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Jury in GM Ignition Switch Trial Finds Car Unreasonably Dangerous, but Ice at Fault
Kelly Anthony, Esq. | Deputy General Counsel On March 30, 2016, a jury in New York City found that the ignition switch in a General Motors’ vehicle was not proximate cause of injuries sustained by driver Dionne Spain and passenger Lawrence Barthelemy after an accident. The eight-person jury, however, did conclude that the car was unreasonably dangerous. On January 24, 2014, Spain and Barthelemy were driving a 2007 Saturn Sky on Crescent City Connection Bridge in New Orleans when it spun out of control and hit a jersey bar
Insurance Agents Win Class Certification in Employment Status Dispute
Kelly Anthony, Esq. | Deputy General Counsel
A federal judge granted class certification on March 2, 2016 to insurance agents who claim that the company who hired them, American Family, mislabeled its sales force as “independent contractors” to avoid compliance with the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”). Walid Jammal and Dana LaRiche, on behalf of themselves and those similarly situated, filed the lawsuit in February 2013. In the class action, the plaintiffs assert that American Family hired insurance a
Fantasy Sports Site Class Actions Consolidated to MDL in Massachusetts
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
On February 4, 2016, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) announced they would consolidate around 80 actions in thirty districts against popular online fantasy sports sites, FanDuel Inc. and DraftKings Inc., into a multidistrict litigation in the District of Massachusetts. Plaintiffs’ allegations generally fall into one of three categories. First, Plaintiffs are accusing the companies of insider trading. Plaintiffs contend that had they known employees were participating on the
Facebook Class Action Filed over Birthday Texts
Kelly Anthony, Esq. | Deputy General Counsel
On February 12, 2016, Colin R. Brickman brought a class action lawsuit against Facebook, Inc. seeking to permanently halt the social media company’s practice of sending unsolicited birthday text messages. Brickman, on behalf of himself and each member of the potential class, is also pursuing an award of statutory damages of up to $1,500 against the company for every birthday text transmitted by Facebook without a recipient’s prior express consent. In the class action complaint filed in the Nort
Final Approval Granted for Electrolux Settlement
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel On February 10, 2016, U.S. District Judge Noel Hilman of the District of New Jersey gave final settlement approval in the Electrolux Home Products class action litigation. The settlement has the potential to be worth up to $20 million. The class is made up of around 100,000 members who claim that the Electrolux ice makers they purchased failed to provide “ice at your fingertips” as it had been marketed to do and instead began leaking just months after purchase, causing damage to the refr
Second Circuit Affirms Apple E-Book Settlement
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
On February 17, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a class action settlement of two antitrust lawsuits involving claims that Apple Inc. fixed the prices of electronic books. Specifically, in the lawsuits, the State Attorneys General in 33 jurisdictions and individual consumers in 23 other jurisdictions alleged, among other things, that Apple and five book publishing companies conspired to “raise, fix and stabilize the retail price for newly released and bestselling
Lead Counsel Selected in Airline Price Fixing MDL
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel On February 4, 2016, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly appointed Washington, D.C. attorneys Steve Williams and Michael Hausfeld as co-lead counsel in the airline price fixing multidistrict litigation (MDL), In re: Domestic Airline Travel Antitrust Litigation. Judge Kollar-Kotelly also approved Williams and Hausfeld’s recommendations of Elizabeth Cabraser, Robert Kaplan and Warren Burns as executive committee members. According to lead counsel, the executive committee was p
$27.5 Million Settlement Reached in Bank of America Overdraft Class Action
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
On January 18, 2016, Defendant Bank of America (“BOA”) agreed to pay $27.5 million to settle class action claims that it violated consumer protection laws when it unjustly charged overdraft fees to BOA debit card users. Members of the class include BOA checking account holders within in the U.S. since May 25, 2011. With the help of both Magistrate Judge Wells and Judge Phillips, a settlement was reached after nearly two years. Per the settlement agreement, none of the $27.5 million settlement w
Class Action Suits Filed Against Michigan State Officials Over Contaminated Water
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
On Friday, January 15, 2016, two class action lawsuits were filed by residents of Flint, Michigan against Michigan Governor Rick Snyder; former Flint emergency managers, Darnell Earley and Jerry Ambrose; the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services; and Genesee County, alleging that the defendants knowingly concealed the severity of the water contamination problem in Flint from residents. The contamination crisis began in the spring of
Bair Hugger Litigations Consolidated into Multidistrict Litigation in Minnesota
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
The Bair Hugger operates like a forced-air heater by carrying warmed air through a hose to a disposable blanket that is placed over the patient. The Bair Hugger helps to maintain the patient’s body temperature during surgery; due to several factors including anesthesia, IV fluids or a cold operating room, a patient’s body temperature can drop by up to 35 degrees in the first 35 minutes of surgery. Plaintiffs alleged that when the product circulated unsterile air from the surgery room floor to t
