So Volkswagen’s Not the Only Emissions Cheat? Maybe…Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and engine maker Cummins Inc. got hit with a proposed consumer fraud class action alleging the diesel engines in Dodge Ram trucks hide the trucks’ emissions, which are above the legal limit.
Specifically, the plaintiffs claims that Chrysler and Cummins conspired to knowingly deceive customers and regulators with respect to the emissions levels generated by Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks outfitted with the Cummins 6.7-liter turbo diesel engine, which were emitting dangerous levels of nitrogen oxides.
“The defendants never disclosed to consumers that the affected vehicles may be ‘clean’ diesels in very limited circumstances, but are ‘dirty’ diesels under most driving conditions,” the complaint states.
According to the Chrysler emissions lawsuit, the engines have a technology built in that traps and breaks down pollutants, a design feature meant to reduce the amount of NOx going into the atmosphere through the trucks’ exhaust. However, when the trucks are traveling for long distances or up hills, they emit far more pollutants that allowed under California and federal law. Nice.
The plaintiffs claim Chrysler and Cummins intentionally mislead the public, illegally sold non-compliant polluting vehicles, concealed emissions levels, knowingly profited from the dirty diesels and used fraudulently gained emissions credits from the US Environmental Protection Agency for use on future production of high-polluting vehicles.
The complaint states that in addition to hiding the true emission outputs, the affected Cummins diesel engines wore out the so-called catalytic converter more quickly because the engines burn fuel at a higher rate. Consequently, truck owners frequently had to replace the converter after the warranty had expired at a cost of approximately $3,000 to $5,000.
The case is James Bledsoe et al. v. FCA USA LLC et al., case number 2:16-cv-14024, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Rusty Trucks? What a whopper! A $3.4 billion settlement has been agreed in a defective automotive class action brought against Toyota Motor Co. The lawsuit alleges that the frames in certain Tacoma, Tundra and Sequoia trucks are prone to rust corrosion and perforation.
Under the terms of the deal, approximately 1.5 million vehicles that may have defective frames will be inspected and an estimated 225,000 trucks will have their frames replaced.
The Toyota frame lawsuit was filed in 2015, alleging its 2005-2009 Tacoma trucks were made with frames that are inadequately protected from rust corrosion, rendering the vehicles unstable and unsafe to drive. The lawsuit also alleged that Toyota was aware of the defect but failed to correct it.
The settlement covers 2005 to 2010 Tacomas, 2007 to 2008 Tundras, and 2005 to 2008 Sequoias. The Japanese automaker has promised that vehicle owners will not be charged for the inspection and replacement campaign. The program will last 12 years from the date the vehicle was sold or leased, meaning any future perforations will also be covered. The replacement and inspection policy remains valid if an owner sells the vehicle to another party.
Further, the plaintiffs have asked for certification of a class of Tacoma, Tundra and Sequoia owners or lessees from the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Washington D.C. and all U.S. territories.
The case is Brian Warner et al v. Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., case number 2:15-cv-02171 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Adderall Generic Delay. Finally. A $15 million settlement has been approved by a federal judge, ending an antitrust class action against Shire US Inc, that alleged the pharmaceutical company paid competitors to delay selling their less expensive generic versions of Adderall, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Under the terms of the Adderall settlement agreement, plaintiffs Monica Barba and Jonathan Reisman were each granted service awards of $5,000, and 10 named plaintiffs in three related cases were granted $2,500 awards.
According to court documents, some 23,452 claims requesting reimbursement for more than 855,000 Adderall prescriptions have been received by the claims administrator. That’s not insignificant.
About $1 million is expected to be left over once all the claims are paid out, and will be donated to CHADD, a national nonprofit that promotes education and advocacy for people with ADHD.
Filed in 2013, the lawsuit was initially brought by consumers in Florida and Pennsylvania who alleged Shire created pay-for-delay settlements in false patent litigation against Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. and Impax Laboratories Inc. to delay the generic competition for Adderall reaching the market.
The case is Barba et al. v. Shire US Inc. et al., case number 1:13-cv-21158, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Well, that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the Bar!
I have to be honest, the last thing I needed to read about this week was a lawsuit that attacks an institution—a food that has earned the right to be considered junk, in part because it makes no bones about it and in part because anything that tastes that good just has to be bad for you.
But heck, everything is fair game these days, it seems. And somebody has managed to drum up a 32-page, 32 pages—seriously?, Krispy Kreme lawsuit against the doughnuts over claims the doughnut chain is telling porky pies (lies) over the ingredients of its fruit-filled and maple-glazed donuts.
