Archive for class action lawsuits

Class Action Suit Against Judge Allegedly Bankrolled by State Farm Approved

Class Action Lawsuit Can Be Brought Against State Farm

The lawsuit brought by a group of State Farm auto insurace customers was approved by a federal judge on September 16th. These plaintiffs allege that the company funded the campaign of an Illinois Supreme Court judge in return for the judge’s vote overturning a $1 billion settlement. The company also allegedly lied about the issue when previously questioned about it by consumers.

The judge in question, Lloyd Karmeier, ran for office in 2004. State Farm allegedly funded his campaign so that he could vote in their favor in their appeal of a $1 billion dollar settlement relating to State Farm’s use of generic auto parts when paying for the insured’s car repairs. These generic auto parts were successfully argued to be inferior to factory auto parts.

The Original Case

State Farm has been fighting these allegations for some time, and the approval of the class action lawsuit is the biggest blow so far to their efforts. The original case reached its $1 billion dollar verdict in 1999, it and its related cases have frequently been in the news for the last 17 years. It is one of the largest class action settlements in legal history.

The State Farm customers won a total judgment of $1.186 billion dollars for State Farm’s use of low-quality generic car parts in 1999, as previously mentioned. An appeal ruling reduced the amount of the settlement to $1.01 billion dollars.

Another appeal, in which Karmeier was involved, took place in 2005 and threw out the settlement entirely. This decisions was immediately contensious, and became even more so when State Farm was found to have backed Karmeier.

State Farm’s Response

A State Farm spokesperson said that the company plans to appeal the ruling allowing the class action suit. Their argument is that the plaintiffs have made these allegations for many years, and should not be allowed to do so any longer.

Justice Karmeier’s Response

Karmeier is not a co-defendant with State Farm. He is, unsurprisingly, the Illinois Chief Justice. While he is not in danger of paying a huge settlement, this suit could do great damage to his career if the allegations are found to be true. Karmeier did not return requests for comment.

Former College Football Players in Kentucky Join Concussion Class Action Lawsuits

Three more former college football players have joined an already ongoing collection of class-action lawsuits against the NCAA and their individual conferences this week, claiming that there exists within the organization a “reckless disregard for the health and safety” of its athletes. These allegations refer specifically to the organization’s failure to properly treat players who have sustained concussive head injuries during practice or games, leaving them with negative side effects that last long after their college football careers have ended.

The newest players to join the increasing series of lawsuits have disturbing tales to tell about the alleged disregard of serious head trauma that they experienced throughout their college years. Willie Johnson, the former linebacker for Louisville from 2003 to 2005, claims that he suffered several sub-concussive and concussive head injuries throughout his college career that went untreated, and was instructed to “shake off” the injuries after they occurred and return to the game. James Harrison, former Murray State fullback from 2000 to 2005, states that he sustained injuries during practice and gameplay which were significant enough that he completely lost consciousness a few times.

Athlete-DeMoreo-Ford-quoteMost unsettling are the claims made by former UK wide receiver DeMoreo Ford, who played from 2005 to 2009. Ford’s coach at this time, Rich Brooks, told reporters in 2008 that Ford had been advised by his doctors to end his career in football due to number of concussive injuries he had sustained at that point. Ford alleges that he was instructed to return to play on several occasions following serious concussive injuries during games and practices, including a 2007 game in which he sustained a concussion in the second quarter and was sent back into the game in the third quarter, in spite of the fact that he was vomiting during the halftime break between those quarters. Ford’s lawsuit states that he continues to suffer the residual effects of untreated head trauma, experiencing severe headaches, depression, mood swings and more.

These lawsuits are an addition to numerous similar suits that have already been filed in federal court by the Edelson PC law firm in Chicago. According to Edelson PC partner Christopher Dore, more lawsuits are on the way, which will continue to add wider coverage of accusation to schools across the nation. Dore stated that the wide reach of these lawsuits are meant to be a “demonstration that this is not a unique problem to just a small minority of schools”.


