Target Settles Last of U.S. Data Breach Claims with $18.5 Million Settlement
On May 23, 2017, Target Corp. agreed to an $18.5 million settlement with 47 states and the District of Columbia, which resolves state investigations into a detrimental 2013 data breach. The settlement was the largest in history regarding multi-state data breaches.
On May 22, 2017, a federal judge in North Carolina, Catherine C. Eagles, ordered Dish Network LLC to pay treble damages after it “repeatedly looked away” when one of its marketers made calls to customers on the company’s “Do-Not-Call” list. The order tripled the $20.5 million jury verdict to a staggering $61million.
Counsel Financial employees teamed up this month to help support the Mikey’s Way Foundation, a charity that serves pediatric cancer patients undergoing treatment. Each team was tasked with heading out into the Western New York community to gather donations for the upcoming Drive for Dreams Gala and Golf Tournament to benefit Mikey’s Way, being held this year on August 6 and 7 at Brookfield Country Club. The monetary and in-kind contributions are used towards filling the silent and live auctions for the event, which would not be possible without the generous donations of local companies in the area.
In the modern age of technology and constant communication, attorneys have to worry about things that wouldn’t cross the minds of previous generations. One of the largest concerns currently facing modern attorneys is the ever-evolving issue of cyber document security. Since 2011, 80 out of the 100 biggest law firms in the country have experienced security breaches to some degree. Now, more than ever, law firms of all shapes and sizes are upping the degree of thought and funding that’s applied to protecting sensitive client and company information.
On May 16, 2017, a federal judge denied Red Bull Inc.’s motion to dismiss the $60 million wrongful death suit claiming that excessive consumption of their energy drink resulted in the death of 44-year-old, William Wade. According to Judge Lisa Wood, “Red Bull Inc.’s only arguments are that the complaint is a shotgun pleading and it does not adequately plead fraud. Neither contention succeeds.”
On Friday, May 12, 2017, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca was sentenced to three years in prison for obstruction of justice, conspiracy and making false statements to a federal agency pertaining to an FBI investigation of inmate abuse in LA county jails. U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson stated he provided some leniency due to the 74-year-old’s recent Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis and years of public service, but ultimately a custodial sentence was crucial for “restoring public confidence” in the justice system and would hopefully send a “deterring message to law enforcement and public officials that no person is above the law.”
On Monday, May 15, 2017, federal judge William Alsup ordered Uber to cease using Lidar, a navigational technology, which serves as the central navigational force that controls the company’s self-driving vehicles. This order follows a request made by Alsup last Thursday for federal prosecutors to begin investigating the Google self-driving car development company Waymo’s claims that its autonomous car technology was stolen by Uber.
A punitive class-action lawsuit against popular Wisconsin and Illinois supermarket chain, Roundy’s Supermarket Inc., was transferred to federal court in Illinois on May 11, 2017. The store, owned by Kroger Co., is accused of retaining employees’ biometric data without consent.
On May 9, 2017, a proposed class action lawsuit was filed in California federal court against the Vitamin Shoppe Inc. accusing the company of knowingly misleading consumers with the labeling of weight loss supplements. Plaintiffs claim the product in question has been scientifically proven to have no effect on weight loss.
On May 8, 2017, plaintiffs in the Ford F-150 punitive class action rallied to fight against defendant Ford Motor Co.’s bid to dismiss the suit, which was originally filed in March 2017 in the Northern District of New York.
In the complaint, named plaintiff, Brandon Kommer claimed that the company’s F-150 pickup trucks contain serious material defects that the defendant automaker was aware of and concealed from consumers. Kommer argued that consumers purchased the pickup trucks based on the assurances of the vehicle’s durability made by Ford in commercials and ad campaigns that promoted the vehicle as being built “Ford Tough” and having “rock-solid durability.”
On May 4, 2017, U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken approved a $13.5 million settlement between drugstore giant Duane Reade and a class of assistant store managers who claim that the defendant did not pay them proper overtime wages, despite the employees working more than 50 hours a week.
On May 1, 2017, Costco Wholesale Corp. reached a $775,000 settlement with certain customers who claimed that the warehouse club misled shoppers into thinking that its private label Kirkland Signature Coconut Oil was “healthy and delicious.” Named plaintiffs in the suit, James Boswell and Michelle Salazar-Navarro, filed claims against the superstore in January 2016, alleging that Costco misbranded its own coconut oil as being a healthy alternative to butter and other oils.
Counsel Financial recently returned from another successful MTMP seminar in Las Vegas, NV. They kicked off the trip by speeding around the road course in exotic supercars at the legendary Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The course was designed specifically for high-performance vehicles and features seven turns and a 1,800’ straightaway over 1.2 miles.
Angry Fyre Music Festival attendees have filed a $100 million proposed class action suit against the organizers of the event. The festival was billed as “the cultural event of the decade” with ticketholders paying anywhere from $2,000 to $100,000 for ticket packages to the luxe event in the Bahamas.
Botox maker Allergan PLC (“Allergan”) is facing class action claims over the marketing of its CoolSculpting fat-freezing procedure, a proprietary non-surgical fat-reduction treatment developed by ZELTIQ Aesthetics, Inc. (“ZELTIQ”). Allergan acquired ZELTIQ in February 2017 for approximately $2.5 billion.
On April 24, 2017, a group of Atlantic City Uber drivers banded together and filed class claims in New Jersey state court against Atlantic City Yellow Cab Company, accusing the taxi drivers working for the company of illegally posing as Uber drivers in order to poach customers from Uber drivers.
Popular American sports equipment maker Wilson Sporting Goods Co. was hit with a proposed class action lawsuit headed by dissatisfied parents who purchased the company’s expensive DeMarini baseball bat, which plaintiffs claim was falsely advertised as comporting to United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) standards.
A proposed class-action suit has been filed in Illinois federal court against online dating service conglomerate, Match Group Inc., accusing the company, through its website OkCupid.com, of fraudulently enticing subscribers to upgrade their profiles to a premium level. The suit alleges the company misleads customers by alluding to potential matches accessible only through the upgraded service, which turned out to be non-active accounts and hence, not legitimate potential matches.
Palo Alto-based automaker Tesla, Inc. is facing a potentially wide sweeping class-action suit alleging that the company’s 2016-2017 models contained inoperative standard safety features and faulty enhanced autopilot software. The lawsuit was filed on April 19, 2017 in California federal court by three unsatisfied Tesla customers from Colorado, Florida and New Jersey.
The trend of class-action lawsuits accusing companies of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act with unwanted calls to consumers does not appear to be slowing down any time soon as a new proposed class suit against department store giant Macy’s was filed in Florida federal court on April 17, 2017. The suit accuses the company of harassing consumers with debt collection robocalls.
On Thursday April 13, 2017, students unhappy with the way their student loan money was being handled filed a proposed class action suit in Pennsylvania federal court against payment processing company Higher One Holdings Inc. and bank entities WEX Bank and Customers Bancorp.
The first round of bellwether cases in the Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming System MDL were chosen in Minnesota federal court on April 7, 2017. The joint filing stated that both parties had selected 16 cases out of a pool of 150 cases randomly chosen previously by the court in January 2017. The total number of bellwethers to be tried is 31, as one case was chosen by both sides.
Bad news for lovers of the colorful “buttery soft” leggings sold by clothing company LuLaRoe—on March 23, 2017, a proposed class action lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of California alleging that the company knowingly sold poor quality leggings to both customers and consultants.
After five years of legal battles and set backs, over 170,000 disgruntled British Airways frequent fliers were granted class certification in New York federal court on March 31, 2017. The class accuses the airline of charging its frequent fliers arbitrary fuel surcharges when using rewards points to pay for flights a large, sometimes up to $500. The plaintiffs argue that British Airways actions with regards to the fuel surcharge are a direct breach of the frequent fliers Executive Club contract.
The trial for the class action surrounding Kimberly-Clark’s MicroCool surgical gowns progressed in favor of the plaintiffs this week as expert witness Jeffrey Stull of International Personnel Protection testified that after defendant Kimberly-Clark Corporation and its subsidy and co-defendant Halyard Health Inc. were informed of the product’s failure during industry standard testing, it should have been recalled. Stull ascertained that “at the very least notification should have been provided to the customers” that the product no longer met safety standards for protection against pathogen and liquids.
