Stewing Over Pay at Stewart’s…It seems we just can’t get enough of the old employment class action lawsuit. This one, filed against Stewart’s Shops has been certified in New York. The complaint states that the Malta-based convenience store chain failed to properly compensate its employees for all the hours worked. There are so many instances of labor law violations, I wonder, does anyone actually get paid properly anymore?
The Stewart’s Shops lawsuit was filed by a former employee against the chain in January 2014, alleging she and other workers were not paid for all the hours they worked, and for mandatory call-in pay for store meetings and that they were deprived of an uninterrupted meal break.
The plaintiffs are seeking $20 million in damages on behalf of all non-exempt hourly employees who worked for Stewarts during the past three years.
Reportedly, a collective action has been certified under federal law for full-time employees who worked more than forty hours in any given week and were deprived of overtime compensation.
FYI—the Malta-based convenience store chain has 335 stores in upstate New York and Vermont, and $1.5 billion in sales. No comment.
Power Home Power Calling You? You gotta love it when you actually stick it to a spammer. This week, court approval has been given to a $5.2 million settlement of a Telephone Consumer protection Act (TCPA) class action lawsuit pending against Power Home Remodeling Group LLC. The lawsuit claimed the company had violated the TCPA because it made automated marketing calls to over a million consumers without their consent.
The judge certified a class of more than 1.1 million people, and granted final approval of the Power Home Remodeling settlement, ending the lawsuit brought by plaintiff Teofilo Vasco. The autodialed telemarketing calls or prerecorded, computer-generated voice messages were made between October 2013 and April 2016, approximately.
The judge also awarded a $3,000 award to the named plaintiff, Vasco, who filed the lawsuit in August 2015. He alleged he gave his cellphone number to a Home Depot salesperson and later received 21 unsolicited phone calls from Power seeking his business by way of an autodialer or prerecorded voice message.
The case is Teofilo Vasco v. Power Home Remodeling Group LLC, case number 2:15-cv-04623, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Nissan got hit this week, with a preliminary settlement deal reached in three defective automotive class action lawsuits. The first Nissan lawsuit, brought in 2014, alleged that the transmissions in certain model-year certain Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60 vehicles were defective. You may remember this one.
Under the terms of the proposed Nissan agreement, Nissan North America Inc. has agreed to give all owners and lessees of nearly 200,000 Nissan Pathfinders and Infiniti JX35s/QX60s vehicles from model years 2013 and 2014 a free, two-year 24,000-mile extended warranty for their transmissions. Also, owners will be instructed on how to update their vehicles’ software to include detection of the transmission vibration problem referred to as “judder.” Oh great, there’s computer technology involved.
According to the settlement, owners of affected vehicles that underwent two or more repairs to their transmissions may be eligible for discounts on future purchases of a Nissan or Infiniti vehicle. The deal requires court approval.
The case is Kenai Batista v. Nissan North America Inc., case number 1:14-cv-24728, 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!
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!
Ford Losing Its Touch? Ford Motor Co. got hit with a defective products class action lawsuit filed by customers who allege the automotive maker sold vehicles with faulty touchscreen systems. Great! The last thing you want to try and figure out while you’re driving…why the technology isn’t working as advertised.
The Ford class action lawsuit, which represents no less than nine classes, alleges the defect resulted in the failure of safety functions such as rear view cameras and functioning navigation systems.
U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen has certified nine different classes of Ford owners, divided by state: California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Each class brings its own set of claims related to breach of warranty, unfair trade practices, fraudulent concealment and other various other allegations.
According to plaintiffs, the MyFord Touch infotainment touchscreen systems often crash or freeze while the vehicle is in motion. The systems were introduced into Ford vehicles in 2010 with the promise of touch screen operating of audio and navigation systems, the ability to make phone calls, manage climate systems and play music from their smartphones. However, the systems have encountered a lengthy list of problems. In 2010, according to the lawsuit, Ford reported roughly 400 problems for every 1000 vehicles, which was an improvement from earlier numbers. The systems add about $1,000 to the cost of a Ford vehicle, according to the plaintiffs.
The case is In re: MyFord Touch Consumer Litigation, case number 3:13-cv-03072, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
New Meaning To ‘Loyalty’? LoyaltyOne is facing a consumer fraud class action in Canada, over “unfair and unilateral” changes to its airmiles program’s terms and conditions.
Here’s the skinny. According to the allegations, LoyaltyOne, which owns Airmiles—an airmiles rewards program—is accused of not giving adequate notice of the changes to its customers about the expiration of their airmiles, including miles earned before December 31, 2011 that expire at the end of this year. The AirMiles lawsuit also accuses LoyaltyOne of failure to give adequate notice that miles collected after that date will expire five years after they are earned. Got all that? Oh yes, the complaint also asserts that the company has made it difficult for miles to be redeemed before their expiration.
“The net result is that Air Miles’ conduct will result in a large number of the class members’ miles expiring, resulting in a significant loss to the class, and a corresponding large windfall for Air Miles,” the claim states.
According to the complaint, some 10 million Canadian households belong to the Air Miles program. The award miles are earned by shopping at participating retailers and are meant to be exchanged for flights and other rewards.
According to the claim, users wanting to redeem points before they expire have had problems doing so because of “unduly long” wait times on the phone. As well, it says the website displayed reward items users did not have enough miles to purchase, but not those that were within reach.
Need a vacation after reading all that!
Lifelock Locks Up $68 Million Settlement. The deal has received final approval, ending a consumer fraud class action lawsuit pending against it. The lawsuit alleged that LifeLock made false statements about its services and failed to follow through on promised that it would alert consumers of potential identify theft immediately.
