Sunday, October 11, 2015

Class Action News 10th October 2015

Class action lawsuits are surely an extreme manifestation of the failure of corporate governance in business. But they are a means of empowering – in hindsight – the individual consumer and providing a means of redress. Another way of doing that before the expensive damage is done, is by strengthening internal corporate structures to allow that same individual consumer- as worker- to play a bigger role at catching the governance as it slips but before it falls: by ‘whistleblowing.’
The U.K. regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has, it seems, decided to do just that in a bid to help clean up the financial services industry, or as it more diplomatically puts it: “to build on and formalize the good practice already widespread in the financial services industry.”

Last week it published new rules that “aim to encourage a culture in which individuals working in the industry feel comfortable raising concerns and challenge poor practice and behavior.”
“Whistleblowers play an important role in exposing poor practice in firms and they have in the past few years contributed intelligence crucial to action taken against firms and individuals. It is in the interests of the industry and regulators alike that wrongdoing is identified and addressed promptly. For individuals to have the confidence to come forward, it is vital that firms have in place adequate policies on dealing with whistleblowers and that a senior manager takes responsibility for overseeing these policies” said Tracey McDermott, acting Chief Executive of the FCA

Just as actress Clara Peller famously asked “Where’s the beef?” in a series of memorable 1980s television commercials for fast food chain Wendy's, now a Schaumburg woman is demanding in a class action lawsuit to know where the pork is in Walmart’s store brand product labeled “Pork and Beans.”

In a complaint filed Oct. 8 in federal court in Chicago, plaintiff Tanya Thompson Mullins said she and anyone else who purchased Great Value Pork & Beans in Tomato Sauce in the last six years are entitled to damages, as the product lists pork as an ingredient. Yet according to Mullins’ complaint, “rigorous scientific testing has revealed that the product actually contains no pork whatsoever.”

The problem, the complaint states, goes back as far as Oct. 8, 2009. Mullins said from then through September 2015 she bought at least four cans of the pork and beans each month at the Walmart store in northwest suburban Elk Grove Village. As an active participant in the retailer’s Savings Catcher program, she typically uploaded her Wal-Mart receipts to a website, which makes the exact dates of her purchases easily known.

Both FanDuel and DraftKings have been in the news lately for allegedly being involved in insider trading. There have been numerous players that have gained thousands of dollars who were also employees of both companies. On top of the mounting scrutiny over daily fantasyleagues, this type of collusion is starting to bring questions on the legality and functionality of both companies.

Now Sports Illustrated is reporting that FanDuel and DraftKings have received a class action lawsuit. Adam Johnson is the figurehead of the suit after he alleges that "participants in both sites’ daily games were unfairly disadvantaged by employees of each company being allowed to play the other’s game." Johnson's case is based around the Kentucky native spending $100 in one of DraftKings leagues and stated that if he had known of the reported insider information, he wouldn't have spent his money in those leagues.

It may be based in Texas, but Express Energy Services LLC (Express Energy) is nonetheless facing a Pennsylvania employment class-action lawsuit after a wireline operator and a wireline hand claim they routinely work 84-hour weeks without receiving overtime pay. The plaintiffs allege the violations run afoul of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and various other statutes observed by the state of Pennsylvania, and one other state.

The plaintiffs claim that Express Energy routinely schedules workers for 12-hour shifts, but does not pay overtime for work performed beyond the standard eight-hour day, as mandated by federal and state laws. The plaintiffs also maintain they are not classed as management, and do not perform any duties that could be construed as supervisory in nature.

Five years ago, Annemarie Heite and her husband, Albert, bought their dream home; a traditional 19th-century farmhouse in Groningen province in the northern Netherlands. The couple planned to raise their two young daughters in this charming corner of the Dutch countryside. “Then, the living was still easy, and affordable,” Annemarie says, her tone bittersweet and nostalgic. Today, their house is scheduled for demolition.