Just in time for the official start to the 2017 baseball season, class status has been granted to thousands of disgruntled Minor League Baseball (MiLB) players who argue that they should be paid the minimum wage and overtime. The players are from different “clubs” across the state of California who work countless hours throughout both the official season and the off-season, participating in conditioning and training in addition to playing official games. Minor League Baseball is part of a player feeder system for Major League Baseball (MLB) and many MLB players have traditionally considered the long hours and comparably bad pay to all be a part of a younger player “paying his dues” before being moved to the Majors.
Arguments as to where the defective FieldTurf multidistrict litigation should be consolidated still continue with both sides presenting their arguments to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on March 28, 2017. Defendant FieldTurf USA Inc. and its various entities (FieldTurf Inc., Tarkett Inc. and FieldTurf Tarkett SAS) argue that the class-action suits claiming that the company sold defective DuraSpine turf to schools should be consolidated in New Jersey. Conversely, Plaintiffs maintain that the Central District of California or the Southern District of Texas would be the proper venue.
After almost four years of contentious litigation, a proposed settlement agreement has been reached in the Ford Fiesta and Ford Focus class-action lawsuit. In the proposed settlement submitted to federal court in California on March 24, 2017, Ford agreed to “substantial cash payouts” among other concessions to the 1.5 million owners of 2011-2016 Fiesta models and 2012-2016 Focus models. Plaintiffs claim that the vehicles contain a malfunctioning transmission that causes the cars to slip, buck, kick or jerk when drivers attempt to accelerate the vehicles. As a result of these issues, class members claim that they were forced to expend substantial time, energy and money to fix the problems. Some plaintiffs purportedly had to wait months for repairs to be completed.
photo credit: Penn Live
On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the Sixth Circuit’s ruling on a case involving copyright and cheerleading uniforms. Back in 2010, Varsity Brands Inc. (Varsity), the nation’s largest cheer uniform supplier, sued a smaller rival, Star Athletica, claiming that Star Athletica copied designs (i.e. stripes and chevron) that Varsity had previously registered with the Copyright Office. However, Star Athletica claimed that the designs were “too useful for copyright protection” and in 2014, the judge sided with Star Athletica, but on the grounds that the designs were “integrally intertwined with the function of the uniform.” At the time, it was ruled the designs were not “separable enough” to win any copyright protection.
On Monday March 20, 2017, a three-judge panel 11th Circuit judicial bench affirmed the $2.1 million jury verdict in the first Wright Hip Implant bellwether trial. The panel said that U.S. District Judge William Duffey acted within his judicial discretion when he directed jurors to further deliberate the facts in the case and proceeded to give the jury a clean verdict sheet. While Judge Duffey’s actions may seem unusual, the facts surrounding them have a complex backstory.
On Friday March 17, 2017, a Brooklyn jury returned a $2.5 million verdict in favor of the mother of a 25-year-old African American man who was shot dead by the Brooklyn NYPD in 2008. The verdict came as a surprise to many since the deceased’s untimely death was ruled an accident by the District Attorneys’s office nine years ago.
On March 9, 2017, after a two-week trial, an Arkansas jury entered a verdict in favor of two-year-old Kara Smalls and her parents in the amount of $46.5 million in a trial against the Arkansas hospital and doctor who delivered the infant.
On March 10, 2017, a settlement was reached between the makers of the internet enabled vibrator, We-Vibe, and a proposed class of disgruntled users who claim that the product’s Canadian manufacturer, Standard Innovation, intentionally violated users’ privacy by covertly collecting decidedly intimate information. The suit, originally filed in Illinois federal court in September 2016 by two anonymous lead plaintiffs, claims that defendant Standard Innovation Corp collected extremely personal information about the product’s users such as the date and time of use, the vibration intensity level selected by the user and the user’s email address, all without permission.
On March 10, 2017, in Detroit federal court, Volkswagen’s (VW) general counsel entered a guilty plea to counts of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., wire fraud and violations of the Clean Air Act. As part of the plea, VW has agreed to pay $4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties.
HB Litigation Conferences
Law firm funding company Counsel Financial announced today that it will continue its long-time support of HB Litigation Conferences by sponsoring its upcoming Mass Tort Med School + Class Actions seminar. The program will take place March 15-17 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes resort.
On March 7, 2017, a proposed class-action lawsuit was filed in California federal court against LG Electronics USA Inc. The electronics giant is accused of purposefully misleading customers into purchasing LG televisions bearing an “Energy Star” label based on the assumption that they are energy efficient, when in fact the televisions use around two times more energy.
On March 8, 2017, plaintiff financial institutions in the Home Depot Customer Data Breach multidistrict litigation filed an unopposed motion for preliminary approval of a $25 million proposed settlement agreement in the Northern District of Georgia. The proposed settlement represents a possible end to over two years of contentious legal battles stemming from the massive 2014 Home Depot data breach, in which 56 million credit and debit card numbers were compromised.
On Friday March 3, 2017, U. S. District Judge Nancy Rosenstengel announced that the start of the first bellwether trial in the Depakote MDL was to be postponed due to the illness of defense expert witness neurologist, Dr. James Willmore. Judge Rosenstengel announced that while maintaining the planned trial date of March 27, 2017 was of the utmost importance to her, she was convinced after a phone call with Dr. Willmore that he is indeed too ill to testify.
On March 2, 2017, lead plaintiff David Schram of Los Angeles, California, filed a punitive class action suit against Yelp Inc. alleging the company violated California Penal Code 632. Schram claims that the popular virtual review service illegally recorded his calls to the company’s financial department. Neither customer service representatives nor automated advisory services informed Schram at the time that the conversations in question would be recorded.
On February 28, 2017, a punitive class action lawsuit was filed against popular online payment processing company, PayPal, alleging that the company’s PayPal Giving Fund does not actually deliver donated funds to customer’s pre-selected charities unless the charity has already set up a PayPal account.
A proposed $1.2 million settlement has been reached between the parties in the Microsoft Corp. consumer receipt class action and submitted to U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga for approval. The settlement comes after months of mediation and a failed attempt by Microsoft to have the suit dismissed in July 2016.
Florida Justice Association
Law firm funding company Counsel Financial announced that it is set to sponsor the upcoming Florida Justice Association’s Workhorse Seminar, taking place February 28 through March 3 in Orlando, Florida.
On February 23, 2017, a Florida jury awarded deceased plaintiff’s wife, Blanche Fox, a $6 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds (“RJR”).
On February 22, 2017, a disgruntled employee of The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Northern New England filed a proposed class suit against the company in Connecticut federal court, alleging discriminatory promotion practices, specifically at the management level.
In 2007, Greg Coleman launched Greg Coleman Law PC, a plaintiffs’ class action, mass tort and personal injury practice located in Knoxville, Tennessee. Greg Coleman has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America, was recognized as one of Knoxville’s top attorneys in the metropolitan area’s Cityview Magazine and has received accolades for his legal advocacy through the Multi-Million Dollar Verdict Advocates Forum and Super Lawyers. Since inception, his firm has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for its clients, including a $178.6 million ERISA class-action settlement that required AK Steel Corp. to provide health and life insurance benefits to a group of over 3,000 workers and their spouses.
The question of whether a multidistrict litigation will be formed for the Samsung exploding phone batteries still remains unanswered as the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML”) deliberates. Samsung Electronics America Inc., as well New York named plaintiff Claire Gilligan, filed motions to the JPML against formal consolidation in California. For its part, Samsung has argued that at present there are only four proposed class-action suits pending in both New York and California and that such a small number is far too few for the JPML to consolidate.
On February 17, 2017, U.S. District Judge William J. Martini granted preliminary approval to the settlement between German carmaker BMW AG and owners of BMW 6 Series convertibles.
On February 13, 2017, a dissatisfied customer filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against telecommunications giant, Sprint Communications, Inc., in California federal court alleging that the company intentionally deceived customers into signing up with Sprint using it’s alluring “cut your bill in half” promotion.
On February 10, 2017, a disgruntled Harry & David customer filed a punitive class-action lawsuit in New York federal court against the gourmet food and gift company alleging that it deceptively under-filled its popcorn containers.
On February 7, 2017, Yahoo! Inc. was hit with another proposed class action over the data hacking of more than one billion of its subscribers. Named plaintiffs, Matthew and Deana Ridolfo, filed suit in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, claiming that Yahoo subscribers were repeatedly prompted by the company to provide substantial amounts of personal information with reassurances that the information would be protected, only to be told in late 2016 that hackers had twice been able to break into the Yahoo database and steal customer information.
