Articles Posted in Consumer Fraud/Consumer Protection

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Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, certain business advocates continue to insist that arbitration bans hurt individual consumers and employees more than they help them. They are not bothered by the facts, such as:

  1. Arbitration does not allow multiple plaintiffs to combine their claims into a class action or collective action. This effectively blocks consumer lawsuits from ever seeing the light of day because an individual’s claims are often smaller than the cost of filing a lawsuit or pursuing the dispute in arbitration.
  2. There is no explanation for why an arbitrator ruled the way they did and no opportunity to appeal the decision.
  3. The arbitration process is kept private, which means the results, and even a customer filing for relief for a complaint, are never made public. The transparent nature of the courts is an inherent ingredient to justice and accountability. By keeping all the proceedings private, other consumers with identical or similar complaints will not even know that they have a valid complaint.
  4. Arbitration is not always neutral. While some arbitrators have a good reputation for neutrality, others are less trustworthy, and many arbitration clauses give the company the power to choose the arbitrator. Because arbitration is a business, many arbitrators tend to be tempted to rule in favor of the side that brings them a lot of business.

Despite all these facts, and extensive research conducted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) showing how arbitration clauses harmed consumers, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate both voted to overturn a CFPB rule that would prohibit banks from putting arbitration clauses in their consumer contracts. Continue reading

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Our Chicago, Illinois consumer rights private law firm handles individual and class action gift card, data breach, privacy rights, deceptive advertising, predatory lending, unfair debt collection, lemon law, and other consumer fraud cases that government agencies and public interest law firms such as the Illinois Attorney General may not pursue. Class action lawsuits our law firm has been involved in or spear-headed have led to substantial awards totaling over a million dollars to organizations including the National Association of Consumer Advocatesthe National Consumer Law Center, and local law school consumer programs. The Chicago consumer lawyers at DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle are proud of our achievements in assisting national and local consumer rights organizations to obtain the funds needed to ensure that consumers are protected and informed of their rights. By standing up to consumer fraud and consumer rip-offs, and in the right case filing consumer protection lawsuits and class-actions you too can help ensure that other consumers’ rights are protected from consumer rip-offs and unscrupulous or dishonest practices.

Our Highland Park and Lake Forest consumer attorneys provide assistance in data breach, privacy violation, fair debt collection, consumer fraud and consumer rights cases including in Illinois and throughout the country. You can click here to see a description of the some of the many individual and class-action consumer cases our Chicago consumer lawyers have handled. A video of our lawsuit which helped ensure more fan friendly security at Wrigley Field can be found here. You can contact one of our Des Plaines and Elkgrove Village consumer protection, gift card and data breach attorneys who can assist in consumer fraud, consumer rip-off, lemon law, unfair debt collection, predatory lending, wage claims, unpaid overtime and other consumer, or consumer class action cases by filling out the contact form at the side of this blog or by clicking here.  You can also call our toll-free number at (877) 990-4990.

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Our Chicago automobile fraud and Lemon law attorneys near Wheaton and Naperville have experience representing victims of odometer rollbacks, title washing, flooded vehicles, fake or improper certifications of rebuilt wrecks and other used car scams. We bring individual and class actions suits for defective cars with common design defects and auto dealer fraud and other car dealer scams such as selling rebuilt wrecks as certified used cars or misrepresenting a car as being in good condition when it is rebuilt wreck or had the odometer rolled back. We also see cases where new car dealers conceal that the car has been in an accident while in their possession or used car dealers who put duck tape in the back of the check engine light to conceal serious engine or emission problems.  Super Lawyers has selected our DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, Will and Cook County Illinois auto-fraud, car dealer fraud and lemon law lawyers as among the top 5% in Illinois. We only collect our fee if we win or settle your case. For a free consultation call our Chicago class action lawyers at our toll-free number (877) 990-4990 or contact us on the web by clicking here.

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An engineer for vehicles was sentenced to 40 months imprisonment and will pay a $200,000 fine for emissions-cheating deception after cooperating with U.S. prosecutors in their criminal investigation of a conspiracy to defraud government officials and customers.

A pleading of being charged with one count of conspiring to defraud the U.S., committing wire fraud and violating the Clean Air Act for his role in helping vehicles evade emissions requirements with diesel-powered vehicles. As a result, the foreign national agreed to be removed from the U.S. following the prison term, according to prosecutors. The engineer initially moved to and settled in the U.S. to help launch diesel-powered vehicles and handle certification, testing, and warranty issues, prosecutors said.

