All is not Well at Wells Fargo? Not by a long shot. Employees from Wells Fargo Bank have filed an employment class action lawsuit alleging they were pressured into unethical sales conduct under threat of retaliation if they failed to cooperate.
Specifically, the Wells Fargo employees claim they were forced to inflate sales figures by opening new customer accounts that customers had not agreed to and to open accounts for non-existent customers. Further, the lawsuit claims that employees who did not engage in this alleged behavior were threatened with discipline or termination. Employees who did participate were rewarded, the lawsuit claims. Read on…
The alleged misconduct involved Wells Fargo employees having to set up a target of eight accounts, or “solutions,” per customer, which is far greater than the industry standard of three accounts per customer. The employees allege that these sales goals were impossible to meet without engaging in underhanded behavior.
The Wells Fargo lawsuit asserts that Wells Fargo’s motive was to increase its stock price by setting unrealistically high sales goals for its employees.
Wells Fargo allegedly aggressively and unlawfully encouraged sales misconduct among its employees by threatening retaliation against workers who refused to engage in the sales misconduct. Those employees were allegedly “routinely counseled, warned, written up, demoted, placed on performance improvement plans, forced to quit, denied promotions, or fired as a result of not meeting sales goals, even though they could have easily met such goals by engaging in Sales Misconduct,” according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs seek to represent a Class encompassing all current and former U.S. employees of Wells Fargo who were subject to the sales goals described in the lawsuit and who were not terminated for engaging in sales misconduct.
Several subclasses have also been proposed in this action, which would represent employees who suffered adverse employment actions for failing to reach sales goals, who reported their concerns about the alleged unlawful sales conduct, or who had their employment terminated or who were let go for reporting or refusing to engage in the alleged misconduct.
The plaintiffs are seeking an award of damages, including two times the amount of back pay for alleged violations of the Dodd-Frank Act and treble damages as applicable under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. They also seek reinstatement for eligible Class Members under the Dodd-Frank Act.
Not Painting a Pretty Picture…And another employment suit filed this week—this one by employees of Behr Paint, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and California labor law. The defendants are Behr Process Corp., Behr Paint Corp. and Masco Corp.
According to plaintiff Ryan McBain alleges he was employed as a field representative by the defendants and assigned to different Home Depot stores. He claims his responsibilities were answering customer inquiries, replenishing stocks and maintaining store displays. He alleges he was required to prepare time-consuming reports and shuttle between stores and was misclassified as exempt from overtime pay and was not provided with proper meal and rest periods.
In the Behr lawsuit, McBain claims the defendants failed to adequately compensate him for his work as a field representative. The lawsuit also claims that the defendants allegedly failed to keep accurate payroll records of hours worked, meal periods taken, and overtime worked by their employees, refused to pay any overtime compensation to employees for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week and refused to provide adequate meal and rest periods.
The plaintiff is seeking a trial by jury and seek judgment in his favor, designate collective action, declare misclassification of class members, unpaid wages, liquidated damages, civil penalties, unpaid wages from meal/rest periods not taken, reimburse business expenses, interest, costs and expenses of action, attorneys’ fees and other relief as the court deems just.
FYI – The case is U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Case number 3:16-cv-07036.
Meanwhile, North of the 49th…VW managed to reach a $2.1 billion settlement in the Canadian class action pending over the so-called Volkswagen and Audi defeat devices that temporarily reduced vehicle emissions enabling the diesel engines to pass regulatory emissions tests.
Additionally, the settlement terms stipulate that Canadian owners of diesel-equipped vehicles made by Volkswagen AG will be able to sell their cars back to the auto maker.
The settlement will cover approximately 105,000 Canadians who bought Volkswagen or Audi vehicles equipped with 2.0-liter diesel engines between 2009 and 2015. Each class member will receive $5,100 to $8,000 in compensation. Class members who decide to sell their vehicles back to Volkswagen Canada will receive a payment in addition to the value of their car.
The settlement is expected to receive final approval from Ontario Superior Court and the Superior Court of Quebec pen in March, 2017, after which class members will receive payouts.
The settlement is valued at $2.1-billion if all eligible owners apply and receive the full amount they are entitled to and all eligible vehicles are traded in. It will be among the largest amounts paid out in a class-action suit in Canada.
That’s a wrap for 2016!!! Happy New Year – to you and yours. See you at the bar.
What are They up to Under Those Golden Arches? A Chicago McDonald’s franchisee is facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed by a customer who alleges the restaurant is charging 41 cents more for the two cheeseburger “Extra Value Meal” than what it would cost if customers ordered all the items in the meal separately.
McDonald’s Extra Value Meal consists of two burgers, fries and a drink, and cost the plaintiff, James Gertie, $5.90 per meal, in Des Plaines and Niles, Illinois. These two McDonald’s restaurants are part of a chain of more than 10 such restaurants owned and operated by the Karis Group, according to the complaint.