Counsel Financial, the nation’s largest lender to the plaintiffs’ bar, is proud to announce its Diamond Sponsorship of the AAJ Conventions for 2017.
Heading to Austin? Stop by booth 601 in or visit us at our Diamond Sponsor Boardroom (302) to learn about all of our financial products or to meet with us to discuss how we can help your firm.
After more than a year of negotiations, a $208.7 million settlement has been reached in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) antitrust multidistrict litigation. On February 3, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a motion seeking preliminary approval of the settlement agreement.
On February 3, 2017, two consumers filed a motion for class certification in Florida federal court against telecommunications company, Comcast. In the suit, named plaintiffs, Jon McDougal and David Fiessinger, Jr., allege that charging customers a “leasing fee” for cable box modems that the customers already own unjustly enriches Comcast and violates the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Thank you for joining us last night at the National Trial Lawyers Summit Super Bowl 51 Kick-Off Party! All in attendance had a great evening and the game certainly provided plenty of excitement! Counsel Financial was proud to sponsor the event as a long-time support of the National Trial Lawyers organization.
On January 30, 2017, a group of former college football players filed a punitive class action against football helmet maker, Riddell Inc., in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The players in the suit claim that the company lied about the level of protection from head injuries the helmets provided.
On January 30, 2017, a punitive class action was filed in Massachusetts federal court alleging that major pharmaceutical companies Sanofi U.S., Novo Nordisk Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co. engaged in a price-fixing conspiracy which has caused the price of insulin to increase over 150% over the past five years. Specifically, Plaintiffs in the class allege that the pharmaceutical companies are announcing one price for the cost of insulin to the American public and then offering pharmacy benefit managers (“PBMs”), like CVS Health Corps and Express Scripts, a much lower price for the same product. This price gap allows PBMs to sell the diabetes drugs direct to consumers for a much higher price, turning a significant profit.
As the first major verdicts and settlements of are announced, here are three multidistrict litigations (MDLs) from 2016 that are likely to make headlines in the legal community in 2017.
On January 27, 2017, the ongoing five-year suit between pharmaceutical juggernaut Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and a class of American doctors was finally drawn to a tentative close with both parties agreeing to a $61.5 million settlement. The suit, which was originally filed by a group of American doctors in December 2011, alleged that the pharmaceutical manufacturer violated antitrust laws in its contracts with health care providers.
Photo credit: uscourts.gov
On January 24, 2017, U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle granted class certification to plaintiffs alleging that the widely used Public Access to Court Electronic Records system (“PACER”) has been overcharging users for access to online dockets and documents. The class will extend to all users who paid PACER fees between April 2010 and April 2016.
Disgruntled parents in California have filed class claims in California federal court against Toronto-based toy maker, Spin Master, after thousand of children were left disappointed on Christmas morning when their Hatchimals failed to hatch.
Hatchimals, which retail anywhere from $50 to $80, were crowned the “it” toy of the 2016 holiday prompting many parents to go to insane length to secure one for the holidays.
On January 20, 2017, pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) sought to put an end to the last six remaining claims against the company in the denture cream products multidistrict litigation by filing a motion for summary judgment.
The first major American-style class action suit to take place in the United Kingdom is going before the Competition Appeals Tribunal on January 25, 2017 to gain final approval on class certification. The colossal £14 billion suit, originally filed in September 2016, centers on MasterCard’s controversial interchange fees and involves over 46 million UK consumers.
On January 17, 2017, tech giant Apple Inc. found itself faced with yet another proposed class-action suit. However, unlike past class actions which have dealt with topics such as employee poaching, touch screen issues and fake loyalty programs, this most recent class action centers around the company’s refusal to install a “lock-out device” in its smart phones to prohibit drivers from using their iPhones while operating a vehicle.
On December 30, 2016, South Korean celebrity Son Ji-Chang, who resides in California, filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Tesla Motors Inc. claiming that Son’s Tesla Model X electric SUV suddenly accelerated as the star was pulling into his garage, causing the vehicle to plow through a garage wall and into the living room.
On January 12, 2017 Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich quietly announced, via the state’s website, that he will be pursuing a civil suit for consumer fraud against healthcare technology company, Theranos Inc. The announcement of this suit comes after a string of bad news concerning the healthcare start-up, stemming from a damning investigative article from the Wall Street Journal in October 2015, which exposed the inherent problems with the company’s non-invasive blood testing technology.
Plaintiffs in the Harmless Harvest Coconut Water class action have filed an unopposed motion for preliminary settlement approval in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The settlement in question calls for Defendant, Harmless Harvest, to pay plaintiffs nearly $1 million in damages in addition to making label changes to its Coconut Water products and consulting with a third party as to the accuracy of its labels.
A $13.5 million settlement has been reached between employees of Duane Reade Inc., a pharmacy and convenience store subsidiary of Walgreens Co. The suit, which was originally filed in 2011, alleges that Duane Reade has consistently provided improper compensation to managers for working overtime.
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against car manufacturing giant Toyota and its luxury line of vehicles, Lexus, alleging that the vehicles contain defective HVAC systems. Named plaintiffs Paul and Elizabeth Stockinger, Gailyn Kennedy, Basudeb Dey, Brenda Flinn and Elizer Capser have all stated in their complaint that the air ventilation systems in the vehicles emit a moldy odor that cannot be masked. They further state that no reasonable consumer would purchase or lease a new vehicle expecting the HVAC system to be faulty.
Google Inc. has agreed to a $5.5 million class-action settlement in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware over allegations that the company violated federal privacy laws by circumventing privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser, allowing advertisers to set up third-party cookies on the browsers of unknowing users.
Plaintiffs Adam Pezen, Carolo Licata and Nimesh Patel filed a class-action lawsuit against social network giant Facebook, Inc. to end the company’s collection, use and storage of its users’ sensitive identity information. The litigation, which is proceeding through discovery in the Northern District of California, is set for a jury trial on October 2, 2017.
Among the hundreds of pending multidistrict litigations across the country, some stand out for the large jury awards they've yielded against major companies like Johnson & Johnson, and some, like the General Motors ignition-switch MDL, for their inability to produce many verdicts at all. Others are notable for their longevity.
Some last minute Christmas joy is sure to be felt this week among the class members of the American Eagle Text Message class action as a $14.5 million settlement agreement was just announced between the parties.
In a recent fairness hearing, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman announced that she would grant final approval to the proposed settlement agreement between Hyundai and class claims from consumers alleging that the Hyundai Sonata contains a defective engine.
Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics have been hit with more than 8,400 lawsuits over the allegedly defective metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implants, which have been consolidated in Texas federal court. On Thursday, December 1, 2016, a federal jury awarded six plaintiffs from California more than $30 million in actual damages and more than $1 billion in punitive damages in the litigation’s third bellwether trial. Most recently in March, the second bellwether trial returned a jury verdict of $500 million, which was scaled back to $151 million.
Wells Fargo customers have filed a class-action lawsuit against Prudential Insurance Co., alleging the company worked with Wells Fargo to sign up low-income customers for life insurance policies without their permission or knowledge. This is the latest development in the Wells Fargo consumer fraud scandal, where the bank has been under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly signing up customers with several million unauthorized bank and credit card accounts and charging the customers fees on the ghost accounts. The bank confirmed it had terminated 5,300 employees in recent years related to this conduct.
On December 7, 2016, a group of former and current African American employees of Time Warner Inc. and its subsidiaries, CNN and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., filed a class-action lawsuit against the companies alleging racial discrimination. The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, is largely the result of information revealed in an internal Human Resources Diversity Trends Report.
President and CEO of one of the largest personal injury firms in North Carolina talks about the importance of treating a law firm like a business to achieve long-term success.
James Farrin founded his own firm, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, in 1997. While the practice started with only two employees, today the firm has a staff of over 180 and 14 offices throughout the State of North Carolina.
On December 9, 2016, baked goods manufacturing giant, Flowers Foods, Inc., and its subsidiary, Jamestown LLC, reached a settlement agreement with a class of distributors who alleged that the company incorrectly classified them as independent contractors rather than employees.
In the spirit of giving, Counsel Financial announced today the recipients of its philanthropic donation this holiday season. Through the generosity of employees and a company match for all funds raised, the company will donate over $5500 to two local charitable organization this month. Via an employee nomination and voting process, the New Directions Foundation (an affiliate of the Randolph Children’s Home) and the Silver Creek Food Pantry were selected as the beneficiaries of the funds for 2016.
