Mattress Firm Sued in Employee Overtime Class Action
On December 12, 2017, proposed class claims were filed in Massachusetts federal court against retailer Mattress Firm Inc. (“Mattress”), by sales employees alleging that the sleep store did not pay its employees proper overtime compensation.
On December 8, 2017, a proposed class of consumers filed class claims against the Marriott Vacation Club in California federal court arguing that the timeshare company has violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).
On January 21, 2017, more than 2.3 million people worldwide took part in over 673 marches throughout 32 countries to bring awareness to women’s rights. For many Americans, 2017 has been an eye-opening year as social issues that some might have tried to put in the back of their minds, or that never crossed their minds, have risen to the forefront.
A $1.5 million settlement was reached between the parties in the Utz Quality Foods labeling class action on December 6, 2017.
The suit was originally filed in December 2014 in Massachusetts federal court by named plaintiffs Matt DiFrancesco, Angela Mizzoni and Lynn Marrapodi. In the complaint the plaintiffs argued that Utz deceptively labeled some of the brand’s snack foods as “all natural” when in reality the plaintiffs claim the products contain unnatural, genetically-modified ingredients including cottonseed oil, corn oil, yellow corn, white corn, vinegar, maltodextium, modified food starch, modified corn starch, corn syrup and soy lecithin.
On November 29, 2017, U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick rejected defendant Keurig Green Mountain’s request to dismiss claims in the single-serve coffee antitrust multidistrict litigation (“MDL”).
On November 29, 2017, a proposed class action lawsuit was filed in Florida federal court against AT&T subsidy, Cricket Wireless, claiming that the company’s website violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
On November 27, 2017, a $1.48 million settlement was submitted to California federal court Judge George H. Wu for preliminary approval that will bring an end to the Atlas Van Lines wages dispute class action.
While banks and other traditional lending institutions generally only allow you to pledge your personal assets to secure a loan, the Supreme Court of New Jersey recently held that you can also obtain financing using your anticipated attorney’s fees as collateral.
The decision, which follows similar holdings in other jurisdictions, affirms that you have an enhanced pool of resources you can leverage to get increased funding for your law practice—your future legal fees.
A $6.8 million settlement has been reached between the parties in The Children’s Place price fixing class action suit. The settlement was submitted for preliminary approval to California federal Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel on November 22, 2017.
On November 16, 2017, a Texas federal jury awarded six individual plaintiffs a combined $247 million verdict in the fourth bellwether trial in the DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant multidistrict litigation (“MDL”). The staggering decision represents the third consecutive nine-figure verdict in the DePuy Pinnacle MDL.
Advice on becoming a trial attorney from Joseph DiNardo, Esq.
As all lawyers practicing today will tell you, the legal community is not immune from the ever-evolving world of technology and constant, demanding communication. The challenges of becoming a successful trial attorney today have intensified at a rate that lawyers practicing just twenty years ago couldn’t have fathomed. Attorneys looking to start their own firm in the current climate must not only be good lawyers, they must market themselves as a brand through diversified media platforms. Today, an advertisement in the phone book is both antiquated and ineffectual.
A $2.28 million settlement has been reached in the class action suit against German auto parts manufacturer, Kiekert AG. The proposed class action was originally filed in Michigan federal court in May 2017. Plaintiffs in the suit claimed that Kiekert conspired to unlawfully fix the prices of vehicle door latches by artificially raising bids for, and allocating the supply of, side door latches and latch mini modules. The latches were then sold by Kiekert at an ultracompetitive price to auto manufacturers in the U.S.
On November 9, 2017, California federal court judge Yvonne G. Rogers granted conditional class certification to a group of Costco in-store demonstrators (“ISDs”) who claim that the wholesale superstore has been misclassifying the plaintiffs as independent contractors rather than Costco employees.
The team at Counsel Financial recently revved their engines at another great Mass Torts Made Perfect™ seminar (MTMP) in Las Vegas. Along with a group of colleagues and friends, they took to the track at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway road course in exotic supercars including the coveted Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and more. The 1.2-mile course was designed by professional racecar drivers and features hairpin and banked turns, chicanes and is the only track that features an in-ground LED lighting system.