New Study Links E-Cigarette Use to Harmful Lung Condition
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health revealed serious health risks associated with the use of e-cigarettes, including an enhanced risk of developing a serious respiratory disease. While e-cigarettes have often been promoted as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, this research, published on December 8, 2015 in Environmental Health Perspectives, proves otherwise. Accordingly, researchers found that the chemical diacetyl, which is contained in 75% of e-cigarette fla
Starbucks Customer Sues Company over Hot Coffee Burns
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
On January 6, 2016, Florida resident, Christopher Romano, filed suit against Starbucks Coffee Co. in Broward Circuit Court. Romano claims that he suffered second-degree burns to his groin when the barista working the drive-thru window at the Pompano Beach Starbucks failed to make sure he had a proper hold on his cup. Romano is seeking damages in excess of $15,000, alleging that the coffee he was served was excessively hot and, therefore, dangerous for human consumption. Romano’s case is bringin
$15.5 Million Risperdal Verdict for Kentucky Attorney General
Kelly Anthony, Esq. | Deputy General Counsel
On December 22, 2015, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway announced that the ongoing consumer protection suit against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”), over its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal, settled for $15.5 million. Risperdal is a second-generation antipsychotic prescription drug that was initially approved by the FDA in 1993 to treat symptoms of psychotic disorders. In the early 2000s, the drug’s approval was more specifically designated to the treatment of schizophr
$830 Million Settlement to Vioxx Investors
Kelly Anthony, Esq. | Deputy General Counsel
Pharmaceutical manufacturer, Merck & Co., has agreed to pay $830 million to settle a federal class action lawsuit brought by investors who claimed that the company misled them in regards to the safety of the painkiller, Vioxx. The company said the settlement will be paid out to investors who bought Merck stock between May 21, 1999 and October 29, 2004. Merck has also agreed to pay attorneys fees, but has not admitted to any liability or wrongdoing. Vioxx, which debuted on U.S. markets in 19
$1.8 Million Settlement in Uber Class Action Over Airport Fee Tolls
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
On November 20, 2015, after 45 days of negotiations, Uber Technologies Inc. reached a $1,785,913 settlement over claims that the popular ride-sharing company misrepresented airport fees it charged to consumers in California. It is estimated that in 2013 and 2014 more than 350,000 Uber riders paid the company between $1.25 and $4.50 per trip to and from various California airports for “airport fee tolls.” Uber claimed that the airports charged the tolls it collected, however, the lawyers in the
Department of Justice Files Suit Against VW over Environmental Violations
Kelly Anthony, Esq. | Deputy General Counsel On January 4, 2016, a new development in the Volkswagen emission scandal emerged when the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) filed a civil complaint against the German company on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, alleges that the company violated the Clear Air Act by installing emissions defeat devices in up to 11 million diesel engine vehicles worldwide, nearly 600,000 of whi
Venue Selected in Federal Volkswagen Emissions Litigation
Kelly Anthony, Esq. | Deputy General Counsel
cbc.caOn December 8, 2015, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation designated the Northern District of California as the venue for the Volkswagen A.G. emissions litigation. Judge Charles Breyer will preside. The litigation is made up of more than 500 class actions originally filed in 60 different federal courts. The plaintiffs in the actions allege that Volkswagen intentionally deceived consumers by advertising its vehicles as clean diesel cars, while in reality the vehicles emitted
Xarelto Outlier Case Transferred into Multidistrict Litigation
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
On December 2, 2015, Philadelphia Judge Arnold New ordered the case Mothena v. Janssen Research & Development to be transferred to the Xarelto multidistrict litigation pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Mothena is different from the majority of plaintiff claims in the Xarelto MDL, which allege that the drug causes excessive bleeding, because David Mothena is claiming that the drug does not protect against blood clots for the advertised 24-hour period. Xarelto is the second-most
$1.7 Million Awarded by Pennsylvania Jury in First Asbestos Trial Against Employer
Kelly Anthony, Esq. | Deputy General Counsel
After a three week trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, a jury found that ESAB Group was 100% liable for a factory worker’s death from mesothelioma, a deadly cancerous condition typically caused by exposure to asbestos. The verdict is the first asbestos case to be tried to verdict against an employer in the state of Pennsylvania. The jury awarded $1.7 million in damages, with $1 million going to the deceased plaintiff John Busbey’s widow and $700,000 to his estate. In July 2012, 72
Summary Judgment Motions Dismissed in Tylenol MDL Bellwether
Kelly Anthony, Esq. | Deputy General Counsel On November 13, 2015, U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied Defendant McNeil Consumer Healthcare’s motion for summary judgment in the Tylenol MDL’s first bellwether case. Defense counsel argued that summary judgment should be granted because the suit was time-barred by Alabama’s wrongful death statute, which demands that such actions must be brought by a personal representative of the deceased within two years of the date
Los Angeles Settles Sidewalk Accessibility Class Action for $1.4 Billion
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
