Women in the Law—The Beauty of Community and the Collective Power of the Women of WEM
“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.