On November 1, 2017, plaintiffs in a class action against 24 Hour Fitness moved for the court to grant preliminary approval of a $1.5 million settlement over allegations that the fitness center chain carried out a fraudulent and misleading sales campaign related to its prepaid memberships.
On October 30, 2017, the Hyatt Corporation was struck with a putative class action lawsuit wherein it was asserted that the company violated Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“Act”). Under the Act, an employer’s collection, use, handling, storage, retention and destruction of biometric identifiers and information, such as retina or iris scans, fingerprints, voiceprints and hand or face geometry, is regulated.
On October 25, 2017, a Broward County Florida jury awarded a $45 million verdict to the family of 29-year-old Jonathan Raymond Astaphan who was killed when a flatbed tractor-trailer exited a construction zone on Interstate 75 in Florida by making a U-turn across four lanes of traffic.
On October 27, 2017, proposed class claims were filed against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) by grocery union benefits fund United Foods and Commercial Workers Local 1500 Welfare Fund (“UFCW”) who accuse J&J of using its considerable resources and influence to protect the monopoly of its best selling drug, Remicade.
On October 20, 2017, popular retail giant Target Corp. was hit with a proposed class action suit alleging that the company has been purposefully misleading customers about the quality of its furniture line. Specifically, named plaintiff, Shana Harris, claims that Target markets certain pieces of its house brand furniture line as genuine leather when in reality the pieces are constructed of synthetic low-quality material made to imitate high-end leather products.
On October 20, 2017, two dissatisfied TJ Maxx customers filed an amended and expanded class action complaint in Massachusetts federal court accusing the retailer’s parent company, TJX Companies Inc. (“TJX”), and textile manufacturers, AQ Textiles LLC and Creative Textile Mills Pvt. Ltd., of exaggerating the thread count of bedding and linen products in order to increase profits.
The legal trouble continues for popular direct sales apparel company, LuLaRoe, as yet another class action lawsuit was filed against the brand on October 13, 2017 in California federal court. Named plaintiffs and LuLaRoe consultants, Stella Lemberg, Jeni Laurence, Amandra Bluder and Carissa Stuckart, filed the latest suit against the brand claiming the company is running a pyramid scheme. Specifically, the plaintiffs accused LuLaRoe of six counts of misconduct, including: breach of contract, unlawful, fraudulent and unfair business practices and misleading advertising. In the complaint, the plaintiffs claim that the main grievance they have with the company is that in September 2017, LuLaRoe rescinded its 100% buyback guarantee, putting consultants at a substantial financial risk if they fail to sell all of their product.
New details have emerged surrounding the basis for a decision by Morris County Superior Court Judge W. Hunt Dumont to deny defendants’ summary judgment motion in connection with a wrongful prolongation of life lawsuit. The suit was filed by the Suzanne Koerner, executor of the estate of Suzanna Stica, against Morristown Medical Center, Dr. Andrew Youseff and several nurses. Ms. Koerner claims that the defendants contributed to Ms. Stica being forced to live through six months of pain and suffering after they blatantly disregarded “do not resuscitate” and “do not intubate” orders signed by her prior to being admitted into the Medical Center in November 2011. Despite her wishes, Ms. Stica was intubated and confined to a wheelchair as she suffered from bladder and bowel problems, as well as dementia and depression.
On October 10, 2017, two separate lawsuits were filed in Nevada federal court in the wake of the devastating Las Vegas mass shooting by The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence (“The Brady Center”) and shooting victim, Paige Gasper. The Brady Center is bringing class claims on behalf of the shooting victims. Both suits allege that the negligence of the Mandalay Bay Resort and its owner MGM Resorts International, contributed to the horrific results of the shooting. Mandalay Bay is the hotel where shooter Stephen Paddock was staying when he opened fire on innocent concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, killing 58 people and injuring over 500 including plaintiff Paige Gasper.
Bad news emerged for fans of eco-minded grocery chain, Whole Foods, as the company was hit with proposed class claims in Ohio Federal Court on October 10, 2017. The lawsuit alleges the grocery chain negligently failed to protect the personal data of customers who patronized its taprooms and restaurants.
