Another Suit Filed Against Fortnight over Misappropriation Claims
On January 23, 2019, Epic Games Inc. (“Epic”), creator of the popular video game Fortnite, was served with claims that the game-maker misappropriated the signature dance moves of professional rapper Blocboy JB, known as “The Shoot.”
On January 24, 2019, U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr., granted initial approval to a $24 million settlement between the former NFL team, the St. Louis Rams, and a class of football fans who purchased personal seat licenses (“PSLs”) during the Rams’ last season in St. Louis in 2014, shortly before the team was moved to Los Angeles.
On January 17, 2019, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York, Analisa Torres, granted approval of a $9 million settlement between a class of consumers and Premier Nutrition Corp., the manufacturer of Premier Protein shakes.
On January 7, 2019, class claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York against celebrity chef Chris Santos and his business partners, who collectively own the well-known upscale New York City restaurant and lounge, Beauty and Essex. In the lawsuit, a group of former busboys and barbacks claim that the restaurant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and New York Labor Law.
On January 4, 2019, a $5.4 million settlement was submitted to Northern California District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers for preliminary approval. The settlement will bring to a close class claims alleging that defendant ABM Services Inc. (“ABM”), violated Section 2802 of the California Labor Code, the Private Attorneys General Act and the Unfair Business Practices Act, when it required its employees to use personal cell phones for work-related purposes without reimbursement.
On January 3, 2019, North Carolina federal judge Catherine C. Eagles granted approval for a $1.3 million settlement to end class claims between rideshare giant Uber Technologies Inc. and a class of more than 5,000 Uber drivers who allege that Uber misclassified them as independent contractors.
On December 17, 2018, actor Alfonso Ribeiro, well known for his role as Will Smith’s loveable preppy cousin, Carlton Banks, on the hit 1990s television show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, filed two separate lawsuits in California federal court against videogame makers Epic Games and Take-Two Interactive alleging that the companies illegally used Ribeiro’s signature dance move “The Carlton.”
On December 17, 2018, a $2.4 million settlement was submitted to Connecticut federal court Judge Robert N. Chatigny for approval, bringing a close to class claims against pharmaceutical giant Jonson & Johnson (“J&J”) alleging that the company intentionally mislead customers as to the quality of certain J&J baby products.
In the mass tort realm, 2018 proved to be a year of high-volume verdicts and settlements coupled with highly publicized cases. As the year comes to a close, here is a look back at some of the noteworthy cases that saw significant developments over the past 12 months.
On December 11, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had reached a $3 million settlement agreement with Target Corp., bringing an end to whistleblower claims that Target pharmacies in Massachusetts automatically refilled prescriptions of Massachusetts Medicaid beneficiaries without an explicit request for each refill by the beneficiary. The suit alleges the actions were in violation of Massachusetts Medicaid regulation 130 CMR 406. 411 (c)(6) and the U.S. False Claims Act.
On December 4, 2018, class claims were filed in New York federal court against celebrity watering holes Rose Bar and Jade Bar. Female employees allege that the popular bars inside New York City’s exclusive Gramercy Park Hotel violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor laws.
On December 7, 2018, class claims were filed against cereal giant Kellogg Co. in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California alleging that the company’s popular Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Soft Baked Breakfast Bars (Strawberry) and Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran cereal contain the probable carcinogen glyphosate.
On December 4, 2018, the fate of a famous painting by Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro was the focus of arguments in Los Angeles federal court. Rue Saint-Honore in the Afternoon. Effect of Rain, the painting in question, has a long and storied past dating back to 1930s Germany and is currently said to be valued at around $30 million. The plaintiffs in the suit, the Cassirer family, argue that the painting rightfully belongs to them and not Madrid’s Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, where it has been on display since it was acquired from a Swiss collector in 1988. In the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that the painting was illegally confiscated from Lilly Cassirer in 1939 by Nazi officials as she was fleeing Germany The plaintiffs argued that the confiscation was in violation of several international laws. After the painting was illegally obtained, it was next traced to the collection of a New York art dealer, then to a Swiss collector who eventually sold it to the defendant.
On November 26, 2018, a $1billion lawsuit was filed in California federal court against Walt Disney Company (“Disney”) and Fox Entertainment LLC (“Fox”) by renowned Asian resort developer, Genting Malaysia Berhad (“GENM”). The plaintiff alleges it entered into agreements with Fox in 2013 to build a theme park called “Fox World,” which was to become the centerpiece of Resorts World Genting, an integrated resort complex in Genting Highlands, Malaysia. Court documents note that Fox will soon be acquired by Disney. Resorts World Genting is the only legal land-based casino in Malaysia and the resort complex attracts over 23 million tourists a year. The resort includes seven hotels, performance venues, shopping malls, gondola lifts, an indoor Snow World attraction, a bio park, temple, bowling alley and arcade, as well as restaurants, bars and clubs.
Don’t be afraid to be who you are—a sentiment often promulgated among young people by teachers, parents and ad campaigns hoping to encourage confidence in one’s own skin. But sometimes that is easier said than done. As we get older and more experienced, we may consciously, or subconsciously, temper our personality to fit societal expectations, particularly in a professional setting. Women have an especially fine line to tread in the professional arena, most notably in male-dominated professions such as the law. When you meet a woman who stands out from the crowd and who is unapologetically herself, you can’t help but admire her for the trail she is blazing for all women in the legal industry.