thorough assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of plaintiffs’ case.” And, “It reflects nearly two years of discovery, uncovering the intricacies of a multi-faceted conspiracy.”
The group has asked the court to grant preliminary approval of the Dreamworks settlement, calling it fair and reasonable. They stated that the money represented about 40 percent of the damages sustained by class members, who were previous employees of Dreamworks, as a result of the scheme.
The lawsuit targeted some major studios including The Walt Disney Co., Pixar Inc., DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., Lucasfilm Ltd. and ImageMovers Digital LLC.
The allegations of colluding to stop poaching and driving up pay rates, resulted from a U.S. Department of Justice probe into the hiring practices of Silicon Valley businesses. Earlier this year, the animators, while pushing for class certification in their case, told the court that the studios’ collusion dates back several years and suppressed their pay by as much as 30 percent in some years.
The case is In re: Animation Workers Antitrust Litigation, case number 5:14-cv-04062, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Well, that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the Bar!
Travel Insurance Woes…A consumer fraud complaint against American Airlines took off this week, alleging the airline markets travel insurance as a pass-through charge paid to a third party but doesn’t disclose its profits.
Filed by Kristian Zamber, the multi-million dollar complaint asserts American Airlines misled its customers about its interests in selling the insurance policies and that it aggressively marketed travel insurance sold through its website.
The American Airlines lawsuit is seeking class certification, a jury trial and injunctive and equitable relief for alleged unjust enrichment and violations of Florida’s consumer protection statutes prohibiting companies from posing as revenue conduits.
According to the complaint, Zamber paid roughly $24 to purchase travel insurance in April for a domestic flight from Tampa to Pennsylvania. American Airlines stated the policy had no affiliation with the airline, but instead came from Allianz Global Assistance, with plans underwritten by Jefferson Insurance Co. or BCS Insurance Co. But in reality, the policy sales contributed to a “hidden profit center” for the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline, the complaint states.
The complaint also claims the airline forces customers to choose whether or not to purchase trip insurance policies before allowing them to complete online ticket purchases. Yup—been to that destination….
Touch Disease has Spread North of the border. Apple is facing a defective products class action lawsuit in Canada over allegations that it’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models have a defect which effectively results in the smartphone freezing or not responding to touch commands.
Following on from a similar defective products lawsuit filed in the US, the Canadian lawsuit claims Apple was aware of the problem but failed to take action to remedy it.
Filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan, the Canadian iPhone complaint would include all Canadian iPhone 6 and 6 Plus customers. It alleges that Apple was negligent because it supplied a defective phone, “knowingly and intentionally concealed” from customers the defect and failed to provide a proper remedy.
According to attorneys who filed the Canadian complaint, Apple has so far only offered its customers around $300 as compensation.
Shortly after the product was launched in 2014, one of the plaintiffs in the class action alleges she bought the iPhone 6 for around $200, hundreds of dollars less than the regular price because she locked into a two-year phone plan contract. Then, a few months after the warranty had expired on her phone, it began to intermittently freeze up and failed to respond to touch commands.
The lawsuit alleges that that the underlying problem is the touchscreen controller chips in the phone’s motherboard, which are not properly secured and can malfunction with regular use.
Here’s a whopper—but then the size of the Volkswagen defeat device scandal is, likely, unprecedented. A $1.2 billion settlement has been reached between Volkswagen AG and 650 US VW franchise dealerships, ending litigation brought by the dealerships over the VW emissions scandal. Specifically, the dealerships alleged that the value of their businesses had decreased as a result of Volkswagen’s attempts to cheat on vehicle emissions tests through its so called “defeat devices.” According to documents filed Friday in California federal court, the deal will provide an average payout of $.185 million to each Volkswagen-branded franchise dealer in the US.
Additionally, the VW settlement provides for VW buying back from its franchisees, affected vehicles that can’t be put into emissions compliance, using the same terms granted to car owners as part of the tentative consumer settlement.
