Articles Posted in Class-Action

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Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner made quick work of a recent class action suit brought by glaucoma patients who alleged that Allergan, Inc., and other drugmakers manufactured prescription eyedrops that were too large in order to increase their profits (Eike, et al., v. Allergan, Inc., et al., No. 16-3334, 7th Cir. (2017)). The case was on appeal from a district court ruling certifying eight classes of plaintiffs consisting of Illinois and Missouri residents who alleged that Allergan and six other pharmaceutical companies made eye drops that were unnecessarily large, in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.

Each eyedrop exceeded 16 microliters, beyond the optimal size the plaintiffs contended was necessary for treatment of glaucoma and therefore wasteful because the additional microliters added no therapeutic value, instead serving only to pad the companies’ profits. The plaintiffs sought damages amounting to the difference between the price per drop of the eye drops at their present size and the presumably lower price of smaller drops, multiplied by the number of drops purchased by the class members.  Continue reading

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Trump won his campaign on a platform that promoted him as a hard-hitting businessman who doesn’t back down until he gets what he wants. That worked for about half the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against Trump National Jupiter Golf Club, but the other half still want their money back.

When Trump bought the struggling golf club from Marriott Vacations Worldwide in 2012, he paid the relatively low price of $5 million, but there was a catch. As part of the agreement, Trump had to take on $50 million in debt. The club had a refund policy regarding a deposit members paid when they purchased their membership. But when members wanted out of the club, it couldn’t afford to refund all their deposits.

Rather than pay up, as agreed, Trump did what he does best: he allegedly played hardball. He allegedly told the members they could cancel their membership, after which they would no longer be allowed to use the club’s facilities, but they would have to continue paying their membership dues to the club. They were also allegedly told they would not receive their refunds until new members had been found to replace them, which could potentially take years to accomplish. Continue reading

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The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is pretty clear on the definition of overtime and what employers are required to provide for their workers who spend more than eight hours a day or forty hours a week working. All hourly, nonexempt employees are entitled to one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all overtime worked.

But according to a recent wage and hour class action lawsuit against Bed Bath & Beyond (BBB), the retail chain allegedly miscalculated the overtime wages earned by its managers and customer service representatives in several of its New Jersey locations. In doing so, BBB allegedly violated both the FLSA and New Jersey Wage and Hour Law.

The named plaintiffs were each paid an annual salary ranging from $63,000 to $70,000. Rather than figure an hourly rate based on their annual salary, BBB allegedly took its employee’s weekly base salary, divided it by the number of hours the employee worked that week, divided the solution in half, then multiplied that number by the number of hours the employee spent working after 40 that particular week. In addition to allegations that the formula violated the FLSA, the wage and hour complaint further alleges that it resulted in the class members receiving less than minimum wage for all the hours they spent working.

Certain employees can be held exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirement, but only if they are paid a salary of at least $23,600 and meet very specific conditions. These qualifications include providing administrative assistance directly to an executive, spending more than half their time at work managing other employees (including weighing in on the hiring and firing of employees), or exercising a particular set of skills or level of education in the course of performing their jobs. Any employee who does not meet all the necessary requirements for one of the categories of overtime exemption is entitled to the premium overtime compensation for all the time they spend working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week. Continue reading

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We live in a world in which everyone constantly feels like they don’t have enough time, which is why most of us hate to feel like anyone is wasting our time. That feeling only gets worse when we don’t have any control over it, such as when our employer keeps us waiting.

According to a recent wage and hour lawsuit filed against Labor Ready, a temp agency, the company allegedly kept its temporary workers waiting to receive assignments without paying them for the time they spent waiting. The company also allegedly refused to pay them for the time they spent traveling to their assignments and also allegedly charged them a fee to cash their paychecks.

Most workers don’t think of the time they spend traveling to and from work as time they should be paid for, but there are certain instances in which that time is compensable. For those who work at the same location every day and simply commute between home and work, no payment for that time is required. On the other hand, some workers who are required to travel between different work sites in the course of a day should be paid for the time they spend traveling between sites.

The same goes for those who need to check in at one location before traveling to another site to perform their actual tasks for the day. This can sometimes be the case for those working for temp agencies when they’re technically employed by the temp agency, but the work they’re actually doing is for the agency’s client, usually at a separate location. Continue reading

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It’s often more cost effective for companies to hire independent contractors to perform certain jobs, rather than hiring employees. Even for part-time employees, companies are responsible for paying things like employment taxes and Social Security, none of which they have to worry about with independent contractors. There are benefits to working as a true independent contractor, but because independent contractors are not protected by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), workers have to meet very specific requirements in order to legally be considered independent contractors.

Under the FLSA, workers classified as independent contractors must be able to negotiate their own rates, have control over their own schedule, the environment they work in, and have a certain level of discretion as to how they perform their duties, among other things. Any and all workers who do not meet all of the necessary qualifications for independent contractors must be classified and compensated as employees, including benefits (such as health insurance) for full-time employees.

Many employers have been illegally classifying drivers as independent contractors and FedEx is just one of several companies to have recently faced multiple class action wage and hour lawsuits from drivers alleging they should have been classified as employees.