On October 6, 2017, trial began in Los Angeles County Superior Court over allegations that the death of 89-year-old Arizona resident, Virginia Jolson, in 2013 was caused by the consumption a batch of contaminated frozen berries. Ms. Jolson purchased Townsend Farm’s Organic Antioxidant Blend at wholesale retailer giant, Costco, which the suit alleges was contaminated with hepatitis A.
On October 4, 2017, a group of Frontier Communications Corp. investors filed putative class claims against the communications services provider in Connecticut federal court. Plaintiffs allege that Frontier violated securities law when it failed to disclose the financial impact of a large number of unpaid user accounts taken on by the company after its $10.5 billon acquisition of Verizon Inc. wire line operations in California, Texas and Florida.
On October 3, 2017, fifteen named residents of Crosby, Texas filed a class action lawsuit in Houston federal court against chemical plant, Arkema Inc., alleging that the plant spread toxic chemicals into the surrounding soil and water after the location flooded, partially exploded and caught fire in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
On September 29, 2017, plaintiffs in the AT&T training managers overtime class action submitted a $2.75 million settlement to California federal judge Vince Chhabria for preliminary approval.
The suit was originally filed in August 2015 by named plaintiffs, Wendall Walton and Michael Mantonya. Plaintiffs alleged that AT&T had been misclassifying company training managers as independent contractors, therefore denying them access to overtime pay.
On September 15, 2017, a $19.1 million settlement was reached between a putative class of 28,800 TGI Fridays tipped employees and the restaurant chain. The nationwide lawsuit was originally filed on April 17, 2014 by more than a dozen named plaintiffs, alleging that the casual dining restaurant chain and its former owner, hospitality firm Carlson Restaurants Inc., violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, along with labor laws in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and New York. Specifically, the plaintiffs argued that TGI Fridays improperly took a tip credit from the paychecks of tipped employees who were already being paid below minimum wage. In addition to the tip credit, the plaintiffs claimed that the chain failed to pay tipped employees overtime, refund uniform related expenses, as well as misappropriating tips and unlawfully docking employee pay for customer walkouts.
On Monday September 18, 2017, class claims were filed in Miami-Dade County Court against Florida Power & Light Co. (“FPL”) by a group of Florida residents who have been without power since the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma. The plaintiffs claim that prior to the hurricane, Florida residents paid a “storm charge fee” in exchange for the defendant’s promise to prune trees near power lines and move some power lines underground as an improvement to the power grid.
On September 7, 2017, U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle Sr. granted final approval to a $4.5 million settlement that put an end to class claims between supplement manufacturer, Direct Digital LLC, and consumers who accused the company of falsely marketing its product, Instaflex Joint Support Supplement, as being scientifically beneficial for joint support.
On September 7, 2017, credit-reporting company Equifax Inc. announced that its databases had experienced one of the largest data breaches in U.S. history. Shortly after the breach was made public, a proposed class action suit was filed in Oregon federal court by named plaintiffs Mary McHill and Brook Reinhard.
A $4.8 million settlement has been reached in Alabama federal court in the unsolicited advertisement class action between pharmaceutical company, Impax Laboratories Inc., and a class of pharmacies that received faxes from the company promoting its product.
On September 5, 2017, in light of the recent devastation of Hurricane Harvey, four Houston residents filed a putative class action suit in Texas state court, alleging that both the City of Houston and the Harris County Flood Control District deliberately released large amounts of water from two area reservoirs, which resulted in the flooding of surrounding homes and businesses.
On Monday August 21, 2017, a proposed settlement was submitted in California federal court in the Mercedes-Benz defective car seat warmer class action. Plaintiffs in the suit claim that the faulty copper wires in the seat heaters were causing sparks and even, in certain cases, catching fire.
On August 11, 2017, ride share giant, Uber Technologies Inc., agreed to a $20 million settlement to end a proposed class action litigation in the Illinois federal court that claimed that Uber violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) when it sent unwelcome text messages to both potential drivers and riders.
A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed in California state court alleging that the popular restaurant chain The Cheesecake Factory has been misleading customers who ask for split checks by suggesting gratuity amounts that do not correspond with customers’ individual bills.
