Articles Posted in Class-Action

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Where a person whose biometric information was collected by a private entity who failed to comply with the requirements of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act was an aggrieved person entitled to sue within the meaning of the act even if they had sustained no further injury beyond the violation of the act itself.

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation and its subsidiary Great America LLC own and operate the Six Flags Great America amusement park in Gurnee, Illinois. As part of this operation, Six Flags sells repeat-entry passes to the park. Since 2014, Six Flags has used a fingerprinting process when issuing those passes. The Six Flags system scans pass holders’ fingerprints, collects, records and stores “biometric” identifiers and information gleaned from the fingerprints, and then stores that data in order to quickly verify customer identities upon visits by pass holders to the park.

In May or June 2014, while the fingerprinting system was in operation, Stacy Rosenbach’s 14-year-old son, Alexander, visited the amusement park on a school field trip. In anticipation of the trip, Rosenbach purchased Alexander a season pass online. Rosenbach paid for the pass and provided personal information about Alexander, but Alexander was required to complete the sign-up process at the amusement park. Alexander was asked to scan his thumb into Six Flags’ biometric data capture system. He was then issued a season pass card. Rosenbach allegedly learned that Alexander’s fingerprints had been taken for the first time when Alexander returned home from the field trip.

Rosenbach eventually filed suit, acting in her capacity as mother and next friend of Alexander, against Six Flags. Continue reading

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The Illinois Appellate Court reversed a decision by the Illinois Circuit Court in a class action concerning the Consumer Fraud Act, where a retailer was alleged to have improperly collected taxes on exempt bottled water products. The court found that the voluntary payment doctrine did not apply to a payment that was allegedly obtained through deceptive business practices or acts. The court also found that an intent to deceive could be shown by evidence that the payment of the tax by the consumer was a predictable consequence of the retailer asking the consumer to pay the tax.

In 2008, the City of Chicago began imposing a five-cent tax on the sale of bottled water within city limits. Retailers are required to include the tax in the price of bottled water. The city excludes certain bottled beverages from the tax including certain brands of sparkling and mineral water, and other flavored and carbonated water products.

Destin McIntosh sued Walgreens Boots Alliance in Illinois state court. McIntosh filed a class action alleging that Walgreens violated the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act by charging the bottled water tax on sparkling water sales that were supposed to be exempt. Walgreens attempted to dismiss the case, arguing that McIntosh’s claim was barred because the tax was disclosed to McIntosh at the time of purchase and that the tax was remitted to the city. The Illinois circuit court granted the motion, and McIntosh appealed. Continue reading

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Where district court did not err when it certified a class of consumers of software that promised to improve the function of their computers, and then ran worthless fixes. The appellate panel found that the class requirements were satisfied because all consumers saw the same advertisements, and the software allegedly functioned the same on every user’s machine.

Archie Beaton saw an advertisement on the internet for SpeedyPC Pro software. The advertisement suggested that SpeedyPC Pro could improve the performance of a user’s computer, and offered a free test to check the user’s machine for flaws. Beaton downloaded a free trial of the software and ran its test on his machine. The test reported hundreds of errors, and told Beaton that purchase of the full version of the software could fix the errors and improve performance. Beaton dutifully purchased the full version of the software, but after running its fix feature several times, nothing changed on his machine.

Beaton later sued SpeedyPC in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois. Beaton filed a class action, alleging that SpeedyPC fraudulently told all users of its software that their computers were in need of fixes, and then, after the users bought the full version of SpeedyPC Pro, performed functionally worthless fixes. Beaton defined the class in his case as that of “all individuals and entities in the United States who purchased SpeedyPC Pro.” He also defined a subclass representing only Illinois consumers. The district court certified Beaton’s proposed class and subclass for claims of the breach of implied warranties of fitness and merchantability, and claims under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act for the subclass. SpeedyPC filed an interlocutory appeal challenging the class certification. Continue reading

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As consumers become increasingly aware of the potentially harmful side effects of certain chemicals used to extend the shelf life of prepared foods, the demand for packaged foods that are free of preservatives has gone up and continues to go up. Many consumers are prepared to pay a higher price for foods bearing labels such as “organic” and “all natural,” while others simply refuse to buy any foods they cannot be certain are free from artificial preservatives.

