The Litigation Counsellor®

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On September 21, 2021, attorneys for Turnbull and Lake Counties filed a bench brief asking Northern District of Ohio Judge Dan Aaron Polster to exclude 39 potential jurors from the upcoming bellwether trial in the opioid litigation because they have not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

In the brief, the plaintiffs argue that allowing unvaccinated jurors on the jury will likely cause disruptions during the proceedings and an increased risk of a mistrial.

United Airlines Faces Class Claims Over Employee Vaccine Mandate

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

On September 21, 2021, class claims were filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas against United Airlines Inc. (“United”) by a group of employees who allege that the airline has discriminated against employees who have resisted the companywide COVID-19 vaccine mandate based on religious or medical grounds.

In the complaint, named plaintiffs David Sambrano, David Castillo, Kimberly Hamilton, Debra Jennefer Thal Jonas, Genise Kincannon and Seth Turnbough describe how on August 6, 2021, United’s CEO Scott Kirby announced a companywide COVID-19 vaccine mandate which requires employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine within five weeks of the FDA granting full approval to a vaccine or five weeks after September 20, 2021, whichever came first.

On September 16, 2021, streaming giant Netflix was served with defamation and invasion of privacy claims by 1960’s chess prodigy, Nona Gaprindashvili, who alleges that she was portrayed in a belittling and grossly sexist manner by Netflix in its popular series, The Queen’s Gambit.

In the complaint filed in the U.S District Court for the Central District of California, the plaintiff describes her career as a pioneer of women’s chess and how she became a beloved symbol of female empowerment in her native country of Georgia.

On September 9, 2021, class claims were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against tech company Brainshark Inc. alleging that the company’s Machine Analysis software captures, collects or otherwise scans users’ facial geometry without informed written authorization.

In the complaint, named plaintiff Lori Wilk describes how Brainshark offers a popular software as a service web-based application that is used by over 1,000 companies. According to the suit, the defendant’s technology obtains videos of sales employees performing presentations and then using what the defendant describes as emotion analysis scores, rates the employees’ performances. The defendant says that by providing automated scoring of a salesperson’s performance, managers can more easily train employees and improve sales techniques.

Rum Maker Sued Over Misleading Label

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

On September 9, 2021, class claims were filed in the Central District of California against rum producer Diageo North America, Inc. alleging that the company engages in misleading business practices with the marketing and sale of its Ron Zacapa 23 Centenario Rum (“the Product”) which the defendant promotes as being aged 23 years prior to being put on the market.

C.R. Bard’s Bid for Dismissal in Hernia Mesh Bellwether Rejected

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

On September 2, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division Edmund A. Sargus Jr., issued an order rejecting defendant C.R. Bard’s bid for summary judgment as the first bellwether in the Hernia Mesh multidistrict litigation continues.

The plaintiff in the bellwether, Steven John, claims that he sustained significant injuries as a result of the implantation of the defendant’s Ventralight ST device.

Notre Dame Football and NCAA Face Class Claims Over Player Safety

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

On August 25, 2021, class claims were filed in federal court in the Northern District of Indiana against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) and the University of Notre Dame Du Lac (“Notre Dame”) alleging that the defendants have a reckless disregard for the health and safety of generations of Notre Dame football student athletes.

On August 23, 2021, Sterling Jewelers Inc. the parent company of popular specialty jewelry store Jared the Galleria of Jewelry (“Jared”) was served with class claims in federal court in the Southern District of Florida alleging that it overstates diamond weights at both its brick-and-mortar locations and on its website.

In the complaint, named plaintiff Thomas Kimbro argues that Jared, which operates over 200 retail locations nationwide, systematically inflates the total weights of uncertified diamonds knowing that the average customer would have no way of knowing that the diamond weight was inflated prior to purchase.

Strawberry Pop-Tart Manufacturer Faces Class Claims Over Ingredients

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

On August 21, 2021, class claims were filed in the Southern District of Illinois East St. Louis Division against food giant Kellogg Sales Company alleging that the company actively misleads consumers as to the true nature of the ingredients in the brand’s popular breakfast food Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts (“the Product”).

On August 19, 2021, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (“J&J”) and retail giant Costco Wholesale Corporation filed a response motion with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML”), agreeing with calls from plaintiffs in the carcinogenic sunscreen litigations to consolidate all related cases into a multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) centralized in the District of New Jersey under Chief Judge Freda L. Wolfson.

On August 17, 2021, class claims were filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County against the Art Institute of Chicago (“AIC”) alleging that the school had engaged in the unlawful collection, use, storage and disclosure of sensitive and proprietary biometric identifiers of individuals on the AIC campus.

On August 12, 2021, two Ohio counties filed a motion in limine in federal court in the Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division in preparation for the counties’ upcoming October bellwether trials in the Opioid Litigation.

In the motion, the two counties, Trumball and Lake County, seek to exclude any reference to prescription opioids as “legal” drugs or to distinguishing them from “illegal” drugs. The plaintiffs argue that characterizing prescription opioids and other controlled substances as “legal” or distinguishing them from “illegal” drugs is misleading and states a legal conclusion.

On July 27, 2021, class claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York against insurance giant Progressive Corporation (“Progressive"), alleging that the company deceptively paid claimants less than the actual value for their vehicles that were completely destroyed.

On July 29, 2021, Black Widow star, actress Scarlett Johansson, filed suit against The Walt Disney Company (“Disney”) in the Superior Court for the State of California, alleging that Disney’s release of her latest film, Black Widow, on the Disney+ streaming service the same day as it was released in theaters was a violation of her contract.

In the complaint, the plaintiff argues that based on her impressive reputation as a reliable box office draw, Marvel Studios (“Marvel”) and its parent company Disney, agreed that her compensation for starring in Black Widow would be largely based on box office receipts generated by the movie.