Current and former FedEx drivers from approximately 40 different states have been filing wage and hour lawsuits against the giant shipping company for more than ten years now. Many of those lawsuits were consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) and then certified as class actions so that drivers from all across the country could combine their claims against FedEx. Continue reading

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In this online shopping age, when consumers click “place your order” on Amazon.com or any retail website, do they really know what they are agreeing to? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently considered the question in Nicosia v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 15‐423‐cv (2nd Cir. 2016).

In 2013, Dean N. bought a weight loss pill on Amazon called “One Day Diet,” which unbeknownst to him, contained sibutramine, a controlled, prescription-only substance that had been pulled from the market by the FDA in 2010 because of health risks. Sibutramine was not listed on the site as one of the product’s ingredients, nor did Amazon require a prescription for purchase. The FDA revealed in November 2013 that One Day Diet contained sibutramine.

Dean brought a putative class action against Amazon, alleging the online retailing giant had sold and was continuing to sell weight loss products containing sibutramine in violation of federal law and state consumer protection laws. He alleged breach of implied warranty and unjust enrichment, seeking both damages and an injunction prohibiting Amazon from further sale of products containing sibutramine. Continue reading

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Despite the high number of lawsuits that get filed these days, actually taking a lawsuit all the way to trial isn’t as common as a lot of TV dramas would have you believe. It’s an expensive and time-consuming process, which means it’s usually a last resort for everyone involved. Most people try to use mediators or some other form of neutral third party before they resort to asking a judge to weigh in on their dispute.

Even after a lawsuit has been filed, the parties involved get together outside of court to negotiate a settlement agreement. If they can reach a consensus, then they can avoid the hassle of pursuing the trial and put an end to the matter. It’s certainly better than spending the considerable time and money involved in pursuing legal matters, but it takes more than just the two parties agreeing to a settlement in order to avoid trial: the judge presiding over the case has to approve the settlement agreement.

Settlement negotiations can take place any time between the filing of a lawsuit and the start of the trial, which means the judge usually does not have all the information when deciding whether to approve the settlement agreement. Nevertheless, the judge will have received at least the plaintiff’s complaint and some sort of response from the defense. The judge then has to use whatever information they have been given in order to make sure the settlement agreement is fair to both parties. Continue reading

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In addition to defining things like overtime and the minimum wage, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to maintain several other labor practices in order to make sure they are not taking advantage of their workers. For example, the FLSA requires employers to provide all their workers with detailed wage statements that list the pay period, the number of hours worked by the employee, the amount of wages earned, wages withheld, and wages paid. Employers are required to maintain records of all this information for at least seven years with the possibility of hefty fines from a court or a government body, such as the Department of Labor, if they fail to do so.

In addition to the FLSA, each state has its own laws protecting the employees that work within its boundaries. California not only has a higher minimum wage than the federal limit, but also requires employers to provide all their non-exempt hourly workers with regular meal and rest breaks throughout the day: one paid, uninterrupted rest break after every four hours of work and one unpaid, uninterrupted meal break for every five hours of work. For every day an employee does not take one of these breaks, for any reason, they are entitled to one hour’s worth of wages, in addition to all wages, tips, bonuses, etc. earned that day.

California labor law also requires employers to provide their workers with all the wages they’ve earned within a timely manner (72 hours) after their termination of employment. If an employee provides at least 72 hours notice prior to the termination of their employment, then all their wages are due upon termination. Continue reading

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Plenty of consumers who use Google to look up information have long been complaining about the company selling their information to advertisers, but now it’s the advertisers who are complaining about Google’s practices.

In this case, the advertisers whose internet ads were placed via Google’s Adwords program, have filed a class action lawsuit alleging the tech giant deceived them about the placement of their ads. According to the lawsuit, the objective of the Adwords service is to place ads alongside relevant internet searches. For example, if someone looks up exercise tips, Google might place ads for local gyms and/or personal trainers alongside the search results.

Instead, the lawsuit alleges ads appeared on error pages and undeveloped websites, which are also known as parked domains. This type of placement does nothing to help the advertisers because only a few, if any, people will see their ads. In fact, such a placement can even hurt the advertiser if a frustrated consumer accidentally finds themselves on an error page or an undeveloped website and they associate the advertiser with a failure to maintain that website/webpage.

Companies pay to have Google post their internet ads in places where they’ll be seen by their target audiences, so if Google is instead placing these ads on unused websites and webpages, then the advertiser has paid for a service that doesn’t benefit them at all and may even harm them. Continue reading

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A recent class action lawsuit filed against Facebook may end up having far-reaching implications for large companies that do business all over the country. The lawsuit has to do with the facial recognition technology the social media company utilizes to allow users to “tag” themselves and each other in photos that get posted on the site.

The named plaintiffs of the class action lawsuit sued Facebook in Illinois for allegedly violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The law requires companies using facial-recognition software to inform their customers of the facial-geometry data that is being collected, how long the information is stored for, and how it gets used.

The law also requires companies to get a written release from consumers to authorize the company to collect the data. Negligent violations of BIPA come with statutory damages of $1,000 and $5,000 for violations that are considered to be intentional and reckless. Continue reading