TD Bank Teed Up for Another Overdraft Fee Lawsuit? If at first you don’t succeed—is that the mantra here? TD Bank got hit with a consumer banking class action lawsuit this week alleging the financial institution continues to manipulate the order of debit card transactions so that it can profit through the maximization of overdraft fees. The lawsuit comes less than a year after the bank paid $62 million to settle a multidistrict litigation alleging the same practice. I’m sad to say I’m not surprised by these allegations.
Filed in Pennsylvania federal court by lead plaintiffs Sheila and Emilio Padilla, the complaint specifically alleges that TD Bank has continued to use a software scheme to illegally collect overdraft fees, and that it assessed the fees even when customers have sufficient funds in their account to cover the debit card payments.
“Defendant employs sophisticated software to automate its overdraft systems,” the complaint states. “These programs maximize the number of overdrafts, and thus the amount of overdraft fees charged per customer.”
The TD Bank class action complaint further states, “Many of the complained of practices continued as before, even after the class action settlement. Shockingly, unlike nearly all other banks sued in the multidistrict litigation, … TD has continued these practices even after it settled claims of wrongdoing based on these very same practices.”
The class action seeks to represent all TD Bank customers who opened a new account after the settlement class period ended on August 15, 2010, and who were charged improper overdraft fees. The class also seeks to represent those customers that had an account prior to August 2010 but were not charged overdraft fees until after that time.
Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s back to court they go!
Pays to Know Who’s in your Network? Well, maybe that’s what Adobe, Apple, Google and Intel thought—they’re facing a potential employment and salary fixing class action lawsuit over allegations they conspired to hire engineers from each other’s employee pools and knowingly shared salary data to establish pay ceilings. Nice.
Filed in California, the engineer and programmer class action lawsuit allegedly follows on from a 2012 investigation by the US Department of Justice which found that these practices were also evident at Lucasfilms, Pixar and Intuit. According to a report by the New York Times, the DOJ’s report suggests as many as 64,000 engineers and programmers were involved, which means the class action lawsuit could see billions in damages, if successful.
Rumor has it the sainted Steve Jobs was involved in cooking this one up. One to watch for sure.
Finally—a Data Breach Class Action Settlement! And a finalized one at that. That’s right, final approval of a $3 million settlement has just been granted, ending the long-running AVMed data breach class action. Cast your mind back to 2009, when health insurance provider AvMed got hit with what was to become one of the first in a string of data breach lawsuits. This one alleged that sensitive data from 1.2 million customer records had been breached from unencrypted laptops. “Sensitive”? I think we’re talking health records, FYI.
Among the settlement terms is the stipulation that AvMed implement increased data security measures including mandatory security awareness training and encryption protocols on company laptops.
The $3 million settlement fund is set aside for plaintiffs to make claims for $10 for every year that they purchased insurance from AvMed, with a $30 cap: class members who experienced identity theft are reportedly eligible to make additional claims to recover their monetary losses.
Reportedly, this is the first settlement of a data breach lawsuit that provides compensation to plaintiffs who did not experience identity theft.
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. See you at the bar!
Bad Apple! The god of tech gadgets got slapped this week—with a potential defective products class action lawsuit (yes, another one), alleging its iPhone 4 has a defective power button, effectively preventing the operator from being able to use the phone. This power button failure allegedly occurs shortly after the phone’s one year warranty expires. And doesn’t that just figure…
The Apple iPhone 4 class action lawsuit, filed by plaintiff Debra Hilton, Debra Hilton v. Apple Inc., Case No. 13-cv-2167, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claims “The failure of the power button that has plagued the iPhone 4 is more than an inconvenience… As a method by which the phone is toggled on and off, the failure of the button precludes general use of the phone and thereby effectively prevents iPhone 4 owners from being able to use the phone.” Yup.
According to the lawsuit, Hilton alleges the iPhone 4 power button defect is caused by the premature deterioration of a flex cable that connects the power button to the phone. When this cable deteriorates, the power button becomes harder and harder to depress, and eventually fails to work. Yup.
The iPhone 4 lawsuit contends that thousands of consumers who purchased the iPhone 4 have experienced this failure forcing them to throw away their phone or pay Apple $149.99 plus shipping for a replacement. Yikes! Better get on it boys.
Two Better than One for Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo made headlines twice this week, two settlements to report—both biggies. The first was a judicial order to reinstate a $203 million judgment against the bank in settlement of an overdraft fees class action lawsuit.
In a nutshell, the judgment, based upon the court’s findings, as affirmed on appeal by the Ninth Circuit, states that Wells Fargo violated California’s unfair competition law by deceiving its customers that debit card purchases would be posted chronologically to their accounts when in fact Wells Fargo posted them in a high-to-low order for the sole purpose of generating overdraft fees.