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against supposed fitness company, Waist Gang Society LLC, which will come as bad news for women hoping to achieve a svelte figure without working for it. The corset manufacturing company, which is praised by the famed Kardashian sisters, sells and promotes a line of corsets as “waist trainers,” claiming that they will actually burn fat and give the user a trimmer waist line without exercise or diet changes.
An investigation is underway regarding New Balance’s brand of “Made in the USA” running shoes. If the investigation turns up fruitful results, it could lead to a large California class action against the shoe manufacturer. New Balance’s “Made in the USA” marketing campaign was launched in an effort to differentiate the brand from similar athletic wear companies like Nike and Adidas.
A class action has been filed in federal court in Connecticut against national health insurance company, Cigna, accusing the company of overcharging its customers for medications. Specifically, the plaintiffs are alleging that the company is collecting so called “claw-back fees” from insureds by grossly overcharging for prescription drugs. Essentially, the plaintiffs are accusing Cigna of upcharging customers up to 1,000% more than the fee paid by the company to the pharmacy.
On November 28, 2016, a proposed settlement was finally announced in the class suit between satellite radio giant, SiriusXM, and the American rock band, The Turtles, in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The class suit, which was originally filed in 2014 by band members Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, accused the company of not properly compensating artists for airplay of music recorded prior to 1972.
Starting in late May 2016, the blood testing company, Theranos Inc., has faced a number of lawsuits. At that time, three class-action litigations were filed within a four-day window. Since, even more lawsuits have emerged against the company, including those involving its investors and U.S. drug store giant, Walgreens.
Photo credit: GoByTruckNews.com
On November 23, 2016, a jury in California federal court granted a $55 million verdict to a class of Wal-Mart truck drivers who alleged that the company did not comply with California state labor laws.
Popular Tex-Mex food chain, Chipotle, can’t seem to catch a break since last year’s E. coli outbreak. Three Chipotle customers have filed a proposed class suit in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming the chain actively mislead customers into believing its chorizo burrito contained significantly fewer calories than it actually contains.
Residents in Pawnee County, Oklahoma, filed a class-action lawsuit against 27 oil and gas companies, accusing the companies of triggering destructive, man-made earthquakes by the process in which they disposed of fracking wastewater. The companies mainly disposed of the waste fluids generated from fracking by injecting them back into the earth under extreme pressure into waste disposal or injection wells. The plaintiffs contend that the introduction of such contaminants into the natural environment caused an adverse change that resulted in unnatural seismic activity.
On November 14, 2016, owners of 2007-2012 Dodge Ram 2500 and 2007-2012 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup trucks filed class claims in the U.S. District Court in Detroit against car manufacturing giant, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, and diesel engine manufacturer, Cummins Inc. Plaintiffs allege the companies cheated on diesel emissions tests.
Founder of premier plaintiffs’ firm talks about how to select the right business model for your practice, overcome cash flow challenges and manage a diverse caseload.
Darren Penn, a trial lawyer with over 20 years of experience, founded the plaintiffs’ firm of Harris Penn Lowry LLP alongside Jeff Harris and Steve Lowry in 2006. The Georgia-based practice set itself apart by achieving the largest verdicts in the state over the past ten years in five separate categories: products liability, business torts, premises liability, nursing home and medical negligence. Further, the firm has secured over $750 million in verdicts and settlements on behalf of its clients—establishing it as one of the leading plaintiffs’ civil litigation practices in the Southeast.
In November 2015, Megan Fox bought a new hoverboard from seller, “W-Deals,” on Amazon for $274.79 as a Christmas gift for her 14-year-old son. After two weeks of use, the hoverboard burst into flames, engulfing the family’s house and destroying all of the family’s personal property.
At the time of the fire, two of Megan and Brian Fox’s four children were on the second floor of their house.
On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, while the nation flocked to the polls, pharmaceutical super store, Walgreens, filed a $140 million breach of contract suit in Delaware federal court against healthcare technology company, Theranos Inc. Because the case was filed under seal, few details are known about the suit at this time; however, many people familiar with the controversy have pointed out that the $140 million in damages that Walgreens is seeking is equal to the initial sum it invested in Theranos.
Over the past year, Celebrity hairstylist and founder of Wen Hair Care, Chaz Dean, has endured a legal battle arising over allegations that his company’s Wen products caused adverse side effects including hair loss, scalp rashes, irritation and hair breakage.
On Wednesday, November 2, 2016, Wright Medical Group issued a news release disclosing that its subsidiary, Wright Medical Technology, Inc., reached an agreement to settle approximately 1,300 claims surrounding the company’s metal-on-metal hip products for $240 million.
Counsel Financial is back in the pit lane after its bi-annual NASCAR Challenge and another successful Mass Torts Made Perfect™ seminar in Las Vegas. The adrenaline flowed as participants took to the track behind the wheel of a 600HP NASCAR racecar for an unforgettable thrill. The competition was fierce and friendly, and we’d like to congratulate the winners of the Fall 2016 contest:
On October 21, 2016, the popular home-sharing website Airbnb filed suit in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York against New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City of New York, alleging that new regulatory actions taken by the state would cause the company irreparable harm.
Update as of 4:05pm EST Time October 25, 2016: DraftKings and FanDuel settlement of $12 million with NY AG Schneiderman for false advertising is official; each company to pay $6 million.
An $8 to $12 million settlement may soon be reached between New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and popular online fantasy sports sites, FanDuel Inc. and DraftKings Inc. The companies, which were valued at over $1 billion each in 2015, came under investigation from Schneiderman for false advertising, consumer fraud and insider trading in October 2015 after an employee of DraftKings won $350,000 on FanDuel based on National Football League information not released to the public.
Counsel Financial provides working capital credit lines up to $5 million exclusively for the plaintiffs' bar in all states except California, where credit lines are issued by California Attorney Lending. Explore all of our financial solutions designed for contingent fee practice.
On October 18, 2016, fifteen families living in Flint, Michigan filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of Michigan and the Flint school district demanding that help be provided to students in the area’s public school system who are experiencing worsening behavior and academic performance issues as a result of the city’s now infamous contaminated water crisis.
Prominent defective drug and device attorney talks about the skillset, fortitude and passion required for building a nationally respected mass tort practice.
After practicing law for over 20 years and having tried many civil jury trials, Glenn Phillips ventured into the world of mass torts with the Vioxx litigation in the mid-2000s. Since then, he has established himself and his law firms—Phillips Law Firm, PLLC and Sanders Phillips Grossman, LLC—as leaders in the industry. He has been appointed to numerous positions of leadership on plaintiffs’ steering committees, served on science and discovery committees and obtained settlements against drug and device manufacturers in excess of $300 million.
On September 30, 2016, named plaintiff, Steven Brand, filed a proposed class-action suit against the car company Nissan alleging a design defect in Nissan’s 2014, 2015 and 2016 Infiniti Q50S vehicles with Sports Braking System.
Two Illinois residents have filed claims against health food supplement companies, NBTY Inc. and United States Nutrition, alleging that the companies falsely advertised the supposed benefits of their products. Named plaintiffs, Gherson Tovar and Larry Wiegard, claim that the labeling on the Body Fortress 100% Pure Glutamine Powder actively deceived consumers by boasting that the product assists in muscle growth, enhancement and recovery after a workout.
Residents of New Jersey have filed suit against wholesale superstore, Costco, alleging that the company charged its New Jersey customers a 7% sales tax on Charmin toilet paper in direct violation of New Jersey tax law, which excludes toilet paper from sales tax. Named plaintiffs, Jacqueline Taufield and Robert Arnold, argue that the supposed “tax” was in fact a surcharge masquerading as a sales tax. The plaintiffs further allege that when they brought the issue of the tax up with Costco, they were not offered a refund of any kind.
Sony Computer Entertainment America (“Sony”) has settled class claims made by about 10 million PlayStation3 (“PS3”) console owners who accused the company of engaging in deceptive business practices and breaching the sales contract between the company and its customers.
Ride-sharing giant, Uber, announced that it will be launching a fleet of four driverless cars in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this fall. While some view the advent of the autonomous car as an exciting innovation, many in the legal community are holding their breath for the possible flood of liability issues driverless cars could pose.
Photo credit: smartcouponing.com
Pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”), has agreed to a $5 million settlement with parents who alleged the company’s Bedtime brand of baby products were falsely marketed as clinically proven to help babies fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Plaintiffs argued that J&J knew, or should have known, before selling its products that there were no studies to support that assertion. Plaintiffs further claim that they would not have paid the higher prices for the Bedtime products if they knew there was no basis to J&J’s claims.
