Personal Injury Blog


Class Actions: The Whos, Whens and Whys

Friday, April 06, 2018

There are few tools that an individual has to protect themselves against unfair practices and treatments of Employers or Companies, one of the most effective means being class actions. We wanted to take a moment to express when, why and by whom a class action suit gets filed.

Class actions often entitle a person harmed either physically or emotionally by a corporation to receive a monetary settlement for their troubling experience. Someone without the financial security themselves to justify the time and money spent in obtaining legal representation, filing a suit or the court costs associated with such, greatly benefits by aligning with others who have been similarly wronged. 

If a customer purchases a product based on advertising that is either misleading or an outright lie, the individual often sees little benefit in the expense of the resources necessary to achieve compensation for this infraction. Though with the thousands of other dissatisfied consumers made to believe untruths about the product, then such a lawsuit could force the company to pay back any profits resulting from the campaign in question, as well as retracting the invalid marketing. 

Another instance of a suit-worthy offense would be an employer who failed to provide safe working conditions, or who engaged in unequal payment on basis of discrimination. Again, a court could find the company exhibiting the questionable behaviors subsequently penalized and the affected parties granted certain concessions. 

If you feel that an employer or company has disregarded your rights, we invite you to read more! Remember: You have rights, and your rights are important. 

Another Class Action Filed Against Wells Fargo

Thursday, January 04, 2018

The hits keep on coming insofar as accusations of unethical and, likely, illegal behavior that went on at Wells Fargo. A class action lawsuit has been filed that potentially may involve hundreds of thousands of customers who were given auto insurance policies by the giant financial institution that they did not want or need, often without their knowledge, along with auto loans, according to Bloomberg.

Apparently, Wells Fargo either did not check or ignored the fact that customers who took out auto loans already had car insurance. The company tacked on collateral protection insurance policies to the auto loan bills. As many as 500,000 customers were forced to pay the premiums for these insurance policies even though they already carried their own policies. Moreover, 250,000 customers were driven into default for failure to pay premiums on policies they were not aware they had. Almost 25,000 people had their cars repossessed for failure to pay for the bogus policies.

The lawsuit claims that Wells Fargo received kickbacks from the insurance carrier, National General Holdings Corp. The insurance carrier is not named in the lawsuit.

Wells Fargo is scrambling to make things right, pledging to pay as much as $80 million to affected customers as well as extra money to those who lost their vehicles as "an expression of regret." However, aside from monetary losses, the affected customers have likely taken a hit on their credit ratings that will be difficult to recover from and will have long-lasting deleterious effects on their finances. Wells Fargo may be paying out a lot more than $80 million.

The car insurance scandal comes on top of a separate class action brought by outraged customers who had checking and credit card accounts opened in their name without their knowledge or permission.

For more information contact us.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Introduces Rule to Help Consumers File Class Action Lawsuits

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Class action lawsuits are an important way consumers can protect themselves from big businesses and large corporations taking advantage of them. The amount awarded to each individual taking part in a class action lawsuit usually isn't that much. However, it forces corporations to think before they act and acts as a strong deterrent against unfair business practices.

Without class action lawsuits, the average consumer would not have the resources to go against a large corporation with a huge budget and an army of lawyers. The corporation would always have the upper hand.

In early July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) passed a rule that would prevent financial firms from including clauses in their contracts that would force consumers to waive their rights to join in a class action lawsuit should anything go wrong.

Financial firms, such as banks, would often hide language in their contracts that would prohibit consumers from banding together with others in a class action lawsuit. Instead, consumers would be forced to arbitrate directly with the bank.

As mentioned, this would place consumers in a tight spot, as large firms would always have the upper hand. Consumers would not be able to get the compensation they deserve. The rule prevented firms from including this condition in their contracts.

Unfortunately, in late July, the House introduced a bill that would strike down this rule. The bill passed; Democrats opposed the bill, saying that it would harm consumers by preventing them from filing class action lawsuits against firms who use unfair business practices. One Republican voted against the bill as well. The bill now must pass the Senate and go before the President. 

For help with class action lawsuits against any big business that wronged you, contact us today!

New Rule Makes Class Actions against Banks and Other Financial Institutions Easier

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Fortune Magazine notes that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a new rule that will make it easier to launch class-action suits against banks and other financial institutions that issue credit cards. The new rule prohibits credit card issuers from including arbitration clauses in consumer contracts. The effect of these clauses was that consumers who believed they had been wronged by a bank or other financial institution would have to submit to an arbitration process rather than start or join in a class action. Most people who believed that they had been ripped off by a credit card company do not bother to go through the cumbersome process.