Hundreds of earthquakes have wrecked the foundations of the Heites’ home and made it unsafe to live in. Annemarie’s biggest fear is the safety of her daughters. She points to a room. “This is where my children sleep,” she says, “and everyday I’m just picking up pieces of bricks and stuff from the ceiling.”

Heite fears that her children may not be any safer at school. Her daughter Zara goes to a local primary school that has not been structurally reinforced to withstand strong earthquakes. “I feel powerless. It feels like I can’t do anything,” Heite says. “It’s not like I’m a frantic, hysterical person, but nobody is taking this seriously, not the school or the mayor, no one.”

Next door, Heite’s neighbour’s farmhouse is already a pile of rubble, which yellow JCBs are clearing away. “It’s collapsed. It’s gone,” Heite says. “They lived there for 30 years … and over there behind the trees, they demolished another house.”

WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is getting closer to creating rules that would make it easier for consumers to sue banks, credit card issuers, and other companies selling financial products.

The proposals being considered target arbitration clauses — restrictions often included in the fine print of contracts for financial products such as credit cards, student loans, and checking accounts — that the average person knows little about.
The clauses typically bar people from suing companies or joining class action lawsuits when legal issues come up, instead steering them into arbitration, a process that some critics say is often stacked in the company’s favor.

A class action lawsuit filed in Vancouver alleges that the RCMP has breached the privacy of a number of Mounties by wrongfully disclosing their mental health records.

The suit says that the disclosure of the records in 2012 was done to undermine the work of Dr. Michael Webster, a longtime RCMP psychologist who had treated the officers and who has been outspoken in the past on RCMP issues.

Several retired Mounties, members of a group that represents about 2,300 officers across Canada, held a press conference outside the Vancouver Law Courts on Friday to explain the lawsuit.

They told reporters that currently employed officers are afraid that if they speak out, they might be disciplined by their superiors.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Class Action settlement: Hewlett-Packard Company

Class Action Hewlett-Packard Company

Security Name: Hewlett-Packard Company

Case Name: In re HP Securities Litigation

CUSIP: 428236103

ISIN: US4282361033

Claim Filing Deadline: 
October 31, 2015

Exclusion Deadline: October 14, 2015

Qualification criteria: 
Investors who purchased or otherwise acquired HP’s publicly traded common stock between August 19, 2011 and November 20, 2012, inclusive 

Class Action Settlement Website HERE

Class Action Notice HERE

Proof of Claim and Release HERE

Class Action settlement: Avon Products, Inc

Class Action Bank of Avon Products, Inc

Security Name: Avon Products

Case Name: City of Brockton Retirement System v. Avon Products, Inc., et al 

CUSIP: 054303102

ISIN: US0543031027

Claim Filing Deadline: 
January 19, 2016

Exclusion Deadline: November 10, 2015

Qualification criteria: 
Investors Who Purchased Or Otherwise Acquired The Common Stock Of Avon Products, Inc. Between July 31, 2006, And October 26, 2011, Inclusive 

Class Action Settlement Website HERE

Class Action Notice HERE

Proof of Claim and Release HERE

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Class Action settlement: Bank of New York Mellon Corporation

Class Action Bank of New York Mellon Corporation

Security Name: Bank of New York Mellon Corporation

Case Name: In re Bank of New York Mellon Corp. FX Securities Action

CUSIP: 064058100

ISIN: US0640581007

Claim Filing Deadline: 
December 11, 2015

Exclusion Deadline: September 29, 2015

Qualification criteria: 
Investors who purchased BNYM common stock during the period beginning on February 28, 2008 through and including October 4, 2011 

Class Action Settlement Website HERE

Class Action Notice HERE

Proof of Claim and Release HERE

Class Action News 29th August 2015

Amid what is likely the most incendiary hacking incident in corporate history, the head of the world’s best-known adultery business has been shown the door.

