Archive for class action lawsuit

Denmark Drinking Water Woes Not Over – Chemicals in Water Draw Second Lawsuit

It isn’t enough that Denmark, South Carolina residents are forced to drink substandard water due to unapproved chemicals in their drinking water. They are also billed at excessive rates with some citizens paying more for their water bills than their mortgages. To add insult to injury, the town will only accept cash payments for the water.

Herrell Law Firm is handling the suit filed on behalf of Denmark two citizens concerned about the quality of their drinking water. The suit alleges that the town of Denmark has injected HaloSan, a chemical rarely used in drinking water, for more than ten years without the knowledge of most area residents.

Since HaloSan has never been approved by the EPA there are important questions that remain to be answered concerning the health of local residents. So much so, that Clemson University regulators ordered Denmark to discontinue its use of the chemical in the summer of 2018.

The suit also alleges that the community’s water supply is contaminated with copper and lead and that Denmark is “unlawfully collecting excessive amounts for poisonous water that is often never used.”

However, town and state officials have test results showing the city’s water to be compliant with safe lead and copper limits for drinking water. The city goes on to state that while the EPA did not approve HaloSan for drinking water, it has been deemed safe by a national certifying agency.

In a community meeting, drawing approximately 75 attendees, taking place on Voorhees College campus, attorneys from the Harrell firm, handling the second lawsuit against Denmark and the Sellers-Wilson Group (the firm who filed a lawsuit against Denmark one week prior) laid out their cases against the city and encouraged concerned citizens to join in with legal actions of their own.

In fact, the two firms are seeking class action status which would allow them to seek reimbursements of the fees area residents paid for water that was not suitable.

Sellers, who filed the initial claim, went on to say that the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control should be liable in this instance because they told the city it was acceptable to use HaloSan in the water.

His words to the audience in attendance were simple, informing the audience that he believes they are entitled to have the funds they’ve paid the city of Denmark for water over the past ten years returned to them.

 

Mark Zuckerberg’s In A Lawsuit Over Facial Recognition Tags

Facebook faces a lawsuit in regard to their facial recognition “suggested tags” feature with the state of Illinois. When a Facebook user uploads a group photo, Facebook tries to guess the names of the people in the photo and will provide a name suggestion as you hover your cursor over faces. The lawsuit alleges that Facebook violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act for this facial recognition feature. The Biometric Information Privacy Act protects personal information like fingerprints, retinal scans, and facial recognition data.

Facebook is able to recognize faces by referring to a user’s archive, so it tends to identify friends who you’ve been in several pictures with before. (People you tagged so many times that Facebook can guess from a few standard features which friend it is.) If you have a photo with new friends who you’ve never previously tagged, Facebook cannot make a suggestion or they’ll make incorrect suggestions. The Illinois users who sued Facebook claim Facebook needs to obtain written consent from users before creating templates of their faces from photos. Facebook maintains that there’s no violation of privacy and that users have to be “aggrieved” or suffering a serious injury or harm as a result.

Why Illinois users only? Isn’t this a feature across the nation? Because it’s Illinois user, Nimesh Patel, who pursued the lawsuit and focused on Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act. Patel thinks that Facebook collects intricate details of facial features that could be used against us if they got into the wrong hands. Knowing facial details could be recreated for crimes or framing or all sorts of wrongdoing. The problem in Patel’s case is that he’s posing what-if consequences and despite their merit, may not be enough to show potential harm.

The lawsuit notifications go to Facebook users who lived in Illinois for at least 60 consecutive days from June 2011 to April 2018. Illinois users who receive lawsuit information can press charges or not. But if this Illinois case ends up nabbing Facebook, then other states and ultimately other countries could also take Facebook to court, resulting in Facebook losing billions of dollars. The class action case goes to court in July and Facebook continues fighting it vigorously.

Sea World Shareholders See Justice AS Judge Grants Class-Action Status

The shareholders of Sea World have something to smile about after a District Judge in the United States Issued a class action status against the company for misleading them about the “Blackfish Documentary” impact. Issuing the order in Southern District of California, Judge Michael Anello raised hopes for investors who had filed the lawsuit in 2014.

The Lawsuit
In 2014, the investors moved to court suing the executive directors of Sea World for ignoring, misleading and denying the backlash the documentary has caused. The film featured killer whales held in captivity and a trainer’s death.

The Evidence Presented
In court, internal emails showed that sea world executives knew about the damage the film was having on the business. They not only chose to ignore it but also failed to inform the investors about it thus misleading them into believing everything was cakes and ale. In reality, the business was hurting between late 2013 and early 2014. Several months later, the company admitted their knowledge in the devastating effect the “Blackfish” film was causing.

