Top 10 Class Action Lawsuits 2015

1. Lifetime Fitness – Plaintiffs contend that Lifetime Fitness violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by sending text messages to cell phones without the express consent of the recipients. Settlement pool is $15,000,000. Submit your claim here.

2. Kettle Chips – Allegations have been made that Diamond Foods violated certain laws by making certain claims on its product labels. Specifically, the class action lawsuits target Kettle Brand products that were mislabeled as natural, nothing artificial, and non-GMO. The plaintiffs claim Kettle Brand products contain synthetic and/or artificial ingredients. Submit your claim here.

3. LinkedIn User Privacy – By its own admission, LinkedIn did not use industry-standard protections for its users’ personal information, including passwords and personal information, of users who subscribed to its premium services. LinkedIn used an easily-cracked encryption algorithm that government agencies stopped using more than 6 years ago, then failed to secure its website – including a relatively common SQL injection attack. Submit your claim here.

4. Arm & Hammer Essentials Deodorant– The plaintiffs allege that Church & Dwight, the manufacturers of Arm & Hammer, mislead consumers by including the terms “Natural Deodorant” and “Natural Protection” on the labels and marketing of Arm & Hammer Essentials Deodorant when some of the ingredients were not all natural. Submit your claim here.

5. Verizon – Allegations have been filed against Verizon Wireless that the plaintiffs were improperly billed with the Family SharePlan. According to the class action lawsuit, Verizon billed customers for different per-minute rates for “after-allowance” minutes used by different phone line which is in violation of its customers contracts, state and federal law. Submit your claim here.

6. Kirin Ichiban Beer – The plaintiffs allege that Anheuser-Busch Companies LLC gave the impression its Kirin Ichiban beer is brewed in Japan, when it is actually made in the USA. While bottles include the fact the beer is brewed in Virginia, the plaintiffs claim that was in small print and in a location most consumers would not see until after the beer was purchased, since this is not labeled on the six-pack box the beer is packaged in. Submit claim here.

7. Hyundai Miles Per Gallon – The lawsuits allege that Hyundai Motor Company misrepresented the fuel economy (or miles per gallon estimates) on certain Hyundai vehicles in the model years 2011, 2012 and 2013. Submit your claim here.

8. Wacoal Shaping Undergarments – The plaintiffs allege that Wacoal America Inc. claimed that their caffeinated “shapewear” undergarments were able to slim and reshape the body of its customers. The iPants lawsuit alleges that Wacoal’s claim that its iPant products are able to reduce cellulite and reduce a person’s thigh measurements are false and unsubstantiated. Submit your claim here.

9. TracFone – Allegations have been made against TracFone for falsely advertising its wireless mobile phone plans as providing “unlimited” data while actually maintaining monthly data usage limits that were not disclosed to customers. The lawsuit further alleges that TracFone regularly throttled, suspended, and terminated customers’ data plans pursuant to the secret limits. Submit your claim here.

10. Wells Fargo– The plaintiffs allege that Wells Fargo placed calls to cell phones in violation of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The plaintiff alleged she received calls from Wells Fargo that were intended for the collection of another person’s credit card account. Further, these calls allegedly featured a prerecorded voice message or were made with an autodialer, in violated of the TCPA. Others may join this lawsuit if they received calls from Wells Fargo without a credit card account with Wells Fargo and did not consent to receive the calls. Submit your claim here.

 

Lawsuit States that AIDS Foundation Defrauded Medicare

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is one of the nation’s largest suppliers of AIDS and HIV medical care. They serve more than 400,000 patients around the world. They lead a mass initiative to identify and treat those who may be HIV positive, but do not know it yet—an estimated 25 million people.

In early April 2015, three former managers of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed suit against the company. The managers are alleging that AIDS Healthcare Foundation paid both patients and employees for referrals so they could boost the funding provided from federal healthcare programs. The three managers involved in the suit were apparently fired after notifying their supervisors about their concerns. The managers are from Louisiana, Florida, and New York. The case was originally filed about a year ago, but the plaintiffs just revised their complaint in early April.

 

The Referral Program

The suit alleges that, beginning in 2010, employees were paid $100 bonuses for referring patients who tested HIV positive to the clinics and pharmacies. This practice had apparently started in the California headquarters, and then spread to the Florida location and other locations. They are alleging that the “scam” cost Medicare $20 million, and the practice spanned at least 12 states.