The case was brought on behalf of California Wells Fargo customers who, from November 15, 2004 to June 30, 2008, incurred overdraft fees on debit card transactions as a result of the bank’s practice of sequencing transactions from highest to lowest.
The second settlement with Wells Fargo’s name on it involves a force-placed insurance class action lawsuit brought by homeowners in Florida. (Force-placed insurance, btw, is sometimes referred to as “lender placed insurance”.) The lawsuit alleged that the homeowners were overcharged for the insurance, and that Wells Fargo unfairly took commission on the insurance, which it assigned to the homeowners through QBE.
The class was certified in 2012, and more than 24,000 homeowners were notified. During the class period, from April 2006 to February 2013, the class members were charged $77 million for force-placed insurance, according to the settlement documents, the South Florida Business Journal reports.
But wouldn’t you know it, just two months before they were due to go to court, the parties reached a $19.5 million settlement.
The settlement will provide a refund of the amount charged for force-placed insurance to the members of the class. Borrowers who were charged and paid the premium will be refunded 25 percent in cash. Those who were charged the premium but didn’t pay will get a credit of 25 percent off their bill.
Bet those homeowners are breathing a huge sigh of relief this weekend.
Largest Generic Drug Safety Fine. Ever. We’d be completely remiss if we didn’t mention this one… Ranbaxy has pled guilty to federal drug safety violations and will pay $500 million in fines to resolve the claims. The generic drug manufacturer is alleged to have sold subpar drugs and made false statements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about its manufacturing practices at two factories in India.
According to the Justice Department, the settlement is reportedly the largest in history involving a generic drug maker. Part of the settlement involves Ranbaxy pleading guilty to three felony counts of violating the federal drug safety law and four of making false statements to the FDA.
According to a report by the New York Times, Ranbaxy acknowledged it had failed to conduct proper safety and quality tests of several drugs manufactured at its Indian plants, known as Paonta Sahib and Dewas, including generic versions of many common medicines, such as the epilepsy drug gabapentin, and the antibiotic ciprofloxacin.
In the case of gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, Ranbaxy reportedly admitted that between June and August in 2007, it was aware that certain batches had tested positive for “unknown impurities” and had unreliable shelf lives. Nevertheless, the company didn’t report this to the FDA and announce a recall until October of that year. The recall ultimately involved more than 73 million pills.
Further, testing of certain batches of drugs to ensure their effectiveness was reportedly not done for weeks or months after the company had told the FDA the testing had been carried out.
Ranbaxy has set aside $500 million in anticipation of the penalties, which will break down as a $150 million in a criminal fine and forfeiture, and the remainder going to settle civil claims brought by the federal government and all 50 states. A former Ranbaxy executive who alerted the federal government to the problems will receive close to $49 million in compensation for his role as a whistleblower, the Times reports.
That’s a wrap. It’s cocktail hour—somewhere in the world—see you at the bar!
FYI…we’re going for a Consumer Fraud hat trick this week…
Kia Sorento #EpicFail? Heads up anyone out there who owns a Kia Sorento 2002-2009 model…Kia Motors is facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit over allegations that these Sorento models are prone to catastrophic engine failure. That sounds rather alarming.
The Kia Sorento lawsuit, entitled Robinson et al v. Kia Motors America Inc. et al., Case No. 13-cv-00006 U.S. district Court for the District of New Jersey, claims that Kia Motors knowingly concealed a manufacturing defect in the crank sprocket of its 2002-2009 Sorento models. This alleged engine defect can lead to a catastrophic chain of events beginning with severe heat buildup, the release of debris, and subsequent loss of steering control, engine failure and the potential for a hazardous accident, the plaintiffs allege. (And you thought sprockets were just something George Jetson worried about…)
“Not only did Kia actively conceal the material fact that this particular component is defectively designed (and requires costly repairs to fix), but it also did not reveal that the existence of this defect would diminish the intrinsic resale value of the vehicle,” the Kia lawsuit states.
Other allegations include Kia having knowledge of the engine defect for several years, as evidenced by numerous online complaints. However, it allegedly chose to withhold this information from consumers while making numerous statements about the quality and reliability of the Sorento. As a result of Kia’s “scheme of false and misleading advertising and marketing” thousands of people have purchased a Sorento, without knowledge of the defect, in preference to another vehicle without the alleged defect. Getting the picture?
The lawsuit also alleges that Kia Sorento owners who sought repairs for their vehicles while under warranty received only temporary repair of damaged parts, which may have included using similarly defective parts. Not good.
Additionally, the plaintiffs claim that Kia profits from the alleged Sorento engine defect by performing unnecessary parts replacements, computer reprogramming and software updates, despite knowing the true cause of the problem.
This lawsuit seeks to represent a nationwide class of consumers that purchased or leased the first generation Sorento. Ok.