In a terse press release on Friday, Avid Life Media – owners of the website Ashley Madison – announced that Noel Biderman will be stepping down as chief executive officer. His departure comes after hackers stole and posted the personal information of some 37 million Ashley Madison customers – setting off a firestorm of public humiliation, shattered marriages and several suspected suicides.

Besides a massive collection of private user information, the leaked data have also shed unprecedented light on the inner workings of the world’s foremost cheating website – a place in which men vastly outnumbered women, users had to pay to delete their accounts and some personal information remained on the servers even after accounts were deleted.
The result is a damning indictment of a site whose most important feature – the ability to keep a secret – came spectacularly undone.

“The company relies on confidentiality,” said Antoine Aylwin, a partner at the law firm Fasken Martineau’s privacy and information protection group in Montreal. “You see the picture on their website, it’s someone putting their finger on their mouth. I think this is the end of Ashley Madison.”

Dr. Randy Wieck, a Kentucky high school history classroom teacher with a degree from the London School of Economics has already been lauded in this column, as well as Bloomberg and the San Francisco Chronicle, for single-handedly taking on the titans of private equity.

Now Wieck has filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court of the Western District of Kentucky claiming that mismanagement of the investments of the Kentucky Teachers Retirement Systems (KTRS) has resulted in the worst-funded state teacher plan in the U.S—forcing teachers to  contribute more of their salaries (up from 9% to 13%).

Wieck has no lawyer—he’s representing himself—in a Herculean effort to save his own and other Kentucky teachers’ retirement.

You might expect that powerful, well-funded national and local public unions would rally behind Wieck to hold Wall Street accountable for undermining teachers’ retirement security. To date, in Kentucky and nationally, public sector labor organizations have been mighty reluctant—even when pressed—to recognize that how the money in a pension is managed is at least as important as how much goes into it and is paid out in benefits.

Bank of America Corporation put a class action lawsuit filed against its subsidiary Landsafe Appraisal Services, Inc. by 365 current and former employees working as residential real estate appraisers to rest, by agreeing to shell out $36 million in settlement. The bank will successfully dodge a scheduled Aug 31 trial, if it gets court approval for the settlement. 

A court case filed in April 2013 alleged that Bank of America and its subsidiary erroneously used the "administrative" and "professional" exemptions to residential staff appraisers. This particular work entails no special academic degree, only a state license. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Class Action News 27th August 2015

Ten of the world's biggest automakers were sued on Wednesday by U.S. consumers who claim they concealed the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning in more than 5 million vehicles equipped with keyless ignitions, leading to 13 deaths.

According to the complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles, carbon monoxide is emitted when drivers leave their vehicles running after taking their electronic key fobs with them, under the mistaken belief that the engines will shut off.

The 28 named plaintiffs said this can injure or have "deadly" results for people who inhale the colorless and odorless gas, including when vehicles are left in garages attached to homes. They also said the defect reduces their vehicles' resale values.

A keyless ignition lets a driver start a vehicle by pushing an on-off button, instead of inserting a key, once the vehicle senses the presence of a nearby electronic fob.
The defendants include BMW (BMWG.DE), including Mini; Daimler's (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes Benz; Fiat Chrysler (FCHA.MI); Ford Motor Co (F.N); General Motors Co (GM.N); and Honda (7267.T), including Acura.

Also named as defendants were Hyundai (005380.KS), including Kia; Nissan (7201.T), including Infiniti; Toyota (7203.T), including Lexus; and Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), including Bentley.

Aclass action lawsuit that accused two dairy groups of manipulating the Northeast milk market and driving small farmers out of business is one step closer to being settled.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the antitrust lawsuit Allen v. Dairy Farmers of Americahave asked U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss to approve a new $50 million settlement to put the case to rest.

Lawyers proposed a $50 million settlement last year, but Reiss denied it in March because 35 farmers representing 28 farms objected to the proposed settlement.

Reiss wrote in her March 31 denial that the court needed to make sure that the settlement was procedurally fair and not the result of collusion. Several farmers had alleged collusion between their lawyers and defendants, Reiss wrote, and said they were concerned about potential retaliation from Dairy Farmers of America for accepting the settlement.

