Mars Faces Class Action over M&M Ice Cream Bars
On November 23, 2019, Mars Inc., makers of the popular M&M brand ice cream products, is facing class claims in federal court in the Southern District of New York over allegations that it mislabels the flavoring of its ice cream treats and is in essence committing “food fraud.”
On November 18, 2019, was with class action claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida, against fast-food giant Burger King, alleging that the restaurant’s new meat alternative “Impossible Whopper” burgers are not truly vegan.
On November 18, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge for the Central District of California, Stephen V. Wilson, denied billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk’s bid to throw out defamation claims against him made by famed British cave diver Vernon Unsworth, who Musk referred to as “pedo guy” in a July 2018 tweet.
On November 8, 2019, U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California, R. Gary Klausner, granted class certification to the U.S. Senior Women’s National Soccer Team (“WNT”) in its suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation Inc.
The action was filed on March 8, 2019, just months before the team’s historic World Cup victory, naming all 28 current WNT players as named plaintiffs. In the complaint, the players claim that the U.S. Soccer Federation is in violation of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging that the defendant’s pay structure is unfair to the women’s team in comparison to the less successful men’s league.
On November 8, 2019, a $5.4 million settlement was submitted to California federal court Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel for preliminary approval, bringing an ended to claims that the juice-making giant, Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. conceals the true quality of the ingredients in certain of the brand’s juice-based beverages.
On October 31, 2019, Facebook, Inc. was served with proposed class claims in the Northern District of California alleging that the company discriminates against older and female Facebook users who were purportedly denied the opportunity to receive advertising and information about financial services opportunities.
On October 8, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a bid by the Los Angeles Rams to stay the vicious legal battle with its former hometown of St. Louis over the NFL team’s abrupt relocation from Missouri to California. The city of St. Louis is seeking to recoup millions of dollars spent in an effort to keep the team in its city.
October 29, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit revived a suit accusing pop-superstar Taylor Swift of plagiarizing lyrics for her 2014 hit song “Shake it Off.” The complaint accused Swift of illegally copying a “six-word phrase and a four-part lyrical sequence from [Sean] Hall’s Playas Gon’ Play (2001),” which was performed by 3LW.
On October 24, 2019, Goodyear Tire & Rubber company (“Goodyear”) filed suit in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that an Illinois punk rock band, The Goodyear Pimps (“The Pimps” or “the band”), has been improperly using Goodyear’s trademarked winged foot design logo and the company’s famous Goodyear Blimp image on the band’s merchandise, Facebook page and website.
October 15, 2019, Walmart agreed to a $14 million settlement with an Illinois Class of pregnant and formerly pregnant employees who claimed the company’s policies on disability accommodations discriminated against them based on their pregnant status.
On October 4, 2019, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld an $800,000 jury verdict over doctors’ failure to diagnose a foot condition, holding that the questions examined by jurors did not move into the territory of asking them to walk a mile in the plaintiff’s shoes.
On October 3 2019, two women filed suit against former Spiderman trilogy star, James Franco, in a proposed class action over allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination at his now shuttered acting and film school.
On September 23, 2019, a group of former students of the now defunct for-profit Charlotte School of Law (“CSL”), filed suit against their would-be alma mater and its parent company, Sterling Capital Partners (“Sterling”), in Illinois state court.
On September 20, 2019, class claims were filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois against breast implant manufacturer Allergan alleging that the defendant’s BIOCELL textured saline- and silicone-filled breast implants cause an increased risk of developing breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (“BIA-ALCL”).
On September 6, 2019, well known, controversial rapper Chris Brown and the production company that produced one of Brown’s 2017 music videos, Majestic Hour Production Inc., were served with a suit from a former music video back-up dancer in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging that she was injured on the set of the video.
On September 16, 2019, a proposed class action was filed in the Southern District of California against General Motors (“GM”), alleging that GM concealed a known defect from its U.S. customers who purchased or leased certain Cadillac models equipped with GM’s Cadillac User Experience navigation/radio touch screen display (“CUE System”).
September 11, 2019, a Connecticut Superior Court Judge Carl Schuman upheld a $542,464 verdict against pharmaceutical giant, Boehringer Ingelheim, originally awarded in May 2019 in the ongoing Pradaxa litigation.
The suit was originally filed in May 2016 by plaintiff Eugene Roberto. Plaintiff alleged that Boehringer Ingelheim’s label for its popular blood thinning drug Pradaxa, did not adequately warn about the risk of bleeding. The suit, which by this time was merged with the Pradaxa multidistrict litigation (“MDL”), was selected by the plaintiffs’ steering committee to go to trial as a bellwether case.
On September 9, 2019, a proposed class of investors filed a complaint in the Supreme Court of the State of New York against Sundial Growers over its $143 million IPO. Named plaintiff, Trisha Peters, filed the complaint after news surfaced regarding a defective order of cannabis that contained visible mold, parts of rubber gloves and “other non-cannabis material,” according to the complaint.
In today’s world of social media influencers and so-called self-help gurus, it has suddenly become trendy to be focused on self-care, meditation and mindfulness. However that same world, combined with constant communication, has made our lives busier than ever often resulting in relegating self-care to the bottom of our to-do lists. This can be especially true for working mothers who want to give their all to both their career and their family, often putting themselves last in the order of importance. But self-care isn’t just a passing fad—it is an important part of modern life and is crucial to living a well-balanced life. In this edition of Women in the Law, we profile a successful attorney who has made self-care and meditation central to her day-to-day life.
On August 13 2019, a three-judge panel in New Jersey’s appellate court rejected condominium developer K. Hovnanian’s bid to have architectural firm RTKL pay its share of a $4 million jury verdict. The panel found that RTKL should not pay Hovnanian’s $3 million share of the jury verdict for its decision to push construction forward on a 132-unit condominium despite knowing the plywood used was not flame retardant.
On August 26, 2019, Oklahoma state court Judge Thad Balkman found Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) responsible for causing the opioid crisis in Oklahoma, and ordered that J&J must pay $572 million to repair the damage. This ruling comes almost six weeks after the conclusion of a seven-week bench trial, where state attorneys successfully proved J&J and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., created a public nuisance by overstating the benefits of narcotic painkillers while downplaying the risk for addiction.
On August 13 2019, cosmetic company Younique agreed to a $3.25 million settlement, ending class action claims alleging that the company falsely marketed its mascara product as containing “natural fibers.” The settlement fund’s purpose is to make payments to customers in 11 states who bought the “Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes” between 2012 and 2015 based upon the assumption Younique used natural fibers in the production of the lashes.
On August 19, 2019, punitive class claims were filed in Texas District Court against Enterprise Products Partners LP, Oiltanking Partners LP and CenterPoint Energy. alleging that the defendants’ actions severely damaged class members’ property and diminished property values in surrounding areas.
On August 2, 2019, a group of dissatisfied customers filed a motion for class certification in federal court in the Eastern District of Illinois. Plaintiffs are seeking a 17-state potential class action against cosmetics retail giant Ulta Beauty.
On July 19, 2019, a group of young adults filed suit against the popular vape pen manufacturer, JUUL, in California state Superior Court, County of San Francisco, alleging that the company targets nonsmoking youth with their marketing tactics in order to create a new generation of life-long nicotine addicts.
On July 22, 2019, American automotive giant Ford Motors Co. was hit with a staggering $1.2 billion putative class action lawsuit in Michigan federal court alleging that Ford manipulated its coastdown testing and used inaccurate drag and resistant figures to boost the vehicles’ EPA mileage ratings, making the vehicles more appealing to potential buyers.
On July 17, 2019, ConAgra Grocery Products Company, Sherwin Williams and NL Industries came to an agreement with ten counties in California that alleged the companies’ lead-based paint was the cause for a public health crisis in California. The settlement brings to an end nearly 20 years of litigation and demands each company pay a sum of $101,666,666.67—totaling $305 million—to be paid to the plaintiffs. The settlement states that the monies will be used “to address public health hazards, bodily injury, personal injuries, and property damage related to Lead Paint.”
On July 11, 2019, a California state appeals court found that a jury had heard erroneous instructions involving a plaintiff who hit a freeway barrier to avoid an errant flying mattress. The appellate panel found that the lower court erred in permitting a special exception that “excuses law violations if a defendant can prove it tried but could not comply with the law.”
On June 28, 2019, a Philadelphia jury awarded $500,000 to plaintiff Linda Dunfee, against Johnson & Johnson, which was found liable for design defects in a pelvic mesh implant that left plaintiff in severe pain. This marks the ninth verdict against Johnson & Johnson and in favor of plaintiffs injured by pelvic mesh design defects.
On July 5, 2019, BMW of North America LLC was met with proposed class claims in New Jersey federal court alleging that the company placed their customers in harm’s way by selling motorcycles with defective gear indicators; which, in turn heightened the risk of accidents, as well as opening the door to other safety issues. Named plaintiff Daniel Casey argued that the gear indicators in the motorcycle intermittently displayed the wrong gear or no gear at all. This phenomenon has been a point of a complaint by numerous customers, according to Casey.
On June 28, 2019, online fashion website Fashion Nova Inc., was served with class claims in federal court in the Southern District of Florida by a group of plaintiffs alleging that the company violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) by negligently and willfully contacting consumer’s cell phones and therefore invading their privacy.
On June 21, 2019, a group of music industry heavyweights filed a proposed class action suit against UMG Recordings Inc. (“UMG”) in California federal court alleging that the recording company negligently stored artists’ Master Recordings in an inadequate and substandard storage warehouse located on the backlot of Universal Studios that was a known firetrap.
On June 19, 2019, an $8.2 million settlement was proposed to California federal court Judge M. James Lorenz for preliminary approval, bringing an end to class claims that superstore chain Target Corp. (“Target”) engaged in deceptive marketing practices in the promotion of its Target REDCard.
On June 13, 2019, California federal court Judge Edward J. Davila granted preliminary approval for a $2.5 million settlement between The Coca-Cola Co. (“Coca-Cola”) and a proposed class of consumers who accused Coca-Cola of misleading consumers as to the true ingredients of its popular Seagram’s Ginger Ale products.
On June 12, 2019, premium humane milk producer Fairlife LLC was served with proposed class claims in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois claiming that the company engages in deceptive marketing tactics.
In the complaint, named plaintiff Andrew Schwartz and Alice Vitiello ague that Fairlife intentionally deceives customers into believing that the company treats its cows humanely in order to charge consumers a premium price for the product. Fairlife has built a brand image as a responsible, humane producer of milk and has boasted that its cows have comfortable sand beds and that freestanding stalls are provided to allow the cows constant care and relaxation.
On June 6, 2019, a $210 million settlement that brought a close to a multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) between Hyundai Motor America Inc. and a nationwide class of consumers who alleged that Hyundai, and its affiliate Kia Motors America, misrepresented the fuel economy on certain 2011, 2012, and 2013 vehicles including the popular Elantra and Sonata, was affirmed by an 8-3 en banc Ninth Circuit decision.
On May 31, 2019, Missouri federal judge Stephen R. Bough granted preliminary approval for a $15.25 million settlement between drugstore giant CVS and a class of its customer telephone service representatives.
Named plaintiffs in the suit, Timothy Woods and Kimberly Gibson, filed class claims against CVS in July 2014, alleging that CVS was depriving call center employees of proper compensation by requiring them to power up their computers and upload applications before officially clocking into work and starting their paid work day.
On May 24, 2019, class claims were filed in Maryland federal court against General Motors LLC (“GM”) alleging that the American car maker knowingly sold and leased thousands of 2016-2018 Chevy Malibu vehicles (“class vehicles”) equipped with a defective electronic throttle control and/or accelerator pedal position sensor.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that most people have, at some point in their lives, felt pressure to conform to an expectation that society has arbitrarily levied upon them. This is especially true for women. As women, we are constantly bombarded with contradictory representations in the media and on television of how the perfect modern woman should look and act. When it comes to the idealized image of the female attorney, generally the message is the same—she is aggressive, she is loud and she is always impeccably dressed and coifed. This image seldom bears any real resemblance to the actual women who spend their days tirelessly fighting for their clients and trying to change the tides of gender inequality in the legal field. This month, we spoke with attorney Brenda S. Fulmer to get her perspective on the challenges facing the modern female attorney—her answers were refreshing and hopeful for the future.
On May 21, 2019, it was announced that Starbucks is facing two separate lawsuits in federal court in the Southern District of New York and New York State Supreme Court, respectively, both of which allege that Starbucks has been exposing both its employees and customers to a well-known toxin at several of its Manhattan locations.
On May 14, 2019, cosmetics giant L’Oreal USA Inc. (“L’Oreal”) was served with class claims in federal court in the Southern District of New York by consumers who allege that the company intentionally mislead consumers as to the true ingredients in L’Oreal Ever Sleek Keratin Caring products.
On May 15, 2019, a group of physically disabled New York City residents filed proposed class claims against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“MTA”) and the New York City Transit Authority alleging that the defendants are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by failing to install elevators or other stair-free routes in New York City subway stations.
On May 7, 2019, former employees of local hospitals in Newark, New Jersey owned by Cathedral Healthcare System, filed class claims against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark alleging that the Archdiocese deprived around 135 former hospital employees of at least $2.7 million in lifetime pension payments.
On May 7, 2019, electronics giant LG Electronics USA Inc. (“LGEUS”) was served with class claims in New Jersey federal court alleging that the company violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
In the complaint, plaintiff Misa Choi claimed that the defendant company fraudulently classified herself, and her fellow class members, as exempt from overtime premium payments by regularly issuing so called “paper promotions” to entry-level associates. LGEUS’s “paper promotions” nominally promoted entry-level associates to assistant managers without modifying the employees’ responsibilities, authorities or tasks assigned to them. As a result, plaintiff argued that the defendant actively encouraged employees to mistakenly consider themselves management and therefore exempt from, and not entitled to, overtime payments.
On May 2, 2019, federal judge for the Northern District of California Elizabeth D. Laporte, rejected defendant Amazon.com Inc.’s (“Amazon”) bid to dismiss claims that the online retail giant has infringed upon and diluted Williams-Sonoma’s service mark and engaged in unfair competition by marketing Williams-Sonoma products for resale on its website.
On April 29, 2019, the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld a $2,236,850.28 verdict awarded to a Georgia man who fell 10 feet through an open hatch on a Golden Isles Cruise Lines casino boat in December 2014.
In its appeal, Golden Isles argued that the trial court erred in denying its motion for summary judgment because the one-year contractual limitations period governing the plaintiff’s claim expired before he filed his lawsuit. However, the court found that the reason for the plaintiff’s delay was as a result of the owner of Golden Isles, who was a long-time friend of the plaintiff, and the company’s insurance adjuster, insisting that they would “take real good care” of the plaintiff.
On April 25, 2019, class claims were filed against popular bubble tea chain Vivi Bubble Tea Inc., in the Eastern District of New York, alleging that the company failed to design, construct, maintain and operate their website to be fully accessible and independently usable to consumers that are blind or vision impaired in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
On April 23, 2019, in the wake of substantial media coverage surrounding the alleged attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollett, the two brothers accused of perpetrating the supposed hate crime filed suit against Smollett’s attorneys. The brothers are claiming that the legal team defamed them by continuing to insist in the media that the brothers committed a hate crime. Smollett was represented by Tina Glandian and Mark Geragos.
On April 19, 2019, class claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of California against the world’s largest food company, Nestlé USA Inc. (“Nestlé”). The suit alleges that Nestlé has “been making its chocolate fortune off the backs of child labor and child slave labor in West Africa.”
On April 16, 2019, class claims were filed against famed motorcycle manufacturer, Harley Davidson Motor Company (“Harley Davidson”) in federal court in the Northern District of California. The suite alleges that the company knowingly sold tens of thousands of motorcycles with a hidden and dangerous defect in its anti-lock braking system (“ABS”).
On April 12, 2019, two concerned mothers filed class claims in federal court in Utah against Owlet Baby Care Inc. the makers of the popular Smart Sock baby monitor, alleging that the company intentionally misled and deceived consumers as to the true nature of its product.
On April 12, 2019, class claims were filed against Young Living Essential Oils in Texas federal court by a company representative who claimed that the company is operating under a “pyramid scheme” business model.