“This recovery to the franchise dealer class is outstanding, particularly given the immediate need for cooperation among Volkswagen and its franchise dealers to effectuate the terms of the $10 billion-plus consumer class action settlement that is presently pending approval before this court,” the motion states. “Without any obvious deficiencies, the settlement agreement readily meets the standards for preliminary approval.”
Further, there will be no claims process, as dealerships that don’t opt out of the settlement will automatically receive a cash payment based on a formula of 71 times the monthly support payment VW made to dealers in November 2015. Take it or leave it? Almost.
The MDL is In re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, case number 3:15-md-02672, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Well, that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the Bar!
Heads up—literally… for anyone who’s used SoftSheen-Carson Optimum Amla Legend No-Mix, No-Lye Relaxer. A defective products class action lawsuit has been filed by two women in the US against L’Oréal alleging the hair relaxer kits causes hair loss and scalp burns. Ouch!
While the advertising claims it helps Afro-Caribbean hair to feel fuller and silkier through the inclusion of amla oil from the Indian amla super fruit, the plaintiffs allege that thousands of women who bought and used the product have suffered distressing injuries including hair loss and breakage, and scalp irritation, blisters and burns.
According to the SoftSheen Relaxer complaint, despite not listing lye as an ingredient, the inclusion of lithium hydroxide can cause damaging effects like those experienced by the women who used the product. Further, it’s also not clear as to whether the product truly is a ‘no-lye’ relaxer as the retail lists sodium hydroxide in the products’ ingredients online.
Dorothy Riles, one of the key plaintiffs behind the lawsuit, claims that when she used the product she was left with bald patches, burns and scabs forcing her to wear a wig.
Another key plaintiff claims that when using the product she immediately experienced scalp irritation and, after washing it out, she saw “significant” hair loss.
The plaintiffs are demanding that L’Oréal is tried by jury and are seeking compensation on the grounds of false advertising, unfair competition, consumer fraud, deceptive business practices, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, unjust enrichment, fraud and negligence.
Shrinking Credibility at School? A $11.2 million settlement in a consumer fraud class action lawsuit pending against The Chicago School of Psychology has received final approval. The lawsuit was brought by students who alleged they were provided with misleading information regarding the school’s accreditation and their job prospects after completing their courses.
The Chicago School settlement will provide financial recovery for 87 students who are class members. The average payout will be $95,000 per student.
Plaintiff Miranda Joe Truitt and other students filed the complaint in November, 2012 claiming they invested in a worthless education. They wanted to study at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and were encouraged to attend classes at the graduate university’s Los Angeles campus, which was falsely promoted to them as being prestigious and accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).
According to the settlement documents, the plaintiffs were “either negligently lured” to enroll at the Los Angeles campus or were caused to stay “by a series of statements or omissions allegedly made, issued or approved by defendants.” In 2013, Tara Fischer filed a similar class action which was later consolidated with the Truitt’s complaint.
According to Truitt’s complaint, the administration of the Chicago School of Psychology led the Los Angeles campus students to believe that they would get APA approval before their graduation.
The case is Miranda Jo Truit et al v. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, number BC495518, in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles.
Domino’s Pizza drivers got a delivery this week …in the form of a $995,000 award in a wage and hour lawsuit in Georgia. The action was brought against Domino’s franchisees Cowabunga Inc. and Cowabunga Three LLC, by drivers who alleged the franchisees shorted their drivers on vehicle expenses, resulting in the drivers’ pay going below below minimum wage in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The named plaintiff, Chadwick Hines, will receive a $7,500 service award. The final approval of the settlement ends the lawsuit filed against Cowabunga in 2015. Cowabunga, one of the largest singly owned Domino’s franchises in the U.S.
A total of 565 Cowabunga delivery drivers opted into to the case. The drivers will receive damages from the $995,000 settlement in exchange for waiving their wage and hour claims against Cowabunga. The average award per driver is $1,138.
Well, that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the Bar!