The allegations are that Krispy Kreme conducts “false and misleading business practices” because its “Chocolate Iced Raspberry Filled,” “Glazed Raspberry Filled,” “Maple Bar,” and “Glazed Blueberry Cake” doughnuts and doughnut holes do not actually contain real raspberries, maple, or blueberries. Oh dear. They might be able to call consumer fraud on this one, but not defective products, no siree—a box of Krispy Kremes could never be defective in my mind.
Plaintiff Jason Saidian, who for the record, lives in Los Angeles, is claiming the doughnuts are in fact made with nutritionally inferior ingredients.” WTF does that mean? Guess you have to read the whole 32 pages to find out.
Saidian’s story goes he bought the nutritionally inferior raspberry, maple, and blueberry doughnuts at issue from a Krispy Kreme location in Santa Monica. He claims he bought the doughnuts because he believed the company’s representations about the “premium ingredients” in its donuts.
For a little drama, the lawsuit apparently goes on to explain that the doughnuts are displayed in a tray behind a glass counter, along with a small placard in front of each tray that provides the name of the doughnut variety. But, I’m guessing, no laundry list of ingredients.
According to Saidian, the doughnuts appear as if they contain the “premium ingredients” but Krispy Kreme reportedly does not provide customers with access to information on what the actual ingredients are in the doughnuts. Ok seriously—who’s got time to read all that stuff—if you’re in there buying a doughnut I’m guessing you passed on the Kale smoothie for a reason.
Here’s all you need to know about the ingredients in doughnuts. They are, essentially, dough, fat, sugar, sugar, sugar, dough, fat, sugar and maybe some fruit preserves—with sugar in it—thrown in for good measure. Where’s the grey area? They can rot your teeth, expand your waistline, cause heart disease— if eaten liberally—just put that caveat in there—and for one brief moment, as all those questionably wonderful ingredients melt in your mouth in a kaleidoscopic orgasm of pure bliss—make you forget everything that’s wrong with the world. So you know what, just leave the doughnut alone, please.
But no. Not this guy. “Even when consuming the Products, Plaintiff and other consumers cannot easily decipher whether the filling or glazing they are consuming contain actual raspberries, blueberries, or maple ingredients, because the Defendant has formulated and manufactured the Products in a manner that masks the absence of such ingredients,” the class action states. So where’s the problem? Why worry about it?
It appears the rub is that Krispy Kreme is capable of making doughnuts with “real” ingredients in them—just for the sake of clarity—this is explained in the lawsuit as … the “Glazed Lemon Filled” doughnuts contain lemon juice, the “Cinnamon Apple Filled” doughnuts contain both apple and cinnamon and the “Glazed Strawberry” doughnuts contain strawberries.
Therefore, Saidain alleges, one can deduce that Krispy Kreme is not only capable of making the doughnuts at issue with real ingredients but, one would guess, should have, as people believe that’s what they’re getting. Therefore, Krispy Kreme should also have been aware that its products are falsely advertised and would be deceiving to an unsuspecting customer.
According to the lawsuit, Krispy Kreme allegedly (hopefully) uses sugar, corn syrup, gums and artificial food coloring to “mimic the texture, shape and color” of these “premium Ingredients” instead of naturally occurring products with proven health benefits.
Ok—hold on one fat saturated minute here—in no universe either known or as yet undiscovered are doughnuts considered to have any proven health benefits beyond the placebo effect. Somebody please give this guy some Kool-aid. Or a coffee…and a maple glazed doughnut.
Heads up Lexus Drivers…some shattering allegations this week, pardon the pun, in the form of a defective automotive class action lawsuit filed against Toyota, the parent company of Lexus, alleging the sunroofs in its luxury vehicles spontaneously explode and shatter.
Filed by Ginger Minoletti, in California, the lawsuit alleges Minoletti was driving her Lexus RX 350 on Highway 101 in San Francisco in February 2016 when she heard a strange, loud cracking noise. Shortly afterwards, she found that the sunroof in her car had splintered, but that the broken glass was contained by the sliding cover shade.
The Lexus sunroof lawsuit states that Minoletti paid for repairs to the sunroof herself because Toyota refused to and the vehicle was no longer covered under warranty.
According to court documents, Lexus and Toyota have been aware of this issue since 2012, but have done nothing to warn consumers. The lawsuit also states that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received numerous complaints about the defect, which is potentially dangerous and expensive to repair.
Wait—there’s more—the NHTSA is allegedly probing a number of automakers, including Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen AG, Hyundai Motor Co. and Audi AG, for sunroof defects.