One extreme example of how a bank can abuse its customers was a practice followed by Wells Fargo that involved setting up accounts and charging fees to customers who did not ask for them or need them. In some cases, peoples’ credit ratings were severely impacted. Under pressure from Congress and the regulators, Wells Fargo eventually agreed to stop the practice and pay out $142 million in a class-action settlement.

The new rule means that all banks and other institutions will be subject to class actions when they decide to misbehave. In the old system, they might have to pay a few hundred here and a few thousand there to consumers who bothered with the arbitration process. Now, a class action of hundreds or even thousands of outraged customers would have the potential to cost credit card issuers dearly. The prospect may provide an incentive for these institutions not to be abusive. 

For more information contact us.

Supreme Court Ruling Could Make Some Class Actions More Difficult

Thursday, September 14, 2017

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, the Supreme Court has made a ruling that will tighten the rules on filing class action lawsuits. The case involved a civil action brought against Bristol-Myers Squibb that was brought by hundreds of plaintiff who claim that they were damaged by a blood thinner medication called Plavix. They claim that the company misrepresented the danger of strokes for those taking the drug. The suit was filed in a court in California, which proved to be a sticking point for eight out of the nine justices.

The Supreme Court ruled that the out-of-state plaintiffs had failed to prove that a connection existed between their alleged injuries and Bristol-Myers Squibb in California, in essence dismissing almost 600 out-of-state plaintiffs who live outside the state. Eighty-nine plaintiffs who live in California remain a party to the class action.

The reasoning behind the ruling is that none of the out-of-state plaintiffs bought, ingested, or were allegedly harmed by Plavix in California. Therefore a California state court does not have jurisdiction to rule on their cases. The plaintiffs will have to sue the company in their states of residence.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor provided the sole dissent to the ruling. She suggested that the Supreme Court’s decision will make it more difficult for a nationwide class action to be put together in a particular state court. As a result, lawsuits will have to be conducted piecemeal. The ruling leaves open two questions. What kind of connection has to exist between the claim and the place the class action is filed? Can a class action be filed in a court with jurisdiction over every member of the class?

For more information contact us.

NCAA and MIAA Facing Class Action Lawsuits Over Handling of Concussions

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Zack Langston was a Pittsburg State College football player who committed suicide in 2014. His family is now filing a class action lawsuit against the NCAA for its mishandling of concussions suffered by players. Zack suffered over one hundred concussions, which are attributed to causing his death. The concussions caused him to suffer memory loss, depression and paranoia. The lawsuit also accuses the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association for negligence on its part of dealing with the issue of concussions.

Zack’s brain was examined by the Boston University’s Center for Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy after his death and was found to have the same level of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a type of brain damage, as Junior Seau, an NFL player who also committed suicide.

According to the lawsuit, the NCAA and the MIAA both knew about the potential brain damage that can occur as a result of multiple concussions but failed to do anything to protect their players or change their rules and regulations. According to the lawsuit, both organizations recklessly ignored the dangers in order to protect the profitable business of amateur college football.

The class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court in Kansas City, Kansas. It seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages for the past, present and future medical expenses; lost time, interest and future earnings; and other damages without limitation.

The NCAA is facing at least 43 other class action lawsuits relating to its handling of concussions. One case led to a federal judge giving preliminary approval for a $75 million settlement.

For more information on class action lawsuits and for legal help, contact us today.

Class Action against Uber takes Aim at Alleged Upfront Pricing Scam

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Uber, the ride-sharing company, has revolutionized personal transportation around the world by allowing passengers to hook up with drivers through a smartphone app. The company has also been accused of a number of dodgy business practices, one of them being a manipulation of upfront pricing. The practice has become the subject of Class Action lawsuits, one in California, and another recently filed in New York.

When one summons an Uber ride on a smartphone, the fare is calculated up front using one’s location and intended destination. Thus, everyone knows what the cost of the trip is going to be ahead of time. However, the New York suit alleges that Uber has a system that overcharges the rider, by calculating a less efficient route than the one the driver ultimately uses. For example, the rider might be charged $14 for the ride while the driver would see $12 for the actual route taken. The driver’s portion is calculated on the lower figure while Uberpockets the two dollar difference. The New York suit alleges, based on a study by a website called the Rideshare Guy who suggests that half the Uber riders in New York City are being hit with the inflated fare, resulting in a windfall of $74 million a month in New York alone.