In the aftermath of the lawsuit, the company acknowledged that it was under investigations following the comments made by its executives. The United States Department of justice together with the commission of security and exchange made swift moves on the company.

The Verdict 
In the verdict, judge Anello ruled that only those who owned shares at Sea World Company between August 29, 2013, and August 12, 2014, were to be enjoined in the case. The verdict also ordered that the owners must not have sold their shared before 13th August 2014. The order excluded former Sea World executive directors, current directors and their close family members.

Sea World’s Response
In response to the order issued, the company stayed away from the case saying that it was focusing on its mission of protecting wildlife. The company maintained that it would not comment on the pending litigation but continues to inspire people to conserve ocean life.

True to their mission, the company ended breeding of whales used in theatre at its parks to promote the natural behavior of the sea creature last year. Currently, the company is acquiring new rides and embracing new ways of attracting people to their several parks. The company’s president remained optimistic that it will be a new term full of financial growth and development.

Yelp Facing Class Action Suit Over Recording Customer Calls without Notification

Yelp, a website that matches customers to local businesses, faces a class action suit in Los Angeles. This case, number BC652472 filed in the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles, has wide implications for customer service practices in nearly all industries that have representatives answering phone calls that are recorded. These phone calls are usually tethered to disclaimers that calls are recorded “for Quality Assurance purposes.” Yelp, apparently, left that part out of its interactions with one caller.

Plaintiff David Schram of Los Angeles, filed a punitive class action suit on March 2, 2017. The suit alleges that Yelp Inc. did not follow California Penal Code 632. Schram, an attorney, stated that Yelp recorded his calls with their financial department without permission, thereby breaking the law. Schram went through an automated system that failed to advise him he was being recorded and neither customer service representative he spoke with told Schram the current conversation was being recorded. Only after these calls took place did a customer service agent inform Schram that all sales and customer service calls were recorded.

California Penal Code 632 states that entities that “intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication, by means of any electronic amplifying or recording device, eavesdrops upon or records the confidential communication…shall be punished” by a fine up to $2,500 and up to one year in prison.

In the suit, lead plaintiff Schram states that Yelp had a pattern of recording calls without informing the callers beforehand. The number of class members will depend on other Yelp callers stepping forward to join the allegations in the lawsuit. Schram thought it could be many thousands. The suit calls for punitive and statutory damages. This could be as much as $5,000 for every violation and a fine of $2,500 for every violation. If Yelp is convicted of any of the charges, the fine per violation could go as high as $10,000, according to the Penal Code 632.

Total damages in the case, if successful, would depend on how many prior Yelp callers learn of the lawsuit and become class members.

The Flint Water Crisis – Parents Fight for their Children’s Education with Class-Action Lawsuit

The water in Flint, Michigan, has been extremely unsafe to consume since the city switched its water supply in 2014 from their Detroit source to the Flint River. Months after the switch, local residents were complaining about the color and quality of the water, fearing it was unsafe to drink.

It was determined through testing that the water supply in Flint was contaminated with dangerous levels of lead. Professionals claimed that the reason for the lead contamination was due to the lack of corrosion controls of the city’s water supply.

In January 2016, President Barack Obama issued a federal state of emergency in Flint due to the water crisis. However, despite the efforts of the city’s government to fix the water contamination issue, the community feels that the situation is being handled extremely poorly in schools.

On October 18th, 2016, fifteen families filed a class-action lawsuit against the Flint School District and the state of Michigan to seek help for their children at school. In the Flint School District alone, over 30,000 children have been exposed to lead and over 4% of children have dangerous levels of lead in their blood.

flint-parents-stories-lead-exposureLead exposure in children can lead to irreversible brain damage, including learning disabilities and behavioral problems. The parents behind the law suit claim that the school is lacking resources to deal with children with special needs, and fear that the dangerous exposure to lead over the past few years has increased the number of children in need of special education.

Local parents share frightening stories about their children being suspended up to 50 times from school due to their behavior, which they believe is due to developmental issues. When parents requested screening for their children to determine if special education was needed, nothing was done. In fact, some parents claimed that their children were physical restrained by staff and punished rather than evaluated for help.

The lawsuit seeks that the Flint School District implement regular and frequent testing for learning disabilities in children, and increase their programs and resources for special needs education. The parents of Flint, Michigan, want their children to have a fair chance at a quality education and feel it’s the state’s responsibility to take care of this issue, that more than likely was caused by extreme negligence to the ill water supply that the city has suffered from for years.