On January 8, 2016, the City of Los Angeles executed a proposed class action settlement agreement that will require the City to pay approximately $1.4 billion over a 30-year period to make its public sidewalk and crosswalk system accessible to persons with mobility disabilities. The agreement, which provides relief to an estimated class of 280,000 people, requires the City to “install, repair and upgrade curb ramps; repair sidewalks and walkways damaged by tree roots; repair broken or uneven pa
The U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on Issue of Whether a Named Class Representative Receiving Full Relief Precludes a Class Action From Continuing
Kelly Anthony, Esq. | Deputy General Counsel On October 14, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez on the central issue of whether a class action suit becomes moot when the named class representative receives an offer of complete relief on his claim before the class has been certified. On May 11, 2006, Defendant Campbell-Ewald sent Gomez an unsolicited text message as a part of a recruitment campaign for the U.S. Navy. Gomez filed a class action lawsu
Yahoo Faces Class Action Suit for Violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
On Monday, January 5, 2016, U.S. District Judge Manish Shah granted class-action status to a lawsuit alleging that the Internet giant, Yahoo Inc., sent unsolicited text messages to Sprint customers. The class could potentially include more than 500,000 members. Named plaintiff, Rachel Johnson, claims that she was sent an unsolicited text in March 2013 via Yahoo Messenger from a fellow Yahoo user who was advertising debt reduction services. After she received the spam message, Johnson claims Yah
Fantasy Sports Sites Face 40 Class Actions
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
Popular online fantasy sports sites FanDuel Inc. and DraftKings Inc. are facing around 40 class action lawsuits in 13 different states. Plaintiffs are accusing the sites of false advertising and consumer fraud, and in some cases, consumers are seeking to be reimbursed for losses incurred on the site. Participants on the sites create fantasy sports teams, mainly football, and hope to win enough points to be awarded prize money based on the real-life performances of the athletes on their fantasy
Tech Rivals Jawbone and Fitbit Clash in Antitrust Suits
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel Fitness tracker competitors Jawbone and Fitbit, Inc. have been engaged in a series of escalating legal battles since May 2015. In its latest legal salvo filed on October 30, 2015, Jawbone alleges that Fitbit has filed a series of meritless legal actions, has stolen Jawbone’s trade secrets and has poached its employees. Jawbone insists that Fitbit’s actions are all in an effort to maintain an illegal monopoly over the fitness tracker industry. Fitbit, the clear leader in the ind
$1.75 Million Risperdal Verdict Awarded to Maryland Man
Kelly Anthony, Esq. | Deputy General Counsel
On November 9, 2015, a Philadelphia jury ordered drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson to pay 21-year-old Nicholas Murray $1.75 million after finding that the company’s antipsychotic drug Risperdal caused Murray to develop male breasts. In the case, Murray alleged that J&J’s subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the company that manufactured the drug, failed to adequately warn patients and doctors of the risks of taking Risperdal, which included developing gynecomastia—a condition in whic
Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee Selected in VW MDL
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
On January 21, 2016, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer announced his appointments for the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the Volkswagen multidistrict litigation (“MDL”). Breyer named San Francisco plaintiff’s attorney, Elizabeth Cabraser, as the head of the committee of 22 attorneys. Cabraser is a co-founder of the firm, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, and has been a leader in 17 other MDLs. In his order, Judge Breyer said, “Ms. Cabraser will effectively represent and guide the plai
EPA Announcement Broadens the Scope of VW Emissions Scandal
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
On November 2, 2015, the U.S. EPA announced new findings expanding the Volkswagen emissions scandal to include not only additional Volkswagen models, but also models of Porsche and Audi. The EPA now maintains that emissions defeat devices were used in VW’s 2.0-liter diesel models, the 2014 VW Touareg, the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, Q5 and the 2015 Porsche Cayenne. According to the EPA, the emissions defeat devices could detect when the vehicle was undergoing an emissi
Trial Dates Set in Xarelto Bellwether
Kelly Anthony, Esq. | Deputy General Counsel
On October 22, 2015, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon, of the Eastern District of Louisiana, announced the dates for four bellwether trials in the Xarelto multidistrict litigation, the first of which will take place on February 6, 2017. Xarelto is the second-most popular blood thinning medication in the United States–generating billions of dollars in revenue each year. Plaintiffs in the consolidate litigation allege that defendants, Janssen Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson and
Subway Settles Class Action over its Footlong Sandwich
Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel
On October 21, 2015, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman of the Eastern District of Wisconsin preliminary approved a settlement in the lawsuit against Subway involving allegations that the fast food giant’s six-inch and footlong sandwiches did not measure as advertised. The class action suit originated in 2012 after Subway customers voiced complaints on social media about the unsatisfactory length of their sandwiches. The plaintiffs asserted the company’s business practices violated state consumer