However, the company’s President, Michael Weinstein, has specifically stated that he does not think the company has done anything wrong. Instead, he argues that their approach is a proactive way to connect HIV-positive individuals with treatment. In fact, he actually spoke about the practice and its benefits at a 2013 summit. He also points out that neither the federal government nor the State of Florida has opted to get involved with the lawsuit, and he thinks that “speaks volumes about the merits of the case.”

 

Wrongful Termination

One of the claims that the managers are alleging is for wrongful termination. They are arguing that they should not have been terminated after “whistleblowing” on the company. State and local laws both prohibit punishing whistleblowers, including a federal law, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was originally created in the wake of large-scale scandals like Enron. It is geared toward encouraging employees to report wrongdoing so that the state or the federal government can prevent these large-scale frauds.

Under Sarbanes-Oxley, an employee who reports that their employer is breaking the law is protected from retaliation, like loss of their job. It only applies to laws relating to securities, wire or mail fraud, bank fraud, or shareholder fraud, however. It will likely apply in this case because the employees were reporting a version of securities or shareholder fraud, although the connection is a little questionable.

Many states have similar protections for employees; those complaints can be related to other areas, including discrimination, state wage or hour violations, or violation of state law requiring family and medical leave. It is unclear whether this case is based on state law, federal law, or both. However, given that it involves plaintiffs from three states, it is a safe bet that they are using a federal law for their wrongful termination claims.

Hurricane Sandy Lawsuits: Alleged Fraudulent Underpayment

Hurricane Sandy was devastating. It set records for barometric reading lows and produced a record-setting surge of water into locations like New York City. It affected an untold number of people living on the East Coast and the Caribbean when it swept through in 2012. There were at least 149 deaths. Thousands of people were homeless because of the storm and millions of people lost power.

The storm also brought an unprecedented amount of flooding. Even homes that were not damaged by its 78-mile-per-hour winds were affected by the flooding that occurred in the aftermath of the storm. Homeowners turned to their insurance companies and emergency government funds for help. Unfortunately, some sources state that underpayment, particularly in New York and New Jersey, may have been a common occurrence.

 

The Class Action Lawsuits

Homeowners in New Jersey and New York whose homes were flooded from the storm filed a series of class action lawsuits on Friday, March 13, 2015. They are claiming that insurance companies deliberately unpaid them within FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. One suit out of New York even names the National Flood Insurance Program as a defendant, arguing a pattern of underpayment. These lawsuits are in addition to lawsuits already pending.

One of the arguments for underpayment is based on the fact that the insurance payments were not supposed to be subject to the state’s sales tax. For example, New Jersey has a 7% sales tax rate. That means that for every $100,000 in hurricane damages, the homeowner was taxed $7,000. Adding all of these occurrences together could mean a deficient amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. A uniform cover-up based on software manipulation is also alleged regarding these tax payments.

 

Another argument is based on the insurance estimate process. The cases indicate that the engineering reports that produced insurance estimates may have been altered. Additionally, the number of engineering reports is surprisingly low—only 14% of Sandy flood insurance claimants received engineering reports. In one case, for example, the engineering report stated that there absolutely no flood damage when, in all likelihood, there actually was.

 

The Response

FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program will reopen all 144,000 insurance claims from Hurricane Sandy so that they can be reviewed. In fact, David Miller, who was the Associate Director for the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, has stepped down. However, this action may be more a reaction to pressure from lawmakers than a result of this lawsuit.

Most of the companies that worked with the federal government to provided insurance payment for Sandy damages have been unavailable for comment. Companies include Selective Insurance, Standard Fire Insurance (a unit of Travelers Insurance), and Wright National Flood Insurance. The company that created the software involved here, Simultaneous Solutions, Inc., was also unavailable for commentary. Regardless, the federal government is conducting an ongoing investigation to determine what happened and whether these homeowners were actually short-changed.

The National Flood Insurance Program

As a result of these lawsuits and others, the National Flood Insurance Program has expressed a willingness to settle and reform the program. The program is already indebted to the U.S. Treasury an estimated $24 billion. They are seriously concerned about the vitality of the program if Congress must provide them with more money every time that a large storm or hurricane hits. Despite the fact that this program is struggling financially, Congress has passed reforms that have reduced subsidies and restricted the program’s ability to increase policyholder insurance payments. There is obviously a problem, but the alleged underpayment and report alteration is not the way to solve these problems.

NEW CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS

Perrigo – Plaintiffs contend that Perrigo provided false and misleading statements on the labeling and on the advertising of Perrigo products regarding the effectiveness and claims to help “rebuild cartilage,” “lubricate joints,” and “improve joint comfort.” Submit your claim here.