Specifically, the class alleged that LifeLock would not pay any losses directly to the consumer and does not cover consequential or incidental damages to identity theft. It also alleged the guarantee is limited to fixing failures or defects in the LifeLock services and paying other professionals to attempt to restore losses. LifeLock illegally placed and renewed fraud alerts under consumers’ names with credit bureaus. However, under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, corporations such as LifeLock are not allowed to place fraud alerts on a consumers’ behalf, in fact, the law was written to specifically bar credit repair companies from improperly using fraud alerts.
In the LifeLock Settlement, U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. also approved attorneys’ fees of $10.2 million and a payment of $2,000 to each of four class representatives. Distribution of the remaining funds works out to $20 per class member, with members of a subclass receiving funds on a pro rata distribution of a cordoned off subclass fund. The class starts from September 2010 and the subclass period begins in January 2012.
In July, 2015 the FTC accused LifeLock of “failing to establish and maintain a comprehensive information security program to protect its users’ sensitive personal data, including credit card, social security, and bank account numbers [and of] falsely advertising that it protected consumers’ sensitive data with the same high-level safeguards as financial institutions.”
The case is Ebarle et al. v. LifeLock Inc., case number 3:15-cv-00258, 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!
Don’t know what to say about this. Tyson and Perdue Farms are facing an antitrust class action lawsuit over allegations they engaged in a chicken price-fixing scheme. The lawsuit calls the industry’s means of destroying its livestock “unparalleled.” There are other terms that come to mind, but let’s get to the allegations.
Which are, specifically, that the companies were involved in killing hens and flocks and destroying eggs to limit production and raise the price of 98 percent of the chicken sold in the U.S. by nearly 50 percent.
The lawsuit, filed Sept. 14, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division states that the laundry list of defendants control 90 percent of the wholesale broiler chicken market, an industry with more than $30 billion in annual revenue.
If you purchased chicken from any of the following suppliers, you may be entitled to your money back: Tyson, Perdue Farms, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms, Simmons Foods, Koch Meats, JCG Foods, Koch Meats, Wayne Farms, Mountaire Farms, Peco Foods, Foster Farms, House of Raeford Farms, Fieldale Farms, George’s Farms or O.K. Foods. Find out your rights to compensation.
The Tyson and Perdue lawsuit describes in detail how the chicken industry conspired together to raise prices, stating that in 2007, Pilgrim’s and Tyson attempted to cut production levels enough to cause industry prices to rise, but failed to impact the market due to their market share.
“In January 2008 Pilgrim’s and Tyson changed tactics and concluded that only through broader cooperation among major producers in the Broiler industry could supply be cut enough to force prices to increase,” the suit states.
Pilgrim’s and Tyson publicly told the industry that neither company would continue to cut production while their competitors used the opportunity to take away Pilgrim’s and Tyson’s market share. But a few days after an industry event in late January 2008, things changed. The lawsuit says that “other Defendant Producers followed Pilgrim’s and Tyson’s call to arms and made substantial cuts to their own production.”
After attending the industry event, Tyson’s CEO announced Tyson would be raising prices because “we have no choice.” A day later, a Pilgrim’s executive announced publicly that Pilgrim’s would be cutting its production and “the rest of the market is going to have to pick-up a fair share in order for the production to come out of the system.”
According to the lawsuit, unlike Pilgrim’s and Tyson’s prior production cuts, in 2008 the defendant chicken producers did not rely solely on ordinary mechanisms to temporarily reduce production, which would have permitted production to be quickly ramped up if prices rose.
“Instead, Defendant Producers cut their ability to ramp up production for 18 months or more by destroying Broiler breeder hens in their Broiler breeder flocks responsible for supplying the eggs Defendant Producers raise into Broilers. This destruction of the Broiler breeder flock was unparalleled,” the lawsuit states.
Walmart & Sam’s Club Head into OT (Sort of…) Hey, football season just started up so forgive the pun… So there’s a couple of nice unpaid overtime settlements to report this week. First up…Walmart and Sam’s Club. They were facing an unpaid overtime class action lawsuit brought by certain employees who worked at the big box retailers. The plaintiffs asserted that they were not paid for missed meal and rest breaks or for off-the-clock work while employed by Walmart.
The potential class of plaintiffs in the lawsuit who may be entitled to benefits from the settlement is approximately 187,000 current and former hourly Pennsylvania employees at Walmart of Sam’s Club.
The class period is between March 19, 1998 and May 1, 2006.
The Walmart settlement amount is $62.3 million in statutory damages.
The lawsuit is Braun v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., et al., March 2002 Term, No. 3127 and Hummel v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., et al., August 2004 Term, No. 3757, in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County.
Farmers’ Time to Pay Up. And…a $4.9 million settlement has been reached in an unpaid wages and overtime class action pending against Farmers Insurance Exchange.
The lawsuit was filed by Farmers’ adjusters in February 2014, who claimed that their work volume, deadlines and competitive rankings meant they frequently worked overtime without meal and rest breaks. It also claimed that up to 2015, Farmers had no stated break policy. Farmers’ practices violated state and federal overtime statutes, as well as California meal and rest breaks and unfair competition laws.
Under the terms of the Farmers settlement, the funds will be divided among the 2,114 plaintiffs, less 25 percent to cover legal fees.
The class is made up of claims representatives specializing in liability, automotive damage and residential property who worked in California between September 2011 and August 2016. On average, I is estimated that each plaintiff will receive $2,000, and members who worked throughout the class period could see more than $7,000.
The case is Alvarez et al v. Farmers Insurance Exchange et al., case number 3:14-cv-00574, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Ka Ching! That’s a wrap folks—see you at the Bar.