On September 12, 2016, a class-action suit was filed against Apple, Inc. arising from allegations that the company wrongfully prohibited iPhone Upgrade Program subscribers from pre-ordering its much-anticipated iPhone 7.
Ex-prosecutor and leader of rapidly expanding plaintiffs’ mass tort firm talks on overcoming fear, taking risks and making the choice to achieve fast-paced growth for his practice.
Fred Olinde, an ex-prosecutor for the New Orleans District Attorney's office, started and quickly built up a thriving plaintiffs' mass tort practice. Recently, I was able to have a conversation with Fred where he uncovered some of his law firm's secrets to success in the mass tort arena and how he was able to achieve rapid growth despite being new to the field.
Read what he had to say...
Nation’s leading law firm lender introduces new website with expanded features
Counsel Financial, the largest law firm financing company, announced today the launch of its newly redesigned
website, CounselFinancial.com. The new site offers an enhanced experience for users with added features, including a resources library available to all plaintiffs’ attorneys. The site launch is a continuation of a fast-
paced summer season for the company, which is on track for a record-breaking year.
Photo credit: Mark Zaleski / AP
On Tuesday, September 6, 2016, a class-action lawsuit against Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. was filed in the Court of Common Pleas for Hamilton County, Ohio, asserting that the company’s price increases on EpiPen devices violates Ohio’s consumer protection laws. Mylan Pharmaceuticals acquired EpiPen in 2007 when the average price of the product was less than $100. By 2016, the price had risen to over $600. Named plaintiff, Linda Bates, is seeking class certification for all Ohio residents who purchased EpiPen devices from 2007 to present.
The National Milk Producers Federation has reached a tentative settlement agreement in an anti-trust class action filed against the group for allegedly conspiring to fix the price of milk across the country. Plaintiffs claim the defendant group, which is made up of Dairy Farmers of America Inc., Land O’Lakes Inc., Dairylea Cooperative Inc. and Agri-Mark Inc., slaughtered cows prematurely to limit the production of milk, which, in turn, caused an increase in the price of milk and other fresh milk products.
Celebrity hair stylist, Chaz Dean, creator of the popular Wen hair care products, and the products manufacturer, Guthy-Renker LLC, have proposed a $26.25 million settlement to end class action claims filed by women across the country who allege that the product, which is promoted as containing no harsh chemicals, left them with severe hair loss and bald spots. More than 200 women have joined the class since lead plaintiff, Amy Friedman, originally filed the suit in 2014.
A second class-action suit has been filed in federal court in the Northern District of California against the makers of the hugely popular interactive app, Pokémon Go. In this most recent class suit, named plaintiffs Scott and Jayme Dodich of St. Clair Shores, Michigan allege that the constant barrage of gamers eager to “catch ‘em all” is ruining their quality of life. Similar to the original class suit filed in the same venue against Defendants Nintendo, The Pokémon Company and the game developer, Niantic, the Dodich’s are alleging unjust enrichment and nuisance claims against Defendants and asserting that Defendants profited from encouraging users to trespass on private property.
Settlement notifications have recently been sent out to 5.5 million owners of front-loading washing machines manufactured by Maytag, Whirlpool or Kenmore who purchased the washers between 2000-2010. Plaintiffs originally filed the suit in 2006, claiming the washers were defectively designed which caused the self-washing feature to fail and mold and mildew to build up in the barrel after each cycle.
Firmly established owner of time-honored New York City contingent-fee practice provides guidance on how to thwart inevitable, unpredictable cash flows.
Our Deputy General Counsel, Kelly Anthony, Esq., recently sat down with Martin for a one-on-one interview on how he became the owner of Edelman & Edelman, P.C., how to deal with cash flow challenges, the biggest success his firm has had, if it is hard to practice law in New York City and more. Read what he had to say...
A lawsuit against the makers of the hugely popular interactive app, Pokemon Go, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on July 29, 2016 by aggravated property owners who are sick of gamers trespassing on their land in search of Pokemon. The named Plaintiff in the suit, New Jersey resident Jeffrey Marder, alleges that his home in West Orange, NJ is identified on the app as a “Pokestop,” and as a result, he has had a barrage of game-users knock on his door asking to hunt Pokemon in his backyard.
Uber received yet another set back in Meyer v. Kalanick, a class action in which the lead plaintiff, Spencer Meyer, alleged that Uber uses a pricing algorithm to restrict price competition between drivers, thus keeping fares from lowering. Southern District Judge Jed Rakoff enjoined the company and its CEO, Travis Kalanick, from using information gleaned from the intrusive and clandestine investigation of a private investigator.
Tort reform has been, and will continue to be, an issue for the plaintiffs’ bar. Proponents—such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—often claim that changes and restrictions are necessary to prevent frivolous lawsuits, burdensome litigation and excessive jury awards. Opponents, however, assert that it deters plaintiffs from bringing claims of merit, does not properly serve justice and does not sufficiently deter or punish wrongdoers in society.
On July 14, 2016, fourteen supporters of Donald Trump filed a lawsuit against the San Jose police department, claiming that the police failed to protect them from violent protestors at a June 2, 2016 Trump campaign rally. The fourteen named plaintiffs are seeking class action status on behalf of all Trump supporters who were attacked at the rally.
A very public verbal battle emerged between esteemed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump. The controversy began after Justice Ginsberg made several clearly partisan comments to multiple media outlets, including The New York Times, regarding Trump’s suitability to be president. Ginsberg’s disdain for Trump was evident when she gave the media a point-by-point explanation as to why she believes “he is a faker.” She admitted that she feared for the long-lasting effects of a Trump presidency on the court, as it seems likely that President Obama will be blocked from filling the void left by the death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, subsequently allowing the next president to appoint a new justice.
In the past decade, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has faced a seemingly endless stream of product liability lawsuits. From 2013 to 2016, the company has paid out more than $5 billion to resolve pending legal claims. In the first quarter of 2016, Johnson & Johnson reported on their 10-Q an increase in U.S. lawsuits from 76,400 to 82,200 for the past year, alone. According to Johnson & Johnson, the company currently faces around 3,000 pending suits regarding its DePuy ASR XL Acetabular system and DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System; 8,900 pending Pinnacle Acetabular Cup System suits; 49,300 pending pelvic mesh suits; 12,500 pending Risperdal suits; 7,100 pending Xarelto suits; and 1,400 pending talcum powder suits.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals on July 13, 2016 found that the claims against General Motors (“GM”) regarding its faulty ignition switch could proceed.
Approximately 1,000 lawsuits were brought against the company in 2014 arising from claims that the ignition switches on the GM’s vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion, were prone to slipping out of their run position, causing the vehicles to suddenly stall and preventing airbags from deploying in the event of a crash. Some of the cases were for personal injury and wrongful death, while others were based on claims that the defect decreased the value of the vehicles. However, all claims were put on hold pending the outcome of this appeal from a bankruptcy court determination.
A class-action complaint was filed on July 7, 2016 against the popular photo-sharing app, Snapchat. The source of the complaint stems from the app’s feature, Snapchat Discover, which often promotes suggestive and offensive content without warning. Snapchat originally rose to popularity due to its unique disappearing messages, which set it apart from other social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook or even SMS. However, Snapchat diverted slightly from its original user-driven content platform with the introduction of Snapchat Discover in January 2015.
Long-time shareholder of preeminent Georgia firm provides insight on how to pursue and build a plaintiffs’ mass tort practice.
This is the second installment of our new monthly series. Read what he had to say...
On June 29, 2016, disgruntled Netflix user, George Keritsis, filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the popular movie-streaming site in California federal court. Keritsis’ suit seeks class-action status for all Netflix users who entered into agreements with the site, promising to lock them into a fixed, low subscription rate only to be told their monthly subscription rates have increased over time. Currently, more than half of Netflix’s 81.5 million U.S. subscribers have grandfathered accounts and would technically be applicable to join the proposed class.
Residents of the waterfront community of Cape Coral, Florida are making it known to lawmakers in Lee County that they want their taxes lowered in response to the sudden infestation of foul smelling blue algae that has surrounded the community. Residents allege that the taxes they pay are high due to their close proximity to the water. However, now that the putrid smelling algae has moved in, homeowners and business owners say their properties have lost significant value. If the local government does not respond by lowering taxes, residents say they will not hesitate to file a class-action suit similar to the one filed against BP several years ago.