ARCO & ARCO-AMPM – An Oregon jury found that BP West Coast Products LL (“BPWCP”) charged more for gas than the amount registered at the pump and failed to properly disclose its prices when it charged a debit card transaction fee to consumers who used debit cards to pay for gas at Oregon ARCO station. Submit your claim here.

AT&T – Allegations have been made against AT&T by The Federal Trade Commission for deceiving customers about third-party charges that the customers did not authorize and AT&T lumped the charges together making them appear they were related to the mobile phone services. Submit your claim here.

LeanSpa – The marketers of the weight loss supplement LeanSpa have agreed to settle a deceptive marketing lawsuit that was filed be The Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC lawsuit alleged LeanSpa created fake news websites to promote acai berry and colon cleansing products. They also falsely informed consumers they could receive a free trial if they paid a small shipping and handling fee which resulted in consumers paying nearly $80 and automatically signed up for monthly subscriptions that were difficult to cancel. Submit your claim here.

Flax USA / Flax Milk – Allegations have been filed against Flax USA claiming they labeled some of the FlaxMilk products with statements like “all natural” when in fact their products contain artificial and synthetic ingredients. Submit your claim here.

FedEx – The plaintiffs allege that FedEx improperly charged fees such as residential delivery fees, extend delivery area surcharges, and fuel surcharges to customers. Submit claim here.

Electrolux – The lawsuits allege that Electolux breached warranties, was negligent, violated consumer protection laws and unlawfully profited from the sale of dryers known to cause fires due to lint buildup. Submit your claim here.

Sylvania – The plaintiffs allege that the manufacturers of Sylvania headlights overstated the brightness, road visibility and life expectancy of some of its premium headlights. Submit your claim here.

Vanguard Piping Systems, Inc. – Allegations have been made against Viega (Vanguard) that brass fittings were defective and of poor quality. Submit your claim here.

CertainTeed Siding – The plaintiffs allege that the siding from CertainTeed shrinks, warps, cracks, bows, delaminate, and otherwise deteriorate in ways that did not meet their expectations for the product. Submit your claim here.

Drug Company Agrees to $60M to settle ADHD drug claims

Shire Pharmaceutical, the makers of the widely-prescribed ADD/ADHD drug Adderall, agreed to pay $59.4 million to several state agencies, in particular the State of Massachusetts that had brought a civil lawsuit against the drug giant, as punishment for making myriad unsupported claims about their drugs’ effectiveness in treating illnesses ranging from behavioral issues to ulcers. The federal Department of Justice and Massachusetts Attorney General were involved in bringing the cases, which alleged Shire had promoted results from its medications that were not backed by science, and also claims that their products were less likely to be abused than alternative, cheaper medications.

While government agencies are no doubt pleased to recover these funds from Shire, the company will be left none the worse for wear after the settlements; the amounts represent less than 3% of the companie’s U.S. revenue from the drugs affected by the claim. Critics believe that, while a start, such small settlement amounts relative to the profits that drug companies gain from misleading drug advertising do not serve as a deterrent to such behavior in the future. Shire likely views the settlement as simply a cost of doing business, rather than a punishment, and their CEO confirmed that viewpoint in a public statement after the settlement was announced. “We are pleased to have reached a resolution and to put this matter behind us.” said Shire’s Ireland-based CEO Flemming Ornskov.

Shire Pharmaceutical is no stranger to criticism of it’s business methods. Shire was already one of the companies coming under fire in the news this month. The company had recently come under scrutiny for an unrelated matter, it’s proposed “inversion” merger with U.S. pharma company Abbvie (makers of popular TRT drug Androgel) which is viewed by many as a deliberate tax evasion scheme, and which proposed merger was behind the recent Treasury Department move to make it harder for U.S companies to reduce taxes by merging with smaller offshore companies. The inversion scheme has become a popular tax avoidance move by large U.S drug companies, including Abbvie, Medtronic and Perrigo to exploit loopholes in the U.S. tax law governing drug companies recognition of profits in foreign, lower-tax jurisdictions. Failed bids by Pfizer to purchase U.K.-based AstraZenca and Mylan Inc to buy Swedish drug-maker Meda were also driven largely by tax considerations. Legislative changes expected to be signed by President Obama would remove some of the incentives for corporate inversions by changing the foreign ownership percentage required of companies like Abbvie and Shire before they qualified for the advantageous tax treatment.

Legal Issues That Plague Every Business

Every business faces legal issues from time to time. From tax returns, internal agreements, state regulation and intellectual property, business-owners have a lot to deal with. This post will illustrate just some of the things that businesses need a lawyer for.

