What’s in your cereal? Kashi Co, and parent company Kellogg are facing a class action lawsuit over allegations their cereal is mislabelled, effectively hiding the amount of sugar in the products.
And it’s not just cereal, apparently. According to the Kashi class action lawsuit, dozens of Kashi products are allegedly mislabeled, including cereal, chips, crackers and bars, pasta and frozen entrees.
The lawsuit, entitled Nadine Saubers v. Kashi Co., Case No. 13-cv-00899, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, states “Nearly all of Kashi’s products’ labels list ‘evaporated cane juice’ as an ingredient despite the fact that the FDA has specifically warned companies not to use the term because it is ‘false and misleading,’ is not ‘the common or usual name of any type of sweetener,’ and the ingredient is not, in fact, juice.”
Lead plaintiff Nadine Saubers, alleges Kellogg and Kashi are in violation of consumer protection laws which regulate food labeling, specifically by their use of the term “evaporated cane juice” instead of sugar, and by failing to disclose that the ingredient is still considered to be processed sugar. Yes, you have heard this one before …
The Kashi class action lawsuit seeks to represent a proposed class of all US residents who purchased Kashi mislabeled products since October 1, 2009, including a subclass of California purchasers.
Long Term Care Falls Short. Heads up to anyone with elderly parents who have paid into Chicago-based insurance company Bankers Life and Casualty long-term health benefits plans. The insurer is facing a bad faith insurance class action lawsuit alleging the company is denying benefits to those who paid for long term health care insurance so they would have security in their old age.
The Bankers Life class action, alleging elder abuse, was filed on behalf of four individuals (two harmed families) who have made claims as representatives of the class. Hundreds, possibly thousands of elderly customers are estimated to be affected by this action. The Oregon action is similar to other lawsuits against Bankers Life in other states.
Grants Pass resident Dennis Fallow, a plaintiff if the lawsuit, claims his mother has paid their premiums for years, counting on having support if she became ill. “That time came and all she got from Bankers Life was a cold shoulder, rejection and red tape. It was a total rip off,” he said in a statement to the press.
Fallow’s 79-year-old mother, Katherine Fallow, needed an in-home caregiver when she came home in 2009 following multiple hospitalizations. The family hired a caregiver certified as a home health aide by the State of Washington and an Oregon certified home health aide to care for Mrs. Fallow. Dennis Fallow began submitting the bills for that care to Bankers Life, anticipating payment under terms of his mother’s policy. What followed were several months of wrangling over aides’ qualifications, long delays in communications and denials of payments. Bankers Life eventually made payments in the amount of $11,388, far short of the $51,667 the family paid for Mrs. Fallow’s care. Mrs. Fallow died on July 6, 2011.
In 2011, Grants Pass attorney Christopher Cauble filed a lawsuit against Bankers Life on behalf of the Fallows. He soon learned the Grants Pass family wasn’t alone. “Bankers Life has likely refused long term health care benefits to many, many Oregonians,” Cauble told reporters. “I began hearing about other families with experiences similar to that of the Fallows. What we have in Bankers Life is a company with a history of raising premiums, delaying payments and denying legitimate claims.” Cauble’s findings prompted him to join with Portland attorney Mike Williams and his firm to file the federal class action against Bankers Life on behalf of all Oregon consumers.
FYI—in 2011, Bankers Life ranked worst (19th out of 19 companies) in the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services’ (DCBS) consumer complaint index. In fact, DCBS figures show Bankers Life ranked worst for consumer complaints every year from 2005 to 2011. Now there’s something to aspire to.
News in the never-ending saga of mortgage-backed securities—this one was all over the wires this week—Bank of America reached a tentative settlement in the pending securities fraud class action lawsuit brought by investors who purchased mortgage investments from Countrywide Financial. BofA acquired Countrywide in 2008.
The proposed settlement would see BofA pay $500 million to settle the lawsuit, which would be paid out to plaintiffs that include Dubai’s Mashreq Bank and public and union pension funds in California, Maine, Nevada, Vermont and Washington states. The plaintiffs claimed they were misled about the risks of securities they bought from California-based Countrywide between 2005 and 2007.
The settlement surpasses the $315 million accord reached with Merrill Lynch in May 2012, making it the largest to resolve federal class-action litigation over mortgage-backed securities since the financial crisis began. The accord requires court approval.
Ok—that’s a wrap. See you at that bar…
Attorney James Kowalski, Jr. saw his first “robo-signing” case ten years ago, and it’s fair to say he’s been a pioneer in the fight to save thousands of Americans from illegal lawsuits launched by the mortgage and debt service industry. Much of that work Kowalski has done on his own time.
In 2002, Kowalski was handling a foreclosure case for client. The bank had rejected his client’s cashier’s check—and claimed he was in arrears.
Kowalski was surprised when he solicited a routine affidavit from a GMAC bank employee who was supposed to have firsthand knowledge of the client’s case. “She had not reviewed any of the documents,” he says.
As it turns out, Kowalski had found one of the first known cases of “robo-signing”.
“What typically happens in a robo perjury case is that the witness reviews a computer screen that is usually populated by some other department—and the numbers on the screen match the documents they will sign,” says Kowalski. “And in many cases they actually don’t look at the screen, they just look to see their name is printed correctly.”