On June 30, 2016, Adnad Syed was given something that he wanted for 16 years—a new trial. Judge Martin Welch, from the Baltimore Circuit Court in Maryland, vacated Syed’s 2000 murder conviction based on cell phone tower evidence that was not introduced in the original trial.
On June 24, 2016, owners of Dometic Corporation gas absorption refrigerators filed class-action claims against the company, claiming that the refrigerators leak flammable gas and cause fires. The lawsuit alleges that Dometic knew that the defective refrigerators, mostly found in boats and RVs, have caused more than 3,000 fires since 1997, resulting in over $100 million in property damage and personal injuries, but failed to address the defect and/or provide consumers with adequate warnings.
On July 1, 2016, the fifth case to go to trial in Philadelphia’s mass tort litigation involving the antipsychotic drug Risperdal resulted in a $70 million verdict against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
In the case, the family of Andrew Yount claimed that Risperdal caused their adolescent son to develop female breasts. Andrew, who was born in 1998, began taking the drug manufactured by Janssen in 2003 to medicate his severe psychiatric problems, which were later identified in the litigation as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder. At the time, the FDA had only approved Risperdal for the treatment of adults suffering from schizophrenia.
Consumer finance companies have until August 22, 2016, to express their concerns regarding the latest rule proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), which bans class action arbitration waiver provisions in consumer financial products and services agreements. The proposed rule (81 FR 32830) was published in the May 24, 2016 issue of the Federal Register for public comment and, if made final, will be codified in 12 CFR part 1040.
On June 21, 2016, Amazon.com users who purchased certain e-books between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 received credits from the website as a result of a final resolution to a four-year long price-fixing class action with Apple. According to the U.S. Justice Department, in 2010, Apple, Inc. and five major publishing houses conspired to inflate the price of e-books.
Left to Right: Debbie McCormick, Marisa DelValle, Kim Gomlak (Marketing Director), Paul Cody (President), Matt McCormick (Creative Director), Greg Gegenfurtner, Robert Carbone (Deputy General Counsel) and Ryan Kagels (Chief Financial Officer).
Counsel Financial took part in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge ® in Buffalo, New York on June 23, 2016. The 3.5-mile race drew over 12,400 participants from close to 400 companies in Western New York and is one of 13 in the bank’s running series that spans seven countries and five continents.
Boston Retirement System, a public pension fund for Boston municipal employees, has filed the first bondholders class action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against German automaker, Volkswagen (“VW”), relating to the company’s emissions scandal.
On June 10, 2016, an Alabama-based car dealership, Turnbull Automotive, filed a lawsuit against the Centerville, Virginia-based company, Carfax, on behalf of itself and all other individuals and entities who have been subject to intermittent, arbitrary increases in subscription fees with the company over the past four years.
On June 13, 2016, Judge Kevin McNulty granted Defendant General Mills’ request for a stay in proceedings In re General Mills, Inc. Kix Cereal Litigation. Plaintiffs in the suit allege that General Mills purposefully misled consumers by labeling boxes of its Kix cereal as “all natural” when in fact the cereal was made with bioengineered corn. Kix boxes were labeled “all natural” from 2009 to 2013.
Three class-action lawsuits in Northern California have been filed against the Arizona-based blood-testing firm Theranos. The first and third class actions were filed May 26 and May 30 respectively, alleging that Theranos falsely advertised its products to consumers. The second class action was filed May 27, alleging that the company breached its contract with customers by not providing what had been promised—a minimally invasive procedure and accurate test results.
Tip for Law Firm Owners: Use Caution When Selecting an Advertising Agency as Ad Fraud is on the Rise
A recent report released by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) highlighted the increasing global epidemic arising in advertising that could impact a plaintiff firm’s marketing strategy—due to ad fraud, a huge number of online ads never reach actual humans. The WFA estimates that by 2025, ad fraud will result in losses to companies aggregating over $50 billion annually, which could easily rise to $150 billion if nothing is done to protect consumers against the fraud. Further, the WFA predicts that fake internet traffic schemes will end up being the second-largest organized crime enterprise behind the drug trade.
On Thursday, June 2, 2016, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered the transfer of more than 50 class-action lawsuits—alleging that several brands of Parmesan cheese, which had been labeled as 100% grated Parmesan cheese, contained wood-pulp and cellulose as fillers—to U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman of the Northern District of Illinois. Defendants in the suit includeKraft Heinz Co., Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. private-label Parmesan cheese and Supervalu Inc.
On May 24, 2016, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) requested Judge Ed Kinkeade of the Northern District of Texas to hold all future trials in the multidistrict litigation arising from its DePuy Pinnacle hip devices until certain post-trial motions were ruled upon in the “Aoki cases”—decided just one week prior.
Owner of employment law and False Claims Act practice speaks on the importance
of business acumen in running a law firm.
Our Deputy General Counsel, Kelly Anthony, Esq., recently sat down with Adam for a one-on-one interview on what helped his firm grow, what inspired him to start his own legal practice, financing their firm with Counsel Financial and advice on starting your own practice.
This is the first installment of our new monthly series. Read what he had to say...
On May 26, 2016, Scott Magee from Metairie, Louisiana, filed a class-action complaint against McDonald’s Corporation for alleged systemic violations committed by the fast-food chain against blind persons.
Plaintiffs in the Fitbit class action received encouraging news when the results of a recent study conducted by California State Polytechnic University, Ponoma concluded that Fitbit’s PurePulse pulse tracker does not accurately monitor a user’s heart rate during more intensive workouts.
With technology advancing at an ever-increasing rate, the law must be continuously reexamined in order to keep pace with society’s needs. Products liability law is currently experiencing this phenomenon, as 3-D printing becomes a reality in many industries. 3-D printing poses a significant disruption to the usual flow of the supply chain on which traditional products liability law is based; now anyone can simply design and manufacture a product from the comfort of their own home. The black and white distinctions between designer, manufacturer, distributor and purchaser are no longer present.
Counsel Financial cruised into the pits after our high-speed NASCAR challenge hosted during the Mass Torts Made Perfect Spring Seminar in Las Vegas. We hit the track with our clients, associates, employees and friends in a race for the top spot in the winner’s circle at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where each participate drove like the pros through the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
Being behind the wheel of a 600HP NASCAR at speed of up to 155 MHP is the thrill of a lifetime. We’d like to congratulate our winning teams on their victory:
The City of Santa Clara, New Mexico has agreed to pay Mohammad Moneeb, a Muslim border protection officer, nearly $500,000 to settle his lawsuit involving ethnic profiling by the city’s police force.
According to Moneeb, on February 8, 2014, his uncle, an Uber driver, was involved in a car accident. Consequently, the vehicle his uncle was driving, which he did not own, was towed to Moneeb’s home. The owner of the vehicle arrived at Moneeb’s home to retrieve the camera. After Moneeb told the owner that he did not have the dashboard camera in his possession, the owner reported him to the Santa Clara police.
On March 22, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that both liability and damages could be established using statistical estimates in the class action litigation Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo. However, the question of whether and when statistical sampling may be used to determine liability and damages in qui tam actions remains unsettled. Nevertheless, one appellate court, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, is positioned to rule on the issue soon.
A recent ruling on the First Amendment rights of drug companies may be a stimulus for future mass tort claims. On August 7, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted Amarin an injunction against the FDA from criminally prosecuting the drug manufacturer for communicating truthful, non-misleading information about off-label use of drugs, holding that the First Amendment rights of the company protected it from such prosecution. Amarin Pharma, Inc v. FDA, No. 15 Civ. 3588 (PAE), slip op. (S.D.N.Y. Aug.7, 2015). This ruling may be a first step toward a new, more relaxed regime in regulation of drug marketing that ultimately spurs more mass tort litigation.
Left to right: Steve Mingle (Counsel Financial), Kathy Wilson (Executive Director for NATLE)
Counsel Financial recently returned from the AAJ Annual Convention in Montreal, where we were the proud sponsor of the President's Closing Reception. It was a great opportunity to network with friends and colleagues. We were also honored to have Steve Mingle, Director of
On Thursday, May 28, 2015, a Delaware State Court jury held that Boston Scientific Corporation must pay $100 million to 52-year-old Delaware resident, Deborah Barba, who claimed permanent injury resulting from the company’s vaginal mesh inserts. The award included $25 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages. The jury’s award came at the conclusion of a two-week trial and seven hours of deliberation.