According to Gertie, he purchased a Two Cheeseburger Meal from at least five of Karis’ McDonald’s restaurants in Des Plaines and Niles from Oct. 14 to Nov. 13. Each time Gertie was charged $5.90 for the meal, the complaint states.
Gertie alleges in his McDonald’s lawsuit that posted menu prices indicated the restaurants would have sold Gertie and other customers two cheeseburgers for $2.50, a medium order of French fries for $1.99 and a medium soft drink for $1, for a total of $5.49. That’s a difference of 41 cents less than the posted price for the Extra Value Meal, according to the lawsuit. That 41 cents could really add up…
“Defendant, the operator of several McDonald’s restaurants, advertised for sale a food combination designated as an ‘Extra Value Meal’ but the combination actually costs more than if each item were bought separately, thus making it no ‘value’ at all, let alone an ‘extra value,’” the lawsuit states
They say it’s the pennies that count.
Some Good News from Some Bad News. A jury in Ohio has awarded $2 million in compensation against DuPont in the first of some 40 environmental toxin cases pending against the chemical company over allegations it dumped toxins into the air and drinking water of the Ohio River, causing illness to people in the surrounding area.
This settlement resolves allegations brought by plaintiff Kenneth Vigneron that DuPont de Nemours & Co, through its actions, caused his testicular cancer. Vigneron’s lawsuit is part of multidistrict litigation involving some 3,500 people who allege that over a period of decades, DuPont released perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOA or C8, into the environment of the Ohio River at the Washington Works site.
According to the plaintiffs, internal studies done by DuPont, which date back for years, strongly indicate that C8 was dangerous. For decades, C8 was used as an essential component in the manufacture of well-known nonstick cookware and coatings. Today, it has been phased out in most US manufacturing.
Six bell weather cases were completed earlier this year, two of which resulted in jury verdicts of $1.6 million and $5.6 million, the latter including punitive damages. DuPont is appealing both verdicts.
While DuPont has been fighting allegations of toxic dumping causing illness, residents of both Ohio and West Virginia claim they have suffered a variety of health problems as a result of their exposure to the chemicals. Further, a Dutch investigation makes similar claims alleging the drinking water near DuPonts’ Dordrecht plant in the Netherlands was contaminated with C8, and that DuPont had been exposing people living near the plant to the toxin for as much as 25 years.
Earlier this year, the judge hearing the cases ordered DuPont to turn over documents related to the Dutch investigation to the American plaintiffs, saying the information about the company’s conduct in a similar situation could be helpful for arguing punitive damages or refuting arguments that the chemical giant has taken a proactive stance on safety concerning C8.
The punitive phase of Vigneron’s trial will be heard in 2017. The case is In re: E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, case number 2:13-md-02433, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
IKEA Dresser Settlement. Here’s a positive, yet disturbing settlement. Ikea agreed this week, to pay $50 million to the three families of toddlers who were killed when defective Ikea dressers toppled onto the children. This is the positive bit.
The children’s deaths prompted an unprecedented recall of 29 million dressers, at which time Ikea acknowledged the dressers were at serious risk of tipping onto and killing children. And this is the disturbing bit.
The first death from an unstable Ikea dresser occurred in 1989, with a further six deaths to follow. According to the lawsuits, the Ikea dressers were “defective and dangerous” and that the Sweden-based retailing giant continued to sell them despite the risk, while not properly warning consumers.
Reportedly, the IKEA dresser settlement came shortly after Ikea gave the parents’ attorneys internal documents it had long fought to keep confidential. Under the settlement, the contents of those documents will remain private and will be returned to Ikea, with the stipulation that the company not destroy them.
The plaintiffs include Janet McGee, whose 22-month-old son Theodore died last February when a Malm dresser fell on him, and the parents of 2-year olds Curren Collas and Camden Ellis, both of whom died in 2014.
Each of the three families who filed wrongful death lawsuits will receive an equal share of the $50 million with an undisclosed share going to the attorneys.
As well, Ikea has agreed to make $50,000 donations to three children’s hospitals in the name of the boys, one of which will go to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in memory of Curren Collas.
That’s a wrap folks! Happy Holidays to you and yours. See you at the bar.
LG Air Conditioner. This one goes out to all you lucky people who live somewhere on the continent where it doesn’t snow—or maybe such a place doesn’t exist anymore.
In any event, nearly half a million LG portable air conditioners are being recalled – just in time for Christmas – of course! Why, you ask? Funny thing, they can catch fire and cause property damage, burn down your house, maybe your neighbor’s, if the fire department doesn’t arrive in time, and possibly worse. You get the picture.
I would say that’s a defect in the design, particularly given the idea is to cool down the surrounding environment – not cause a fire that could be seen from space.
Apparently, LG has received four reports of fires that have caused a whopping $380,000 in property damage. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported.