 

$100 Million in Fines Sought From Exxon by Conservation Group Lawsuit

With so much recent attention on global warming, pollution in the water supply, and other environmental threats in the United States, conservationists and environmental groups are taking a bigger stand against major energy giants. One of the more recent actions taken is by the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), which is pressing for $100 million or more in civil penalties against ExxonMobil by using the guidelines set forth by the federal Clean Water Act. On September 29th, the group filed a massive lawsuit in district court, claiming Exxon is responsible for decades of contaminating pollution of Mystic River. The lawsuit filed also claims ExxonMobil blatantly disregarded the predicted threats of climate change, even though some of their own scientists researched enough to connect the dots between carbon dioxide emissions, fossil fuels, and climate change.

The lawsuit points out one of Exxon’s own terminals in an area prone to sea-level rise.

Even one of ExxonMobil’s own terminals, Everett Terminal in Massachusetts, is located in an area where storm surge and rising sea level due to climate change is a major threat, according to some of the claims in the lawsuit documentation. This specific terminal is responsible for the storage and transportation of diesel, gasoline, and even oil. If the terminal is damaged by rising sea water, and even bigger pollution issue could come into play with the Mystic River and its conjoining tributaries. CLF has claimed flood maps show this terminal could be at risk with even moderate rainfall amounts. Yet, Exxon has refused to relocate or re-engineer the facility to protect against such an impending threat.

Exxon is rebutting the claims in the lawsuit through media statements.

exxon-argument-quoteExxon is claiming they will fight these claims in the lawsuit and the company spokesperson, Todd Spitler even goes as far as saying the suit is merely an attempt to draw attention to a political agenda. Their primary argument comes along with a rebuttal based on the premise that the lawsuit suggests Exxon had knowledge about climate science at an advanced level even when this research was only in its infant stages. Exxon is also suggesting discredibility of the lawsuit because of the fact that Exxon has a prior history of working with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Department of Energy in support of research into the matter.

iPhone 6 Touchscreen Problem Sparks Lawsuit

The iPhone has had different problems in every generation, but the iPhone 6 seems to have had more than its fair share of that criticism due to its battery, charging site and overall functionality. Now, owners are suing the company because they say that the design of the iPhone has a defect that causes them to become unusable.

Plaintiffs Claim Apple Was Aware

The class-action lawsuit was brought upon by people from across the US (California, Delaware and Pennsylvania), and alleges that Apple did know about the problem, but decided to do nothing about it. The progression of the issue is such that users will get a grey bar at the top of their screen, and then shortly after the screen will cease to respond to touch. The iPhone 5 had a type of shield on the screen that was meant to protect this from happening to people, but plaintiffs state Apple chose not to include this on their latest versions.

Consumer Protection Laws

Those who filed the lawsuit state the phones cannot do what they were designed to do, based on the fact that the touchscreen is the heart and soul of the operation. It also poses safety issues should a screen malfunction in the middle of an emergency. They did not state exactly what they wanted in damages, but they are claiming that Apple committed fraud and filing under the California consumer protection laws. So far Apple has not responded on record. iFixit, a company that sells repair parts for Apple iPhones and laptops, has already run an article on this problem. This company has analyzed Apple products from an objective light in the past, noting what they do well and how they can improve. They’ve nicknamed this problem with the iPhone 6 Touch Disease.

A Formidable Opponent

Apple is known for being extremely tight with the amount of money they give out, but it’s unclear if this lawsuit will be worth it to them to fight. The company has already made $108.5 billion dollars just this year alone. It seems unlikely that they will admit they made a mistake based on their continued sales of this iPhone, if only do discourage people from bringing about similar lawsuits.

 

Class Action Suit Filed Due to Numerous Refrigerator Fires

Numerous owners of the gas absorption refrigerators filed a class action suit on June 24, 2016. These individuals filed class-action claims against Dometic Corporation, the company responsible for manufacturing these refrigerators. In the class-action claims, the owners stated that the refrigerators leak flammable gas. Allegedly, this leaked flammable gas has been the cause of many fires.

refigerator-firesIn the class action suit, the owners allege that the Dometic Corporation knew about the defective gas absorption refrigerators. These refrigerators are usually found on RVs and boats and they have caused more than 3,000 fires in the past two decades. Since 1997, these defective gas absorption refrigerators have allegedly caused $100 million in personal injuries and property damage. Despite the lengthy history of these defective refrigerators, the Dometic Corporation failed to address the issue and warn consumers about the risks.

However, it is important to note that not all named plaintiffs for the class action suit have actually experienced a fire due to the defective refrigerators. Some of the named plaintiffs claim that they suffered economic damages due to the Dometic Corporation’s failure to address the issue or provide adequate warning. The plaintiffs claim they paid far more for the boats and RVs than they would have if they knew about the defective refrigerators.