On August 11, 2017 a proposed $3.95 million settlement agreement was reached between office supply super store Staples Inc. and a putative class of disgruntled customers who claim that the store failed to fulfill its end of product service plans.
Class claims were filed in California federal court on August 4, 2017 against Home Depot USA, Inc. by a group of job applicants claiming that the company violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act when it forced applicants to sign unlawful waivers regarding background check consent forms.
A $97.7 million preliminary settlement agreement was reached on August 8, 2017 between consumers and automaker, Nissan, in the Takata airbag multidistrict litigation. This latest proposed settlement brings the MDL one step closer to a complete resolution as Nissan is the fifth automaker to settle. In May 2017 defendants Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW agreed to a combined settlement fund of $553.6 million. The only remaining defendant automakers in the suit are Ford and Honda.
Counsel Financial announced this week that it will host the largest annual fundraising event for the Mikey’s Way Foundation again in 2017. The law firm financing company has pledged its support of the Drive for Dreams benefit for eight successive years and is proud to be heavily involved in the pediatric cancer foundation.
The two-day Drive for Dreams affair, comprised of a gala and golf tournament, will kick off on Sunday, August 6. Over 400 guests will enjoy a night of high-end auctions, a moving presentation on the mission and achievements of the Foundation and comedy by NYC-comedian, Chris Monty. Then, on Monday, August 7, golfers will take to the course at Brookfield Country Club in Clarence, New York for 18 holes of fun, food and drinks. All proceeds from the event go directly toward funding “Mikey’s Way Days,” which cost an average of $5,000 to fully stock the Mikey’s Way Connection Cart for each visit.
On July 21, 2017, an avid Groupon user filed suit against the online coupon company alleging that it discriminates against a certain demographic of users by not offering wheelchair-accessible hotel rooms, travel amenities and wheelchair-friendly seating at ticketed events. In the complaint, named plaintiff Andrew Huzar, who filed suit on his own behalf and on behalf of two putative classes, claims that Groupon Inc. has violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), which prohibits “discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations.”
Counsel Financial is proud to announce the recent promotion of two of its long-time employees. Paul Cody, MBA, CPA was recently named Chief Executive Officer of the company. Mr. Cody has been with the company since joining as president in 2008 and has 25 years of experience in the private equity and financial services arenas.
The company also promoted Ryan Kagels, MBA to Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Kagels has fifteen years of experience in specialty finance and has been involved in the growth of the company since shortly after inception, previously working in various capacities, including as Vice President of Finance and Controller.
Jimmy Doan founded The Doan Firm, P.C. in 2005. Since launching his personal injury practice, he has successfully been able to grow the firm by differentiating it from competitors—building what was a small boutique practice into a national powerhouse with approximately 20 office locations throughout the United States. Below Jimmy answers questions about how he managed to distinguish his firm in an extremely competitive field:
On July 21, 2017, Five Guys Enterprises LLC (“Five Guys”) was denied a motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit that alleged the popular burger chain violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Lead plaintiff, Lucia Marett, claimed that Five Guys failed to make their website and its features equally accessible to all their customers, disabled or not.
Counsel Financial was pleased to host a panel discussion—Emerging Mass Torts: Latest News from the Experts—during the American Association for Justice Annual Convention. We were honored to host some of the nation’s top trial lawyers, who lead discussions on cutting-edge mass torts including talc, hernia and physiomesh, Mirena pseudotumor cerebri (PTC) and opioids. Thank you to our speakers and all who joined us.
In case you weren’t able to attend, the presentation is available for download by clicking here.
Spotify USA Inc. is in the legal hot seat again over violations of the U.S. Copyright Act. This time, plaintiffs are alleging that Spotify’s business model itself was designed to “commit willful copyright infringement first, ask questions later…” A songwriter for The Four Seasons and another songwriter filed their respective suits on July 18, 2017, less than two months after the streaming hub settled another major copyright violation suit for $43 million in a previous class action.
Following a long litigation process stemming from a 2015 data breach, users of online adultery facilitator, Ashley Madison, and the website’s parent company, Ruby Life Inc., filed a proposed settlement on July 14, 2017. While maintaining their innocence, Ruby Life agreed to pay the class $11.2 million to put an end to the litigation.