In today’s world of the 24-hour news cycle and the instantaneous publishing power of social media, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to judge what is fact from mere conjecture. At times, it feels like we live in a culture where jumping to conclusions and making broad generalizations has become de rigueur. The subject of this month’s edition of Women in the Law, San Francisco attorney Lori Andrus, is of the opinion that in order to succeed and to make strides, women need to be aware of this potential pitfall and become the most prepared and knowledgeable person in the room.
On April 5, 2019, proposed class claims were filed in Delaware federal court against popular on-demand food delivery service DoorDash Inc. A group of plaintiffs alleged that the company unlawfully collected sales tax from customers in states that do not permit the collection of sales taxes, including New Hampshire, Delaware and Montana.
On April 3, 2019, litigation was commenced against the makers of the popular iced tea brand, Arizona Tea, in federal court in the Eastern District of New York, alleging that the company intentionally misled consumers as to the true ingredients of its Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey.
On April 3, 2019, Earl Enterprises Holdings Inc. (“EEH”), the owner of popular chain restaurants such as Earl of Sandwich, Buca di Beppo and Planet Hollywood, was sued in federal court in the Middle District of Florida, wherein a proposed class of plaintiffs alleged that the company failed to exercise reasonable care in securing and safeguarding its customers’ sensitive personal information. EEH had announced that it experienced a year long data breach affecting customers’ names, credit card numbers and expiration dates and security code numbers.
On March 27, 2019, popular American chain restaurant TGI Friday’s Inc. (“Friday’s”) was served with class claims in New York federal court alleging that the brand intentionally misleads and deceives health-conscious consumers into believing that Friday’s “Potato Skins” snacks actually contain real potato skins.
On March 22, 2019, a group of former students of the now defunct Charlotte School of Law filed suit against the owners of the for-profit former law school, Sterling Capital Partners, in Illinois federal court. The suit alleges that the defendant recklessly attempted to increase the school’s enrollment, revenue and profit by decreasing admissions and curricular standards leading to the school’s loss of accreditation by the American Bar Association (“ABA”) and the eventual closure of the school.
On March 21, 2019, American beer giant Miller Coors LLC, filed suit against rival brewing company Anheuser-Busch in federal court in the Western District of Wisconsin alleging that Anheuser-Busch premiered a false and intentionally misleading advertising campaign during the 2019 Super Bowl. Plaintiff claims that the ad deceived consumers into believing they were consuming corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup (“HFCS”) when drinking Miller Lite and Coors Light beers.
On March 15, 2019, a Brooklyn-based high-end puppet designer filed suit against popular pop band Fall Out Boy, in federal court in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the band infringed and exploited its copyrights and intellectual property by making the new face of the band two highly identifiable llama puppets, created by the plaintiff.
On March 14, 2019, a group of parents and current university students filed class claims in federal court in the Northern District of California against the perpetrators of recent elite college admission cheating scandals, in addition to naming several of the involved schools as defendants.
On March 12, 2019, a $4.2 million settlement was submitted to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu M. Berle for final approval, bringing an end to a proposed class of housekeepers employed by Marriott International Inc. (“Marriott”) who alleged that the hotel chain violated California Labor Code §226.7, 226(a) and 2698 and violated the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act when it failed to provide class members rest periods during the work day.
On March 11, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York, Brian M. Cogan, granted preliminary approval of a $1.5 million settlement between Consumer Goods Inc., the makers of Purex laundry detergents and a class of consumers who alleged that the company intentionally misled customers through the marketing, labeling and advertising of Purex products as containing “natural elements” despite the products including synthetic ingredients.
On March 1, 2019, preliminary approval was granted for a $2.9 million settlement by U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Ohio Western Division, in the Snap Fitness membership fees class action.
On February 27, 2019, class claims were filed against the John McEnroe Tennis Academy (the “Academy”) in New York federal court by a disgruntled former driver who alleged that the defendant institution, along with its owners and day-to-day overseers, failed to adequately compensate Academy drivers for overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
On February 25, 2019, BeSweet Creations LLC, manufacturer of the popular gummy bear vitamin supplements “Sugar Bear Hair,” filed suit in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida against rival supplement producer, TrueReflections Inc., alleging that the company violated the Federal Trademark Act (Lanham Act).
Fielding a litany of questions when sharing what you do for a living is a familiar situation for many. The day-to-day grind of life as an attorney often does not reflect the excitement portrayed in television legal dramas. For attorney Karen Beyea-Schroeder, however, the early years of her career played out like a well-paced episode of the late 1990s legal program, JAG.
On February 13, 2019, class claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York against celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich alleging that Bastianich’s New York City restaurant, Felidia, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) by requiring employees to work in excess of 40 hours per week without appropriate minimum wage, overtime and spread of hours compensation for the hours they worked.
On February 14, 2019, State Street Global Advisors Trust Company (“SSGA”), the sponsors of the world famous “Fearless Girl” statue filed suit against Kristin Visbal (sculptor of the iconic statue) in New York State court. SSGA alleges that the artist has been selling unauthorized replicas of the statue causing irreparable harm to not only Fearless Girl and her message but also to SSGA, its reputation and its rights.
On February 8, 2019, class claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York against the makers of the popular Drizzilicious line of snack foods, alleging that the company, Snack Innovations Inc., mislabeled its products in such a way as to intentionally mislead consumers with respect to the ingredients contained by the products.
On February 8, 2019, a $3.2 million settlement was submitted to Northern California federal court Judge Jeffrey S. White for preliminary approval, bringing an end to class claims that accused energy company Chevron Corp., of misclassifying drill-site managers as independent contractors.
On January 30, 2019, well-known model Carmen Electra, along with fellow models Lucy Pinder and Dessie Mitcheson, filed suit in Colorado federal court against Denver strip club, Shotgun Willie’s, alleging that the defendant violated the Lanham Act by using the plaintiffs’ images in club promotions.
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.
Fresh off the heels of the successful first run of the show “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” Netflix has settled claims by a religious group called the Satanic Temple stemming from the show’s usage of a “androgynous goat-headed deity” image. The figure is featured prominently in the “Academy of the Unseen Arts,” a fictional satanic school which the titular character attends. Plaintiffs allege the image is used to represent the evil antagonists of the series and in doing so, violates a trademark held by the Satanic Temple.
An $18.9 million settlement has been reached in the National Hockey League (“NHL”) concussion multidistrict litigation (“MDL”). Plaintiffs in the MDL similarly allege that while playing professional hockey for one or more of the Member Clubs or the NHL, they were subjected to head trauma and/or injuries and/or brain trauma and/or injuries and that these injuries have caused, or may cause a variety of neurodegenerative, cognitive, emotional, and/or mental health conditions.
On November 8, 2018, Australian songwriters Sean Carey and Beau Golden filed proposed settlement documents with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, bringing an end to copyright infringement claims between the plaintiffs and well-known music super stars Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and Ed Sheeran.
On November 6, 2018, video game developer Riot Games was sued for permitting ongoing sexual harassment, misconduct and bias in the workplace, which combined to create a hostile working environment.
The suit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by former Riot Games employee, Jessica Negron and current Riot Games employee, Melanie McCracken.
On October 30, 2018, California Judge Ioana Petrou granted approval for a $6.8 million settlement in favor of employees of The Wine Group LLC, who alleged that the company, the world’s second largest winemaker by volume, violated multiple state labor statues by denying employees meal and rest breaks as well as failing to properly pay overtime and minimum wages.
On November 2, 2018, a $6.6 million preliminary settlement was reached between hotel chain Motel 6 and a putative class of Latino hotel guests who claimed that the defendant unlawfully disclosed their personal information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agents.
On October 30, 2018, class claims were filed in federal court in the Eastern District of New York against alternative-dairy producer Miyoko’s Kitchen Inc., claiming that the company, which makes a variety of vegan “dairy” products such as butter and cheese, intentionally mislead consumers by labeling it’s European-Style Cultured Vegan Butter as butter.
On October 26, 2018, superstore Walmart Inc. agreed to a $160 million settlement to end an investor class suit in federal court in the western district of Arkansas.
On October 19, 2018, a proposed class of consumers who purchased Sexy Hair Concepts shampoos from Ulta Beauty stores asked Massachusetts Judge F. Dennis Saylor to grant approval for a $2.3 million settlement.
“Our voices are stronger together.” We’ve heard this phrase time and time again, but over the past two years it has taken on a life of its own. From the moment thousands gathered for the Women’s March on Washington in early 2017, there has been a shift in the collective consciousness and solidarity among women in America. Recently, it seems, each passing month brings a new challenge and along with it a new cause to rally around, both of which serve to bond women together in their quest for genuine equality.
On October 15, 2018, coffee company Nespresso S.A. filed suit in the Southern District of New York against Brooklyn-based coffee company, Ameruss of NY Inc. (“Ameruss), claiming that Ameruss violated U.S. trademark laws by calling their coffee pods “NYXpresso pods.”
On October 12, 2018, natural beauty company Burt’s Bees became the latest retailer to face a civil rights lawsuit, which alleges that the Burt’s Bees website, BurtsBees.com, fails to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
On October 9, 2018, a class of Bank of America, N.A. (“BofA”) mortgage loan officers petitioned U.S. District Judge Edward Chen to grant preliminary approval for an $11 million settlement.
The suit was originally filed in May 2016 in Alameda County Superior Court by named plaintiff Gina McLeod and was later moved to federal court in the Northern District of California by defendant BofA in June 2016.
On October 8, 2018, coffee giant Starbucks was served with a proposed class action suit in Manhattan federal court alleging that the company deliberately misled customers as to the true nature of the ingredients in its Starbucks White Chocolate Doubleshot Energy Drinks.
On October 5, 2018, class claims were filed in federal court in the middle district of Florida against Westminster Pharmaceuticals LLC (“Westminster”) and CVS Pharmacy Inc., alleging that the companies manufactured and distributed adulterated generic prescription thyroid medications to patients.
On September 27, 2018, California federal Judge William H. Orrick granted approval to a $4.9 million settlement between Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (“PG&E”) and the San Francisco Herring Association (“SFHA”), which is comprised of a group of commercial herring fisherman from the San Francisco Bay area.
On September 13, 2018, a proposed settlement of $18.8 million was reached between Southwest Airlines Co. (“Southwest”) and a class of 2,000 current and former Southwest pilots who alleged that the airline denied them paid sick leave and matched retirement contributions for periods of short-term military leave that lasted 14 days or less (“STML”), all in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”).
On September 18, 2018, a record-breaking $6.2 billion settlement was reached between Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc., along with a number of high profile banks including JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp, and a class of around 12 million retailers who accused the credit card companies and banks of violating federal antitrust laws. Plaintiffs alleged that the entities compelled retailers to pay deliberately inflated “swipe fees” on every purchase made with a Visa or Mastercard credit card, which the banks then utilized to fund consumer credit card rewards.
On September 13, 2018, a disgruntled customer of the Swedish furniture company, Ikea, filed a proposed class suit against the company in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The complaint alleges that Ikea intentionally misled customers as to the company’s return policy when the transaction included the use of an Ikea coupon.
The path of the female attorney is not always easy nor is it the same for every woman in the legal industry. When trying to find a place in a profession such as the law, which is still for the most part considered a “boys’ club,” many lawyers believe that they must adhere to antiquated ideas of how a lawyer “should” act. However, our latest profiled attorney in the Women in the Law Series, New York and New Jersey attorney Debbie Gough, decided to turn her back on such preconceived notions and chose instead to embrace what makes her different. For Ms. Gough, mantras of truthfulness, passion and empathy have guided her to become a zealous, top-notch litigator as well as a more discerning human being.
On September 11, 2018, a $42.5 million settlement was reached between a class of investors who claimed that biomedical company Intuitive Surgical Inc. violated federal security laws when it purposefully misled shareholders as to the safety of its da Vinci robotic surgery device.
On September 7, 2018, a class action suit against sportswear giant Adidas America Inc. was removed from the California state court in San Diego to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The suit, which was filed on July 3, 2018, claims that a June 2018 data breach of Adidas customers’ personal information was the result of the company’s negligent failure to implement proper cyber security measures.
On August 30, 2018, the makers of the now iconic pine tree-shaped air fresheners, Car-Freshner Corp., filed suit in federal court in the Northern District of New York against Bob Ross Inc. and Surreal Entertainment, alleging that the defendants violated state and federal trademark laws by selling pine tree-shaped car fresheners which pictured the face of the famed host of The Joy of Painting.
On August 24, 2018, after four years of litigation in Florida federal court, a settlement was reached between a class of patients who claim that they were overcharged for emergency radiological services in hospitals owned and operated by defendants JFK Medical Center and HCA Holdings, Inc. According to court documents, the settlement will be valued at around $220 million.
On August 28, 2018, superstore BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. (“BJ’s”), filed suit in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois against a group of America’s most successful producers of chicken products, alleging that defendants, including Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms, violated federal antitrust laws by illegally conspiring to increase the price of chicken sold in the United States from 2008 through 2016.
On August 17, 2018, plaintiff Dr. Miles Conway filed suit against social media giant Facebook Inc. in federal court in the Southern District of Florida, alleging that the company has negligently and carelessly failed to take down a fake Facebook account that operated under the plaintiff’s name, despite multiple attempts by the plaintiff and his friends to have it removed from the site.
On August 14, 2018, book distributor Readerlink Distribution Services, LLC was sued for violations of the federal Lanham Act, violations of the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and of the Illinois Right of Publicity Act in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, by a professional freelance translator who accused the company of falsely attributing her English to Spanish translation of a Star Wars book named “Star Wars: Poe Dameron: Flight Log,” to a poorly-worded Spanish language translation of another book called “Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Rey’s Survival Guide.”
On August 14, 2018, Illinois federal court Judge John J. Tharp denied a bid by well-known baby food manufacturer, Gerber Products Company, to dismiss class claims that allege the company fraudulently marketed its Good Start Gentle (“GSG”) infant formula as able to actively reduce the risk of developing allergies to cow’s milk and decrease incidences of atopic dermatitis (also known as eczema).
On July 30, 2018, the descendants of famed actor and action star Steve McQueen filed suit in California state court against legendary sports car company Ferrari alleging that Ferrari infringed upon the family’s intellectual property rights when it launched a 70th anniversary collection of Ferraris which included one model called “The McQueen.”
On July 29, 2018, just ten days after the horrific sinking of a Missouri Duck Boat on Table Rock Lake, estate representative for victims of the accident filed suit in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Missouri against the owner and operator of the Ride the Duck tour company and the manufacturer of the land-to-sea amphibious vehicle.
On July 24, 2018, national legal non-profit A Better Balance issued a press release announcing that it filed a class action in New York State Supreme Court, Orleans County, on behalf of two former Walmart employees, which challenges Walmart’s “no-fault” absence control policy “as systematically violating the rights of women who need leave for pregnancy-related illnesses or medical care.”
John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.) has entered into a preliminary settlement with certain owners of its universal and variable universal life insurance policies who have policies that contain a contractual promise that “Applied Monthly Rates will be based on [John Hancock’s] expectations of future mortality experience”—and nothing else.
On July 18, 2018, New Jersey federal court Judge Peter Sheridan granted preliminary approval to a $1.4 million settlement between iconic New York City department store Bloomingdale’s and a class of customers who allege that the store violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) by sending members of Bloomingdale’s Loyalist Program unsolicited texts detailing store promotions.
A proposed settlement has been submitted to Delaware federal court judge John E. Jones III for preliminary approval in the GameStop data breach class action.
The suit was originally filed in September 2017 by named plaintiffs Crystal Bray and Samuel Cook. Bray and Cook allege that class members had their personal and non-public information—including names, addresses and credit/ debit card numbers and expiration dates—compromised during a massive cyber data breach that the defendant company experienced between August 10, 2016 and February 9, 2017.
On July 6, 2018, American automaker Ford Motor Company was served with proposed class claims filed by Texas ambulance company, TacMed Holdings Inc., which claims that Ford was aware of serious engine defects in its Transit Vans for years prior to issuing a safety recall.
On June 25, 2018, popular lifestyle and beauty website PopSugar was served with a proposed class action suit in California federal court alleging that the website copied postings of thousands of popular social media “influencer” Instagram accounts in an effort to draw in clicks.
German automaker Volkswagen AG (“VW”) is facing yet another class action lawsuit, this time filed by an employee who claims that VW violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, as well as the Tennessee Human Rights Act.
