Insta-cha-ching? You share your photos for free—and Instagram sells them for a profit? What? You have a problem with that? This week, Instagram got hit with a proposed unfair business practices class action lawsuit related to its recently updated terms of service. Specifically, the lawsuit, filed by California Instagram user Lucy Funes, alleges the company is in breach of contract: “[Instagram’s] unreasonable change of Terms accordingly violated the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing inherent in Instagram’s current Terms,” the Instagram class action lawsuit states.
As a result of rapid and large user backlash, the photo-sharing site denied that it had plans to sell user photos, referring to the upset as a misunderstanding. The new terms of service will go into effect January 16, 2013.
According to the Instagram lawsuit, “On behalf of a class of Instagram’s California customers, Plaintiff is acting to preserve valuable and important property, statutory, and legal rights, through injunctive, declaratory, and equitable relief issued by this Court before such claims are forever barred by adoption of Instagram’s New Terms,” the filing said. “For this reason, even though the New Terms are not yet effective, this case is ‘ripe’ for adjudication.”
Step On It Already! It’s about time—Toyota Motor Corp has agreed to a $1.1 billion settlement of a pending defective products class action lawsuit.
The Toyota class action lawsuit stemmed from complaints that a flaw in Toyota’s electronic throttle-control system, and not ill-fitting floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals, were to blame for unwanted acceleration of Toyota vehicles, which caused drivers to lose control and crash.
According to the terms of the settlement, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, Toyota will pay $1.1 billion to install new safety equipment and reimburse as many as 16 million customers.
BP’s cost of doing business? A $7.8 billion settlement against BP PLC has been approved by a federal judge, resolving economic and medical claims brought by more than 100,000 businesses and individuals who suffered from the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April, 2010.
According to the terms of the settlement, approved by US District Judge Carl Barbier, there is no cap on the financial compensation—so the amount could be more or less than the estimated $7.8 billion, with the exception of $2.3 billion put aside to cover seafood-related claims by commercial fishing vessel owners, captains and deckhands.
The explosion of BP’s Macondo well that resulted in the worst oil spill in the history of the US, killed 11 rig workers and released over 200 million gallons of oil, closing much of the Gulf for months to commercial and recreational fishing and shrimping. While much litigation remains, this agreement provides for people and businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and some coastal counties in eastern Texas and western Florida, and in adjacent Gulf waters and bays.
According to a report in the Kansas City Star Judge Barbier said the settlement averts worries that litigation could continue for 15 to 20 years, as it did after the Exxon Valdez and Amoco Cadiz oil spills, creating a secondary disaster for those affected. The Star also notes that no ruling has been made on a medical settlement for cleanup workers and others who say exposure to oil or dispersants made them sick.
Still unresolved are environmental damage claims brought by the federal government and Gulf Coast states against BP and its partners on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, and claims against Switzerland-based rig owner Transocean Ltd., and Houston-based cement contractor Halliburton.
A trial is scheduled for next year, to identify the causes of BP’s blowout and assign percentages of fault to the companies involved.
Judge Barbier wrote that lawyers’ fees will not be taken from the settlements: BP has agreed to pay them separately.
I’ll drink to that! And on that note—Happy New Year—here’s to a peaceful and prosperous 2013!
This time we leave the Marcellus Shale region and set our sights a bit southwest, to Clinton—er, former Clinton—territory: Little Rock, AR. Seems folks there aren’t convinced that fracking’s the way to go to drill for natural gas—at least not in their backyard. Also seems like fracking’s become the NIMBY hot-button issue of the day, reminiscent of the tenor that swept the nation when the Three Mile Island core meltdown was hot and heavy in the news. NIMBY indeed.
The backyard in question here, however, happens to be government-owned land—namely the Ozark National Forest, and also Greers Ferry Lake. The plaintiffs, which are a collective of environmental groups and concerned citizens, are calling for three US government agencies (US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service and the US Army Corps of Engineers) to stop drilling operations from going forward until proper studies are done that show that fracking is not harmful to the environment.
Hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) has been getting a fair amount of attention in the press lately—thanks in large part to the work that Public Citizenand other consumer advocacy groups have been doing. The issue with fracking is that the drilling process calls for massive amounts of water combined with chemicals—chemicals that have not fully been disclosed yet to the public by the oil companies—to be forced into the ground in order to facilitate (ie, by helping to “fracture” the underground) the release of the natural gas below.