Zimmerman Reed, a law firm, claims that the plaintiffs should not be required to wait until they have experienced a refrigerator fire to seek compensation for the issue. According to the law firm, forgoing preventative action could cost the plaintiffs heavily. This is especially true if the plaintiffs were to experience a refrigerator fire in the future.

This is not the first time the Dometic Corporation has had issues with their manufacturer products. In 2006, the Dometic Corporation recalled refrigerators to replace the cooling units. The Dometic Corporation did so once more in 2008. However, the plaintiffs argue that this is irrelevant because the two recalls did nothing to address the defects of their refrigerators. According to the class action suit, the refrigerators have defective cooling unit boiler tubes, which can corrode and leak flammable gas.

Zimmerman Reed learned about the defective refrigerators of the Dometic Corporation during a three-year class action suit against Norcold, a competitor of the Dometic Corporation. This class action suit settled for $36 million early this year.

 

Lyft offers $27 million to settle a lawsuit filed by drivers seeking employee classification

This past Wednesday, Lyft Inc. made an offer to pay $27 million in order to settle a lawsuit filed by drivers in California. This is more than double what the company originally offered to settle the lawsuit. In this class-action lawsuit, the drivers asked to be considered employees. According to the drivers, Lyft classified Lyft-class-action-lawsuit-drivers-quotethe drivers as independent contractors while the drivers felt they should be considered employees.

The drivers claimed that Lyft classified them as independent contractors rather than employees to avoid reimbursements for various expenses. Lynx is a ride-hailing service and would have to provide employees reimbursement for expenses relating to vehicle maintenance and gasoline. Independent contractors, on the other hand, do not need to paid these reimbursements.

This lawsuit was originally filed by the California drivers in early 2013. In January, the company offered to pay $12.25 million to settle the lawsuit.

The original settlement agreement was rejected by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in April. According to the judge, the settlement agreement was not reasonable and would not properly compensate the drivers.

In a prepared statement, plaintiff attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan argued that the new settlement agreement would provide adequate compensation to Lyft drivers who have invested a substantial amount of time into the company. According to Liss-Riordan, drivers who have worked for Lyft for more than half a year could receive about $6,000.

It is estimated that the settlement agreement would affect 100,000 California Lyft drivers.

In order to fulfill the proposed settlement, Lyft would need to update its terms of service so that policies regarding driver termination are more transparent. As of now, the new settlement agreement must be approved by Chhabria before it goes into effect.

Uber, which is a much larger competitor of Lyft that is also based in San Francisco, settled a similar lawsuit about a month ago. The payment could be as much as $100 million for the Uber workers. In this settlement, drivers who have worked with Uber for more than half a year could receive about $8,000. Just like with the Lyft suit, the Uber settlement does not offer a resolution in terms of whether the drivers should be considered employees rather than independent contractors.

 

Class-Action Lawsuit Draws Attention to an Ever Present Danger

Motorists of keyless ignition vehicles and their families face a life-threatening danger that is gaining attention in the courts after a class-action lawsuit has been filed recently. The lawsuit which has been brought against ten car manufacturers, (Toyota, Nissan, Kia, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Hyundai, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen), hinges on a plea for the auto giants to add an automatic shut-off mechanism to the keyless ignition vehicles. This legal action is groundbreaking since the previous lawsuits regarding this issue were brought by individuals. It is estimated that this class-action lawsuit places the over 5 million owners of vehicles with keyless ignition systems as plaintiff.

keyless-class-action-suitWhile keyless ignition systems has not become standard, it is a coveted feature that is being offered and found on many vehicles today, regardless of class or price. The technology is simple. Instead of using a car key, you press a button to start your vehicle. A key fob component sends a computerized signal to the ignition omitting the need for an actual key. The inherent hazard is that the car can remain on though the key fob is not present and may be far away.

As it stands many of the older versions of these vehicles do not have an automatic shut-off and though the driver has taken the key fob with them they may accidentally leave the car running. Unfortunately, this scenario has tragically played out in several instances wherein the automobile was mistakenly left running in a garage or other confined space and deadly carbon monoxide was able to seep into the living spaces of the dwelling, claiming lives in its wake. There has been a reported 13 lives lost.

Some newer year models featuring the keyless ignition mechanism have been tailored with the relatively inexpensive automatic shut-off feature while the millions of owners of the older cars remain unaware of the safety defect. It is hoped that the lawsuit will prompt the automobile manufacturers to recall the vehicles so that the automatic shut-off feature can be installed onto the vehicles who do not currently have it.