On June 26, 2018, a jury in Florida federal court awarded $1.8 million to a class of eight exotic dancers who alleged that their employer had willfully violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Plaintiffs originally filed suit in October 2014. The plaintiffs alleged that they were classified as independent contractors by the various executives and managers of the Miami-area gentlemen’s club, King of Diamonds, despite having to adhere strict rules set in place by the club. King of Diamonds is owned by parent companies Galardi South Enterprises Inc. and Fly Low Inc.
Popular superstore Target Corp and toddler product manufacturer Prince Lionheart are facing punitive class claims in Florida federal court filed by angry parents who allege that a potty-training seat sold by Target and produced by Lionheart poses a serious threat to toddlers.
Named plaintiffs, Natalie and Yosef Belkin, purchased a Prince Lionheart toilet-training product called the weePOD Basix in May 2018 at a Target store located in Boca Raton, Florida. The weePOD is a plastic seat that is placed on top of a toilet to better enable a toddler to sit. The product also features a higher plastic area in the front that allegedly reduces mess and back splash, and is known as the pee shield.
On June 18, 2018, The Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiary animation studio, Pixar, were served with a copyright infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of California, because, Plaintiff claimed, defendants stole the idea behind its mega hit movie “Inside Out” from him.
On June 15, 2018, well-known television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, along with the producers of his hit television show, ZoCo Productions LLC and Harpo Productions Inc., agreed to a $5.25 million settlement to end class claims alleging that Dr. Oz made misrepresentations regarding the quality, effectiveness and sponsorship of weight-loss supplements featured on The Doctor Oz Show.
On June 11, 2018, world famous music producer DJ Khaled filed a trademark infringement suit in federal court in the Southern District of New York against Curtis Bordenave and his company, Business Moves Consulting Inc., alleging that they intentionally filed for and misused trademarks for ASAHD, ASAHD Couture, A.S.A.H.D., A Son and His Dad, and We The Best Lifestyle.
Joseph DiNardo, Esq., founder and director of Counsel Financial, went “Bald for Big Bucks” on Monday, June 18, 2018 in honor of his late wife, Marcia, who battled stage IV pancreatic cancer with absolute strength and spirit. $100,000 in donations have been pledged to date, with additional commitments still pouring in.
Pictured from left to right: Melissa Ruggiero, Jessica Literman, Stephanie Duerr, Matt McCormick, Kim Gomlak and Ashley Smith
Counsel Financial’s team of employees laced up their running shoes and took part in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge® in Buffalo, New York on June 14, 2018. The event, held annually to promote corporate teamwork and camaraderie in the local business community, drew a record field of over 14,000 employees from companies in the Western New York region. The local race is one of 13 worldwide, across seven countries and five continents.
On June 12, 2018, notice of a proposed $2.2 million settlement was sent out to around 93,000 class members who filed a class action lawsuit against restaurant delivery service, Caviar. Plaintiffs allege that the company misled patrons into paying an 18% service charge that was labeled as a “gratuity fee” on orders.
When this series of interviews first began on the cusp of 2018, we reflected on the momentous events of 2017. It was a year that began with women taking to the streets to show solidarity for one another in protesting for equal rights, and ended with a multi-industry whistleblowing initiative to stop sexual harassment in the workplace. As we move forward in 2018, it seems like this will be a year of no excuses.
On June 4, 2018, California federal judge Philip S. Gutierrez awarded plaintiff Edgar Babayan, $1.9 million in a default judgment against skincare company Honest Creams LLC. In the suit, filed on January 18, 2018, Babayan alleges that Honest Creams blatantly copied three before-and-after photos that he had taken in 2011 to show the beneficial effects of his own skincare line.
On May 29, 2018, Eastern District of New York Federal Magistrate Cheryl L. Pollak granted preliminary approval of a $27 million class settlement between British Airways and a class of British Airways Executive Club members.
On May 25, 2018, Tesla and a class of Model X and Model S vehicle owners who purchased Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot asked a California federal court to preliminarily approve a $5.4 million settlement that would put an end to a putative class action. The suit alleges that the company delay in releasing Enhanced Autopilot and corresponding safety features was a violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law, Consumers Leal Remedies Act and False Advertising Law.
Approved by U.S. District Judge Janis C. Sammartino on Monday, May 21, 2018, P.F. Chang’s has agreed to a non-revisionary settlement of $6.5 million for alleged wage and labor violations. The class to benefit includes all non-exempt, hourly workers who were employed by the chain’s restaurants from January 22, 2009 to May 21, 2018.
On Friday, May 19, 2018, attorneys for a class of plaintiffs suing Caribbean Cruise Line Inc. (“Caribbean Cruise”) told U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly that the company was failing to abide by previously agreed upon settlement terms in an effort to avoid paying the $76 million maximum cap on the settlement. Caribbean Cruise has objected to 75% of the claims formerly approved by the settlement administrator.
On May 15, 2018, a putative class action accusing fitness and health company Under Armour Inc. of failing to protect the personal information belonging to subscribers of the company’s popular MyFitnessPal app was transferred to federal court in the Central District of California.
Since this interview series began, we have brought to light many common issues that affect women in the legal industry. We have discussed the myth of “having it all,” the need to find your inner strength to fight for those who have none and the desire to find your voice in the crowd. All of these themes have individually touched on the professional challenges that women attorneys face in order to succeed. However, in honor of the month of May, a month in which Americans take time to honor their mothers, this edition of Women in the Law will discuss a different kind of challenge, one many women in this country face—the challenge of being a working mother.
On May 10, 2018, a $2.5 million settlement was reached between candy manufacturing giant Ferrara Candy Co. and a putative class of dissatisfied candy lovers who claimed that the defendant included excess non-functional empty space or “slack-fill” in the opaque “theater boxes” of candy manufactured by the company.
On May 8, 2018, putative class claims were filed against popular coffee brand New England Coffee Co. (“New England”) and its parent company Reily Foods Co., alleging that the defendants deceptively marketed New England’s Hazelnut Crème coffee.
Reality star and model Kendall Jenner, along with New York-based DJ Daniel Chetrit and Apple Inc. are facing claims of trademark infringement in the Southern District of New York. Los Angeles-based artist Robert Karageuzian filed the suit on May 3, 2018. Karageuzian is the founder of PIZZABOYZZZ, an artist collective that manufactures clothing, decorative pins and other products all featuring a common pizza theme. The PIZZABOYZZZ collective also maintains a popular Instagram account with over 47,000 followers.
Class Claims Consolidated in Suit Against California Fertility Clinic for Negligent Destruction of Embryos
On April 30, 2018, Federal Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley consolidated three proposed class action suits against California-based fertility clinic, Pacific Fertility Center, and its parent company, Prelude Fertility, in the Northern District of California. The newly consolidated cases similarly revolve around the events of March 4, 2018 when the temperature of a liquid nitrogen-filled storage tank allegedly rose to an unsafe level, causing the storage tank to fail and destroy 4,000 eggs and embryos. In addition to claims of negligence, plaintiffs allege breach of contract claims against the clinic and are asking for in excess of $8 million in damages. Customers of the Pacific Fertility Center pay around $8,345 for one cycle of retrieving, freezing and storing eggs and embryos. The plaintiffs have 30 days from April 30, 2018 to file a consolidated complaint.
On April 17, 2018, the parents of Anthony Borges filed the first civil action on behalf of a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting.
Fifteen-year-old Anthony Borges took five bullets from shooter Nikolas Cruz—three in the legs and two in the torso—while heroically blockading a classroom of 20 students.
On April 23, 2018, a $22 million settlement was submitted to Washington federal judge Ronald B. Leighton for preliminary approval in the proposed class action litigation involving claims that the popular “take-and-bake” pizza chain Papa Murphy’s violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).
On April 20, 2018, a $2.9 million settlement agreement was submitted to California federal Judge S. James Otero for approval regarding a class action suit which alleged that luxury retailer Neiman Marcus intentionally misled customers who shopped at its outlet store, Last Call, by listing item prices as “compared to” a higher price.
The team at Counsel Financial recently returned from yet another great Mass Torts Made Perfect™ conference in Las Vegas, NV. To kick off the week, they channeled their inner Mario Andretti and hit the Las Vegas Motor Speedway!
On April 16, 2018, organic food grocery store chain Trader Joe’s Co. and its subsidiary, Trader Joe’s East Inc., were served with a proposed class action suit alleging that the company is misleading consumers as to the true ingredients of its popular fruit bars.
On April 6, 2018, a lawsuit was filed against Capital One N.A. by Capital One account holders who alleged that the company violated customer contracts by charging numerous undisclosed fees for both out-of-network and in-network ATM transactions.
You’re applying for a business loan. As you go through the process, you see something in the documents you didn’t anticipate—a personal guarantee.
Generally, business owners may be surprised to learn that they are going to be asked to sign a personal guarantee to borrow money. But, there is a reason it is required and even some advantages to giving it.
Below are some insights as to the reasoning, history and benefits of a guarantee, so you can be prepared in the event one is required.
On April 3, 2018, a $7 million settlement was reached between Deoleo USA Inc., the makers of the popular Bertolli Italian food brand, and a class of plaintiffs who accused the company of misleading consumers with the packaging of Bertolli olive oil.
On April 2, 2018, Driveline Retail Merchandising Inc. (“Driveline”) was sued in Illinois federal court in connection with a proposed class action, alleging that the company disclosed employees’ personal and tax information to identity thieves in a well-known email phishing scheme.
A $3.875 million settlement was reached on March 30, 2018, between Illinois-based school bus company, Durham School Services (“Durham”), and a class of California bus drivers who argued that the company failed to properly compensate its California employees for meal and rest breaks, as well as failing to pay employees for time spent at mandatory training and safety meetings.
On March 28, 2018, Washington federal judge Ronald B. Leighton granted preliminary approval for a $16.8 million settlement between food giant Kellogg Co. and a class of employees alleging that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Your firm is on the move, and in order to continue the momentum, you’ve decided that you’re ready for legal financing. But how do you know what type of financing is best for your firm—recourse or non-recourse funding?
Looking at your firm’s main objectives can help you find the answer.
On March 26, 2018, a federal jury in Illinois awarded a $3.2 million verdict for plaintiff Jesse Mitchell in the latest AndroGel bellwether litigation. Mitchell, like thousands of similarly situated plaintiffs in the Testosterone Replacement Therapy Products Liability multidistrict litigation, alleges that he was prescribed AndroGel by his doctor to combat symptoms of depression and fatigue after a test showed that he had low testosterone levels. The plaintiff claims that he was given the testosterone replacement drug without any warnings as to the potentially dangerous side effects such as increased risk of heart attack and other blood clotting events associated with the drug.
On March 22, 2018, yet another class action suit alleging a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) was filed in New Jersey federal court against Gold’s Gym (“Gold’s”). New Jersey resident, Tzvi Zemel filed the case naming the popular national fitness chain as a defendant because received unsolicited text messages to his cell phone from Gold’s, despite having never been a member of the Gym or signing up for any services or company phone lists.
When it comes to financing your firm, you have a lot of options. You can self-finance, partner with co-counsel, utilize credit cards or take out a business loan—just to name a few.
Before you make a selection, you should have a clear understanding of the solutions available to you. Without a full appreciation of your choices, how will you know you’ve picked the right one? This means looking not only at traditional financing options, but also those specifically tailored to a plaintiffs’ practice.
On March 21, 2018, well-known heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne filed class claims in California federal court against Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc., alleging that the owner of both the Los Angeles Staples Center and the London O2 Arena violated the Sherman Act.
With the rise of social media and constant communication, it seems that we live in a world of relentless peer competition to prove who has the most fulfilling life. Images flash along an Instagram or Facebook feed showing well-behaved children, beautifully decorated homes and expensive vacations to exotic locales. These images are used to project a version of a life that may not match up with day-to-day realities. The posted pictures do not show an exhausted child’s meltdown in the middle of that expensive vacation, that beautifully decorated home when it is a cluttered mess at 6:30 pm on a weeknight, or a weary woman who has returned home from a long, aggravating day at the office to face a second shift of domestic chores and childcare.
You have a business plan in place and your law firm is poised for growth. The case files already on the shelf require not only an investment of time but of dollars. You need to find both time and money to bring more cases through the door. Yet, like many plaintiffs’ firms, your monthly cash flow is uncertain and subject to significant fluctuations.
On March 16, 2018, putative class claims were filed against Big Heart Pet Brands Inc., makers of popular canned dog food Kibbles ‘n Bits, alleging that the company purposefully mislead the public by labeling its product as safe for pets although recent samples of the product were found to contain ingredients toxic to pets.
You have a plan ready-to-go for your law firm. Now, you need the funds to implement it. Case fees are unpredictable with respect to timing, so what do you do?
Many law firm owners first turn to a bank to get a loan. Banks are a reliable source of financing with generally low rates. However, there is one major problem—qualifying for the amount you want.
On March 12, 2018, a $1.5 billion settlement was submitted to Kansas federal court Judge John W. Lungstrum for preliminary approval. The settlement will bring a resolution to the Syngenta AG Corn multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) and is believed to become the largest GMO settlement recorded to date in United States history. It is being hailed as a record-breaking achievement in agricultural litigation.
You’re considering financing for your firm, but where do you start? It’s first important to identify what type of funding will best work for you. Start with the basics—what’s the difference between taking out a loan and obtaining a line of credit?1. How you get the money
One of the biggest distinctions between a loan and a line of credit is how you acquire the funds. A loan is typically delivered in a one-time lump sum. Most often, loans are taken out to complete large purchases that would otherwise not be affordable or to consolidate pre-existing debt.
Counsel Financial, the nation’s leading law firm financing company, is proud to announce its continued role as the National Sponsor for TrialSmith. TrialSmith houses the largest online litigation bank with more than 600,000 depositions, available only to plaintiffs’ attorneys, and provides critical information to trial lawyers nationwide.
On March 6, 2018, proposed class claims were filed against Brew Dr. Kombucha LLC in Illinois state court alleging that the healthy beverage company intentionally misled consumers with its false advertising scheme.
The suit was filed by named plaintiff Vladislav Bazer. Bazer alleges that the defendant claims its bottles of kombucha contain a significantly higher concentration of probiotic bacteria than is actually found in the beverage. In the complaint, Bazer argues that consumers generally purchase a specific brand of kombucha based on the probiotic content as stated on the product label. In the context of kombucha, probiotics refer to helpful bacteria found within the digestive system, which assist in regulating various bodily functions. Probiotics are measured in colony forming units (“CFUs”).
On March 5, 2018, named plaintiff Ketrina Gordon petitioned a California federal court to certify a California class of consumers who all similarly allege that candy-manufacturing giant, Tootsie Roll Industries Inc., has been under-filling boxes of its popular candies, Junior Mints and Sugar Babies.
On February 23, 2018, an $8.5 million settlement was submitted to California federal court judge Jesus G. Bernal by a class of exotic dancers who claimed that their former employer, the Spearmint Rhino nightclub chain, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.
On February 23, 2018, California federal court judge Anthony Battaglia rejected Kellogg Company’s motion to dismiss a punitive class action suit alleging that the company’s hugely popular Pringles-brand salt-and-vinegar flavor chips are deceptively marketed as naturally flavored when in reality the chips are mostly artificially flavored.
On February 23, 2018, a proposed class action suit was filed in Texas federal court against private prison company CoreCivic Inc., alleging that the company violated basic human rights and the US Constitution when it forced immigrant detainees into forced labor.
A $5 million proposed class action suit was filed against food manufacturer MJS America LLC, alleging that the company engaged in false advertising with the marketing of its popular “Ancient Grain Twists” snack food.
On February 20, 2018, self-described “Modern Nature” hair care manufacturer Monat was hit with a proposed class action suit claiming that the company’s products cause hair loss and irritation.
Named plaintiffs Trisha Whitmire and Emily Yanes de Flores filed the suit in Florida federal court.
On February 13, 2018, a visually impaired plaintiff filed a putative class action in Illinois federal court against fast-food giant McDonald’s alleging that the company is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) during its drive-thru-only hours.
Chocolate giant Nestlé USA Inc. (Nestlé) is facing a proposed class action in Massachusetts federal court which alleges that Nestlé failed to disclose to consumers that much of its chocolate products are made from chocolate sourced from areas of West Africa where forced child labor is prevalent.