The plaintiff in the suit assumes that Uber is following the same practice in other cities, which would mean that the ridesharing company would be raking in an unearned windfall worth an enormous amount of money. A spokesperson for Uber told the New York Post that she is looking into the matter.

For more information contact us.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Uber for Invasion of Privacy

Thursday, May 25, 2017

class action lawsuit is being filed against Uber for their reported “Hell” program, in which they tracked drivers who worked for their competitor, Lyft. The program used software which created fake Lyft rider accounts, which were used to spoof their location and gather data on Lyft drivers.

Uber then used this information to find out which Lyft drivers also worked for Uber. When a driver was found to be working for both Lyft and UberUber would target them with bonuses in an effort to get them to abandon Lyft entirely.

The “Hell” program got its name as a parallel to the nickname of the program Uber had used to track its own drivers, which earned the nickname “Heaven,” as a reference to the surveillance and tracking involved.

The class-action lawsuit, which was filed by a former Lyft driver, is based on four separate counts of privacy invasion. By intentionally collecting and intercepting communication, the lawsuit alleges, Uber violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the California Invasion of Privacy Act and the Federal Wiretap Act, and also engaged in unfair competition. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Lawyers who were consulted by The Information, the publication that originally broke the story, said that the suit can also open Uber up to charges of breach of contract and unfair business practices on both the federal and state level.

If you’ve been wronged by a company, whether through unfair business practices, false advertising or through an invasion of privacy, we can help! Contact us for more information.

Suit Against Shasta County Jail Becomes a Class Action

Thursday, May 18, 2017
A lawsuit against the Shasta County Jail in northern California has achieved class Actions status, according to the Legal Reader. The suit, filed in Sacramento’s Federal District Court by a number of disabled inmates, alleges numerous violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The suit claims that the jail has inadequate facilities for disabled prisoners, including a lack of handle bars in showers, and doorways too narrow to accommodate wheelchairs. A lack of wheelchair seating in classrooms was noted. The action also claims that disabled inmates were abused, forced to traverse numerous barriers with little or no assistance and placed on 23 hours-a-day lockdowns. Conditions were so bad, some of the plaintiffs claimed, that the inmates could not shower, sleep, or be mobile. Guards were alleged to have threatened to withhold medication if the prisoners complained.

The designation of the suit as a class action means that any disabled inmate, current or former, can join in the civil action and seek redress for the alleged violations.

Shasta County seems to be taking a benign attitude toward the lawsuit, perhaps in recognition that it has a problem with its jail. The county counsel, Jim Ross, declined to oppose the motion to make the lawsuit into a class action. In the meantime, jail officials have vowed to work with disability groups to ensure that the conditions alleged to be present at the jail are corrected to ensure that disabled inmates are treated with dignity as the law mandates. No word exists as of this writing whether or when the suit will be settled or go to trial.

For more information contact us.

Settlement Reached in Lyft Class Action

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco has hammered out a settlement between the Lyft ridesharing company and 95,000 drivers who worked between May 25, 2012, and July 1, 2016, in California. The drivers had filed a class action lawsuit demanding that they be treated as employees of Lyft for the purpose of qualifying for benefits. Ride-sharing companies like Lyft treat their drivers as contractors, which makes benefits like health care insurance and paid vacation unavailable to them.

The settlement will not resolve the issue as to whether rideshare drivers should be employees or contractors. The question is considered too complex to be decided in the courts at the current time. The plaintiffs also made the judgment that the outcome of a trial would have been too uncertain to take the risk.

Instead, Lyft has agreed to pay the drivers in the class from a fund of $27 million, with the longest-serving contractors getting the most money. Also, the ride-sharing company agrees to warn its drivers before it cuts them off from the app for violations of terms of service. Lyftalso decided to allow a third party arbitrator to decide questions concerning pay when they arise.

Ride-sharing services have upended how many people who lack private automobiles get from place to place, providing an alternative to expensive taxis and often inconvenient mass-transit systems. Drivers for such companies are often part-timers, supplementing income from a full-time job or else making money when they are between jobs.

UberLyft’s main rival in the ride-sharing business, is also involved in a class action involving the question of whether drivers should beemployees or contractors.

For more information contact us.