AT&T Mobility Customers May Get Relief From 7-Year Itch. A settlement has been reached in the consumer fraud class action lawsuit pending against AT&T Mobility LLC. The lawsuit claims that AT&T improperly charged fees to certain wireless customers—over a seven-year class period. That’s alotta fees—and sadly, seems to be a trend these days.
So—if you were assessed Universal Service Charges or similar charges under state or other laws (collectively “USC”) on data pay-per-use plans, visual voicemail services, customer custom packaging plans, international calls outside the United States or voicemail services only (“Covered Services”) by AT&T Mobility LLC (“AT&T Mobility”) on bills issued from January 1, 2004 up to and including December 31, 2010, you might be eligible to receive benefits from a class action settlement.
We must stress, that the AT&T Mobility settlement has to receive final approval. If approved, it will resolve the lawsuit entitled, MBA Surety Agency, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, Case No. 1222-CC09746, concerning AT&T Mobility assessment of USC on the Covered Services. AT&T Mobility will contribute $152,634,430.00 (“Settlement Proceeds”) which will be payable in the form of credits and cash payments to the eligible Settlement Class members after deductions for attorneys’ fees etc. The final Fairness Hearing is scheduled for February 20, 2013. Watch this space—we’ll keep you posted.
And for the Hat Trick…after all, three’s a charm! A $110 million settlement that just received final court approval, ending an overdraft fees class action lawsuit against Chase Bank. Yes—this is a form of consumer fraud, because “it ain’t on the level.”
The Chase Bank overdraft fee settlement is the latest to be reached in the massive class action lawsuit involving over 30 banks who are alleged to have manipulated customers’ transactions in such a way as to maximize overdraft fees. What’s on the level about those business practices?
The allegations also state that rather than declining transactions on an account that has insufficient funds to cover a purchase, Chase Bank authorized the transactions and then processed them in highest to lowest dollar order, which effectively increased the number of overdraft fees charged. Oh—don’t get me started!
As part of the settlement agreement, Chase will, for a period of at least two years, cease charging overdraft fees on individual debit card transactions of $5.00 or less. No comment.
Class members include anyone who (A) held a Chase, Bank One, or Bank of New York consumer deposit account accessible with a Chase debit card anytime between January 1, 2003 and March 29, 2010; and (B) were charged one or more overdraft fees as a result of Chase’s practice of posting debit card transactions from highest to lower dollar amount.
That’s it for this week. Off to you know where—see you there!
Zero Truth? Before you take what you think may be a harmless mouthful of melt-in-your-mouth pleasure—namely Arctic Zero frozen desserts—WAIT—that ‘150 calorie per pint’ thing—may not be entirely accurate. At least that’s the claim in a consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed against Arctic Zero this week. The lawsuit claims the frozen desserts have 46% to 68% more calories than advertised. If this is true, it is seriously bad news for everyone.
The lawsuit, entitled Brenda Freeman v. Arctic Zero, Inc., Case No. 12-cv-2279 L BGS, US District, Southern District of California, alleges the company deceptively labels and markets its frozen treats as having only “150 calories per pint.” However, the frozen desserts contain up to 68% more calories than advertised based on findings from recent independent laboratory tests performed by EMSL Analytical, Inc. The deserts include Arctic Zero Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Arctic Zero Vanilla Maple which allegedly has 46% more calories than the 150 calories prominently advertised on the front of the product packaging as well as on its nutritional label, according to the class action lawsuit.
The Arctic Zero class action lawsuit is seeking to represent a proposed class of all U.S. persons who, since 2009, purchased any Arctic Zero frozen desserts advertised as containing 150 calories per pint or less. They’re seeking damages and restitution for Class Members as well as an injunction barring Arctic Zero from continuing to falsely advertise the calorie content of their products.
Payless to PayMore? Payless shoes looks set to pay more to settle fraudulent advertising claims for its Champion toning shoes. A proposed settlement (the “Settlement Agreement”) has been reached in the consumer fraud class action lawsuit against Payless ShoeSource, Inc. (“Payless” or “Defendant”). The Payless toning shoe lawsuit has been brought on behalf of a nationwide class of persons who purchased any Champion-branded style of toning shoes.
The lawsuit alleges that Payless engaged in untrue and deceptive advertising promotion and marketing practices associated with its Champion-brand toning shoes. You may be a member of the Settlement Class and might be eligible to receive a merchandise certificate worth $8.00 if you are a person who purchased any Champion-branded toning shoes during the period January 21, 2006 through June 25, 2012.
If you are a Settlement Class member and the Court gives final approval to the Settlement Agreement:
To Submit a Payless Toning Shoe Settlement Claim Form
If you are a Settlement Class member and would like to receive your Settlement Payment, you must submit a Claim Form, either through the mail or by by clicking here. You will be giving up legal claims against the Defendant and other related entities. Your claim must be submitted or postmarked no later than January 5, 2013.