Popular cosmetics retailer Ulta Beauty is facing prospective class claims in Illinois federal court after a complaint was filed by a California customer of the cosmetics-retailer who alleged that the company was instructing its stores to repackage and reshelf returned products alongside new products.
Women’s rights and equality continue to take a central role in the media as many continue to come forward and share their stories. However, the majority of the narrative surrounding such empowering movements as #MeToo and #TimesUp has been made up of negative stories of male chauvinism and times when women felt powerless. While such stories are necessary to make change and bring a sense of awareness to an ongoing problem it is just as important to bring forth empowering stories of female victories to renew in ourselves a sense of how truly far women have come and how strong our voices can be.
On February 6, 2018, a $975,000 settlement was submitted to U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York, Alison J. Nathan, for preliminary approval by a class of current and former servers of famed New York City eatery Serendipity 3.
On February 5, 2018, plaintiffs in the Stericycle Inc. employee wage dispute class action asked U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt to grant preliminary approval for a $2 million settlement agreement.
The suit was originally filed by named plaintiff, Sergio Gutierrez, in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2014. Plaintiff argued that the defendant medical waste disposal company denied its employees proper breaks, rounded payroll time thus cheating employees out of wages for time spent working and failed to compensate employees for time spent changing into their company-required uniform.
On February 5, 2018, Chiquita Brand International (“Chiquita”) announced that it had reached a confidential settlement agreement with plaintiffs in three cases consolidated into the larger multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) that claims Chiquita supported Columbian terror group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Columbia in the 1990s. The terror group was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of six Americans, whose families are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
On January 29, 2018, a three-judge panel in California appeals court reversed a lower court ruling and reinstated the Tinder Inc. age discrimination class action.
On January 26, 2018, popular clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. filed a proposed $25 million settlement in Ohio federal court. The proposed settlement will bring an end to class claims from around 250,000 Abercrombie & Fitch employees in California, Florida, New York and Massachusetts.
On January 22, 2018, a confidential settlement was reached between premier bar exam preparatory course, BarBri, and a proposed class of blind law students who claimed that BarBri violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
On January 18, 2018, proposed class claims were filed against organic grocery store chain, Whole Foods, in California Superior Court. Plaintiffs in the suit allege that the company has been including an excessive amount of vitamin B12 in Whole Foods’ house brand of liquid vitamin B supplements. Named plaintiff, Matthew Palmer, argues in the complaint that if consumers had known the actual amount of vitamin B12 per serving they would not have purchased or consumed the products and accuse Whole Foods of a lack of quality control.
Many Americans are hopeful, as we begin the new year, for a fresh start for our country and perhaps time to mend broken bridges and band together. A glance at the most-read stories from the New York Times in 2017 reflected a tumultuous year. One of the biggest news stories to break was the seemingly unending stream of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct allegations concerning powerful men across all walks of public life, from politics to entertainment. As accusations continued to hit the newsstands a safe place was suddenly created for women, and in some cases men, to come forward and speak out about what they had experienced. The resounding message to come forth is that women should be able to speak up and not apologize for having an opinion. 2017 began with women hitting the streets worldwide to protest for equal rights and came full circle at year-end with women banding together to support one another, lending a voice for those who were afraid to speak out.
On January 11, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick ordered that the trial in the Ramen Noodle price-fixing class action will proceed next month, upon his refusal to grant defendants’ bid for dismissal. The suit was initially filed in 2013 by consumers and food retailers in 23 different states against South Korean Ramen manufacturers Nongshim Co. and Ottogi Corp.
On January 11, 2018, U.S. District Judge James Donato granted preliminary approval of a $14 million settlement between Hitachi Chemical Co. and two putative classes of indirect purchasers. The deal seeks to resolve claims made by indirect buyers of electrolytic capacitors who alleged Hitachi and competitor tech companies conspired to fix the prices of this device.
On January 10, 2018, class claims were filed against defunct digital currency exchange Vircurex in Colorado federal court. Vircurex subscriber, Timothy Shaw, alleges that the Beijing-based company unlawfully froze subscribers’ accounts when it disabled the ability to withdraw Bitcoin, Litecoin, Terracoin and Feathercoin. Vircurex launched in October 2011 as a virtual exchange where account holders could deposit USD and EUR to buy, sell and exchange digital currencies.
On January 10, 2018, a class of direct buyers asked a Michigan judge to approve a $34 million settlement with Toyoda Gosei Co. over alleged price-fixing of safety systems found in certain automobiles. As part of a massive multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) that has already procured over $1 billion in fines, the proposed settlement would be the most recent deal to emerge from the sprawling lawsuit.
On January 8, 2018, ride-share giant Uber Technologies and a proposed class of New York State drivers reached a $3 million settlement that will bring a two-year legal battle to a close.
On January 8, 2018, Fitbit investors asked U.S. District Judge Susan Illson to grant preliminary approval of a $33 million settlement involving Fitbit, company executives and underwriters who artificially inflated stock prices while concealing defects associated with its fitness-tracking technology.
On January 3, 2017, a former Google employee filed a complaint in San Francisco containing another round of gender-based discrimination claims against Google Inc. Plaintiff, Heidi Lamar, is alleging that the company paid more-experienced female workers lower salaries than their less-experienced male counterparts.
Spotify is facing yet another copyright infringement lawsuit—this time, plaintiffs are seeking damages of $1.6 billion, in addition to injunctive relief. Plaintiff Wixen Music Publishing Inc. is now suing the streaming conglomerate for allegedly using thousands of songs, such as Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin,’” without a license or permission from the music publisher.
On December 31, 2017, a proposed class action lawsuit was brought in New York federal court against direct-to-home delivery food giant, Schwan’s Co. The suit claims that the company misled consumers with respect to the labeling of its Mrs. Smith’s Original Flaky Crust pies.
On December 27, 2017, Charlene Bost sued Walmart Inc. in federal court for being wrongfully fired after making multiple complaints about harassment in the workplace. Bost, a 46-year-old transgender woman, alleged that her coworkers and supervisors referred to her as “it,” “thing” and “shim,” a slur combing “she” and “him,” during her employment at a Sam’s Club in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina. According to the lawsuit, one of Bost’s male bosses even subjected her to unwanted physical advances.
On December 20, 2017, a massive proposed class action was filed in California federal court against Amazon, T-Mobile and hundreds of other companies for allegedly discriminating against older workers. According to the suit, the defendants intentionally excluded this demographic from being exposed to Facebook advertisements pertaining to job opportunities in a decisive move to target a younger audience.
On December 19, 2017, online food-delivery service app, DoorDash.com Inc. (“DoorDash”), served with class claims in Massachusetts court by a delivery driver employed by the company who claims that he and his fellow delivery drivers have been misclassified as contract workers.
On December 14, 2017 a $6.1 million settlement between women’s retailer Ann Inc. and a class of consumers alleging that the company misrepresented discounts to customers shopping at Ann Taylor and LOFT Factory Outlet Stores was given preliminary approval by New York federal court judge, J. Paul Oetken.
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”).
The MDL was created in June 2014 in the Southern District of New York. Plaintiffs in the MDL are direct purchasers who similarly allege that Keurig and its parent company, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., have gained, and maintained, a foothold in the single-serve coffee pod market through anticompetitive means.
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.
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 Attorney’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”).
Fox alleged that R.J. Reynolds was responsible for the death of her husband, a highly decorated WWII veteran, by lying to consumers about the dangers of tobacco.
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.
The suit, which was originally filed in New Jersey Federal Court in 2013 by named plaintiffs Robert Gray and Markum George, alleges that the defendant sold consumers defective vehicles.
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.
The suit, which was originally filed in March 2014, claims the NCAA colluded with 11 conferences in an antitrust conspiracy, which capped off the maximum grant-in-aid a student athlete could receive.
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.
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.
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.
The suit, which was originally filed in 2008, was made up of 850 current and former Wal-Mart drivers who claimed that the company’s former compensation policy for drivers was not in compliance with state law.
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.
Plaintiff leased a new 2015 Infiniti Q50S with Sports Breaking System in January 2015. After Plaintiff had driven the vehicle for 10,000 miles, he brought the car back to the dealer for service after experiencing juddering and vibrations when he applied the brakes.
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.
On June 21, 2016, Amazon.com users who purchased certain e-books between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 received credits from the website as a result of a final resolution to a four-year long price-fixing class action with Apple. According to the U.S. Justice Department, in 2010, Apple, Inc. and five major publishing houses conspired to inflate the price of e-books.
Left to Right: Debbie McCormick, Marisa DelValle, Kim Gomlak (Marketing Director), Paul Cody (President), Matt McCormick (Creative Director), Greg Gegenfurtner, Robert Carbone (Deputy General Counsel) and Ryan Kagels (Chief Financial Officer).
Counsel Financial took part in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge ® in Buffalo, New York on June 23, 2016. The 3.5-mile race drew over 12,400 participants from close to 400 companies in Western New York and is one of 13 in the bank’s running series that spans seven countries and five continents.
Boston Retirement System, a public pension fund for Boston municipal employees, has filed the first bondholders class action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against German automaker, Volkswagen (“VW”), relating to the company’s emissions scandal.
On June 10, 2016, an Alabama-based car dealership, Turnbull Automotive, filed a lawsuit against the Centerville, Virginia-based company, Carfax, on behalf of itself and all other individuals and entities who have been subject to intermittent, arbitrary increases in subscription fees with the company over the past four years.
On June 13, 2016, Judge Kevin McNulty granted Defendant General Mills’ request for a stay in proceedings In re General Mills, Inc. Kix Cereal Litigation. Plaintiffs in the suit allege that General Mills purposefully misled consumers by labeling boxes of its Kix cereal as “all natural” when in fact the cereal was made with bioengineered corn. Kix boxes were labeled “all natural” from 2009 to 2013.
Three class-action lawsuits in Northern California have been filed against the Arizona-based blood-testing firm Theranos. The first and third class actions were filed May 26 and May 30 respectively, alleging that Theranos falsely advertised its products to consumers. The second class action was filed May 27, alleging that the company breached its contract with customers by not providing what had been promised—a minimally invasive procedure and accurate test results.
Tip for Law Firm Owners: Use Caution When Selecting an Advertising Agency as Ad Fraud is on the Rise
A recent report released by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) highlighted the increasing global epidemic arising in advertising that could impact a plaintiff firm’s marketing strategy—due to ad fraud, a huge number of online ads never reach actual humans. The WFA estimates that by 2025, ad fraud will result in losses to companies aggregating over $50 billion annually, which could easily rise to $150 billion if nothing is done to protect consumers against the fraud. Further, the WFA predicts that fake internet traffic schemes will end up being the second-largest organized crime enterprise behind the drug trade.
On Thursday, June 2, 2016, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered the transfer of more than 50 class-action lawsuits—alleging that several brands of Parmesan cheese, which had been labeled as 100% grated Parmesan cheese, contained wood-pulp and cellulose as fillers—to U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman of the Northern District of Illinois. Defendants in the suit includeKraft Heinz Co., Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. private-label Parmesan cheese and Supervalu Inc.
On May 24, 2016, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) requested Judge Ed Kinkeade of the Northern District of Texas to hold all future trials in the multidistrict litigation arising from its DePuy Pinnacle hip devices until certain post-trial motions were ruled upon in the “Aoki cases”—decided just one week prior.
Owner of employment law and False Claims Act practice speaks on the importance
of business acumen in running a law firm.
Our Deputy General Counsel, Kelly Anthony, Esq., recently sat down with Adam for a one-on-one interview on what helped his firm grow, what inspired him to start his own legal practice, financing their firm with Counsel Financial and advice on starting your own practice.
This is the first installment of our new monthly series. Read what he had to say...
On May 26, 2016, Scott Magee from Metairie, Louisiana, filed a class-action complaint against McDonald’s Corporation for alleged systemic violations committed by the fast-food chain against blind persons.
Plaintiffs in the Fitbit class action received encouraging news when the results of a recent study conducted by California State Polytechnic University, Ponoma concluded that Fitbit’s PurePulse pulse tracker does not accurately monitor a user’s heart rate during more intensive workouts.
With technology advancing at an ever-increasing rate, the law must be continuously reexamined in order to keep pace with society’s needs. Products liability law is currently experiencing this phenomenon, as 3-D printing becomes a reality in many industries. 3-D printing poses a significant disruption to the usual flow of the supply chain on which traditional products liability law is based; now anyone can simply design and manufacture a product from the comfort of their own home. The black and white distinctions between designer, manufacturer, distributor and purchaser are no longer present.
Counsel Financial cruised into the pits after our high-speed NASCAR challenge hosted during the Mass Torts Made Perfect Spring Seminar in Las Vegas. We hit the track with our clients, associates, employees and friends in a race for the top spot in the winner’s circle at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where each participate drove like the pros through the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
Being behind the wheel of a 600HP NASCAR at speed of up to 155 MHP is the thrill of a lifetime. We’d like to congratulate our winning teams on their victory:
The City of Santa Clara, New Mexico has agreed to pay Mohammad Moneeb, a Muslim border protection officer, nearly $500,000 to settle his lawsuit involving ethnic profiling by the city’s police force.
According to Moneeb, on February 8, 2014, his uncle, an Uber driver, was involved in a car accident. Consequently, the vehicle his uncle was driving, which he did not own, was towed to Moneeb’s home. The owner of the vehicle arrived at Moneeb’s home to retrieve the camera. After Moneeb told the owner that he did not have the dashboard camera in his possession, the owner reported him to the Santa Clara police.
On March 22, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that both liability and damages could be established using statistical estimates in the class action litigation Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo. However, the question of whether and when statistical sampling may be used to determine liability and damages in qui tam actions remains unsettled. Nevertheless, one appellate court, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, is positioned to rule on the issue soon.
A recent ruling on the First Amendment rights of drug companies may be a stimulus for future mass tort claims. On August 7, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted Amarin an injunction against the FDA from criminally prosecuting the drug manufacturer for communicating truthful, non-misleading information about off-label use of drugs, holding that the First Amendment rights of the company protected it from such prosecution. Amarin Pharma, Inc v. FDA, No. 15 Civ. 3588 (PAE), slip op. (S.D.N.Y. Aug.7, 2015). This ruling may be a first step toward a new, more relaxed regime in regulation of drug marketing that ultimately spurs more mass tort litigation.
Left to right: Steve Mingle (Counsel Financial), Kathy Wilson (Executive Director for NATLE)
Counsel Financial recently returned from the AAJ Annual Convention in Montreal, where we were the proud sponsor of the President's Closing Reception. It was a great opportunity to network with friends and colleagues. We were also honored to have Steve Mingle, Director of
On Thursday, May 28, 2015, a Delaware State Court jury held that Boston Scientific Corporation must pay $100 million to 52-year-old Delaware resident, Deborah Barba, who claimed permanent injury resulting from the company’s vaginal mesh inserts. The award included $25 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages. The jury’s award came at the conclusion of a two-week trial and seven hours of deliberation.
Kelly Anthony, Esq., Assistant General Counsel
Takeda Pharmaceuticals Company Limited, together with its wholly-owned subsidiary, Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc., have agreed to pay $2.4 billion to resolve thousands of product liability lawsuits pending in the U.S. involving allegations that the companies’ prescription diabetes drug, Actos, caused cancer.
Counsel Financial recently returned from the Mass Torts Made Perfect (MTMP) Spring Seminar in Las Vegas, where we look forward to connecting each year with colleagues and friends.
Although U.S. courts are typically slow to adopt technological innovations, there has been a recent push to allow the admission of wearable device data into evidence.1 Most prominently, it has been discussed in the context of personal injury litigation as a means to show notable changes in a plaintiff’s physical fitness or behavior after an injury. For instance, a plaintiff could support claims that their activity levels decreased after an injury by utilizing several months or even years’ worth of data compiled from an exercise tracker, such as a Fitbit or Jawbone or the much-anticipated Apple Watch.
StubHub, the burgeoning online ticket exchange for sports and entertainment, is suing the Golden State Warriors and Ticketmaster for antitrust violations in the Northern District of California. StubHub alleges that the Warriors and Ticketmaster have unlawfully colluded to restrain competition by telling season ticket holders that they can only resell their tickets through Ticketmaster.