Furthermore, the sentence imposed by the judge exceeded prosecutors’ recommendation. The initial request was that the accused receive three years imprisonment and a $20,000 fine. It was a stiffer sentence than expected, as the engineer only helped to create software that controlled exhaust emissions. The tough sentence sends a message that employees can and should be held accountable for misdeeds they commit for their corporate employers. Many individuals have not been held responsible for corporate misconduct and this is one of those rare cases; a stunning fraud on the American consumer, being a very serious and troubling crime against our economic system. Such incidences give rise to a reduced trust in corporate America and undermine the economy. As a result, the ruling sends a strong message even though he was not “mastermind” and never benefited financially from its development of devices that masked the high levels of harmful emissions. Continue reading

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Our Chicago automobile fraud and Lemon law attorneys near Wheaton, Waukegan and Gurnee have experience representing victims of odometer roll backs, title washing, fake or improper certifications of rebuilt wrecks and other used car scams. We bring individual and class actions suits for defective cars with common design defects and auto dealer fraud and other car dealer scams such as selling rebuilt wrecks as certified used cars or misrepresenting a car as being in good condition when it is rebuilt wreck or had the odometer rolled back. We also see cases where new car dealers conceal that the car has been in accident while in their possession or used car dealers who put duck tape in back of the check engine light to conceal serious engine or emission problems.  Super Lawyers has selected our DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, Will and Cook County Illinois auto-fraud, car dealer fraud and lemon law lawyers as among the top 5% in Illinois. We only collect our fee if we win or settle your case. For a free consultation call our Chicago class action lawyers at our toll free number (877) 990-4990 or contact us on the web by clicking here.

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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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Under a federal law that requires employers to inform job applicants that they may obtain their credit reports as part of the application process, an employer cannot make applicants sign a release from liability before procuring the report. (Sarmad Syed v. M-I, LLC, No. 14-17186 (9th Cir. 2017).  In a case of first impression in the federal circuit, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a prospective employer violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when it procures a job applicant’s consumer report after including a liability waiver in the same document as the disclosure to the applicant.

In amending FCRA in 1996 to require employer disclosure, “Congress was specifically concerned that … employers were obtaining and using consumer reports in a manner that violated job applicants’ privacy rights,” the panel wrote, especially in light of inaccurate information often contained in reports.  The law requires an employer to disclose that it may obtain an applicant’s credit report and enables the applicant to withhold authorization, or to warn the employer that the report might contain errors. Continue reading

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Americans love our convenience, but it often comes with a cost, even when we’re not aware of it. One example of the ways in which food manufacturers have catered to this desire for convenience is by selling pre-grated parmesan cheese so that it’s ready to go straight from the grocery store into a recipe or on top of pasta. It makes shopping for and using parmesan cheese much easier, but there’s a catch. There’s no way of knowing if what you’re eating is really cheese.

In 2012 the FDA found evidence that Castle Cheese Inc. was including non-dairy substances in its Parmesan cheese products. The FDA issued stern warnings, including accusations that Castle’s products marketed as Parmesan and romano were actually a mixture of various cheeses and other ingredients.

Castle, which insists that their consumers were never harmed and that it was merely a mislabeling issue, eventually went bankrupt. but the allegations against Castle have spread to other manufacturers of grated parmesan cheese.

One of the most common additives to grated parmesan is cellulose, an anti-clumping agent made from wood chips. Acceptable levels of cellulose range from 2-4%, but the FDA’s investigations have found much higher concentrations in various food products. Continue reading

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Everyone loves a good deal and retailers know that. It is extremely popular to see online retailers include a price for an item that is higher than the price they’re selling it for. Names for the higher price range from “suggested retail price” to “list price” to the more vague “estimated value”. By listing a higher price next to their own price, the retailers give the impression that they’re giving their customers a deal, but how do customers really know they’re getting a deal?

Many customers simply take the retailer’s word for it while others take the age-old advice for customers to do their research, shop around, and compare prices. Recent comparisons of “discounted” items on sites like Amazon and Overstock.com failed to find any retailer that sold the item for the list price. Comparisons also found that the “list price” varied from site to site, even when the actual price it was sold for was the same at each retailer.

Because giving customers the impression they’re getting a deal can make them more likely to click that “Buy” button, many customers feel deceived when they find out they paid the same price as everyone else at other retailers. This sense of betrayal has resulted in several consumer class action lawsuits with allegations of false advertising. Continue reading

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Vincent L. DiTommaso, Peter S. Lubin, Patrick D. Austermuehle, and Andrew C. Murphy recognized by Illinois Super Lawyers 

Vincent L. DiTommaso and Peter S. Lubin have been selected as 2016 Illinois Super Lawyers in the areas of Business Litigation and Class Action Law. No more than 5% of attorneys in Illinois receive this honor each year. This marks the sixth straight year both co-founders of DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle have been selected for this honor.

Two additional DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle attorneys, Patrick D. Austermuehle and Andrew C. Murphy, have been selected as Illinois Rising Stars for the second straight year in the areas of Business Litigation and Class Action Law. Rising Stars are selected from attorneys under the age of 40 who have been practicing for less than 10 years. No more than 2.5% of Illinois attorneys are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receivet his honor each year.