Here’s the skinny: the recall involves “about 466,000 (In addition, 36,000 were sold in Canada)”. There are three models of 7,000 and 8,000 BTU LG portable air conditioners including model numbers LP0711WNR, LP0813WNR, and LP0814WNR. The air conditioners are tan/white with the LG logo on the front. They measure about 30 inches tall, 12 inches wide and 14 inches deep and weigh 50 pounds. The model number is located on the product’s left side panel.
Got all that? If you own one of these defective LG air conditioners, the company is offering to provide a free repair at an authorized service center. See the recall notice at the Consumer Product Safety Commission for more info.
They were sold at Home Depot and other stores nationwide from February 2011 through August 2016 for between $250 and $280.
Qbit Stroller. There’s another recall worth mentioning – this one goes out to all new parents who trustingly invested in an Aria Child Qbit Stroller. Say that after a couple of rum and eggnogs, I dare you.
Apparently, the strollers have a defect that effectively means you, or possibly your child, could suffer a cut hand or broken wrist. Now that could really ruin your day, not to mention your child’s.
Aria Child has received five reports of consumers being pinched by the stroller hinge mechanism resulting in four consumers needing stitches for cuts. In addition, there were 71 reports of the stroller unexpectedly folding during use, resulting in 12 minor bumps or bruises to a child or caregiver and one fractured wrist and elbow to an adult due to a fall.
These strollers sound more like they’re possessed than defective.
Here’s the relevant info – the gb Qbit lightweight stroller is meant for children up to 50 pounds. The recalled strollers have 4 sets of two wheels, a five-point harnessed restraint system, a full-sized reclining seat, a storage basket, a removable cup holder and a travel storage bag. It sounds better equipped than most hotel rooms. Oh – the strollers can also be used as a travel system with infant carriers. Probably not a good idea at this point.
Here’s the skinny… “The strollers are mostly black with an accent color. “ (Mostly?- Who knows.) The “gb” red box logo is printed on the harness and on both sides of the stroller legs and “Qbit” is printed in white on the stroller legs. The model number and date of manufacture are printed on a sticker on the rear leg of the stroller, directly above the wheels, next to the storage basket. For a list of model numbers – check out the recall notice at the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Not surprisingly, consumers are being advised to immediately stop using the recalled strollers. Good advice. If you’re interested, you can contact Aria Child for a free replacement stroller.
FYI – they were sold at Babies R US and other retail stores nationwide and Albeebaby.com, Amazon.com, Dmartstores.com, Medbroad.com and other online retailers from May 2015 through November 2016 for about $180.
Exciting stuff… let’s hope they’re not under a Christmas tree near your this year.
And on that note – Happy Holidays everyone!
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!!
Wouldn’t want to be in shipping and receiving for this recall. Cuisinart is recalling “about 8 million” food processors, and a further 300,000 in Canada, because it can slice and dice your tongue and teeth in addition to the fruit and veg.
It seems that the food processor’s riveted blade can crack over time and small, metal pieces of the blade can break off into the processed food. As the Consumer Protection Safety Agency so eloquently puts it, “This poses a laceration hazard to consumers.”
Not a great deal more you need to add to that, really. After all, there’s not much grey area in chewing blades and cutting you mouth. As some 30 people who have reported cutting their mouths and injuring their teeth can no doubt attest to. Imagine asking your guests, “How’s the Hummus?” Yeah, ok—let’s not go there.
Apparently, Conair has received 69 reports of consumers finding broken pieces of the blade in processed food, including those 30 reports of mouth lacerations or tooth injuries. And of course, those terrible horror movies from the seventies come to mind, for those of you old enough to remember. Think Texas Chain Saw Massacre and its ilk, for example. It’s the foodie version… (Although chasing someone around the house with a food processor doesn’t quite have the same impact as a chain saw. I digress.)
In case you’re wondering, as most people would, if you own one of these defective food processors, the relevant information is thus:
“This recall involves the riveted blades in Cuisinart food processors with model numbers that begin with the following: CFP-9, CFP-11, DFP-7, DFP-11, DFP-14, DLC-5, DLC-7, DLC-8, DLC-10, DLC-XP, DLC-2007, DLC-2009, DLC-2011, DLC-2014, DLC-3011, DLC-3014, EV-7, EV-10, EV-11, EV-14, KFP-7 and MP-14. The model number is located on the bottom of the food processor. The blades have four rivets and are silver-colored stainless steel and have a beige plastic center hub. Only food processors with four rivets in the blades are included in this recall. Cuisinart is printed on the front and on the bottom of the food processors.” (CPSC.gov/recalls)
You can contact Cuisinart toll-free at 877-339-2534 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday or online at www.cuisinart.com and click on Product Recalls at the bottom of the page for more information. Apparently, Cuisinart is offering replacement blades. Think I would give that some serious consideration.
The food processors were sold at department, gourmet and specialty stores nationwide and on various websites from July 1996 through December 2015 for between $100 and $350. They were distributed by Conair Corp., of Stamford, CT, owner of the Cuisinart brand, and made in China.
Think I’ll ask Santa for a good set of kitchen knives.