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.

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