Although filed separately, the wives of Thomas Walsh and Joseph Roman are the latest to officially accuse Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Janssen Pharmaceuticals of concealing life threatening risks associated with the use of their blood thinner, Xarelto. On July 10,2017 in New York State court, the couples filed claims alleging negligence, strict products liability, breach of warranties, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation and fraud and deceit, and are seeking compensatory damages.
On Monday, July 10, 2017, U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer ordered Coca-Cola subsidiary, Odwalla Inc., and a class of consumers to resolve disputes over the beverage giant’s “no sugar added” fruit drink label in private mediation. Lead plaintiff, Stephen Wilson, alleged in March 2017 that Odwalla’s label, which was placed on the front of the beverage was in violation of FDA and state regulations because Odwalla Juice does not resemble and is not substitute for a food that normally contains added sugars.”
On Friday, July 7, 2017, a group of Hyatt customers asked a Florida Federal judge for class certification for their suit against the hotel chain for a potential violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (“FACTA”). Plaintiffs claim that Hyatt printed too much information on their credit card receipts during their stays at Hyatt hotels.
To add to Fiat Chrysler and Cummins’ legal woes, a proposed class of Dodge Ram owners have filed a lawsuit against the two companies alleging that Fiat was completely cognizant that it was selling vehicles with defective diesel engines. The defect is said to reduce fuel efficiency and engine performance, while potentially having a “significant” impact on the environment.
On July 3, 2017, U.S. District Judge William Pauley III signed off on a $32.5 million settlement which pays African American MetLife Securities Inc. employees thousands of dollars to end a proposed class action claiming that MetLife violated federal civil rights laws. Marcus Creighton, the lead plaintiff in the suit, alleged that the company systematically discriminated against its black employees and ultimately paid them less than their white coworkers.
On June 27, 2017 a proposed class of dissatisfied California consumers filed suit against Miami-based food vendor Transnational Food Inc. and supplier Conservas Cerqueira SA, alleging that the defendants purposefully misled consumers as to the content of their Pampa Octopus seafood product. The product was advertised as octopus but was in reality comprised of squid.
On June 27, 2017, a would-be class of Chicago-area storeowners filed suit in Cook County Court in a bid to stop the enactment of a penny-an-ounce county tax on soda and sweetened beverages, which is slated to go into effect on Sunday, July 2, 2017.
On Wednesday, June 21, 2017, a judge granted preliminarily approval for the $1.6 million settlement reached by Neiman Marcus Group LLC and a class of consumers whose credit card data was exposed while shopping at the high-end department store back in 2013. Originally announced in March of this year, the deal seeks to compensate anyone who used a credit or debit card at any store under the Neiman Marcus umbrella, including Bergdorf Goodman, Cusp and Last Call, between July 16, 2013 and January 10, 2014.
In 1985, Stanley Saltzman and Louis Marlin formed Marlin & Saltzman LLP. Beginning as a defense firm, the partners boldly changed directions in the late 1990s—pivoting away from their established hourly practice to represent plaintiffs on a contingent-fee basis in class actions, mass torts and cases involving catastrophic injuries. In the 20 years since moving to the plaintiffs practice, Marlin & Saltzman has achieved more than $850 million in verdicts and settlements on behalf of its clients and established itself as a highly-respected national plaintiffs’ practice.
On Monday, June 19, 2017, based on a Supreme Court ruling earlier that day, a Missouri judge declared a mistrial in the sixth Johnson & Johnson (J&J) class action held in Missouri state court brought by the families of three deceased women, two of which were not Missouri residents. The families allege that the ovarian cancer and consequent deaths of their loved ones were caused by talc powder use.
On Monday June 19, 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a controversial ruling from the California Supreme Court, which held that California state courts had jurisdiction to hear class claims from nearly 600 non-California residents who filed suit against Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. The lawsuit was filed in California court alleging that the plaintiffs had sustained injuries from the blood-thinning drug Plavix.