Two years ago, Kowalski was asked to address the House Judiciary Committee in Washington. As he waited for his turn, Kowalski sat dumb-founded as he listened to a panel of regulators testify.
“Every one of them said that they were not aware of the practices,” says Kowalski. “We were there to talk about things we had been living with for most of a decade—as just a normal part of any litigation in foreclosures in particular. So it was odd to hear these government regulators that are charged with supervising the servicing industry and compare that with those of us that actually litigate against the servicing industry—I just thought that was interesting.”
Kowalski was recently named as the winner of a Florida Bar Association Pro Bono service award. He was also named as the Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year in 2011.
“I don’t track my hours,” says a very modest Kowalski. “I do a mix of cases involving foreclosures, credit card collection defense and some other legal aid someone may ask me to look at.”
“Especially with the foreclosures it is nice to make a change in those cases—because it is an enormous amount of stress that these people go through,” Kowalski adds.
Despite Kowalski’s efforts, and the efforts of others, robo-signing still continues. “It will take change by the regulators to end the practice,” Kowalski says.
James Kowalski is a former death penalty prosecutor now in private practice in Jacksonville, Florida. He handles serious personal injury cases, consumer litigation (including mortgage foreclosure defense cases, credit card and other debt collection defense cases), class actions, and business-to-business issues.
Barefoot running benefits nothing more than barefaced lies? Well, it remains to be seen, but certainly there’s doubt over its merits—though no doubts re: its ugliness—and allegations of injury resulting from the barefoot running shoe. (Is it really a shoe?) A consumer fraud class action lawsuit was filed this week against Vibram USA Inc and Vibram FiveFingers LLC, alleging the company used deceptive statements about the health benefits of barefoot running.
Filed on behalf of Florida resident Valerie Bezdek, the Barefoot Running Shoes lawsuit alleges that 1) health benefits claims Vibram FiveFingers has used to promote the shoes are deceptive; 2) that FiveFingers may increase injury risk as compared to running in conventional running shoes, and even when compared to running barefoot; 3) that there are no well-designed scientific studies that support FiveFingers claims.
“Given that Defendant’s advertising and marketing equates barefoot running with running in FiveFingers, Defendant’s uniform deceptive statements about barefoot running are also deceptive statements about Five Fingers,” the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit also states that sales of the Vibram FiveFingers shoes have grown an average of 300 percent a year for the last five years and approached $70 million in 2011. That’s certainly not chump change.
LG TV lifespans less than expected. You know, you could make the argument that defective products help the market economy—something breaks—you go buy a new one—right? Well, not according to some disgruntled LG consumers. They filed a federal class action lawsuit against LG Electronics USA, alleging that the electronics manufacturer’s plasma and LCD Television sets are defective, impacting the lifespan of the televisions. And they are not prepared to go out and buy new sets. Can you blame them?
The LG Electronics class action lawsuit seeks to represent anyone else who purchased certain defective LG televisions in the state of Nevada. Class televisions include but are not limited to models 32LC2D, 37LC2D, 42LC2D, 42PC3D, 42PC3DV, 47LC7DF and 50PC3D.
The lawsuit alleges that the televisions are defective in that they contain internal components called printed wiring boards (also known as printed circuit boards) that prematurely fail during normal operation of the televisions (the “defect”). The defect, which was present upon delivery and which manifests itself over time, ultimately results in the failure of the televisions themselves well before the end of their expected useful life, and rendering the televisions unsuitable for their principal and intended purpose. I’m guessing that’s watching TV…
Danke schön, Deutsche Bank (not). It’s the financial mess that never ends—though you have to admit, it’s given the document shredding industry cause for a few high-five’s… A preliminary settlement was announced this week in the lawsuit pending against Deutsche Bank—with the German financial house agreeing to pony up a paltry $32.5 million to settle claims that it lied about the quality of home loans underlying the securities it sold. (Well Hel-lo. And where in the settlements line-up is this one?)
The investors that sued include the Massachusetts Bricklayers and Masons Trust Funds. They have filed a motion for preliminary approval of the Deutsche Bank settlement in federal court in Central Islip, New York.
“The proposed settlement will provide a substantial monetary benefit to the settlement class,” court papers state.
According to the lawsuit, and as reported by Bloomberg.com, in 2006, the plaintiffs bought from Deutsche Bank so-called pass-through certificates that gave them the right to the payments on the underlying home loans. The offering documents contained misstatements about loan underwriting standards, property appraisals, loan-to-value ratios and credit ratings on the certificates, according to the complaint. At the same time Deutsche Bank was selling the securities, it was profiting from credit-default swaps by wagering that loans like those underlying the certificates would decline in value, the investors claim.
The lawsuit also states “More than 49 percent of the loans underlying one certificate series were delinquent or foreclosed on,” the investors said. The tranche the Massachusetts Bricklayers and Masons Trust Funds, the lead plaintiff, bought “has already realized cumulative principal losses.”
The investors also claim that had a sale been done in 2008 when the lawsuit was filed, they would have netted between 70 and 80 cents on the dollar. “The certificates are no longer marketable at prices anywhere near the price paid,” the lawsuit states. So I guess $32.5 million doesn’t look so bad now.
OK–That’s a wrap. Happy Friday everyone–Mickey Mouse says it’s Martini Time! (and may one of us hit #MegaMillions!)