The more scrupulous buyers check the ingredients of everything they buy before taking it to the checkout counter, and over the years, people have come up with a few different rules regarding what to look for in the ingredients label. For example, some say you shouldn’t buy anything containing any ingredients you can’t pronounce, while others claim you simply shouldn’t buy anything with more than five ingredients.

Still others just rely on the product’s label. If the company claims their product is free of artificial preservatives, most customers will take that claim at face value and grab the product without bothering to check the ingredients label. Others rely on labels with terms like “all natural,” even though products don’t need to meet any legal qualifications in order to put that label on their products (as opposed to the term “organic,” which does require the product to be certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture). Continue reading

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For years the NutriBullet blender has been marketed as a small, convenient blender people can use to make single-serving smoothies and other cold drinks, then pop off the cannister and drink. The blender has been marketed as a “nutrition extractor,” implying people can get more nutrition in their diets by drinking their fruits and vegetables with the help of the blender. What the blender’s marketing fails to mention is the allegation that it tends to build up the pressure and explode.

Capital Brands, the company that makes the NutriBullet blenders, advises users of the product to only make cold drinks in the blenders and avoid putting anything hot in it to avoid overheating. They also recommend using it for no more than 60 seconds, at which point a safety mechanism will turn the NutriBullet off in order to avoid any accidents as a result of overheating.

But consumer lawsuits claim the blender has been known to overheat and even explode, even when consumers follow the directions and use it with cold foods for less than 60 seconds. One such lawsuit was brought against the company in North Carolina and is currently pending in court. In California, one consumer rights attorney says he has brought almost two dozen lawsuits against Capital Brands over the alleged defect in their NutriBullet blenders.

Now Deveta White has joined the list of consumers to sue Capital Brands over their allegedly dangerous NutriBullet blenders. The only difference is that White’s consumer lawsuit is the first to seek to represent a class of similarly situated plaintiffs against Capital Brands. Continue reading

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While most companies let people return a product a month or two after purchase if something goes wrong, some companies go above and beyond by offering a lifetime guarantee. The idea is to ensure customers that nothing will go wrong with the product during its lifetime, and if something does go wrong, the company will either replace the item or reimburse them the cost of the item. A lifetime guarantee is a sign that the company believes in the quality of its products and will go to great lengths to make sure their customers remain satisfied.

But some people choose to interpret “lifetime warranty” to mean the product is guaranteed to last for the rest of their lifetime, rather than the standard lifetime of the product. According to Shawn O. Gorman, the Executive Chairman of L.L. Bean, some customers were taking advantage of the company’s lifetime warranty to mean anything they bought from the company would not be subject to wear and tear, and if it were, the company should reimburse them for the item or replace it.

According to an open letter to the public released by the company on February 9th, some people were taking advantage of the lifetime guarantee by trying to get replacements or reimbursements for products several years after they had been purchased. Some had even sought replacements or reimbursements for used L.L. Bean items they had bought at garage sales. As a result, the company recently decided to get rid of its century-old lifetime guarantee and to replace it with a one-year warranty – which can only be used if the customer still has their receipt. The company said it will still work with customers who want to return or get reimbursed for a product more than a year after the date of purchase, but only if the product is defective. Continue reading

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Despite the fact that judges are the ones who set bail, one Cook County court judge, Judge Celia Gamrath, says it is up to lawmakers, rather than judges, to determine how judges are allowed to set bail.

The issue in question is the fact that Cook County judges have been using a cash bail system. The intention behind such a system is to give defendants a reason to appear in court, but a recent class-action lawsuit alleges it has also had the effect of discriminating against minorities and the poor, who are often unable to come up with the cash necessary to pay their own bail.

The lawsuit was filed against five Cook County court judges on behalf of two detainees who sat in jail for almost a year because they couldn’t afford to post their own bail. They both eventually pled guilty to the charges against them.

Alexa Van Brunt, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit against the judges, said they plan to appeal Judge Gamrath’s decision, claiming they hadn’t even had a chance to fully explain their arguments regarding the allegedly unconstitutional nature of the current cash bail system before Judge Gamrath dismissed them.

Van Brunt noted that the lawsuit might feel political to Gamrath because the class action is asking her to make a ruling about other Circuit Court judges. In fact, that’s not what they’re trying to do at all – instead, they are just asking the judge to help make sure the courts follow the law. But Van Brunt claimed the judge chose to get the lawsuit off her desk rather than face the consequences of ruling on a potentially sticky situation. Continue reading

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We all know the basic concept of supply and demand. When supply is low and demand is high, prices tend to go up. When this happens with houses, realtors refer to it as a “seller’s market,” but what if it’s really a “realtor’s market?”