If you do nothing, you will not receive your Settlement Payment. You will, however, still be giving up legal claims against Defendant and other related entities.
To Exclude Yourself from the Payless Toning Shoe Settlement
You will receive no benefits, but you will not be giving up your right to sue Defendant or related entities.
If you believe you are a Settlement Class member and would like further information, go to paylesstoningshoeclassaction.com
More bang on your buck? Umm, maybe not. Hopefully not. It all depends on whether or not preliminary settlements are approved in two class actions brought against Citizens and TD Banks.
This week, a federal judge in Miami preliminary approved two settlements in the excessive overdraft fees class action lawsuits against Citizens Bank and TD Bank. If approved, Citizens and TD Banks would be the first two of 14 banks to settle their cases. The settlement agreement will see Citizens pay $137.5 million and TD $62 million. Cha ching!
The lawsuit alleged the banks charged excessive overdraft fees on checking account customers. Specifically, the banks’ internal computer system re-sequenced the actual order of its customers’ debit card and ATM transactions, by posting them in highest-to-lowest dollar amount rather than in the actual order in which they were initiated by customers and authorized by the bank. The plaintiffs alleged that this practice resulted in bank customers being charged substantially more in overdraft fees than if the debit card and ATM transactions had been posted in the order in which they were initiated and authorized.
A final hearing seeking approval of the settlements is scheduled for March 7, 2013.
Okee dokee. That’s it for this week—See you at the bar.
Putting the Squeeze on Coca-Cola. Well, maybe. Seems something’s going on down at the grove. First it was Tropicana, now Coke’s Simply Orange has been hit with a federal consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week over allegations it falsely advertises the Simply Orange orange juice as all pure and natural, when the juice is actually heavily processed and flavored.
Filed by Nezzie Rose Christina, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, the Simply Orange class action lawsuit claims that Coca-Cola has been falsely stating that the Simply Orange orange juice is “100% Purse Squeezed Orange Juice” and is “a pure, natural orange juice with a taste that’s the next best thing to fresh-squeezed.”
Well, you don’t have to be a chemist to squeeze an orange at home, compare the juice you get from that with what comes out of your grocer’s freezer, and see a difference—now do you?
So the Simply Orange class action lawsuit claims that Coca-Cola is deceptively promoting Simply Orange in order to take advantage of consumers’ preference for natural products and their willingness to pay a premium price for those products. “Mass marketed orange juice such as Simply Orange cannot be fresh squeezed as fresh squeezed orange juice is unstable and has a short shelf-life,” the lawsuit states.
The class action lawsuit alleges unjust enrichment, breach of express warranty, fraudulent concealment, and violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, and is asking for the return of the purchase price of the juice, plus interest, expenses, and attorney’s fees. This could be a juicy one! (Ok, ok—that’s bad, I know).
Something to Bank on. One by one—it seems the banks are falling in line. Finally and at last. This week—it was US Bank—who agreed to pay $55 million to settle class action lawsuits that accused the bank of improperly manipulating its customers’ debit card transactions in order to generate excess overdraft fee revenues. The lawsuits, part of multi-district litigation involving more than 30 different banks entitled In re Checking Account Overdraft Litigation, are pending before U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King in Miami.
The US Bank class action lawsuits claim that the bank’s internal computer system re-sequenced the actual order of its customers’ debit card and ATM transactions, by posting them in highest-to-lowest dollar amount rather than in the actual order in which they were initiated by customers and authorized by the bank. According to the lawsuits, U.S. Bank’s practice resulted in its customers being charged substantially more in overdraft fees than if the debit card and ATM transactions had been posted in the order in which they were initiated and authorized.
FYI—US Bank is not the first bank involved in this multi-district litigation to settle similar claims. In addition to a $410 million settlement with Bank of America approved last year, settlements with JPMorgan Chase Bank ($110 million), Citizens Bank ($137.5 million), TD Bank ($62 million) and PNC Bank ($90 million) have been announced in recent months.
Employee Rites? Here’s one for the little guy! An unpaid overtime class action lawsuit brought against Rite Aid Corp by its employees, looks likely to be settled, as the company has agreed to pay up to $20.9 million in a settlement of the federal class action.
The Rite Aid class action lawsuit was brought in December 2008, by a store manager from Georgia, who alleged violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act, specifically, that she was denied overtime payment.
The settlement combines 13 cases from various federal court districts in which Rite Aid assistant store managers and co-managers alleged they put in more than 40 hours of work some weeks, but were denied overtime because the company classified them as supervisors. According to the Rite Aid class action lawsuit, the workers’ duties did not include store or department management, and workers lacked the authority to hire or fire or directly supervise other employees.
The class action settlement was recently approved by US District Judge John E. Jones III. The settlement could affect 6,100 people in 31 states.
Ok—That’s a wrap. Happy Friday—see you at the bar!