Auto-Renewals on Auto-Pilot: Not Cool… Hey—about that auto-renewal—you know the Appgrinders one you didn’t sign up for? This week the California-based software company found itself facing allegations of unfair business practices in a class action lawsuit over unauthorized charges to its customers’ credit cards for auto-renew subscriptions to its products.
Specifically, the Appgrinders lawsuit, filed by Jarrod Secola, claims that Secola and others purchased access to online PDF editing software (PDF Buddy) from Appgrinders without being made aware of the firm’s auto-renew policies. Yeah—know that one.
The complaint further claims that Appgrinders not only failed to satisfy the law by providing clear, conspicuous disclosures about the subscription’s auto-renewal policy, but also neglected to obtain the purchaser’s consent before the auto-renewal charges were placed.
The case is US District Court for the Eastern District of California Case number 2:16-cv-01150-JAM-KJN.
Domino’s Pizza Delivers…Unpaid Wages? Domino’s found itself on the end of yet another employment lawsuit this week. This one, however, was filed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. The AG’s office is alleging the pizza chain is deliberately underpaying it workers at least $565,000 at 10 stores in New York and is in violation of New York employment law…Whooo Hooo!
The lawsuit names Domino’s Pizza Inc., Domino’s Pizza LLC and Domino’s Pizza Franchising LLC (collectively, Domino’s), as defendants and claims to have discovered that Domino’s headquarters was intensely involved in store operations, and even caused many of the employment violations. Therefore, they should be liable for underpaid wages at franchises.
Domino’s, BTW, is no stranger to employment lawsuits. It found itself the named defendant in a California employment violations class action– filed May 12.
In fact the company has a lengthy list of lawsuits against it, including unpaid overtime, TCPA violations and spam text messaging.
FYI—Schneiderman is seeking a finding that Domino’s is a joint employer, an accounting to determine full restitution amount owed to employees, a finding that Domino’s defrauded its franchises and therefore violated state franchise law, and the placement of a monitor that will ensure future compliance.
Here’s Something to Get your Brain Boing—remember Luminosity—the “brain training” program? Well, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) caught up with them recently, and hit them with a $2 million settlement over allegations the company deceived its consumers with unfounded claims that its games can help users perform better at work and in school, and reduce or delay cognitive impairment associated with age and other serious health conditions. Wow. Wonder if it takes the garbage out? (literally and figuratively).
Specifically, the FTC charged the company with making claims that were not supported by science, including claims that using Luminosity (get ready for this): improves performance in school, work, and athletics; delays age-related mental decline and protects against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; helps those with ADHD, PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other health conditions. If it sounds too good to be true….
As part of the Luminosity settlement, Lumos Labs, the company behind Luminosity, will pay $2 million in redress and will notify subscribers of the FTC action and provide them with an easy way to cancel their auto-renewal to avoid future billing.
Eligible Luminosity subscribers were notified by email. You were eligible for a refund if you signed up between Jan 1, 2009, and December 31, 2014, and spent at least $239 total on your subscription.
Ok, that’s a wrap folks…Have a good one. See you at the Bar!
More Talc Powder Lawsuits…We’ve been seeing a lot about the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits here in the US, but a class action lawsuit has now been filed in Canada against J&J alleging its Baby Powder product causes ovarian cancer.
The named plaintiffs in the Canadian J&J talc complaint all developed ovarian cancer following long-term use of J&J’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene purposes. The representative plaintiffs in this case include, Marilyne Bernier who is the daughter of Thérèse Bernier, who died in March of this year following her battle with ovarian cancer, and Shaeda Farooqi of Mississauga.
According to the complaint, scientific researchers have established that over time, applying talcum powder to genitals, underwear, and sanitary napkins increases the risk of developing ovarian cancer by 33%. However, despite the evidence of a direct link, J&J has not acknowledged the connection and has kept its product on the shelves without warning.
The lawsuit aims to bring access to justice to the many women who have developed ovarian cancer due to long term use of Baby Powder and to modify behaviour of companies that place known carcinogens into the stream of the Canadian commerce without warning.
FYI—estimates suggest there are over 1,000 talc-powder induced ovarian cancer lawsuits pending in the US against J&J.
Uber Needs to Check the Definition of Stop? Wow—Uber just cannot stay out of trouble, it seems. It found itself on the end of another proposed class action recently, this one alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The allegations? Uber sent text messages through an auto-dialer to people even after they had opted out of the messages by texting back “Stop”.