Kelly Anthony, Esq., Assistant General Counsel
Takeda Pharmaceuticals Company Limited, together with its wholly-owned subsidiary, Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc., have agreed to pay $2.4 billion to resolve thousands of product liability lawsuits pending in the U.S. involving allegations that the companies’ prescription diabetes drug, Actos, caused cancer.
Counsel Financial recently returned from the Mass Torts Made Perfect (MTMP) Spring Seminar in Las Vegas, where we look forward to connecting each year with colleagues and friends.
Although U.S. courts are typically slow to adopt technological innovations, there has been a recent push to allow the admission of wearable device data into evidence.1 Most prominently, it has been discussed in the context of personal injury litigation as a means to show notable changes in a plaintiff’s physical fitness or behavior after an injury. For instance, a plaintiff could support claims that their activity levels decreased after an injury by utilizing several months or even years’ worth of data compiled from an exercise tracker, such as a Fitbit or Jawbone or the much-anticipated Apple Watch.
StubHub, the burgeoning online ticket exchange for sports and entertainment, is suing the Golden State Warriors and Ticketmaster for antitrust violations in the Northern District of California. StubHub alleges that the Warriors and Ticketmaster have unlawfully colluded to restrain competition by telling season ticket holders that they can only resell their tickets through Ticketmaster.
A Cornerstone Research report on securities class actions in 2014 pointed out a stark decline in the value of settlements. Settlements fell 78 percent to $1.07 billion in 2014 from $4.85 billion in 2013. This represents an 84 percent drop below the prior nine-year average.
At least four people apparently believe it does. Within the past week, LinkedIn made headlines over a class action suit filed in the Northern District of California concerning a product offered to the social networking site’s premium account holders, which purportedly has cost the four named plaintiffs job opportunities. The product, called “Reference Search,” provides those members who purchase a subscription the ability to search for and, through internal messaging, contact individuals who may have worked with a potential job candidate—without that candidate’s knowledge.
A federal Judge has rejected a proposed settlement between two subclasses of plaintiffs and Sega, the video game company, for deceptive practices in the design and marketing of its Key Master game. The settlement was rejected due to speculative basis for its monetary relief, uncertain methods for identifying and paying plaintiffs, and an unsupported attorney’s fees provision.
Having been in business for over 150 years and with 26 offices worldwide, Standard & Poor’s Rating Services touts that it provides “high-quality market intelligence in the form of credit ratings, research, and thought leadership.” Nevertheless, the company, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc., became the adversary in a legal battle with the U.S. Department of Justice and 19 states and the District of Columbia, which resulted in a settlement of $1.375 billion.
It is possibly high on the list of many individuals’ worst nightmares: you are driving on the highway at a high rate of speed when your car begins accelerating rapidly and you lose the power to slow down. This nightmare played out in reality with Toyota between 2009 and 2013 when a defect with approximately 11 million of their cars’ acceleration system launched hundreds of personal injury and wrongful death claims and a $1.6 billion class action settlement.
A $5 million settlement has been reached between victims seeking redress for wrongful death after their loved ones were murdered by rogue NYPD detectives, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, acting as hitmen for the mafia in the 1980s. The settlement comes four months after a federal judge granted the city’s summary judgment motion on state law claims but denied with respect to federal municipal liability claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As reported by the New York Law Journal on the plaintiffs’ theories of New York City’s responsibility:
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”), an international accounting firm, and The Citco Group Ltd. (“Citco”), a financial services group, are back at the center of a class action led by investors in several feeder funds that invested in the historic Ponzi scheme architected by Bernie Madoff. The action pleads federal securities law and state law violations arising out of PwC’s role as auditor of the funds and Citco’s part as the funds’ administrator and custodian.
The pervasiveness of blogging and social media was bound to raise ethical questions over when an attorney’s public statements—intertwined with the law—cross the line from free speech to attorney marketing and, as a result, regulated speech.
A jury in Bakersfield, California, has returned a $5.7 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Ethicon Inc., after finding that Ethicon’s TVT Abbrevo transvaginal mesh device was defectively designed and that Ethicon failed to warn doctors of the risks associated with the product.
One of the most prominent players to emerge in the burgeoning “for profit” fantasy football industry has become the target of an action that seeks class certification for false advertising claims stemming from a promise to double users’ cash deposits. DraftKings, a platform that permits registrants to play fantasy sports and win cash prizes, is the defendant in Aguirre v. DraftKings, Inc., a case which seeks remedies for claims under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Florida Free Gift Advertising Law and fraud in the inducement under Florida common law.
On Thursday, February 19, 2015, LinkedIn unveiled its newly enhanced platform of business-to-business lead generation products. The launch follows the $175 million acquisition of Bizo, a company devoted to helping advertisers reach businesses and professionals, in August 2014. LinkedIn utilized Bizo’s team and technology, as well as partnered with AppNexus, to bring to life what the company promises is a suite of products that will provide “a faster way to reach, nurture, and convert high-quality leads on and off LinkedIn.”
United States District Court Judge, Hon. Nicholas G. Garaufis, on February 19, 2015, issued a 150-page decision concluding that Plaintiffs, the United States and the attorneys general of 17 states, proved by a preponderance of evidence that Defendants, American Express Company and American Express Travel Related Services Company, violated Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. In particular, the Court held that Non-Discrimination Provisions (“NDPs”)
Last Sunday night, 60 Minutes aired a story on wood flooring products retailer Lumber Liquidators and its laminate flooring products that purportedly contain formaldehyde levels that exceed acceptable standards for consumer products in the US. The laminate flooring products,
Class actions brought on behalf of bondholders of public companies are playing a larger role in the overall landscape of securities class actions, an article recently published in the Minnesota Law Review says. Bondholders, often considered an afterthought in the securities fraud context due to claims by equity holders predominating, have been generating more recoveries, warranting a reconsideration of the prospects of bondholder claims in public company securities fraud cases.
The pharmaceutical drug Risperdal, prescribed by physicians as an antipsychotic, has caused a particularly embarrassing and emotionally scarring side effect in thousands of its male users. The drug is alleged to have caused thousands of boys and grown men alike to develop breasts, a medical condition known as gynecomastia.
On February 4, 2004, Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard University roommates launched the social media website, Facebook. Although Facebook was initially limited to serving college students, the website now has an incredible variety of users, some of whom are professionals. Unlike most other occupations, the legal field is subject to certain ethical guidelines and professional standards, such as those enumerated in the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (the “Model Rules”), which can present specialized concerns for attorneys who interact through social media.
On Thursday, January 8, 2015, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who is presiding over the multi-district litigation involving prescription antidepressant Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride), granted the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee’s motion for leave to identify and present a new general causation expert. Previously, the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (“PSC”) offered four witnesses to testify as to whether Zoloft caused birth defects in babies born to mothers who took the drug while pregnant, but the Court excluded the testimony.
On Monday, November 3, 2014, Stryker Corporation announced it would pay at least $1 billion to settle cases brought by thousands of patients over injuries sustained by faulty hip implants manufactured by its subsidiary, Howmedica Osteonics Corp.
Counsel Financial was pleased to host a gathering of many prominent female mass tort attorneys during the 2014 Women En Mass retreat in Aspen, Colorado. It was a great opportunity for all to meet other powerhouse women in the mass tort arena and share
On June 23, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that dealt a near-fatal blow for plaintiffs in securities class action suits by making it harder for investors to collectively sue corporations for fraud. In an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, the court unanimously held that defendants at the preliminary class certification stage could refute the plaintiffs’ presumption of reliance on an efficient market if they can show that an alleged misrepresentation did not affect the company’s stock price.
Counsel Financial is proud to announce its new partnership as TrialSmith’s new National Sponsor. Created by plaintiff lawyers, TrialSmith provides unique investigative and collaborative tools that help the plaintiffs’ bar achieve successful outcomes for their clients. Together with TrialSmith, we share a passion for protecting the civil justice system and are determined to provide the most support possible of the endeavors of plaintiff attorneys throughout the nation in our collective pursuit of justice.
One of the lesser-known sections of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“Affordable Care Act”), colloquially known as ObamaCare, provides expansive amendments to the False Claims Act (“FCA”).1 While these amendments are not retroactive,2 they will most likely increase the amount of FCA-based claims in the future.