1. Form and state of organization

Every business owner wants as little personal liability as possible. It makes sense to protect your personal assets in case anything happens to the firm (taking out debt or losing a lawsuit) and in most cases an LLC or corporation is what you need. If your business fails in some way, the “corporate veil” will protect your assets from being seized. A lawyer will also suggest the type of corporation that best suits your needs.

2. Internal agreements

Before you can get your business out into the world, you need to settle things at home first. Any agreement you have with your co-founders, principals or investors should be formalized in written form. Having a partnership agreement will state clearly the operating procedures of the company and what happens when one of the partners has to leave (for any reason). This saves money, time and drama in the long run.

3. IP: Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents

A big part of the competitive advantage of a business lies in intellectual property. It would make sense then to protect this as good as you can. Trademarks protect a business’s brand – the logo, name, slogan and product names. Before you register a trademark you will have to research and see if someone else hasn’t taken on the name you intend to use. When you’re clear, you will want to register one or several federal trademarks.

Copyrights protect anything that is made — art, software, media, content and so on. For some businesses this copyright protection is granted the second you publish your work – for others, you will have to apply for one.

Patents protect inventions and processes. A pharmaceutical company’s method for synthesizing a drug for example is often patented, meaning that only they can use this process.

Talk to an attorney to see whether you need to file for a patent. A good attorney will know how to streamline what is important and do everything that is required in order to ensure the protection of your intellectual property.

4. Location matters

Whether you’re buying an office or renting storage space in a warehouse, you will need a lawyer to clear the sale and secure the lease in order to make sure that there are no “hidden” terms that would cause problems later on.

5. Employment

If you’re going to hire employees or contractors, you must  abide by federal and state employment laws. At the very least you will need a contract between you and your employee (or independent contractor). You’ll also need an employee handbook of company policies. Your lawyer will help you determine if your employee is actually a contractor and vice versa, whether employees are exempt from having a contract and to make sure that your company’s data stay confidential.

6. State regulations

Depending on the type of business you conduct, there will be certain regulations you will have to follow. If you own a bar, you will need a license for selling alcohol for example and if your company exports to international countries, there are other laws you must follow. An attorney will help you evaluate what category your business falls into and how to make sure that you comply with existent regulation.

7. Paying taxes

You might want to speak to an attorney if you’re thinking of  restructuring your company in order to reduce tax contributions and to figure out what tax requirements there are for your business. You wouldn’t want to skimp on an legal expert in this area. Lesser men have fallen out because they didn’t pay the right taxes at the right time.

photo credit: kozumel

How To Win Your Next Personal Injury Case

Feel like you don’t understand all the technical aspects of your personal injury case? Hire a technical expert on your team. A technical expert can be invaluable when it comes to personal injury cases such as car accidents, product liability and slip & fall.

A technical expert can help your case by developing proper legal theory, using scientific methods to obtain facts and information and even suggesting new avenues for discovery. At trials involving complex matters, a technical expert can explain in a simple language their conclusions while proving their discovery through analysis and scientific rigor.

Here are a few ways a technical expert can help a case by advancing or rebutting theories of liability.

Vehicle collision cases

Engineers and physicists can:

  • Establish liability in lane intrusion and intersection cases by determining the exact point of impact
  • Testify on the likely effect of impact at the time of the accident whether seat belts had been worn
  • Establish a driver’s speed and course of travel before collision
  • Establish a driver’s ability to see and hear other vehicles, pedestrians and to hear warning signs and ascertain dangerous conditions
  • Predict a driver’s or a pedestrian’s reaction time to support or rebut a claim

Slip and fall cases

Slip and fall cases can benefit from the trained eyes of a technical expert by analyzing the flooring, carpet, pavement, stairway and other surface’s condition on which someone fell or got injured. Tests can be run on the plaintiff’s shoes to determine the coefficient of friction. Lightning and maintenance are also analyzed for any hazard that may have been created. Technical experts also have knowledge of  planning, construction and maintenance of walking surfaces and will be able to see if building standards were followed in order to determine the cause of injury.

Product liability cases

Experts are also brought in to testify on defective designs or construction of items such as vehicles, containers and appliances. A technical expert will be able to determine the pressure, vibration, temperature, friction and other forces that an item is exposed to. In most cases, litigation over drugs that are allegedly harmful require the testimony of technical experts. Recreational areas might also be included in product liability cases and also require calling in an expert.

Explosion cases

If there was a natural gas line explosion in a condo complex then a technical expert can determine and pinpoint the physical forces that led to the safety hazard and also what had to be done in order to prevent it.