Filed by an Uber driver applicant, the lawsuit alleges the plaintiff provided his telephone number during the application process, which he did not complete. However, Uber then purportedly began sending him text messages asking him if he required help finishing his application.
According to the Uber lawsuit, the plaintiff replied to Uber, stating “stop” on numerous occasions because Uber’s automated system responded to these “stop” requests with a confirmation text stating “SMS from Uber is now disabled. To re-enable, reply START.”
Further, the lawsuit asserts after the plaintiff deleted his Uber rider account, Uber sent him another text message confirming he had deleted his account.
Heads Up Ticketmaster Account Holders: The more than 10-year long consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed against Ticketmaster, Schlesinger v. Ticketmaster, has reached a $400 million settlement, which involves providing ticket vouchers as restitution to Class members —oh what a surprise.
Here’s the skinny: On or around June 18, 2016, class members should receive at least one Ticket Code by email redeemable for two tickets for General Admission seating at designated concert events at Live Nation owned or operated venues, subject to availability and limitations.
The Class includes all consumers who (1) purchased tickets on Ticketmaster’s website (“Website”) from October 21, 1999 through February 27, 2013; (2) paid money to Ticketmaster for an OPF that was not fully refunded; (3) did not and do not opt out of the Class; and (4) were residents of one of the fifty United States at the time of their purchase, including persons who placed, and then cancelled, a ticket order without obtaining a full refund of the OPF. If you also purchased UPS delivery for your tickets, then you are also a member of the “UPS Subclass.”
Certain people are excluded from the Class. They are (a) Ticketmaster, (b) any entities in which Ticketmaster has a controlling interest or which have a controlling interest in Ticketmaster, (c) the officers, directors, employees, affiliates, and attorneys of Ticketmaster, or (d) any employee or officer of the Court or their immediate family members.
For more information on the settlement and a list of guidelines regarding using your Ticket Code(s), please visit the official Settlement Website.
It would seem that Ticketmaster has mastered the class action settlement.
Ok, that’s a wrap folks…Have a good weekend. See you at the Bar!
Ruby Tuesday Not Serving Up Overtime Pay? Employment—of the largely unpaid variety—was a bit of a theme song this week. Among the chorus is an unpaid overtime class action filed against the Ruby Tuesday national restaurant chain by two former employees who allege they were denied overtime pay.
Specifically, Oscar Sagastume of Meriden and Kevin Gibson of New York filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on May 19 to “recover unpaid overtime compensation for themselves and similarly situated employees as a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Additionally, Sagastume and any other Connecticut plaintiffs also assert violations of the Connecticut Minimum Wage Act.
The Ruby Tuesday lawsuit states that the former Ruby Tuesday employees worked many 50-hour or more weeks without proper compensation. “Defendant was aware that plaintiffs and the class members worked more than 40 hours per workweek, yet defendant failed to pay overtime compensation for hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek,” the lawsuit alleges. “Defendant did not keep accurate records of hours worked by the plaintiffs or the class members.”
In the complaint, Sagastume claims he worked for the national restaurant chain from February 2011 to April 2015. He worked at several locations across Connecticut as an assistant manager and frequently worked more than 40 hours a week.During the week of February 8, 2015, he worked “approximately 60 hours” but was only paid for 40. He claims that on average he worked between 57 and 62 hours per week.
“Ruby Tuesday required plaintiffs and [assistant managers] to work long overtime hours without paying them any overtime compensation,” the complaint states. “Ruby Tuesday classified all of its (assistant managers) as ‘executives’ and treated them as exempt from the overtime requirements of federal and state laws.”
Further, the lawsuit states that while assistant managers earned about $37,500 annually, job duties for both Sagastume and Gibson required them to do the same as the hourly employees, who were given overtime pay, such as greeting and waiting on customers, serving food, cooking and preparing food, clearing and setting tables and cleaning the restaurant.
The suit claims Ruby Tuesday willfully misclassified Sagastume, Gibson and other assistant managers as employees who are exempt from FLSA protection and failed to properly record the hours worked by their employees. “Defendant’s unlawful conduct has been widespread, repeated and consistent,” the lawsuit alleges.
Heads up—the lawsuit is looking to represent others similarly situated including managers, such as those running the kitchen and guest services, and for the Connecticut class action allegations, any assistant manager who worked in Connecticut from May 19, 2014, to the date of final judgment, if one is given.