The suit is brought on behalf of a proposed class of Californians who own or lease a Lexus with a sunroof and alleges violations of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and California business code. The case is Minoletti v. Toyota Motors Sales USA Inc., case number BC636269, in Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
Defective Hip Implant Settlement. Finally. This week saw some big and likely welcome news on the Wright defective hip implants multidistrict litigation (MDL). A $240 million settlement has been reached. The settlement effectively ends five years of litigation brought by 1,300 claimants who alleged their Wright hip implants failed anywhere from 150 days to eight years following hip replacement surgery.
Wright Medical Group announced the settlement on behalf of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Wright Medical Technology. Two years ago Wright sold its hip and knee implant division that produced the allegedly defective replacement hip devices to a Chinese company.
Under the terms of the agreement, Wright will pay $170,000 to each claimant who received the Conserve Cup device. Additionally, the company will pay $120,000 to each claimant who received either a Dynasty or Lineage replacement hip. Further, Wright will establish a fund to reimburse patients who suffered “extraordinary injury” resulting from the failure of their hip implants.
According to court documents, the defect causing the failure of the hip implants was a metal-on-metal design that resulted in metal wear and shedding of metallic debris into surrounding tissue. This led to “metallosis”, a condition in which the tissue becomes inflamed and toxic, dissolving bone that anchored the implant. Ultimately, the metallosis led to failure of the implants.
The settlement affects multidistrict litigation now pending in federal court in Atlanta and consolidated litigation in Los Angeles Superior Court in California.
Depakote Dealings…More good news on the class action settlement front—to the tune of $28.125 million. The agreement ends litigation against Omnicare Inc., alleging the country’s largest nursing home promoted Abbott’s prescription anti-epileptic drug Depakote to its patients, in exchange for kickbacks disguised as “grants” and “educational funding.”
FYI—Omnicare operates 160 nursing homes in 160 locations across 47 states, making it the largest provider of pharmaceutical services in nursing homes. That’s a lot of potential drug sales… just saying.
According to the terms of the settlement approximately $20.3 million of the settlement fund will go to the federal government, and $7.8 million to cover Medicaid program claims by states that elect to participate in the settlement. Medicaid is jointly funded by the federal and state governments.
Depakote (also known as valproate semisodium or divalproex sodium) is a popular drug used to treat epilepsy and manic episodes of bipolar disorder.
The cases are captioned United States ex rel. Spetter v. Abbott Labs., et al., Case No. 10-cv-00006 (W.D. Va.) and United States ex rel. McCoyd v. Abbott Labs., et al., Case No. 07-cv-00081 (W.D. Va.). The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.
Well, that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the Bar!
Own a Lexus? How’s the sunroof? Still there—intact? Maybe not for much longer…The luxury car maker got hit with a defective products lawsuit in October, over allegations its sunroofs spontaneously explode. That could certainly put a little excitement into your life. Several scenarios come to mind—none of them good.
According to Ginger Minoletti, who filed the Lexus sunroof lawsuit, she was traveling in her Lexus RX 350 on a California highway when the sunroof glass started making a loud noise. Minoletti says it sounded like the glass was cracking. Later on, she said she found pieces of glass inside the shade of the sunroof. Lucky that was all.
Apparently, there’s some defect that causes the glass to just shatter. You don’t even need to hit it with anything first—no prompting required. If you were a superstitious person, and even if you’re not, this could be quite disturbing.
According to the lawsuit, the sudden and obviously unexpected nature of these explosions leave drivers bewildered and trying to come up with an explanation for their no doubt shocked passengers, who may well be covered in glass shards.
The website carcomplaints.com, cites reports by Lexus owners, one made by an owner of a 2007 Lexus RX 350 in Austin, TX: “Travel back from New Orleans to Austin Texas on I-10 out in the middle of nowhere traveling 70mph and the sunroof on my Lexus RX-350 exploded into a shattering disaster. If shade had been opened it could have been detrimental bodily injury to myself or my passenger.”
And another by an owner of a 2013 Lexus GS 350 in Houston, TX: “2 month old car, was driving to work on a highway. Sunroof exploded and also got thousands of scratches from the shattered glass. I don’t understand why it’s not covered by manufacturer – anyway it’s not possible to prove anything to them.”
And another by an owner of a 2011 Lexus CT 200h in Washington, DC ….”I was driving back from Boston to DC. Just north of Newark Airport, while driving at highway speeds (60mph) there was a very loud explosive noise. Then I noticed a lot of wind noise in the car. I pulled off at the next rest stop and discovered that my sunroof was shattered. I had to make three trips to the dealership to find out what was going on. It took them 7 days to finally tell me that they would not cover the damage.”