Now that you know what types of personal injury cases there are and how an expert can help you. Your chances of winning a case will improve tenfold if you have technical expert on your team. Don’t skimp on this important part of the discovery process.

photo credit: NOAA’s National Ocean Service

Adderall found to worsen mental condition

A number of reports have been filed with the FDA concerning the increased risk of heart attack and heart stroke in patients who were prescribed Adderall, a strong stimulant prescribed to children and adults to treat ADHD. In February 2006, the FDA reported 51 deaths in a number of patients who were on ADHD medications, including Adderall. The increased risk for heart attack and heart stroke is similar to incidents seen in low testosterone drugs. Many people have filed lawsuits alleging that manufacturers did not do enough to warn users of the dangers involved. If you’ve been injured as a result of using these drugs, you should contact a low testosterone lawyer and see what legal recourse you have.

Adderall Side Effects Can Prove Fatal

Adderall and Adderall XR are powerful medications that contain a blend of four amphetamines, including Dexedrine and Benzedrine. Originally intended to be sold as weight-loss medication, Adderall XR was approved for children over 6 in 2001 and Adderall is prescribed for children over 3 years old. Used to treat ADHD, patients with bipolar disorder have also seen certain benefits from using the drug however medical experts are torn on the issue, many arguing that if the patient takes the drug in the manic stage of their condition, psychosis could ensue, endangering themselves and those around them.

Heart Attacks And Heart Strokes

Shire Pharmaceuticals, the distributor of Adderall, had voluntarily come forth in 2004 to report to the FDA 20 deaths by heart attack and 12 strokes which were likely caused as a result of taking the drug. 14 of the deaths and 12 of the strokes were seen in children. These incidents had occurred while taking the drug in the prescribed dosage.

Health Canada suspended sales of Adderall in 2005 following these reports. The drug however found its way back onto pharmacy shelves as an independent panel could not accurately determine the link between the usage of the drug and increased risk of cardiac arrest. Health Canada continues to closely monitor every incident related to Adderall.

In the beginning of 2006, the FDA learned of a number of fatal and non-fatal incidents that occurred during the period from 1999 to 2003. 81 deaths and 54 non-fatal cardiovascular events such as strokes and blood clotting had a possible link to the usage of ADD/ADHD drugs. Adderall was the drug with the highest number of reported deaths (24) in this period. The FDA panel concluded that a black box warning was necessary on Adderall and similar ADHD drugs.

Adderall and ADD/ADHD

The American Psychiatric Association claims that ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed disorder in children. However a growing number of health experts are critical of both the diagnosis of the condition and the prescribed drug, saying that children should not be given something as powerful as amphetamines. Some doctors are also in opposition as to what constitutes ADHD, saying that a large number of Americans have been diagnosed with a condition that was not recognized half a century ago. This, coupled with the fact that ADHD may be a life-long diagnosis, has cast doubt on whether the condition has any merit or if it’s just a ploy for pharmaceutical companies to keep people legally hooked on amphetamines.

Adderall Side Effects

The drug has a number of effects ranging from mild to life-threatening. Here is a list of some of these side effects:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart stroke
  • Hypertension
  • High blood pressure
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Seizure
  • Dyskinesia (tics, tremors and muscle spasms)
  • Exacerbation of Tourette’s syndrome

Some symptoms related to psychiatric problems have been observed such as:

  • Psychosis and mania
  • Aggression
  • Visual and/or auditory hallucinations

Adderall Lawsuits

Plaintiffs who have sued Shire Pharmaceuticals claim that the manufacturer was negligent in putting a dangerous product on the marketplace. Similar litigation has been brought against Novartis, the makers of Ritalin, another stimulant drug, claiming that manufacturers conspired to invent the diagnosis of ADHD, a diagnosis that has yet to be accepted in other countries.

The most recent case is that of a Virginia Beach couple who filed a $2 million medical malpractice lawsuit against two psychiatrists who prescribed Adderall to their son who allegedly was not suffering from the condition necessary for such a prescription, failed to instruct him in the dangers of the drug and failed to monitor him leading to his subsequent addiction and later suicide. The NY Timeswrote a story on the incident, and after receiving many responses from parents in similar situations, the parents of the victim decided to file an Adderall lawsuit in August. The trial is scheduled for July 2015.

If you or a family member has suffered injuries from Adderall use, you may qualify for compensatory damages awarded in a possible class action lawsuit. Please get in touch with an Adderall attorney to know more about your legal options.

 

photo credit: hipsxxhearts