Kmart Got a Damage Bill this week to the tune of $3.8 million. No stranger to employment lawsuits, the discount retailer agreed to settle this latest, effectively ending two collective actions brought on behalf of assistant managers who allege they were wrongly classified as exempt from overtime pay, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state labor laws.
What’s the betting the FLSA is one of most frequently cited pieces of law in class actions today…
The class is estimated to include some 422 people, with each plaintiff receiving roughly $9,000, depending on how long they worked for the company. Additionally, it provides $7,500 for each of the four named plaintiffs.
The Kmart settlement motion seeks preliminary certification of the class and scheduling of a final approval and fairness hearing. The settlement would encompass a suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Fischer v. Kmart, and another in the Western District of New York, Hautur v. Kmart.
While unhappy class members will have the opportunity to opt out of the settlement, if the unhappiness total reaches more than 5 percent of class members, will have the opportunity to terminate the settlement, according to court documents. And everyone’s a winner…
And now for something completely different…
Blue Buffalo Pet Food Settlement…A $32 million settlement has been approved in a consumer fraud class action lawsuit pending against Connecticut-based Blue Buffalo, a well known maker of “natural” pet food—whatever that means—which was the subject of the lawsuit.
The class actions, brought by consumers in several lawsuits across and country and which were consolidated into Multi District Litigation in 2014, alleged that certain Blue Buffalo products were not consistent with its “True Blue Promise.” The label indicates the products contain no chicken by-product, along with no corn, wheat, soy or artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. However, this, consumers claimed, was not the case, stating they paid a premium for the pet food products, but were misled. A total of 13 class actions were brought against Blue Buffalo over its alleged false advertising.
The Blue Buffalo settlement, originally reached in December 2015, will provide customers who filed a claim but couldn’t provide a receipt, with up to $100. Customers who filed a claim and have receipts will receive up to $2,000.
Full details available at – https://www.petfoodsettlement.com/.
According to Blue Buffalo, they are not guilty of any wrong doing, stating that it was defrauded by a supplier that provided its chicken byproduct.
Ok, that’s a wrap folks…Have a good long weekend. See you at the Bar!
Dueling Rides… An unfair business practices class action lawsuit has been filed by the ride share company Lyft against its rival company Uber, alleging Uber creates and uses shell accounts to hurt business for Lyft. Yeah, that sounds pretty unfair, if true.
Lyft driver Ryan Smythe and “others similarly situated”, filed the Uber class action complaint against Uber Technologies Inc, and 100 unnamed entities said to exist as “mere shells and conduits” for Uber’s affairs.
Here’s the skinny: according to the complaint, Mr. Smythe started as a Lyft driver in September 2014, one month after accusations began concerning “Operation SLOG,” an alleged Uber-sponsored campaign that involved spamming Lyft drivers with false ride requests in an effort to negatively impact Lyft’s business.
This allegedly involved Uber creating dummy Lyft accounts with prepaid cellphones and credit cards which were then used to place fake requests with Lyft drivers. According to the lawsuit, Uber’s alleged operation amounted to unfair business practices under California law as well as intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.
The complaint asserts that Uber engaged in a “systematic course of creating fraudulent Lyft accounts from which sham orders were placed, at least in part to deprive Class members from earning income in violation of California Business and Professions Code which prohibits unfair business practice.”
Further, Smythe claims in the proposed class action that Uber directed its drivers and third-party companies to make these requests “for the sole purpose of luring Lyft drivers to locations in which a false request for service directed them.” So much for “just making a living.”
“Uber Technologies did this to discourage Lyft drivers from contracting with Lyft, to deprive the marketplace of Lyft drivers so that Uber drivers could benefit and to create a higher wait time for Lyft customers in order to steer their patronage to Uber Technologies in violation of California Business and Professions Code,” the complaint states.
75 to 45 in 2 Seconds? This sounds just a tad dangerous. BMW got hit with a nationwide defective automotive class action lawsuit for alleged defects in the electric BMW i3 vehicles—defects which cause the vehicle to rapidly drop speed. Read on.
The BMW lawsuit centers around the BMW i3 “Range Extender” feature. This option, called REx, outfits the vehicle with a two-cylinder gasoline engine producing 34 horsepower that switches on when the battery charge depletes to five percent, giving the vehicle another 70 miles of range. BMW claims that the Range Extender “doubles your electric driving range” from the vehicle’s standard 81-mile range.