Ah, there’s another problem. Who pays for the sunroof? Not Lexus, apparently. Minoletti claims that’s what happened to her. She got stuck paying for all the repairs to the sunroof because Lexus said the work wasn’t covered under warranty.
The kicker, according to the lawsuit, is that Lexus and its parent company Toyota have been aware of this issue since 2012, but, predictably, have done nothing to warn consumers.
Although the proposed class action lawsuit currently concerns California Lexus owners only, owners across the country have complained about having no warning the glass was getting ready to disintegrate.
The Lexus exploding sunroof lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles – Ginger Minoletti v. Toyota Motors Sales USA Inc.
Sierra Dim Lights. General Motors is facing a potential defective automotive class action lawsuit brought by GMC Sierra owners who allege the lack of headlight strength in their vehicles puts them at risk for accidents.
According to the GMC Sierra complaint, which GM argued to have dismissed earlier this year, the GMC Sierra owners are at a greater risk for crashes, have in some cases avoided driving at night and have paid out of their own pockets for brighter headlights.
The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint in April and since then more than 62 new complaints have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concerning the Sierras. The new complaint states that the volume of the complaints as well as technical bulletins issued by GM, reflects the fact that the automaker is aware of the defective head lights and does nothing.
“This is not a case about speculative future harm or a product defect that has not yet manifested,” the vehicle owners assert. “The inadequate headlights and the dangers associated with them are causing problems right now.”
The lawsuit was brought by Armando Becerra and Guillermo Ruelas brought in October 2015, alleging GM has long known that the 2014 and 2015 GMC Sierra 1500, and the 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD, have headlights that are not sufficient for their purpose.
Becerra claims that despite taking his Sierra to the dealership to fix the headlights they remain problematic. He claims he spent $400 to $500 for a new headlight assembly to improve illumination. Similar claims are made by Ruelas.
According to the complaint, GM introduced a new headlight system in 2014 that uses one bulb for both high and low beam. Despite allegedly numerous complaints online, GM expanded the new headlight system to all its Sierra models for 2015, the lawsuit notes.
The case is Becerra et al. v. General Motors LLC et al., case number 3:15-cv-02365, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
Check Your Pay Check! It’s all about the workers this week, particularly in California. A $3 million settlement was agreed between CVS Pharmacy Inc. and store employees this week. The employees claimed they were provided inaccurate itemized wage statements in violation of California labor law.
Brought by Willie Brown, in September 2015, the complaint alleged the health care retailer failed to list the correct amount of total hours worked by its employees in their wage statements by incorrectly including shift differential pay hours. The suit alleged CVS violated California Labor Code.
The CVS settlement, which is awaiting court approval, will cover some 7,784 potential class members who, as store employees, received a shift differential pay on a wage statement between Sept. 29, 2014, and Sept. 1, 2016.
CVS, while denying any wrongdoing, has agreed to change its policy around itemized wage statements to reflect only the regular number of total hours worked.
The case is Willie Brown v. CVS et al., case number 2:15-cv-07631 in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California.
Ulta to Pay Up for Bag Checks. Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrance, Inc., also got hit with a preliminary unpaid wages and overtime settlement this week – to the tune of $2.7 million settlement.
The complaint was brought by story employees in California who claimed the company failed to pay them for the time it took to do required bag checks at the end of employee shifts.
The complaint was filed by former Ulta employee Sarah Moore in March 2012 on behalf of a proposed class of non-exempt Ulta employees. It alleged they were subject to required bag checks anytime they had to leave the store for a rest break, meal break or at the end of a shift. The proposed settlement includes an estimated 8,250 store employees who were considered non-exempt workers at the salon and beauty products, which operates about 69 stores in California. They would have worked at the chain from March 2, 2008, to the date the court grants preliminary approval or January 27, 2017, whichever date comes sooner.
If approved, the Ulta settlement would resolve claims brought under the California Labor Code that Ulta failed to pay overtime, compensate for all hours worked, pay wages due upon discharge or provide required meal or rest breaks to workers due to the mandatory exit inspections, also referred to as bag checks and donning and doffing.
According to court papers, some Ulta stores made employees clock out before getting their personal bags inspected. Other workers claimed the time it took to wait for a general manager to walk to the front of the store to perform the check would eat into their meal break time, which in some cases was as little as 30 minutes.
This settlement follows a $3.65 million preliminary class action settlement reached earlier this year, between Ulta and about 230 store managers in California, who alleged they were misclassified as being ineligible for overtime.
The case is Sarah Moore v. Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc., case number 2:12-cv-03224, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Well, that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the Bar!