A Cornerstone Research report on securities class actions in 2014 pointed out a stark decline in the value of settlements. Settlements fell 78 percent to $1.07 billion in 2014 from $4.85 billion in 2013. This represents an 84 percent drop below the prior nine-year average.
At least four people apparently believe it does. Within the past week, LinkedIn made headlines over a class action suit filed in the Northern District of California concerning a product offered to the social networking site’s premium account holders, which purportedly has cost the four named plaintiffs job opportunities. The product, called “Reference Search,” provides those members who purchase a subscription the ability to search for and, through internal messaging, contact individuals who may have worked with a potential job candidate—without that candidate’s knowledge.
A federal Judge has rejected a proposed settlement between two subclasses of plaintiffs and Sega, the video game company, for deceptive practices in the design and marketing of its Key Master game. The settlement was rejected due to speculative basis for its monetary relief, uncertain methods for identifying and paying plaintiffs, and an unsupported attorney’s fees provision.
Having been in business for over 150 years and with 26 offices worldwide, Standard & Poor’s Rating Services touts that it provides “high-quality market intelligence in the form of credit ratings, research, and thought leadership.” Nevertheless, the company, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc., became the adversary in a legal battle with the U.S. Department of Justice and 19 states and the District of Columbia, which resulted in a settlement of $1.375 billion.
It is possibly high on the list of many individuals’ worst nightmares: you are driving on the highway at a high rate of speed when your car begins accelerating rapidly and you lose the power to slow down. This nightmare played out in reality with Toyota between 2009 and 2013 when a defect with approximately 11 million of their cars’ acceleration system launched hundreds of personal injury and wrongful death claims and a $1.6 billion class action settlement.
A $5 million settlement has been reached between victims seeking redress for wrongful death after their loved ones were murdered by rogue NYPD detectives, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, acting as hitmen for the mafia in the 1980s. The settlement comes four months after a federal judge granted the city’s summary judgment motion on state law claims but denied with respect to federal municipal liability claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As reported by the New York Law Journal on the plaintiffs’ theories of New York City’s responsibility:
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”), an international accounting firm, and The Citco Group Ltd. (“Citco”), a financial services group, are back at the center of a class action led by investors in several feeder funds that invested in the historic Ponzi scheme architected by Bernie Madoff. The action pleads federal securities law and state law violations arising out of PwC’s role as auditor of the funds and Citco’s part as the funds’ administrator and custodian.
The pervasiveness of blogging and social media was bound to raise ethical questions over when an attorney’s public statements—intertwined with the law—cross the line from free speech to attorney marketing and, as a result, regulated speech.
A jury in Bakersfield, California, has returned a $5.7 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Ethicon Inc., after finding that Ethicon’s TVT Abbrevo transvaginal mesh device was defectively designed and that Ethicon failed to warn doctors of the risks associated with the product.
One of the most prominent players to emerge in the burgeoning “for profit” fantasy football industry has become the target of an action that seeks class certification for false advertising claims stemming from a promise to double users’ cash deposits. DraftKings, a platform that permits registrants to play fantasy sports and win cash prizes, is the defendant in Aguirre v. DraftKings, Inc., a case which seeks remedies for claims under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Florida Free Gift Advertising Law and fraud in the inducement under Florida common law.
On Thursday, February 19, 2015, LinkedIn unveiled its newly enhanced platform of business-to-business lead generation products. The launch follows the $175 million acquisition of Bizo, a company devoted to helping advertisers reach businesses and professionals, in August 2014. LinkedIn utilized Bizo’s team and technology, as well as partnered with AppNexus, to bring to life what the company promises is a suite of products that will provide “a faster way to reach, nurture, and convert high-quality leads on and off LinkedIn.”
United States District Court Judge, Hon. Nicholas G. Garaufis, on February 19, 2015, issued a 150-page decision concluding that Plaintiffs, the United States and the attorneys general of 17 states, proved by a preponderance of evidence that Defendants, American Express Company and American Express Travel Related Services Company, violated Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. In particular, the Court held that Non-Discrimination Provisions (“NDPs”)
Last Sunday night, 60 Minutes aired a story on wood flooring products retailer Lumber Liquidators and its laminate flooring products that purportedly contain formaldehyde levels that exceed acceptable standards for consumer products in the US. The laminate flooring products,
Class actions brought on behalf of bondholders of public companies are playing a larger role in the overall landscape of securities class actions, an article recently published in the Minnesota Law Review says. Bondholders, often considered an afterthought in the securities fraud context due to claims by equity holders predominating, have been generating more recoveries, warranting a reconsideration of the prospects of bondholder claims in public company securities fraud cases.
The pharmaceutical drug Risperdal, prescribed by physicians as an antipsychotic, has caused a particularly embarrassing and emotionally scarring side effect in thousands of its male users. The drug is alleged to have caused thousands of boys and grown men alike to develop breasts, a medical condition known as gynecomastia.
On February 4, 2004, Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard University roommates launched the social media website, Facebook. Although Facebook was initially limited to serving college students, the website now has an incredible variety of users, some of whom are professionals. Unlike most other occupations, the legal field is subject to certain ethical guidelines and professional standards, such as those enumerated in the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (the “Model Rules”), which can present specialized concerns for attorneys who interact through social media.
On Thursday, January 8, 2015, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who is presiding over the multi-district litigation involving prescription antidepressant Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride), granted the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee’s motion for leave to identify and present a new general causation expert. Previously, the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (“PSC”) offered four witnesses to testify as to whether Zoloft caused birth defects in babies born to mothers who took the drug while pregnant, but the Court excluded the testimony.
On Monday, November 3, 2014, Stryker Corporation announced it would pay at least $1 billion to settle cases brought by thousands of patients over injuries sustained by faulty hip implants manufactured by its subsidiary, Howmedica Osteonics Corp.
Counsel Financial was pleased to host a gathering of many prominent female mass tort attorneys during the 2014 Women En Mass retreat in Aspen, Colorado. It was a great opportunity for all to meet other powerhouse women in the mass tort arena and share
On June 23, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that dealt a near-fatal blow for plaintiffs in securities class action suits by making it harder for investors to collectively sue corporations for fraud. In an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, the court unanimously held that defendants at the preliminary class certification stage could refute the plaintiffs’ presumption of reliance on an efficient market if they can show that an alleged misrepresentation did not affect the company’s stock price.
Counsel Financial is proud to announce its new partnership as TrialSmith’s new National Sponsor. Created by plaintiff lawyers, TrialSmith provides unique investigative and collaborative tools that help the plaintiffs’ bar achieve successful outcomes for their clients. Together with TrialSmith, we share a passion for protecting the civil justice system and are determined to provide the most support possible of the endeavors of plaintiff attorneys throughout the nation in our collective pursuit of justice.
One of the lesser-known sections of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“Affordable Care Act”), colloquially known as ObamaCare, provides expansive amendments to the False Claims Act (“FCA”).1 While these amendments are not retroactive,2 they will most likely increase the amount of FCA-based claims in the future.
October was a fast-paced month for Counsel Financial, culminating in our attendance at the Mass Torts Made Perfect (MTMP) Fall Seminar in Las Vegas. The team and several other attorneys and friends took on the 1.5 mile track at the famous Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Richard Petty Driving Experience, home to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Manning the wheel of a 600HP NASCAR race car at speeds of up to
Since 2008, thousands of plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against manufacturers and sellers of defective pelvic mesh products, commonly referred to as transvaginal mesh (“TVM”). Plaintiffs include women who received TVM implants to treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse (“POP”) or Stress Urinary Incontinence (“SUI”), common conditions involving the weakening of the vaginal walls after childbirth. TVM is a surgical mesh typically made from polypropylene, a plastic material surgically implanted into or attached to the vaginal wall. TVM related complications include mesh contraction and mesh erosion causing severe pain, vaginal scarring, infection, urinary problems, inability to have sex, and perforations of the bowel, all of which will likely require one or more revision surgeries. Plaintiffs also include men asserting injury claims sustained during sexual relations, as well as derivative claims for loss of consortium.
Between 1999 and 2005, 62-year-old Adriann Georges took Aredia and Zometa, bisphosphonate drugs used to prevent the loss of bone mass in cancer patients. Georges subsequently developed bisphosphonate-associated osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), a severe bone disease that occurs when the jawbone is exposed for eight weeks or more, causing the jawbone to weaken and die. ONJ can be permanently disfiguring, extremely painful and result in the complete loss of an individual’s jawbone. Despite ONJ being linked to bisphosphonate drugs Aredia and Zometa, ONJ was not indicated as a risk on the drugs’ labels.
Former Miss Pennsylvania, Sheena Monnin, is paying a high price for going public with gossip she heard backstage at the 2012 Miss USA pageant. Following her quick departure from the preliminary round of the contest, Monnin claimed that she learned from fellow contestant, Miss Florida, Karina Brez, that the contest was scripted. Brez allegedly told Monnin that she had seen a notebook listing of the top five contestants before the preliminary round was conducted.
We at Counsel Financial are deeply saddened to announce that Hon. Frank A. Sedita, Jr., JSC (Ret.) passed away on Sunday, June 16, 2013 after a brief illness. Judge Sedita was a dear friend, respected colleague and New York State Supreme Court Justice whose meritorious career was widely acclaimed. He will be greatly missed.
On March 6, 2009, Decedent Robert Myers, age 50, passed away while scuba diving off Casino Point in Catalina with his sister. For the dive, Myers wore a dry-suit hose manufactured by Defendant Förvaltningsobolaget Insulan AB, doing business as Si Tech, which contained a small plastic insert called a “flow restriction device.” During his dive, an orifice became dislodged from the air hose, causing a blockage in Myers’ breathing apparatus. As a result, Myers suffered sudden cardiac arrest and died.
On April 1, 2013, a jury in the Middle District of Florida held tobacco companies R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA accountable for the wrongful death of Carol LaSard. LaSard, who began smoking cigarettes as a young teenager in the late 1940s, died of lung cancer in 1996.
In April 2002, the New York attorney general’s office commenced a Medicaid fraud investigation into Leonard Morse, a 55-year-old dentist. Morse’s dental practice had over 30,000 patients, of which 95% were Medicaid eligible.
In December 2009, contractor Ruick Rolland was severely injured during construction of a replica of the Augusta National Golf Course “Hogan Bridge” at the estate of Bruce Irrgang. Rolland suffered a devastating crush injury to his lower leg, which required amputation above the knee. The injury occurred while a 10-year-old boy was at the controls of the five-ton track loader in use on the job site.
Tubs of Fun or Buckets of Regret? New Hampshire Man Considering Lawsuit After Parlaying Life Savings into Giant Banana
In late April, Henry Gribbohm, 30, squandered his life savings away attempting to win an Xbox at a Manchester Carvinal in New Hampshire. Gribbohm filed a report with the Manchester Police Department after claiming to have lost over $2,600 in $5 increments trying to outsmart the “Tubs of Fun” game in his misguided effort to win an Xbox Kinect (valued at about $100).
As companies continue to try to improve their revenues following the economic malaise of the past several years, there appears to be a concomitant increase in litigation involving the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et. seq., which became effective in July 2009. One example of this is Darden Restaurants, Inc., of Orlando, Florida, owner of popular restaurant chains Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille.
The city of Warwick, Rhode Island has voluntarily discontinued a noise ordinance case against Lynne Taylor, who was cited by the city after numerous complaints from her neighbors concerning her foul-mouthed pet cockatoo. According to the neighbors, Taylor’s pet cockatoo repeatedly swore and hurled insults at them over a period of months in 2011. Taylor’s next-door neighbors were particularly sensitive to the constant taunting from the bird, which is understandable since they were Taylor’s ex-husband and his girlfriend.
On June 12, 2009, Ulvaldo Soto Martinez, a 33-year-old rod buster, was working on a construction project to widen the Huey P. Long Bridge in Bridge City, Louisiana. He and two co-workers, Sammy Vasquez and Martin Reyes, were working on top of a 50-foot concrete column to secure a rebar cage to the column. After a crane lowered the cage into position, the three workers tied the rebar of the cage to the rebar of the column, while workers on the ground secured guy wires to concrete blocks to prevent the cage from being tipped by the wind.
On March 9, 2007, 39-year-old George Clay Chandler underwent laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery at Memorial Hospital Jacksonville. Dr. John DePeri performed the surgery. Chandler elected to undergo the surgery that was recommended to him after he failed a physical for his employment with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
Four Plaintiffs, Rebecca Reynolds, Riley Wilkinson, Jason Young and Kathleen Rossitto, brought separate suits against Hoffman La-Roche and Roche Laboratories, claiming that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn of the elevated risk that taking Accutane would lead to the development of permanent inflammatory bowel disease. All four plaintiffs ultimately developed ulcerative colitis after taking Accutane to treat their acne. Two of the four subsequently had to have their colons removed. An Atlantic County jury recently heard proof regarding all four claims, finding in favor of two of the four plaintiffs.
On April 1, 2013, at least 27 lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson concerning the over-the-counter medication Tylenol were consolidated into a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania before Judge Lawrence F. Stengel.
A Polk County jury deliberated just three hours before handing down a $45 million verdict in a wrongful death and survivorship case stemming from a road rage fueled collision in May 2010.
Brandi Cochran, a model for “The Price is Right,” attempted to return to the show after her pregnancy leave, but instead, learned she had been terminated. In response, Cochran sued CBS Corp., CBS Television Network, RTL Group, FremantleMedia Ltd., FremantleMedia North America and The Price is Right Productions Inc. for pregnancy and disability discrimination. Her case proceeded to trial against FremantleMedia North America and The Price is Right Productions Inc., after the court dismissed her actions against the other defendants.
Individuals seeking compensation for injuries caused by pelvic/transvaginal mesh (TVM) and DePuy hip implants have a reason to be optimistic after plaintiffs in two separate actions received verdicts collectively grossing approximately $20 million. Conversely, it has been a difficult few weeks for Defendant Johnson & Johnson, Inc., the parent company of the manufacturers involved in the two medical device cases.
On January 26, 2009, Plaintiff Deborah Sohl, 47, presented to the emergency room of A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta, NY, complaining of severe chest pain which radiated to her left side, including her left arm, neck and jaw. She also reported feeling nauseous. An EKG was performed and the results were abnormal.
Formerly straight-A student, Megan Thode, sued her professor, Amanda Eckhardt, and Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA after she received only a C+ in Eckhardt’s therapy internship class in 2009. She claimed the low grade not only cost her a master’s degree in education and her dream of becoming a licensed therapist, but also allegedly $1.3 million in future lost earnings. However, her lawsuit really wasn’t about the money—she just wanted a B in Eckhard’s class.
By Joseph Twarog, Esq.
On January 7, 2013, Philadelphia Judge Nitza I. Quinones affirmed a $10 million jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff Brianna Maya for injuries she sustained after taking over-the-counter Children’s Motrin.
As the first DePuy ASR hip trial began in a California State Court in Los Angeles, Defendant, Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) was reeling from the Food & Drug Administration’s proposal that manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip implants submit affirmative scientific evidence that the devices are safe and effective. Previously, manufacturers like J&J were allowed to market the implants under much less stringent guidelines that did not require submission of such safety and effectiveness data.
Who Wears the Pants in This Relationship? Parisian Women Can Finally—and Legally—Join the Age Old Debate
Chances are that if you are a woman and have visited Paris in your lifetime, you—and millions of other women like you—most certainly broke the law without even realizing it.
School administrators at the The Calhoun School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side fired Daniele Benatouil, a 12-year veteran French teacher, for allowing six 18-year-old seniors to drink a glass of wine during their school-sponsored trip to France.
The night of December 16, 2010 took a tragic turn for 13-year-old Rohayent Gomez Eriza when Police Officer Victor Abarca and his partner came across Eriza and his friends playing a game of cops and robbers with toy guns.
In light of the recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision in In re Hispanics United of Buffalo, Inc., No. 03-CA-027872, companies, both with and without unions, may want to take some time to reexamine their social media policies. Although the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA) was enacted to prevent workers from being retaliated against for forming unions, the recent decision expands that protection to just about any worker who engages in “concerted activity” within the meaning of the act.
On Friday, January 25, 2013, a jury heard arguments in the first of approximately 10,000 lawsuits filed against Johnson and Johnson’s subsidiary, DePuy Orthopedics Inc. This first trial, involving only one plaintiff, commenced after a global settlement offer of $200,000 per plaintiff was rejected, a deal which could have cost the Defendant in excess of $2 billion.