October was a fast-paced month for Counsel Financial, culminating in our attendance at the Mass Torts Made Perfect (MTMP) Fall Seminar in Las Vegas. The team and several other attorneys and friends took on the 1.5 mile track at the famous Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Richard Petty Driving Experience, home to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Manning the wheel of a 600HP NASCAR race car at speeds of up to
Since 2008, thousands of plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against manufacturers and sellers of defective pelvic mesh products, commonly referred to as transvaginal mesh (“TVM”). Plaintiffs include women who received TVM implants to treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse (“POP”) or Stress Urinary Incontinence (“SUI”), common conditions involving the weakening of the vaginal walls after childbirth. TVM is a surgical mesh typically made from polypropylene, a plastic material surgically implanted into or attached to the vaginal wall. TVM related complications include mesh contraction and mesh erosion causing severe pain, vaginal scarring, infection, urinary problems, inability to have sex, and perforations of the bowel, all of which will likely require one or more revision surgeries. Plaintiffs also include men asserting injury claims sustained during sexual relations, as well as derivative claims for loss of consortium.
Between 1999 and 2005, 62-year-old Adriann Georges took Aredia and Zometa, bisphosphonate drugs used to prevent the loss of bone mass in cancer patients. Georges subsequently developed bisphosphonate-associated osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), a severe bone disease that occurs when the jawbone is exposed for eight weeks or more, causing the jawbone to weaken and die. ONJ can be permanently disfiguring, extremely painful and result in the complete loss of an individual’s jawbone. Despite ONJ being linked to bisphosphonate drugs Aredia and Zometa, ONJ was not indicated as a risk on the drugs’ labels.
Former Miss Pennsylvania, Sheena Monnin, is paying a high price for going public with gossip she heard backstage at the 2012 Miss USA pageant. Following her quick departure from the preliminary round of the contest, Monnin claimed that she learned from fellow contestant, Miss Florida, Karina Brez, that the contest was scripted. Brez allegedly told Monnin that she had seen a notebook listing of the top five contestants before the preliminary round was conducted.
We at Counsel Financial are deeply saddened to announce that Hon. Frank A. Sedita, Jr., JSC (Ret.) passed away on Sunday, June 16, 2013 after a brief illness. Judge Sedita was a dear friend, respected colleague and New York State Supreme Court Justice whose meritorious career was widely acclaimed. He will be greatly missed.
On March 6, 2009, Decedent Robert Myers, age 50, passed away while scuba diving off Casino Point in Catalina with his sister. For the dive, Myers wore a dry-suit hose manufactured by Defendant Förvaltningsobolaget Insulan AB, doing business as Si Tech, which contained a small plastic insert called a “flow restriction device.” During his dive, an orifice became dislodged from the air hose, causing a blockage in Myers’ breathing apparatus. As a result, Myers suffered sudden cardiac arrest and died.
On April 1, 2013, a jury in the Middle District of Florida held tobacco companies R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA accountable for the wrongful death of Carol LaSard. LaSard, who began smoking cigarettes as a young teenager in the late 1940s, died of lung cancer in 1996.
In April 2002, the New York attorney general’s office commenced a Medicaid fraud investigation into Leonard Morse, a 55-year-old dentist. Morse’s dental practice had over 30,000 patients, of which 95% were Medicaid eligible.
In December 2009, contractor Ruick Rolland was severely injured during construction of a replica of the Augusta National Golf Course “Hogan Bridge” at the estate of Bruce Irrgang. Rolland suffered a devastating crush injury to his lower leg, which required amputation above the knee. The injury occurred while a 10-year-old boy was at the controls of the five-ton track loader in use on the job site.
Tubs of Fun or Buckets of Regret? New Hampshire Man Considering Lawsuit After Parlaying Life Savings into Giant Banana
In late April, Henry Gribbohm, 30, squandered his life savings away attempting to win an Xbox at a Manchester Carvinal in New Hampshire. Gribbohm filed a report with the Manchester Police Department after claiming to have lost over $2,600 in $5 increments trying to outsmart the “Tubs of Fun” game in his misguided effort to win an Xbox Kinect (valued at about $100).
As companies continue to try to improve their revenues following the economic malaise of the past several years, there appears to be a concomitant increase in litigation involving the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et. seq., which became effective in July 2009. One example of this is Darden Restaurants, Inc., of Orlando, Florida, owner of popular restaurant chains Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille.
The city of Warwick, Rhode Island has voluntarily discontinued a noise ordinance case against Lynne Taylor, who was cited by the city after numerous complaints from her neighbors concerning her foul-mouthed pet cockatoo. According to the neighbors, Taylor’s pet cockatoo repeatedly swore and hurled insults at them over a period of months in 2011. Taylor’s next-door neighbors were particularly sensitive to the constant taunting from the bird, which is understandable since they were Taylor’s ex-husband and his girlfriend.
On June 12, 2009, Ulvaldo Soto Martinez, a 33-year-old rod buster, was working on a construction project to widen the Huey P. Long Bridge in Bridge City, Louisiana. He and two co-workers, Sammy Vasquez and Martin Reyes, were working on top of a 50-foot concrete column to secure a rebar cage to the column. After a crane lowered the cage into position, the three workers tied the rebar of the cage to the rebar of the column, while workers on the ground secured guy wires to concrete blocks to prevent the cage from being tipped by the wind.
On March 9, 2007, 39-year-old George Clay Chandler underwent laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery at Memorial Hospital Jacksonville. Dr. John DePeri performed the surgery. Chandler elected to undergo the surgery that was recommended to him after he failed a physical for his employment with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
Four Plaintiffs, Rebecca Reynolds, Riley Wilkinson, Jason Young and Kathleen Rossitto, brought separate suits against Hoffman La-Roche and Roche Laboratories, claiming that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn of the elevated risk that taking Accutane would lead to the development of permanent inflammatory bowel disease. All four plaintiffs ultimately developed ulcerative colitis after taking Accutane to treat their acne. Two of the four subsequently had to have their colons removed. An Atlantic County jury recently heard proof regarding all four claims, finding in favor of two of the four plaintiffs.
On April 1, 2013, at least 27 lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson concerning the over-the-counter medication Tylenol were consolidated into a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania before Judge Lawrence F. Stengel.
A Polk County jury deliberated just three hours before handing down a $45 million verdict in a wrongful death and survivorship case stemming from a road rage fueled collision in May 2010.
Brandi Cochran, a model for “The Price is Right,” attempted to return to the show after her pregnancy leave, but instead, learned she had been terminated. In response, Cochran sued CBS Corp., CBS Television Network, RTL Group, FremantleMedia Ltd., FremantleMedia North America and The Price is Right Productions Inc. for pregnancy and disability discrimination. Her case proceeded to trial against FremantleMedia North America and The Price is Right Productions Inc., after the court dismissed her actions against the other defendants.
Individuals seeking compensation for injuries caused by pelvic/transvaginal mesh (TVM) and DePuy hip implants have a reason to be optimistic after plaintiffs in two separate actions received verdicts collectively grossing approximately $20 million. Conversely, it has been a difficult few weeks for Defendant Johnson & Johnson, Inc., the parent company of the manufacturers involved in the two medical device cases.
On January 26, 2009, Plaintiff Deborah Sohl, 47, presented to the emergency room of A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta, NY, complaining of severe chest pain which radiated to her left side, including her left arm, neck and jaw. She also reported feeling nauseous. An EKG was performed and the results were abnormal.
Formerly straight-A student, Megan Thode, sued her professor, Amanda Eckhardt, and Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA after she received only a C+ in Eckhardt’s therapy internship class in 2009. She claimed the low grade not only cost her a master’s degree in education and her dream of becoming a licensed therapist, but also allegedly $1.3 million in future lost earnings. However, her lawsuit really wasn’t about the money—she just wanted a B in Eckhard’s class.
By Joseph Twarog, Esq.
On January 7, 2013, Philadelphia Judge Nitza I. Quinones affirmed a $10 million jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff Brianna Maya for injuries she sustained after taking over-the-counter Children’s Motrin.
As the first DePuy ASR hip trial began in a California State Court in Los Angeles, Defendant, Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) was reeling from the Food & Drug Administration’s proposal that manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip implants submit affirmative scientific evidence that the devices are safe and effective. Previously, manufacturers like J&J were allowed to market the implants under much less stringent guidelines that did not require submission of such safety and effectiveness data.
Who Wears the Pants in This Relationship? Parisian Women Can Finally—and Legally—Join the Age Old Debate
Chances are that if you are a woman and have visited Paris in your lifetime, you—and millions of other women like you—most certainly broke the law without even realizing it.