Environmental groups, farmers and homeowners alike who live in areas where fracking is going on are concerned for the safety of their drinking water, their land—their very health. The EPA is conducting a study to assess the overall impact on water quality and human health—but those results are not available yet, and of course, there are plenty of oil-industry-backed or -initiated studies proclaiming the merits and safety of fracking. So bottom line, until the EPA study is available, anecdotal information—such as that of flammable tap water—doesn’t have too many folks grabbing a glass of their local water well’s finest with much confidence.
It’s that lack of information and lack of confidence that forms the backdrop to the current charges of the lawsuit. The plaintiffs’ allegations state that the number of wells in which drilling is already going on in the region surpasses the number that were estimated in 2005 by the BLM—and its the agencies listed as defendants in the lawsuit that are responsible for leasing the gas and issuing drilling licenses on land owned by the government. (thesuntimes.com)
If you haven’t seen the My Water’s on Fire Tonight (The Fracking Song) video, here’s a chance to check it out. It’s quick, but it delivers its message—and there’s something about the bobbing oil towers and retro “What the Frack is Going on…” sound that’s making me have some sort of Soul Train flashback moment.
Credit must be given to ProPublica and the students at NYU Studio 20 who set out to create a video to explain what hydraulic fracking is all about—or at least what the primary concern of anti-fracking groups is. You can also read more about hydraulic fracturing (nickname: fracking) on the following pages here at LawyersandSettlements.com…
Okay, we all know that those fluorescent bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs. They last longer, and reduce greenhouse gasses.
And everyone is on the bandwagon. Canada starts phasing out incandescent bulbs starting next year. In the US, it’s 2014. Australia led the way in 2007, and the European Union came soon after.
Here’s the thing. Incandescent light bulbs, as inefficient as they are, don’t contain mercury.
But fluorescents do.
Okay fine, the mercury is in the bulb and as long as they don’t break…
Yes, mercury is a naturally occurring element, just as the inert gas used in the incandescent bulb is also naturally occurring. The difference with mercury is that it’s a neurotoxin that can damage the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver through chronic exposure.
Health Canada says, “Mercury can impair the ability to feel, see, move and taste and can cause numbness and tunnel vision. Long-term exposure can lead to progressively worse symptoms and ultimately personality changes, stupor and in extreme cases, coma or death,” according to Health Canada.
The regulator goes on to say that recent research suggests even at low levels, mercury can have adverse health impacts on the cardiovascular and immune system.
Here’s the question. What happens to all these bulbs when they are spent? And what happens if they break en route to a disposal facility?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that three per cent of the total mercury in Read the rest of this entry »
Just passing along three upcoming events regarding hydraulic fracking in the Marcellus Shale region that I came across over at the Marcellus Shale Protest website. So if you’re in Pennsylvania, or can be, you may want to attend. We do try to keep it balanced here, but given the recent lawsuit and the growing groundswell around questions about the safety of fracking near our water supplies, it’s important to stay abreast of local public meetings and for folks to participate and stay informed.
(From MarcellusProtest.org: Everything you want to know about Marcellus Shale drilling—and what you can do: A Citizen’s Guide; Free workshop to learn more about the natural gas exploration process, how it is regulated, and what must be done to ensure our land, water and communities are protected.)
Date/Time: Tuesday, March 15th, 6:30 p.m.
Blossburg Memorial Library
307 Main Street
Blossburg, PA 16912
(From MarcellusProtest.org: Marcellus Co-op meeting at Canon McMillan High School Organized by Jesse White The plan is for neighboring municipalities to share resources and possibly hire an enforcement officer for regulations at drilling and compressor sites.)
Date/Time: Tuesday, March 15th, 10:30 p.m.
Canon-McMillon High School
314 Elm St.Canonsburg, PA
(Note: this is an industry summit so only industry insiders (and vendors) can attend; however, there are folks who are planning to meet outside the summit to share their concern over fracking in the Shale region; as of press time here, the Facebook event listing for Protest the Gas Industry Marcellus Shale Summit shows 77 attending, 26 maybe attending, and 1,287 still needing to respond.)
Date/Time: Tuesday, March 29th, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel
107 6th Street