In 2012, U.S. law firms experienced the greatest year-end revenue growth results since 2008, according to a preliminary survey released by Wells Fargo Private Bank Legal Specialty Group on January 28, 2013. The survey indicated that in 2012, law firms across the U.S. had surprising gross and net revenue growth of five and six percent, respectively, as well as an increase in profits per partner of five percent.
On December 6, 2012, a jury awarded $109 million in damages, the largest award in Allegheny County history, in a case involving a woman who died three days after being electrocuted by a fallen power line.
On July 15, 2006, 12-year-old little league pitcher Steven Domalewski was struck in the chest by a line drive from a Louisville Slugger TPX Platinum aluminum bat. Domalewski then went into cardiac arrest and was deprived of oxygen for 15 minutes. Although was resuscitated, Domalewski suffered permanent cognitive impairment and became confined to a wheelchair. Now, at age 19, he has impaired speech and is almost completely blind.
On November 16, 2008, Plaintiff James Von Normann, a 25-year-old salesman, was found laying in the parking lot of the Newport Channel Inn in Newport Beach, California. Paramedics found Plaintiff unresponsive with a score of nine on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which rates patients on a scale from 1-15 based on scores in three categories: eye opening response, verbal response and motor response. Patients with scores between two and eight are usually considered to be in a coma.1 Plaintiff was transported to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana with a skull fracture and severe traumatic brain injuries. There, hospital physicians ordered a blood draw which revealed Plaintiff’s blood alcohol content to be .267 - more than three times the legal limit for driving while intoxicated.
Wal-Mart v. Dukes Update: California District Court Denies Wal-Mart’s Motion to Dismiss Narrowed Class of Plaintiffs
In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541 (2011), ruled in a 5-4 decision that the certification of the nationwide class of female Wal-Mart employees was not consistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a), which requires the party seeking class certification to prove that the class has common questions of law or fact. In Dukes, Plaintiffs alleged Wal-Mart management discriminated against women over pay and promotions in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Supreme Court, however, de-certified the class because it determined that the female Wal-Mart employees, members of the largest class in U.S. history, did not share enough in common as plaintiffs to be granted class certification.
Can an employer lawfully terminate an employee simply for being irresistible? According to a December 21, 2012 decision from the Iowa Supreme Court, the answer appears to be “yes.”
On November 9, 2012, the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court of Massachusetts' determination that Starbucks' shift supervisors had improperly shared in tips left at the counter for baristas at their numerous coffee shop locations.
On November 2, 2012 the FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication report update addressing the risk of serious bleeding among new users of Pradaxa. On its face, the FDA appeared to conclude that the rates for uncontrolled bleeding events among Pradaxa users were the same as other blood thinner medications, most notably warfarin (Coumadin). Thus headlines suggested the report was a critical blow to plaintiffs’ claims in the MDL pending before Judge David R. Herndon in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois (MDL No. 2385, Pradaxa Product Liability Litigation). A closer look analysis reveals that this is not necessarily the case.
Plaintiffs, current and former KFC employees, allege that since October 2, 2005, KFC failed to adequately compensate them for missed meal and rest periods, as well as off-the-clock work. As a result, Plaintiffs contend they were not paid appropriate overtime and minimum wages.
Lies, scandal, greed, and conspiracy – all elements of a box office hit. Add gold, oil, African warlords, government corruption and throw in a U.S. basketball star, and you have the stranger than fiction civil tale which recently riveted a Dallas County jury. The jury awarded Southlake Aviation and its owner, David Disiere, $32.4 in damages against Houston based oil company, CAMAC International, subsidiary CAMAC Aviation and Mukaila Aderemi “Mickey” Lawal, Vice President of African Operations for CAMAC Aviation.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has upheld an award of $1 million to Anthony Zeno, a high school student who suffered shocking racial harassment over the course of several years at Stissing Mountain High School in Dutchess County. The appellate panel concluded that the jury’s award, one of the largest ever rendered for racial harassment, was fair and reasonable given the nature and duration of the egregious conduct involved.
Top row, left to right: Michael Wright (Wright & Schulte), Harvey Hirschfeld (LawCash), Lawrence Jones (Jones Ward), Greg Gegenfurtner (Plaintiff Support), Harris Pogust (Pogust, Braslow & Millrood), Josh Kincannon & John Gregory (Keefe Bartels), Steve Mingle (Counsel Financial)
Bottom row, left to right: James Harris (Paglialunga & Harris), Genevieve Zimmerman (Zimmerman Reed), Earl Boyle & Joseph DiNardo (Counsel Financial), Daniel Crandall (Crandall & Katt)
By Earl Boyle, Esq.
By Michael Callahan
By Paul Cody
By Hon. Joseph S. Mattina, J.S.C. (Ret.)
By Michael Callahan
As a former New York State Judge for nearly 40 years, I have personally witnessed the struggle of the plaintiffs' bar to financially compete against large insurance companies and other well-funded defendants.
A man suffered knee injuries after being rear-ended while stopped and waiting to make a turn. Plaintiff was struck from behind and by a vehicle driven by Defendant and sustained a torn meniscus as well as scarring around the popliteal tendon. After the accident, Plaintiff underwent two arthroscopic surgeries to his right knee. Plaintiff sued for medical damages, physical impairment and pain and suffering; Defendant admitted fault and the trial went to damages. Plaintiff was a high school cross country runner prior to the injuries. The defense argued that Plaintiff's activities as a runner caused or contributed to his condition, as well as attempting to run after the collision.
A Plaintiff-receptionist sued her former employer for compensation that she earned during her time as a receptionist but that she was not paid for. Plaintiff was terminated due to illness, and sued for unpaid compensation, liquidated damages, fees and interest. In court, Plaintiff presented evidence that she worked an average of 18 hours of overtime each week. She also claimed that she only took 20 minutes for lunch, stayed even longer on Friday nights and took calls over the weekend related to the business. The court awarded damages as well as attorney fees and costs.
A 20-year-old man murdered a 19-year-old female college student who had stopped at a convenience store on her way home from work to buy snacks. The college student, while at the convenience store, was approached by the 20-year-old assailant, who asked to use the college student's phone and for a ride. The clerk on duty at Defendant-convenience store interacted with the assailant for a period of time before the female student arrived, learning that the assailant had previously engaged in violent altercations earlier that evening. The college student ended up leaving the store with the assailant in her car, and thereafter the assailant raped, strangled, and set the female student's body on fire. Suit was brought against Defendant-convenience store for premises liability, arguing that the clerk knew of the assailant's recent violence and had the ability to remove him from the premises in a number of ways or follow store policies regarding customer safety. The defense maintained that the assailant was considered a customer, and that the female student had not complained that she felt bothered by the assailant. Further, the assailant did not act inappropriately toward other female customers. The suit comes as one of the first verdicts rendered in a case following the Texas Supreme Court's decision in Del Lago, a case concerning liability of premises owners for criminal acts of third parties.
A 21-year-old man sued a church where he attended a band concert after the man was injured in a mosh pit--an area where concert attendees crash into each other. Plaintiff entered the mosh pit and was knocked down. Another individual fell on top of Plaintiff, causing a fracture to Plaintiff's wrist. Plaintiff underwent open reduction and internal fixation of the fracture. A second surgery was also required after the initial fixation failed. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant-church failed to supervise the event, allowing the formation of the dangerous mosh pit. Defendant argued that Plaintiff assumed a risk of injury and that it halted the activity as soon as it was detected. The jury found Defendant-church 65% negligent and Plaintiff 35% comparatively negligent.
This action involved the dissolution of a business enterprise, whereby Plaintiff and Defendant jointly purchased real estate and formed a company for the rehabilitation and sale of properties. At issue were joint funds and assets including real estate proceeds, life insurance policies and bank accounts. In a counterclaim, Defendant alleged that Plaintiff had taken a large salary from a real estate purchase discount, had not turned over Defendant's interest in the sale of a restaurant, unilaterally cashed in a life insurance policy on Defendant's life, and deposited insurance proceeds from a jointly-held property damage claim into an account held by Plaintiff and her mother. Plaintiff maintained that the business proceeds were used for rehabilitation projects and other legitimate business reasons. The case was tried as a bench trial. Defendant was awarded on her counterclaim.
Woman Falls Getting Out of Rental Truck
A 43-year-old construction worker was injured on the job when he was struck by lumber that had fallen from six floors above. Plaintiff?construction worker suffered injuries to his back and shoulder, and sued the general and subcontractors involved with the construction project. Plaintiff claimed that the incident occurred because he was not provided with the proper, safe equipment as required by the statute under Labor Law § 240(1). Plaintiff won summary judgment on liability and the parties settled before the matter could proceed to a trial on damages.
A 35-year-old wife and mother of two died from adult respiratory distress syndrome after doctors failed to provide proper medical treatment. The deceased's husband, individually and as administrator of the deceased's estate, sued Defendant--medical hospital and relevant medical personnel involved in his late wife's care and treatment leading up to her death. Prior to trial, the hospital settled and Plaintiff discontinued the claims against many of the doctors employed by the hospital. Plaintiff presented evidence that the deceased suffered from temporal arteritis, a condition that rapidly depleted her immune system. Although the deceased was placed on steroidal treatment, Plaintiff asserted that the deceased's doctors failed to ensure that the deceased receive consistent doses of the steroid treatment, and that proper steroidal treatment would have boosted the deceased's immunity sufficiently to save her life. The jury found that the doctors responsible for the care failed to dose the deceased consistently, and that in addition to other deviations from accepted standards of medical care, the deviations in this case caused the death.
An 86-year-old Plaintiff injured her hip and head after slipping and falling on a plastic drop cloth hung from the ceiling in her apartment building. Plaintiff fractured her right hip's femoral head and suffered a laceration of her head. Plaintiff claimed that she could not take part in many of the activities that she enjoyed before the injuries--namely taking long walks, playing with her grandchildren, and sleeping without pain. Plaintiff sued the contractor replacing windows in the apartment, as well as the owner of the building itself. The jury found liability at 60% for Defendant?building owner and 40% for Defendant?window replacement contractor.
A class action lawsuit was filed in 2005 on behalf of call center telemarketers claiming that they were not paid for overtime worked. The suit was brought by a pair of employees at the company, and eventually grew to include hundreds of unnamed workers. The workers claimed they regularly worked more than 40 hours a week but were not paid overtime. Defendant?business process outsourcing company denied the allegations and did not admit to any violation of law.
A 56-year-old female Plaintiff was injured when she fell at a party held on Defendant--restaurant's premises. Plaintiff claimed that she lost her balance, fell and struck her head after opening a door to a landing. Plaintiff suffered a fractured skull, brain contusion and intracranial bleeding. A portion of Plaintiff's skull had to be surgically removed to relieve pressure. The injuries left Plaintiff with limited ability to care for herself and requiring nursing assistance. Plaintiff sued for premises liability and claimed that the configuration of the door and landing constituted a dangerous condition.
Two Plaintiff--brothers brought a lawsuit against Defendant--supervisor and other members of their Defendant--employers' upper management for repeatedly making anti-Hispanic remarks. The brothers jointly sued under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. At trial, counsel for Plaintiffs pointed to the lack of evidence to support Defendants' supposed reasons for terminating Plaintiffs based on performance issues. The jury found Defendant--supervisor and Defendant--employers liable.
A 21-year-old Plaintiff, who was a passenger in Defendant's vehicle, sustained injuries due to an accident caused by Defendant's drunk driving. The accident resulted in Defendant--drunk driver being incarcerated. Plaintiff--passenger was in a coma for four years and sustained loss of sight in one eye, weakness on one side of his body and confinement to a wheelchair. Plaintiff sued Defendant--driver for negligence, and sued Defendant--American Legion for negligent service of alcohol as Defendant--driver was under the legal drinking age at the time of the accident.
A 51-year-old Plaintiff tripped into an open cellar door at the rear entrance of a retail store. Plaintiff fell ten feet into a cellar, struck his head, fractured his skull and was left with a concussion and subdural hematoma. Plaintiff also lost his senses of smell and taste, and experienced loss of memory and cognitive ability. Plaintiff brought an action against Defendant--retail store and Defendant--building owner alleging premises liability. The defense challenged the extent of Plaintiff's injuries. The case settled after mediation.
Plaintiffs sued on behalf of their minor daughter who suffered burns to her scalp after visiting Defendant hair salon. The minor went to Defendant hair salon to have her hair colored. A stylist at the salon placed chemicals on the minor's hair, put foil over the hair and placed the minor under a hot hair dryer. The stylist then took a break, leaving the salon to eat. The minor complained to other salon employees of a burning sensation in her scalp but the employees allegedly told her that she would have to wait for her stylist to return. The minor sustained third-degree burns to her scalp. It was stipulated before trial that the product used by the stylist included instructions to not to use the product with heat. The parties also stipulated that the minor had her hair colored at another salon four days after the incident.
A 51-year-old retiree and his wife were killed in an accident when their motorcycle was hit head-on by a sports utility vehicle driven by Defendant. At the time of the accident, the deceased couple was traveling to visit their son for Thanksgiving. Defendant fled the scene of the accident, and as a result, was featured on "America's Most Wanted." Police also suspected the Defendant of drinking prior to the accident. The son of the deceased couple sued the Defendant, acting as the personal representative of his parents' estates. Counsel for Plaintiff contended that Defendant traveled directly into the path of the deceased's motorcycle and that there was nothing the deceased driver could have done to avoid the accident. Counsel for the Defendant contended that the deceased driver could have avoided the accident and that he was distracted by using his cellular phone.
Counsel Financial and its experienced staff of attorneys understand that a litigator's contingent fee portfolio has value today as collateral for a working capital loan up to $5 million. Loan proceeds may be used for all law firm related expenses--from trial preparation and expert witness fees to practice expansion and payroll.
A former groom is suing his wedding photographer for not photographing two key parts of his 2003 wedding ceremony: the last dance and the bouquet toss. Since the wedding, the bride and groom have divorced and the bride allegedly has moved back to her native Latvia. Even though the marriage is over, the man is still seeking a refund for the cost of the photography services as well as an additional $48,000 to fly specific guests from the wedding to New York to recreate the event for another photographer. In his lawsuit, the man complained that the photographs were "unacceptable as to color, lighting, poses, positioning" and that the two-hour video taken of the six-hour wedding was insufficient. The judge assigned to the case dismissed most of the grounds for the lawsuit, but has allowed the case to proceed on breach of contract grounds, stating "[t]his is a case in which it appears that the 'misty watercolor memories' and the 'scattered pictures of the smiles...left behind' at the wedding were more important than the real thing". The judge further noted, that "Although the marriage did not last, Plaintiff's fury over the quality of the photographs and video continued on."
Hot Litigation Topic: 9th Circuit Opinion at odds with Supreme Court's decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes
Is the 9th Circuit at odds with the Supreme Court's decision in Wal?Mart v. Dukes? On October 3, 2011, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the 9th Circuit and remanded Wang v. Chinese Daily News, Inc. for further consideration in light of Wal?Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes. Wang involved a Chinese newspaper where employees alleged that they were made to work over eight hours a day and forty hours a week. Further, the workers alleged that they were denied overtime compensation, meal and rest breaks, accurate and itemized wage statements, and penalties for wages due but not promptly paid at termination. The district court certified the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claim as a collective action, and it certified the state-law claims as a class action under Rule 23(b)(2).
A University of Central Florida football student?athlete with sickle cell trait died after collapsing to the ground during practice. On the day of the student-athlete's death, the team allegedly endured a particularly grueling practice, described as punishment in which neither water nor trainers were readily available. The student-athlete was observed having difficulty breathing, falling to the ground, and eventually becoming incoherent before emergency personnel were called. The athlete died soon thereafter. The university's athletic association had a policy in place for mandatory screening for sickle cell trait in African-American athletes, to which the student-athlete tested positive. Six months after the initial screening, the head athletic director for the university noticed the student-athlete did not have the required sickle cell screening test result in his sports medicine file. The athletic director instructed the student-athlete to obtain another laboratory screening, and the results were again positive. Although the results should have been sent to the university's sports medicine department, they were not provided to the athlete or the sports medicine department until after his death. The university's policies and procedures for athletes with positive sickle cell trait results proscribed a number of notifications, accommodations and procedures that must be disseminated and taken. Plaintiff asserted that the university was negligent for failing to inform the student-athlete of his positive test results; failing to inform team personnel of the positive test results; failing to provide appropriate counseling to the student-athlete regarding the risks, precautions and symptoms relating to sickle cell trait; failing to inform, counsel or educate team personnel regarding the risks, precautions and symptoms to avoid a sickling collapse; failing to educate the personnel about exercise modification, intervention and emergency management for an athlete with sickle cell trait; and failing to follow appropriate procedures and timely respond when the student-athlete showed signs and symptoms of physical distress during the conditioning session.