The team at Counsel Financial continues to foster its charitable spirit with Rockin’ the Runway for Roswell to benefit an endowment in honor of Marcia DiNardo. The fashion-show fundraiser will take place at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens on October 1, 2017, with all proceeds raised going directly to the Marcia DiNardo Endowment Fund through Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The funds will be used to further research surrounding pancreatic cancer and its treatment.
Pictured from left to right: Jessica Schreiber, Melissa Ruggiero, Erin Delaney, Kim Gomlak, Mari Schuckhardt, Matt McCormick, Paul Cody, KC Mullet, Ryan Kagels
The team of runners from Counsel Financial braved the heat and humidity last night to complete the 3.5-mile JP Morgan Corporate Challenge race that began at Delaware Park. The event is one in a multi-continent series of 13 races, and attendance in Buffalo exceeded that of the Singapore, Sydney and San Francisco Corporate Challenges. Almost 13,000 runners came out in support of the local business community and of the 2017 recipient of the charitable proceeds from the race, The Strong Community Schools initiative of the Buffalo Public Schools.
In Florida federal court on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, a group of Corvette Z06 owners filed a 193-page complaint against the sports car’s maker, General Motors LLC (“GM”). The drivers involved in the suit are alleging that GM revved up the Z06’s race track performance capabilities and failed to disclose a defective cooling system that causes the car to overheat and fall automatically into what is known as “Limp Mode,” in which the vehicle operates at dramatically reduced speeds unexpectedly.
On June 12, 2017, Hyundai was hit with another class action lawsuit over faulty power steering systems found in various models of the manufacturers vehicles. Plaintiffs claim the South Korean company violated the law of California and 29 other states, in addition to alleging breach of implied warranty, fraudulent concealment and unjust enrichment.
WILLIAMSVILLE, NY (PRWEB) June 13, 2017 -- Counsel Financial, the nation’s leading trusted source for law firm lending, proudly announces its participation in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge® in Buffalo, New York on June 15, 2017. The event, held annually to promote corporate teamwork, camaraderie and local businesses, will draw over 13,000 participants from close to 400 companies in Western New York. The 3.5-mile Buffalo race is one in a series of 13, which covers seven countries and five continents.
On June 8, 2017, Victoria’s Secret Stores LLC agreed to pay workers $12M to settle proposed class claims that the lingerie giant failed to pay retail employees who were scheduled for “call-in” shifts. The class was made up of an estimated 40,000 disgruntled employees.
In California federal court on Monday, June 5, 2017, The Honest Company Inc. (“Honest”), Jessica Alba’s home products line, agreed to pay $1.55 million to resolve multidistrict litigation claims that Alba’s company falsely advertised that its products were free of harsh chemicals.
On Monday, June 5, 2017, AbbVie Inc. was made to face its first bellwether in the Androgel MDL. The class, comprised of over 4,200 cases, is accusing AbbVie Inc. and several others of overselling testosterone replacement drugs and failing to warn doctors and consumers of potentially deadly side effects.
On June 2, 2017, Uber agreed to a $32.5 million settlement in California federal court to end a class-action suit that alleged Uber falsely advertised their safe rides fee and how the company screens its operators. This settlement comes one year after a previously rejected deal of $28.5 million, which the judge presiding over the lawsuit ruled “improperly provided preferential treatment for certain class members.”
The fight wages on in North Carolina federal court in the legal battle between the Charlotte School of Law and a class of plaintiff students who claim that the law school purposefully withheld important information regarding the school’s American Bar Association (“ABA”) accreditation from both current and prospective students.
On May 26, 2017, a $43 million settlement agreement was reached between the popular music streaming platform Spotify and a class of disgruntled musicians who argued that Spotify has not been paying artists the proper royalty fees for their work.
On Thursday, May 26, 2017, Mariya Plekan, a woman who lost the lower half of her body during the collapse of the Center City building in Philadelphia, was awarded $96.5M for the horrific injuries she sustained in the tragedy. The decision followed a $257 million settlement with all the victims of the collapse and the defendants, the Salvation Army, where victims were shopping and working, and Richard Basciano, who owned the building. According to Ms. million’s attorney, Andy Stern, this was the largest recovery for an injured plaintiff in Pennsylvania history.
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.
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.
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.