Dual Lyft, Uber Lawsuits Could Derail On-Demand Economy

Lyft and Uber, the two largest ride-hailing services are accused of violating labor law by shutting down their taxi-alternative services in Austin last month. According to twin federal proposed class-action lawsuits filed Thursday, the ridesharing companies closed shop without giving their drivers a federally required notice. Drivers for the Austin, Texas operation allege that, under federal law, the company owes them 60 days of back pay as well as other benefits.

The tandem suits challenge Uber’s and Lyft’s insistence that, as independent contractors, drivers are not employees and therefore not entitled to job protections or standard benefits. The suits were filed in San Francisco federal court, near both companies’ headquarters, brought by ex-Lyft driver David Thorton (Thornton v. Lyft) and former Uber driver Todd Johnston (Johnston v. Uber ). The plaintiffs’ cases invoke the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act of 1988, a federal law which requires most companies employing more than 100 workers to notify workers at least 60 days prior to any mass layoff. According to the lawsuits, their failure to do so entitles each driver back pay of up to 60 days as well as related health benefits.

Independent Contractor or Employee?

Lyft and Uber ceased their Austin operations on May 9, after they were unable to overturn city requirements that drivers submit to fingerprinting-based background checks, putting around 10,000 drivers out of work. The claim that the Austin Lyft and Uber drivers were “independent contractors”, and not regular employees is at the core of the companies’ defense. Classifying employees as independent contractors allows a company to avoid providing benefits such as job protections, providing healthcare and lyft-uber-lawsuitretirement benefits. The lawsuits allege that because the companies provided instruction videos, gave procedure manuals, controlled driver scheduling, set prices, and assigned riders to drivers, the drivers should be considered employees – the suit against Uber claims that “Uber and its (drivers) are not engaged in a distinct occupation or business, but instead, they “implement and are integral to Uber’s core business of providing ride-hailing services.”

Impact on On-Demand Service Providers

These two cases boil down to whether the drivers are actually considered standard employees or are only independent contractors. The cases are significant, as they relate to other on-demand services. If the court finds that the Austin drivers were not independent contractors, but were, in fact, employees, it would significantly impact Lyft’s and Uber’s bottom line by requiring them to provide health care and many other benefits to their drivers. It would also set precedence for other workers in similar on-demand environments to claim similar benefits, such as worker’s compensation, unemployment benefits, the right to unionize, as well as the right to seek tips and mileage cost reimbursements.


Pediatric Dentist Allegedly Torturing, Abusing Children

A pediatric dentist accused of torture is being sued for that, fraud and abuse. Class action lawsuits surrounding this office have been filed. Despite being under investigation and there being constant protests, the dentist office remains open. The lawsuit allegations include physical and psychological abuse, claiming the dentist’s actions to be of a sadistic nature.

long-list-of-complaints-against-dr-schneiderA long line of complaints are coming from parents, who state their children were physically abused by Dr. Howard Schneider. The dentist office is also being investigated by the Florida General Attorney for Medicaid fraud. This case was filed first and separately from the abuse and torture allegations.

The abuse and torture suit states that Dr. Schneider’s desire to inflict pain upon others is what drew him to open the dental practice. It also alleges that he specifically chooses children of those who are uneducated, have lower income, and who don’t speak English to lessen the possibility of them having the ability to report the actions.

Some of the parents are stating that children were threatened or frightened with phrases like “Your mom will die if you tell” to avoid them telling their parents or another authority. There are claims of kids being choked to the point of passing out, instead of given proper anesthesia. The suit also claims that non-medically necessary procedures were done without proper anesthesia and were billed to Medicaid.

There are also complaints about kids being strapped down or coming home with cuts, bruises, and other injuries or marks. The suit alleges that the pediatric dentist gets some sort of sadistic sexual pleasure out of torturing defenseless child victims.

suit-alledges-pediatric-dentist-sadistic-pleasureWhile Dr. Schneider hasn’t ever served time or been convicted for these types of acts, there is a history of prior, similar lawsuits that got dismissed. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s office has also been called to his office for complaints regarding excessive force against the patients.

It will be interesting to see where this case progresses and whether or not the pediatric dentist is found guilty. Many parents are avoiding the practice and some continue to protest against Dr. Schneider for these alleged acts. Though more are complaining, four parent accounts are outlined in the pending lawsuit. The entire text of the lawsuit can be found on Scribd.