A class action lawsuit was filed in 2005 on behalf of call center telemarketers claiming that they were not paid for overtime worked. The suit was brought by a pair of employees at the company, and eventually grew to include hundreds of unnamed workers. The workers claimed they regularly worked more than 40 hours a week but were not paid overtime. Defendant?business process outsourcing company denied the allegations and did not admit to any violation of law.
A 13-year-old female sued for medical malpractice after being hospitalized and treated under Defendant-hospital's care. Defendant's radiologists failed to recognize an abnormality in Plaintiff's x-rays, which developed into a debilitating illness and eventually paraplegia below the waist. The jury found that Plaintiff's injuries were caused by medical negligence.
In 2005, an explosion at a Texas City BP oil refinery killed 15 and injured more than 170 workers. Now, BP has agreed to pay $50,000,000 to Texas for the unlawful release of air pollution during and after the deadly explosion at its Texas City refinery under the Texas Clean Air Act. The settlement does not acknowledge liability but will help BP avoid future litigation; although, the settlement agreement does not resolve lawsuits or investigations by other agencies, or any future problems at the refinery.
Plaintiff--husband and restaurant manager convinced his family to seek shelter from Hurricane Ike in his restaurant. As Hurricane Ike approached the Houston area, Plaintiff--wife went to the second floor of the restaurant to check on their sleeping four-year-old daughter. The wife noticed smoke coming out from under the door of an adjoining room. Plaintiff--husband, upon hearing his wife yell for help, went to rescue his already severely burned child. Plaintiff--husband and child were rushed to the hospital for treatment of second and third degree burns to over 50% of their bodies. All three family members suffered severe emotional distress and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident. Plaintiffs sued the restaurant for negligence in failing to ensure that the restaurant was safe from fire hazards, and for the restaurant's non-compliance with local fire codes. Plaintiffs also alleged that the restaurant failed to warn Plaintiffs of the unsafe conditions within. Defendant restaurant joined a construction company as a defendant to the proceedings, alleging that the company failed to install a sprinkler system as required under local fire codes.
The deceased, a 42-year-old airplane mechanic, was working on a recently landed aircraft owned by Defendant--aircraft owner and operated by co-Defendant--aircraft operator. During the course of his employment, the mechanic opened the airplane's cockpit door, which was still pressurized, thereby triggering the door to fly open explosively. The door struck the mechanic's head, causing fatal injuries. The mechanic's wife, on behalf of the mechanic's estate and their children, sued the aircraft manufacturer and owner for products liability and the operator and pilot for negligence. Plaintiff--estate alleged that the door opened explosively because the aircraft cabin depressurization system was defectively designed, as it included no warning or alert systems regarding the pressurization of the cabin. Furthermore, Plaintiffs argued that Defendants were negligent for failing to depressurize the cabin or failing to warn the mechanic that the cabin was still pressurized. The jury found the aircraft manufacturer 20 percent liable and the pilot 80 percent liable.
When Plaintiff was fired by her former employer, a radio station, in 2008, Plaintiff formed an advertising agency and filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), charging her former employer with gender discrimination. Approximately 18 months later, Plaintiff approached Defendant--former employer to buy advertising for one of Plaintiff's clients. Defendant's Vice President rejected Plaintiff's business, stating that he had been instructed by in-house counsel to refuse Plaintiff's offer due to the pending EEOC claim. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act for retaliation and discrimination. Only the retaliation claim went to the jury.
A 5-year-old boy was recommended for a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, and bilateral tube placement to alleviate chronic snoring, sleep apnea, asthma, and ear & tonsil infections. Though the surgery was successful and the boy was discharged the same day, the child's mother found him gasping for breath the next morning. Despite the mother's efforts to give the child CPR and call 911, the boy was pronounced dead at the hospital. The Plaintiff-estate and mother in this case alleged that the child died due to the synergistic effect of the drugs prescribed in connection with the surgical procedure; namely, fentanyl, codeine and albuterol. The Defendant medical care providers denied any negligence during pre- or post-operative care but settled before trial.
This case involved a 16-year-old boy from Pennsylvania who participated in a service trip to Mexico to assist and mentor underprivileged children. During the trip, a group of American teenagers were taken to an abandoned silver mining camp. There, the 16-year-old fell into a mineshaft during a game of tag with some of the local children. The mineshaft was neither labeled nor guarded, and stretched 500 feet deep into the earth. This meant that the child fell for ten to fifteen seconds before subsequently dying from blunt force trauma upon impact. The Defendant in this case was the organization which recruited teens for humanitarian work trips. The company that made the actual travel arrangements was also named as a defendant, however they were dismissed from the case on jurisdictional grounds before trial. The main defense offered by Defendant was that the company that arranged the travel, and not Defendant, was responsible for the care, custody, and control of the teen during the humanitarian trip. However, the court agreed with the Plaintiff, holding that because Defendant approved the trip they had a duty to inspect the safety of the location. After a bench trial, the Plaintiff was awarded $2 million for the wrongful death action and $13 million for the survival claim based on horror endured by the decedent as he plunged to his death.
Plaintiff was pregnant with twins and had labor induced. The staff did not continuously monitor both of the babies' heart rates, and the second baby shifted to a breech position. His birth was delayed by 20 minutes, which caused him to be deprived of oxygen and later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Pre?trial, the parties agreed to try the case with high/low parameters of $5.75 million and $33 million. The jury found the hospital 100% negligent for failure of the nursing staff to monitor the infant's vitals.
In 2001, a 3-year-old girl was given eight doses of Children's Motrin to treat a fever and cough while she was in the hospital. Days later, the girl experienced reddening of the skin, rashes, and blisters and was later diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. Plaintiff's mother argued that the manufacturer of the drug, Johnson & Johnson, failed to warn of the associated risk, stating that at that time, the drug company had the authority to make changes to the label, not the FDA; she sued for product liability. These warnings were not placed on the packaging until 2005. Defense argued the labels were always adequate for the safe and effective use of the product, that even with the associated risks, the product's availability was in the interest of public health, that the girl's contraction of the syndrome could be attributed to other factors, and that even with a warning, the outcome likely would have been the same. The girl suffered loss of sight in one eye, permanent skin disfigurement, and damage to her reproductive system. The jury found Johnson & Johnson negligent for not providing an accurate warning on the label and that it was the factual cause of the girl's injuries.
On October 2, 2004, Plaintiff, a 16-year-old high school student, was helping her stepfather install a new fence in their backyard when her jacket became entangled in the rotating shaft of a borrowed post hole digger, which was attached to the back of a tractor. She was pulled into the rotating shaft of the power take off unit. In addition to sustaining an above-the-elbow amputation of her right arm, she also sustained fractures of her left scapula and her left collarbone. The jury found that the post hole digger was defectively designed and that the defect was a substantial factor in causing injury to Plaintiff. The jury found that Plaintiff was not negligent. The jury verdict assigned varying percentages of liability to Defendants as well as 3% to the estate of the stepfather, named as a Third-Party Defendant. The award of damages was as follows: Past Medical Expenses: $138,653.29; Future Medical Expenses, including prosthetic devices: $2,677,934; Past Lost Wages: $45,000; Future Lost Wages: $950,000; Past Pain and Suffering: $1,000,000; Future Pain and Suffering: $4,000,000. Post-trial motions by the Defendants to set aside the jury verdict were denied.
In June 2005, a 50-year-old woman was injured when she fell down a stairway in her office building in Lockport, NY. Plaintiff sued the two business entities believed to own the building, claiming that the stairway's top step was missing a chunk of the rubber molding that covered the edges of each step of the flight, and that Defendants' negligent failure to correct the defect had led to her tripping on it and tumbling to the bottom of the roughly 11-step stairway. The stairway in question was in the rear of the building, and it led to the office's parking lot. Plaintiff, who was heading out of the building to buy lunch when her fall occurred, argued that building management had constructive notice of the missing chunk of treading because the defect had existed for months prior to her accident. Several of Plaintiff's co-workers corroborated her claim that the stairway's top step had long been missing a chunk of treading.
Plaintiff?estate sued Defendant?Postal Service on behalf of a deceased 78?year?old man who fell on his way into the post office. Plaintiffs also included the man's 40?year?old son, who witnessed the accident while sitting in his father's car and made an emotional distress claim pursuant to Portee v. Jafee, 417 A. 2d 521 (N.J. 1980). Plaintiffs asserted that Defendant?Postal Service failed to adequately attend to the icy conditions stemming from the alternatively freezing and melting temperatures in the three days prior to the accident. Plaintiff contended that when the decedent fell, he struck his head; although there were no fractures, Plaintiff maintained that a subdural hematoma developed. The decedent was taken to the hospital after the accident by helicopter where it was determined that he suffered a midline shift in the brain, reflecting that the pressure from the subdural hematoma had already caused extensive brain damage. The physicians performed a craniotomy which was largely unsuccessful. Plaintiff maintained that over the course of the ensuing two?year period, the decedent was intermittently conscious and was aware of the nature of his plight. Further, Co?Defendant?automobile dealership, located next to and uphill from the post office, was named in the suit for failing to clear snow and ice from the vehicles it kept parked on the sidewalk, which contributed to the icy conditions on which the decedent slipped and fell.
Plaintiff was a 71-year-old man who rode a bus which served as the regular mode of transportation for him and several other seniors, including a 93-year-old woman who was confined to a wheelchair. Although the bus had a working wheelchair lift, it was common practice for the bus driver to allow passengers to assist in the loading and unloading of the woman's wheelchair because she was not properly trained by the township in how to operate the lift. On the day in question Plaintiff was walking backwards down the bus's main entrance, helping to pull the woman's wheelchair, when he fell from the top step onto the curb. His head struck concrete, resulting in a spinal injury that left him a quadriplegic in need of constant third party care. A year after the injury Plaintiff filed suit against the township for negligent training.
A 52-year-old dump truck driver was involved in an accident while on the job. Plaintiff-dump truck driver was heading northbound on a highway when Defendant-driver was heading westbound on an intersecting road. Defendant-driver stopped at the train tracks along the highway for a passing train, waiting to make a left turn. After the railroad gates went up, Defendant-driver turned left and was crossing the highway when the front of his pickup truck struck the passenger side of Plaintiff-driver's dump truck. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant-driver as well as against Plaintiff's employer. Defendants stipulated to negligence and the case proceeded to jury for a trial on damages. Plaintiff claimed injuries to his neck and lower back as a result of the collision. He underwent a percutaneous plasma disc decompression at the T12-L1 level and a fusion at L5-S1, which his physicians causally related to the impact. The plaintiff also underwent psychiatric treatment for chronic back pain. Defendant-driver argued that Plaintiff's neck and back conditions were either preexisting or were caused by a subsequent motor vehicle accident. The jury found that Plaintiff did not sustain a permanent injury as a result of the accident and awarded $31,000 in past medical expenses.
Plaintiff, a 58-year-old female, underwent out-patient wrist surgery for carpel tunnel syndrome. Plaintiff was intubated during the procedure, which caused her esophagus to be perforated. Despite repeated complaints by Plaintiff of chest pain, the perforation went undiagnosed post-operatively. The perforation caused Plaintiff to develop severe sepsis and near death within 33 hours of the surgery. Plaintiff underwent reparative surgery of the esophagus, and then fell into a coma for five weeks. While comatose, Plaintiff ate through a feeding tube for five months, which caused her to develop a hernia, also requiring surgery. Plaintiff brought suit against all parties involved in her medical procedures. Each of the defendants denied causing the injury to Plaintiff or breaching any standard of care.
An 80-year-old man fell 30 feet to the pavement below when a low-lying drawbridge that he was walking across opened underneath him. The man was injured from the fall and died of his injuries at the hospital. The man was hanging from the grid steel on the bridge when he was seen by the captain of a passing boat, who then radioed the bridge operator before the fall. The bridge operator attempted to close the bridge, but the man could no longer hang on. The Plaintiff--estate brought suit against the Florida Department of Transportation and alleged that the Defendant?bridge operators were negligent in failing to ensure the bridge was clear of all traffic before it was opened. Defendants were expected to argue comparative negligence, and that the decedent failed to notice the warning bell and gates lowering, which would signal that the bridge was opening, before the decedent walked onto the bridge.
Credit Lines Exclusively for the Plaintiffs' Bar
1995, a Virginia inmate sued himself for $5 million. He claimed that he had violated his own civil rights and religious beliefs by allowing himself to get drunk and commit crimes which landed him in the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Virginia, serving a 23-year sentence for grand larceny and breaking and entering. What could he possibly have to gain by suing himself? Since being in prison prevented him from having an income, he expected the state to pay. This case was thrown out.
In AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (2011), decided this past April, the U.S. Supreme Court opined that the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925 preempts state laws that prohibit contracts from disallowing class action lawsuits. Following the decision in Concepcion, it has become generally understood that filing class action lawsuits would become much more difficult for consumers who have contracted to resolve potential disputes through arbitration.
A 71-year-old man brought a claim against the hospital and the doctors and nurses involved in his medical treatment after suffering a stroke that left him with residual paralysis on his left side. The injured Plaintiff visited a hospital emergency room complaining of difficulty urinating after undergoing prostate surgery two weeks earlier. The hospital's ER doctor ran tests on the Plaintiff, which came back abnormal, but it appeared unclear whether anyone saw or reviewed the reports during the time of the Plaintiff's initial visit. A few days later the Plaintiff saw his own treating physician, and the Plaintiff claimed that neither he nor his physician was ever notified of the results of the hospital tests. Two weeks later, Plaintiff visited the emergency room, was treated by the same doctor, and was again discharged after the doctor failed to mention the abnormal urine test results. Two days later, the bacteria from plaintiff's urine spread to his heart, causing a stroke which resulted in paralysis on the left side of his body. Plaintiff brought claims against the hospital, the emergency room doctor, his own treating physician, and emergency room nurses on duty at relevant times. The Plaintiff alleged medical malpractice for a failure to properly communicate the findings of infection from the test results, and failure to treat him properly.
This was a case brought against a manufacturer for the defective design of a WaveRunner water craft. Two teen girls, a 15-year-old driver and a 14-year-old passenger, were operating a WaveRunner when they collided with a 30-foot speedboat. The Plaintiff-driver claimed that when she was approaching the boat, she instinctively took her hand off the throttle in an attempt to turn, but could not steer the WaveRunner, causing her to crash into the boat. Plaintiff sustained multiple debilitating injuries, including traumatic brain damage; the passenger was killed in the accident. Plaintiff will require supervision for the remainder of her life and will never be able to live independently. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant manufacturer was aware of the defect and, as a result of the defect, there was a loss of steering when the machine's throttle was released. Plaintiff asserted that Defendant failed to correct the problem or issue adequate warnings. Defendant argued that Plaintiff?driver did not know how to safely operate the WaveRunner, should have not been allowed to operate it, and would still be capable of obtaining some gainful employment after the accident.
This case involves the death of a construction laborer, killed on the job site. While drilling holes for foundation piers, the laborer worked near a large, industrial crane. The crane came into contact with a high voltage power line, and as a consequence, electrocuted the laborer to death. The laborer's estate sued the general contractor, the crane company, the crane operator, and the drilling company for negligence. In particular, the Plaintiff?estate alleged that the on?site general contractor negligently failed to properly supervise, educate and train the laborer. The drilling company, according to the estate, was negligent in failing to make certain the electrical lines were de?energized. Further, the Plaintiff asserted that a minimum distance between the crane and voltage lines should have been maintained.