That allegation is at the heart of a recently proposed class action lawsuit against Houlihan Lawrence, a large brokerage firm with 30 offices spread throughout the northern New York suburbs and Fairfield County, Connecticut.

The lawsuit was filed by Pamela Goldstein, an associate general counsel for a communications company who fell in love with a four-bedroom, white, colonial house located in White Plains, New York. The agent who showed her the house, Daniel Cezimbra, allegedly told her there were other offers on the house and that she had better act fast and bid above the $599,000 asking price.

Goldstein took his advice, and eventually bought the house for $637,000, but then she discovered something that made her question that interaction – and her agent’s motives.

It turns out that Houlihan Lawrence was also representing the person selling the house. This meant that, when Cezimbra was supposed to be negotiating on Goldstein’s behalf and representing her interests in the bidding war, he was going up against his boss – who also happens to be his brother-in-law. No matter how hard people work to be fair and unbiased, it has to be hard to do your best negotiating when the person across the table from you has the power to fire you. Continue reading

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With the fast-paced, highly competitive nature of technology today, companies are sometimes so eager to get a new product out on the shelves before their competitor that they don’t always take the time to work out all the kinks before the big reveal. Such was allegedly the case when Apple introduced their new butterfly keyboard in 2015.

The keyboard looks much like any other keyboard on the surface, but underneath the keys is a new butterfly mechanism, which Apple claimed would make for a more responsive and comfortable keystroke than the previously standard scissors design. The new design also takes up less space, so Apple could either make room for other things or just make a sleeker laptop. At the same time, Apple claimed the new design would be exponentially more stable than previous designs.

Despite that assertion, consumer complaints about the new keyboard started popping up almost as soon as it hit the shelves. Customers have regularly complained about keys getting stuck and becoming unusable, while others claim they hear high-pitched sounds when pressing keys on their new and not-so-improved keyboard.

Problems with the butterfly keyboard are so common that more than 20,000 consumers have signed a petition on Change.org calling on Apple to replace the allegedly defective keyboard.

If the petition is unsuccessful, the consumer class action lawsuit that was recently filed against Apple might have more luck getting the tech giant reimburse its customers.

The consumer lawsuit was filed in the Northern District Court of California and is seeking to represent thousands of consumers who have allegedly suffered as a result of the new keyboard’s alleged design flaws. The class-action lawsuit was filed by two lead plaintiffs, Zixuan Rao and Kyle Barbara.

Rao bought a 15-inch MacBook Pro with a butterfly keyboard in early 2018, but one of the keys soon started to malfunction. When he took it to an Apple store, representatives were allegedly unable to fix the problem but offered to ship the computer to their Repair Center. Rao decided against that course of action since it would have meant going a week without his computer.

Barbaro bought a 2016 MacBook Pro, only to have his caps lock key and space bar stopped working. Apple was able to fix it, but the space bar again stopped working, by which time, Barbaro’s computer was out of warranty and Apple told him that he would have to pay $700 for them to fix the key. Continue reading

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It’s common for early versions of a new technology to suffer from some kinks that still need to be worked out, but usually, developers find remedies for those problems in later versions of the technology. Unfortunately, Apple allegedly failed to find a fix for their defective Apple Watch screen, according to a recent consumer class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California, is seeking $5 million in damages – enough to take the case to the federal level if a judge agrees to certify the class and the parties agree that federal court is the best venue for arguing the case.

The lawsuit alleges Apple Watch screens are prone to shattering, cracking, and popping out through no fault of the wearer. According to the complaint, Apple knew about this problem when it started selling its smartwatches (and possibly even earlier), but failed to do anything about it. The problem allegedly started with the very first Apple Watches the tech giant ever sold and has continued through Series 3, which is the latest version to be sold by the company.

Although Apple forums are full of complaints about the Apple Watch screens, Apple refuses to publicly admit the devices have a problem. The only step the company has made toward remedying the situation is to offer extended warranty plans for certain versions of the Apple Watch for screens that had popped out as a result of a battery swelling issue. Apple announced in spring of 2017 that it would begin offering these extended warranty plans. Continue reading