The class-action case has gone on for six years against Dairy Farmers of America and Dairy Marketing Services. The plaintiffs are 8,900 farms, which have largely agreed to end the dispute without a trial. A little under 1 percent remain opposed.

The $50 million works out to about $4,000 per farm, which are often owned by a single family. Farms would be allowed to leave the Dairy Farmers of America and join another cooperative. The settlement also requires the dairy cooperative to make its business practices more transparent to members.

Disgruntled homeowners have started a class action lawsuit against government-controlled insurer Southern Response.

The group's lawyer, Grant Cameron, said 47 policyholders had officially filed a case in the High Court at Christchurch on Wednesday over delays by the insurer in settling Canterbury earthquake claims and unfair offers.

He said Southern Response had failed in its duty, with some homeowners still waiting nearly five years after the first of the devastating quakes and unable to afford to litigate on their own.
"The insurer is essentially low-balling the settlement offers," he said, adding some claimants had been offered 40 to 60 per cent less than the true worth of their homes.

Parties to the action have joined on a "no win, no fee" basis and Mr Cameron said the litigants were waiting on court approval to allow any other interested claimants to join in the next three months.

Boeing Co. agreed on Wednesday to a preliminary deal to settle a long-running lawsuit accusing the company of mishandling its 401(k) plan to the detriment of its employees.

The settlement comes the day a trial was scheduled to begin in the nine-year-old case. Terms weren’t disclosed. The two sides are expected to update the court on details of the talks next month and set a timeline for seeking final approval, according to a court order.

Filed on behalf of 190,000 Boeing employees and retirees, the class-action suit accused Boeing of failing to uphold its fiduciary duties to employees by allowing excessive 401(k) fees to go unchecked, choosing higher-cost retail mutual funds over cheaper options, and improperly making 401(k) plan decisions to benefit vendors receiving other Boeing business.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Class Action News 24th August 2015

A class action is being brought against players from the Australian and English cricket teams.

The civil suit is being filed after the sides took turns capitulating, and failed to complete anywhere near the 25 days of cricket they were paid to provide.

There were only 50 sessions of cricket played during the 2015 Ashes out of a possible 75. With only a third of the scheduled overs bowled, everyone from advertisers to ground staff, even the general public, are suing the sides for loss of revenue, income and entertainment.

Both Cricket Australia and the ECB say that their hands are tied in the matter, unable to help their players given the disastrous lack of contests.

“Let’s face it,” a Cricket Australian spokesperson stated, “they’ve only completed a third of their job, and unless you’re a politician that’s just unacceptable.”

The players even received a barb from the commentary box with microphones managing to pick up another Shane Warne nugget, who exclaimed that he’s actually had relationships which have lasted longer than this series.

Ashley Madison facing massive lawsuit ‘on behalf of all Canadians’

Two law firms in Canada have launched a $578 million class-action lawsuit against Ashley Madison — saying they were doing so on behalf of “all Canadians” who have been affected by the hack that exposed millions of cheaters worldwide.

“They are outraged that failed to protect its users’ information,” said attorney Ted Charney, who filed the suit last Thursday. “In many cases, the users paid an additional fee for the website to remove all of their user data — only to discover that the information was left intact and exposed.”
The data breach exposed some 39 million members.

Ashley Madison slapped with $578M class-action lawsuit

Cheating website Ashley Madison is now facing a $578 million class-action lawsuit over a hacking incident that exposed the personal data of 39 million subscribers.
Canadian law firms Charney Lawyers and Sutts, Strosberg, LLP on Thursday slapped Ashley Madison with a $578 million lawsuit on behalf of the website's Canadian users whose personal information was exposed in the recent hack. Avid Life Media and Avid Dating Life, which manage the company, have been named in the lawsuit, according to Time.
As of now, the status of the class-action lawsuit has yet to certified by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, an AP report published on ABC 30 revealed.