However, the lawsuit alleges that in practice, when the gasoline engine kicks in, it doesn’t produce enough power to prevent a dramatic decrease in the vehicle’s performance. As alleged, if the car is under any kind of significant load (such as going up a hill, or loaded with passengers), the speed of the car will dramatically decrease as the battery charge diminishes. According to the complaint, this can result in the car slowing to speeds of 45 miles per hour on the freeway, without warning. This sudden and unexpected loss of power in a motor vehicle can result in a catastrophic situation for all those on the road. Yes, no—not a good thing at all.
The lawsuit seeks to have the vehicles redesigned and repaired at BMW’s expense, and to halt the sale of all i3 vehicles until repairs can be made. The claim also seeks compensation for all the owners of the vehicles, who were not told of the serious safety defect.
The case Edo Tsoar v. BMW North America, LLC (Case No. 2:16-cv-03386) was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
Hip Settlement in Canada. Some news from north of the Border—two Canadian class actions have been certified—one in British Columbia (Jones v. Zimmer) and another in Ontario (McSherry v. Zimmer). Authorization (Certification) is pending in a proposed class action filed in Quebec (Major v. Zimmer), and the parties have consented to authorization (certification) of that action.
Translation? Settlement. Yup—subject to court approval, the hip implant settlement applies to “all persons who were implanted with the Durom Cup in Canada” and their estates and family members. Nice one.
No dollar figures to report, and of course, the defendants to the three actions do not admit liability, but have agreed to a settlement providing compensation to class members with certain injuries upon approval after receipt of supporting documentation, less deductions for legal fees.
FYI—Public health insurers are also entitled to compensation under the settlement agreement.
Motions to approve the settlement agreement will be heard in Vancouver on June 28, 2016, Ontario on July 14, 2016, and in Montreal on June 28, 2016.
Ok…that’s a wrap folks! Have a good one–and see you at the Bar!
Show us your Pearly Whites, Darling. Oh, is your tube of Colgate Optic White Toothpaste just not cutting it? Teeth aren’t gleaming white as advertised? Well, you’re not alone. This week, Lori Canale, filed a consumer fraud class action lawsuit against the company alleging—you guessed it—consumer fraud.
Specifically, Canale claims in the Colgate toothpaste lawsuit, for herself and for all others similarly situated, that Colgate-Palmolive misrepresents that its Colgate Optic White Toothpaste “Goes beyond surface stain removal to deeply whiten” teeth and that its Colgate optic white platinum toothpaste “Deeply whitens more than three shades.” Which three shades, precisely?
According to the complaint, the toothpastes do not actually go beyond surface stain removal and do not deeply whiten teeth because their whitening ingredient, which is 1 percent hydrogen peroxide, is not a large enough amount of hydrogen peroxide. Further, the product is not in contact with teeth for a long enough time to do what the company claims it does.
The case is US District Court for the Southern District of New York Case number 7:16-CV-03308-CS.
Lights out for Subaru? Well, likely not. But they are facing a defective automotive class action lawsuit filed in California this week, alleging certain of its vehicles contain a design defect making those vehicles unsafe for drivers and passengers.
Filed by Kathleen O’Neill of Pismo Beach, California, individually and for all others similarly situated, against Subaru of America Inc., the Subaru lawsuit asserts that the car maker’s 2010 and 2011 Subaru Outback vehicles contain a design and/or manufacturing defect that causes the exterior lighting bulbs to fail prematurely and frequently.
Further, this alleged defect, in addition to the associated safety issues, results in vehicle owners paying more to replace the exterior bulbs. Yes, that could get seriously annoying in addition to expensive.
The complaint alleges breach of implied warranty, violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, unjust enrichment, and violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act and its Unfair Competition Law.
The case is US District Court for the Central District of California Western Division Case number 2:16-CV-02774-R-KS.
Anti-trust at 30,000 Feet… Air New Zealand down under has agreed to come up with $35 million as settlement of their share of a class action lawsuit brought in 2006 by several freight forwarders who allege the airline fixed prices in their cargo operations. FYI—Air New Zealand is just one defendant in the antitrust class action lawsuit.
Although the airline has not admitted liability, it has agreed to settle to mitigate further legal action and related court costs.
The class action named a list of global airlines, alleging that they conspired on cargo fuel and security surcharges between 2000 and 2006. The US class action is just one of several similar cases brought in other countries. The US Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation, from which Air New Zealand was released in 2011.
The settlement remains subject to court approval. The $35 million represents 2.8% of the $1.2 billion so far paid in settlements by 28 airlines accused of price-fixing. Hey—money in money out—right?
Ok –That’s a wrap folks…Have a good one. See you at the Bar!