A 39-year-old bicyclist brought a claim against a cab driver for negligently failing to make observations before opening the driver's side door of his parked cab. Defendant?cab driver opened his door into Plaintiff--cyclist, knocking the man off his bicycle and into the roadway. Plaintiff contended that Defendant?bus driver, operating a low riding hybrid bus, also failed to make observations when he drove over Plaintiff and his bike, causing his leg to be jammed up against the tire of the bus. Plaintiff sought damages for the resulting skin graft surgeries and delicate, friable skin condition thereafter. At trial, Plaintiff contended that Defendant--bus driver negligently failed to keep Plaintiff in his view and traveled too close to the parking line and Plaintiff.
In this wrongful death and medical malpractice action, plaintiff's decedent, a 66-year-old longtime smoker, underwent regular chest X-rays as ordered by her primary care physician. It was later detected that there was a mass on decedent's upper right lung. Two years later the mass had grown and a biopsy was ordered. The doctor concluded that the mass was actually a scar. Decedent saw another doctor two years later, and learned that the mass was lung cancer. Decedent's estate sued the treating doctors and hospital. During trial, plaintiff's expert cardiothoracic surgeon testified that decedent's doctor did not order the proper diagnostic tests. The defense argued that decedent was repeatedly advised to stop smoking and did not. Sidebar: While the jury was deliberating, the decedent's estate settled with some defendants. A punitive damages charge was withdrawn. No negligence was imputed to decedent.
VERDICT: $ 1,821,529.
Pennsylvania: Plaintiff rear-ended while stopped at red light; claims injury will cause a lifetime of health problems
Plaintiff, a 47-year-old real estate agent, was stopped at a red light when her vehicle was rear-ended by defendant, who was driving in the course and scope of his employment. Plaintiff sued the striking driver and the driver's employer for negligence. Plaintiff suffered disc herniations, and was later diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). Plaintiff's medical neurologist expert opined that her condition was a result of the accident, and that treatment for the rest of her life would be required. Additionally, plaintiff's expert concluded that she was totally and permanently disabled, and that her RSD was incurable. The defense expert claimed that it was inconclusive if plaintiff had RSD. Sidebar: The defendants stipulated liability and a trial on damages was held.
This negligence cause of action arose when plaintiff, a 43-year-old neurosurgeon, was struck in the knee by a hospital bed that was being moved in the hallway of defendant's hospital. The plaintiff sued the hospital and an orthopedic equipment salesman who assisted in moving the bed. The plaintiff alleged that the bed was being pushed at a fast speed, and that the defendant had knowledge that the bed had a steering defect. Plaintiff's experts testified that plaintiff developed a hematoma and necrotizing fasciitis as a result of the impact to the knee. Subsequently, plaintiff had to undergo an above-the-knee leg amputation. The defendants argued that the impact was minor and could not have caused the necrotizing fasciitis. Furthermore, the defense disputed the plaintiff's claim that he could no longer work.
Plaintiff, a 73-year-old patient, was brought to defendant hospital because he was experiencing vertigo, lethargy and incontinence. After a brief stay at the hospital, plaintiff was transferred to defendant nursing home, where admission papers indicated plaintiff had severe bedsores. Plaintiff was back and forth between the hospital and nursing home once more. Plaintiff's estate brought suit alleging the defendants failed to provide proper skin and nutritional care, which caused bedsores and eventually led to the development of septicemia. Plaintiff counsel maintained that the defendants disregarded known risks to the decedent, and thus sought punitive damages.
VERDICT: $6 million. (Each defendant was found 50% liable; $500,000 compensatory damages, $500,000 for loss of consortium, $3.5 million punitive damages against the nursing home and $1.5 million punitive damages against the hospital.)
Decedent, a volunteer firefighter, went to a restaurant that caught fire a few days earlier. While retrieving a tarp that was left behind, decedent was electrocuted by an electric box sign. Decedent's estate sued the restaurant, among other defendants, alleging the box sign had not been properly grounded and that the sign's wiring had been altered. A medical examiner for the plaintiffs opined that decedent was conscious for 15-20 seconds prior to death. Defense counsel contended that plaintiff could not produce evidence demonstrating that decedent experienced conscious pain and suffering.
New York: Car traveling 5 mph sideswiped plaintiff's vehicle, causing injury to knee requiring five surgeries
In this personal injury action, plaintiff was stopped in traffic when the left side of her vehicle was swiped by a passing van. Plaintiff sued the driver and the vehicle's owner, who was the driver's employer. Plaintiff alleged that she sustained a knee injury and subsequently underwent five knee surgeries. Furthermore, plaintiff's expert internist opined that because of the injury she had an increased risk of developing a pulmonary embolism. Defense counsel noted that the driver of the van was traveling 5 mph, and suggested that the plaintiff's injury predated the vehicle accident. Sidebar: Liability was determined on summary judgment, and the trial was on damages only. There were four weeks of trial before the parties settled.
Plaintiff, a 50-year-old female, obtained surgery for hip problems. Plaintiff alleged that the surgery resulted in a significant leg-length discrepancy. The defendant hospital contended that the problem was a result of a preexisting degenerative condition and not as a result of the hip surgery. The jury found liability and assessed damages at $3.4 million, and the defendant made a motion to set aside the verdict, which was granted. A new trial on damages was ordered.
New Jersey: Rear-end collision with police car that was transporting prisoners results in permanent back injuries to police officers
Plaintiffs, both police officers, were transporting two prisoners when the police car was rear-ended. The police car had moderate damage, while the striking car burst into flames and was a total loss. The plaintiffs sued the driver and the driver's employer, who owned the car and had an abundance of liability insurance. It was alleged by the plaintiffs because of the defendant's negligent driving they suffered back injuries. The defense contended that the injuries were not related to the accident, but were a result of preexisting lumbar injuries. Sidebar: Liability was stipulated to and the parties agreed to mediation.
A 40-year-old was admitted to defendant hospital after being found unconscious next to his lawnmower with a swarm of bees around. Plaintiff was treated for multiple bee stings, heat stroke, and possibly a seizure. One month later, plaintiff was stung again by bees and rushed to defendant hospital, where he died due to an allergic reaction to the bee stings. Decedent's estate sued the hospital and the treating emergency room doctor under a wrongful death theory. Plaintiff's counsel argued that decedent was improperly diagnosed when he first was treated at the hospital, and had the diagnosis been proper, the fatal effects of the bee stings could have been prevented. Defense counsel maintained that the doctor and hospital did adhere to appropriate standards of care, and that they were never informed of decedent's bee sting allergy. Sidebar: During jury deliberation the parties agreed to a high/low agreement, resulting in a lower recovery.
A municipal prosecutor was subjected to retaliation for cooperating in an FBI investigation regarding the township's judge, and complaining about the judge being inebriated during a trial. One year later plaintiff was not reappointed as a municipal prosecutor, and two weeks after termination the township posted the job. Plaintiff sued, seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the wrongful termination. Defense denied that the firing was retaliatory, and that plaintiff was not damaged because she had no right to claim damages for future services, since the position was appointed.
Plaintiff, a 41-year-old police officer, was exercising at defendant's gym when he was hit in the face by an adjacent piece of equipment, being used by another gym member. The two pieces of equipment were 16 inches apart, which is in violation of industry standards. Furthermore, plaintiff claimed that the gym had received other complaints regarding the proximity of the two machines. The defense counsel contended that plaintiff was comparatively negligent by failing to make observations. Plaintiff suffered a right eye orbital fracture, that has left him with a permanent eye injury.
Plaintiff, a 31-year-old Navy Petty Officer, had his car repaired following a one-car collision. Months later while driving, plaintiff smelled an acrid smell and noted that it stopped when he turned off the vehicle's air conditioning. Plaintiff resumed driving with the air conditioning on, when flames began shooting out of the dashboard air vents. Plaintiff was burned but was able to escape through the window. Plaintiff sued the vehicle repair garage, alleging negligent repair. Plaintiff alleged that the wiring in the vehicle was not replaced properly, which caused excess heat and then the electrical fire that burned plaintiff. Furthermore, plaintiff alleged that the repairs took longer than estimated, and person running the shop had no mechanical experience. Defense counsel contended that plaintiff could not pinpoint the cause of the fire, and that the only electrical work done to the vehicle was to the door, not the dashboard where the flames were.
Florida: 6-year-old was partially ejected from SUV causing a below-the-knee leg amputation while conscious
Plaintiff, a 6-year-old, was riding in the front seat of his father's SUV when, in an effort to avoid colliding with defendant's vehicle, the father swerved, which caused the SUV to turnover. Plaintiff was partially ejected from the SUV, with his left leg pinned between the vehicle and the road, and then was dragged 140 feet. The result was an amputation of plaintiff's leg below the knee, while plaintiff was conscious. Plaintiff's mother sued the defendant driver based on negligence, and sued the SUV manufacturer and the car dealer under a products liability theory. Defense argued that the father was negligent for speeding and caused the SUV to roll over. Further, defense counsel noted that the father was charged with failing to seat belt his child. However, plaintiffs' accident reconstruction expert testified that there were loading marks on the plaintiff's seat belt, indicating that the plaintiff was seat belted at the time of the accident.
Driver allegedly was talking on his cell phone, crossed the center line of traffic, and hit plaintiff head-on. As a result of the accident, plaintiff, a 50-year-old air conditioner repairman, functions at the level of a small child and requires daily living assistance. Plaintiff sued the driver and driver's employer. Defendant driver only had a $10,000 policy at the time of the accident, and plaintiff was able to recover beyond the liability policy based on a bad faith insurance claim. Sidebar: Subsequently, defendant driver was convicted of reckless driving.
Counsel Financial and its experienced staff of attorneys understand that a litigator's contingent fee portfolio has value today as collateral for a working capital loan up to $5 million. Loan proceeds may be used for all law firm related expenses--from trial preparation and expert witness fees to practice expansion and payroll.
An Illinois appeals court dismissed a lawsuit filed against a mother by her two adult children for "bad mothering". The claims included the mother's failure to buy toys and take her daughter to a car show, haggling over the cost of party dresses, and enforcing curfew. The son claimed he received an offensive card from his mother with a picture of a googly-eyed tomato on it, which read, "Son, I got you this birthday card because it's just like youdifferent from all the rest", after which, his mother wrote, "Have a great day! Love and Hugs, Mom xoxoxo." He was not only offended by the card, but by the fact that it did not include cash or a check. The court dismissed the case, stating the mother's conduct was not "extreme or outrageous", and they did not want to "subject family childrearing to excessive judicial scrutiny and interference".
Justice Thomas writing for the Supreme Court held that Federal labeling laws preempt state law, and that generic drug manufacturers cannot be held liable under state law actions for failure to warn. Because generic drug manufacturers are required by the FDA to use the EXACT same labels as the brand name manufacturers it would be "impossible" for the generic drug manufacturers to comply with the Federal duty of sameness, and to have used a stronger warning label, as required by state law. The opinion was followed by a strong dissent written by Justice Sotomayor. She argued that since generic drug manufacturers can "take steps" to convince the FDA to increase the labeling requirements (which this Defendant has not done) there was only a "possibility of impossibility". The decision basically holds that generic drug manufacturers have no liability for the inadequacy of their labels, regardless of the steps they take to make them safer, because the FDA tells them their labels must match those of their brand name counterparts.
Plaintiff, a 51-year-old porter, fell off a subway station platform and was struck by an incoming train. Plaintiff suffered a crushed left leg, amputation of three fingers from his right hand, and amputation of both legs below the knees. Plaintiff alleged the train engineer was negligent because he could have stopped in time to avoid the accident. Plaintiff's visual reaction time expert opined that based on defendant's experience, he should have been able to stop faster. Defendant argued that the accident was the result of plaintiff leaning over the subway platforms. Sidebar: In the prior month the engineer was involved in a similar accident.
Plaintiff, 63-years-old and a lifelong plumber, was diagnosed with mesothelioma. As a result, plaintiff sued the manufacturers of the plumbing materials that he used, which allegedly contained asbestos. Plaintiff alleged that he was exposed to asbestos from the various job sites where he had been using asbestos-containing products. Plaintiff used five experts who testified about the various plumbing products used, how people are exposed to asbestos, the dangers of asbestos, and the steps between asbestos exposure and the development of mesothelioma. The defense argued that plaintiff's exposure to asbestos was minimal and its products did not have significant amounts of asbestos.
Plaintiff, a 73-year-old patient, was brought to defendant hospital because he was experiencing vertigo, lethargy and incontinence. After a brief stay at the hospital, plaintiff was transferred to defendant nursing home, where admission papers indicated plaintiff had severe bedsores. Plaintiff was back and forth between the hospital and nursing home once more. Plaintiff's estate brought suit alleging the defendants failed to provide proper skin and nutritional care, which caused bedsores and eventually led to the development of septicemia. Plaintiff counsel maintained that the defendants disregarded known risks to the decedent, and thus sought punitive damages.
VERDICT: $6 million. (Each defendant was found 50% liable; $500,000 compensatory damages, $500,000 for loss of consortium, $3.5 million punitive damages against the nursing home and $1.5 million punitive damages against the hospital.)
Plaintiff started smoking when she was 10-years-old in 1939. Now, the 82-year-old smoker has been diagnosed with COPD and laryngeal cancer. The case is the progeny of Engle v. R.J. Reynolds, where a Florida jury determined cigarettes cause illnesses and ordered a $145 billion award to sick smokers. Plaintiff sued the tobacco manufacturer alleging that it concealed the dangers of smoking from the public. Plaintiff's expert historian determined that the tobacco company knew of the dangers in 1955. Plaintiff's counsel argued that plaintiff was addicted to cigarettes and has been unsuccessful in quitting four times. Defense contends that plaintiff smoked because she enjoyed it, and the four brief attempts to quit were not serious. Thus, the choice to return to smoking was the plaintiff's and not because she was addicted to nicotine, which is out of your body's system within 72 hours once you stop smoking.
Counsel Financial and its experienced staff of attorneys understand that a litigator's contingent fee portfolio has value today as collateral for a working capital loan up to $5 million. Loan proceeds may be used for all law firm related expenses--from trial preparation and expert witness fees to practice expansion and payroll.
A patron at an exotic dance club slapped an exotic dancer in the buttock, causing the exotic dancer to turn around and kick the patron in the face. The dancer claimed she instinctively acted by kicking the patron in the face while wearing shoes. The patron sued the exotic dance club for damages resulting from the kick to the face. The patron won a $650,000 judgment. Scottsdale Ins. Co. v. Shageer, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126659
In August 2010, a DePuy ASR hip recall was issued for approximately 93,000 individuals who had the artificial hip implanted. The recall confirmed that the device prematurely fails in more than 1 in 8 patients and often requires a second surgery to correct the original surgery. Currently, over 600 lawsuits have been filed in the U.S., with 350 of the 600 being consolidated in a Federal MDL. DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, claims it will pay plaintiffs for "reasonable and customary costs." It is speculated that a single DePuy hip recall settlement could reach more than $1 million.
Plaintiff was moving an oil burner down a set of stairs in his home. While moving the oil burner, the stairs collapsed beneath him causing the oil burner to fall onto him. Plaintiff sued his parents, alleging negligent maintenance of the premises, and that their negligence created a dangerous condition. Defendant-parents' insurer disclaimed coverage, and the defendants failed to answer the complaint. A default judgment was entered, and the court was left to determine damages.
A police officer pulled over plaintiff's vehicle to the shoulder of the highway when defendant-driver struck the police officer and plaintiff's vehicle. The impact killed the plaintiff, and paralyzed the police officer. Plaintiff's estate sued, arguing that defendant admitted to using marijuana just before the accident, and thus, was negligent by driving in an unreasonable manner. Sidebar: The defendant-driver pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and transporting marijuana, and is serving 15 years in prison.
In a mass tort action, 102 residents of Mulberry, Florida, alleged that their water supply was contaminated with arsenic, thallium, and nitrates. Plaintiffs' counsel alleged that three different manufacturers produced the chemicals that ended up in the water supply. The residents' injuries ranged from high rates of cancer to rashes on the face and body. Defense argued that the chemicals found in the water supply were not produced by their operations.
About 2,000 homeowners purchased drywall from a regional supplier that was manufactured by two Chinese companies. The homeowners brought a class action lawsuit against the regional supplier, alleging the drywall was defective because it contained sulfur levels ten times higher than permitted by US government standards. The drywall produced sulfur dioxide gas--a corrosive gas. Plaintiffs' counsel alleged the corrosive gas destroyed air conditioners, electrical systems, household appliances, and created a noxious odor. The regional supplier contended that it could not be liable, as it was the seller and not the manufacturer.