Archive for lawsuit settlement cases

Dairy Lawsuit Settled with $50 Million Payout

Farmer-paymerntAccording to the Burlington Free Press, on August 5th, Dairy Farmers of America agreed to pay a sum of $50 million to about 9,000 Northeastern dairy farmers. The farmers filed a lawsuit against Dairy Marketing Services, accusing the marketing cooperative of working with Dean Foods to drive down the price of milk and monopolize the raw milk market. Each farmer would receive a payment of about $4,000. Some Northeastern dairy farmers are opposed to the deal. A judge, who had rejected a previous settlement proposed in March, still needs to approve the settlement.

In 2011, Dean Foods, a Dallas-based dairy processor, agreed to a $30 million lawsuit settlement payment. The money was paid to farmers in numerous states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

The previous settlement was rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss on the grounds that some farmers opposed the deal. Based on the reasoning for the rejection of the previous deal, it is deemed likely by many that this settlement will be rejected as well.

The farmers opposing the deal argue that the $4,000 per farmer was insufficient financial compensation for the damages suffered. They also deemed the money not worth the possible retaliation they may face from both Dean Foods and Dairy Farmers of America. The farmers argued that the proposal’s injunctive relief left room to allow the two companies to continue trying to create a raw milk monopoly. For the farmers to agree to the deal, there would need to be a significant change in the way the defendants do business.

DFA-denies-wrongdoingIn the first lawsuit settlement proposal, the farmers’ attorneys requested $16.6 million plus expenses. The settlement payment amount remained $16.6 million plus expenses after negotiation. However, both sides agreed to address some of the concerns of the farmers by amending the settlement.

Kit Pierson, an attorney for the plaintiffs, stated that he believed the new settlement was in the best interest of the farmers. However, many farmers, including dairy farmer Jonathan Haar, continue to oppose the deal on the grounds that the primary beneficiaries were counsel.

When requested to comment, Dairy Farmers of America did not respond immediately. In a later statement, DFA denied any wrongdoing under the previous settlement’s terms. They argued that the cost to defend against the lawsuit had become too great, which is why they agreed to the second settlement.


Moore Christian Church Settles Sexual Misconduct Case

Lawsuit settlement cases are no longer news in these litigious times of crowded court dockets and rising legal fees. As such, news about the latest lawsuit settlement payment rarely raises an eyebrow among a desensitized public used to such reporting, but a recent $260,000 settlement in Norman, Oklahoma’s Cleveland County District Court provides the victim of a local sexual abuse case closure in the aftermath of an egregious sexual misconduct case.

The allegations and resultant criminal probe witnessed the closing of Moore Christian School in light of the accusations first leveled in February 2012 against school science teacher, Gregory Alan Saul Sr.

moore-quotePattern of Misconduct

According to court records, the complaints of the unidentified victim triggered the arrest of the former Moore Church teacher after she went to her guardian to report the abuse that reportedly continued from August 2011 to January 2012. The girl’s guardian sued Eastern Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, which operated Moore Christian School, along with all of the governing members of the church and the school’s superintendent in 2012.

A subsequent 2014 decision tossed the guardian’s legal case, but a later Appellate Court ruling overturned that legal opinion on appeal this past January.

The suit alleges that the school and church leaders were negligent in their hiring, retention, and supervision of Saul, 64, who purportedly groomed the then 13-year old girl for sex over a lengthy period of time during school hours, and after class on at least five occasions when he met the girl off campus. Charging documents note that Saul had given the young teenager a promise ring before asking her to marry him and move to Mexico.

Terms of Settlements

In an effort to avoid further litigation, Eastern Avenue Missionary Baptist Church’s insurer, Church Mutual Insurance Company, opted to settle out of court for $260,000 on condition that the payment not to be construed as an admission of guilt in the matter. The judge approved the monetary agreement on June 9, 2015.

The $260,000 award is to be split as follows:

  • $113,048—structured arrangement to benefit the victim
  • $29,461.82—to cover the expenses of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority
  • $117,489—legal fees and litigation costs

In a related development, Saul fled Oklahoma jurisdiction following a no-show to a status conference in January 2014. He was captured by Texan officials and had been fighting extradition back to the Sooner State. That fight ended July 1, 2015 when the San Antonio, Texas Court of Appeals who ruled on that day that Saul should be sent back to face justice in Oklahoma.


BNSF Sued for Alleged Cold Train Contract Breach

In recent Bellingham news, former executives of the now defunct Cold Train express produce service from Washington to Chicago have sued BNSF Railway in U.S. District Court in Spokane for a sum in excess of $41 million. This lawsuit suggests an alleged breach of contract for the 72 hour service guarantee for delivery of produce from the Northwest to Chicago.

lawsuit-bnsfIn the lawsuit filed on April 7, 2015, the former executives allege that BNSF turned their business into a train wreck when BNSF gave preference to oil and coal trains destined for the Pacific Northwest. In the lawsuit, Cold Train maintained that, in reliance on its agreement with BNSF, it ordered more refrigerated rail cars and even entered into an agreement with a purchaser to buy the company. According to The Capital Press, Cold Train claims a $31.7 million loss on the sale of the company along with an additional $6 million in damages for the contracts on the additional refrigerated cars.

The former Cold Train executives say that everything changed when BNSF changed its service guarantee from a 72 hour transit time to 125 hours. Although not yet having been served with the lawsuit, BNSF commented on it and related that indeed it did experience service issues during the winter of 2013 due energy demand coupled with severe winter weather.

Before the service guarantee change, Cold Train had experienced strong growth. After the 72 hour service guarantee contract was entered into, delivery of the refrigerated containers was on time 92 percent of the time.  Cold Train claims that figure was reduced to less than five percent of the time by 2014. Its former executives maintain that former-executives-cold-trainBNSF was making so much money shipping coal and oil, that it didn’t have sufficient space for the Cold Train containers.

Cold train was in business from April of 2010 until August of 2014. It grew from 300 to over 700 refrigerated containers and was expected to grow to 1,000 carrying Washington apples, produce and frozen foods to Chicago. These products were arriving to eastern destinations faster and fresher. It isn’t known if the case will reach trial. Lawsuit settlement cases are a large segment of the litigation process.

Jersey Shore’s Belmar Hit With Yet Another Lawsuit

The borough of Belmar was served with another lawsuit this past Monday. The new suit alleges that Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty and most of the Borough Council illegally used the borough’s Beach Utility Fund over the past four years and also raised beach parking fees to pay for expenses not relating to the beach.

plaintiffs-allege-jersey-shore-belmar-used-revenueThe language of the complaint insinuates that Mayor Doherty and the council acted in the manner described above in the interest of Belmar and its taxpaying constituency. The plaintiffs allege that Jersey Shore’s Belmar used revenue raised from beach fees to pay for a myriad of expenses that did not actually relate to the beach.

The complaint also challenges the legal basis for the recently adopted Belmar ordinance that increased beach parking fees twofold along the Ocean Avenue boardwalk. Additionally, the lawsuit challenges Belmar’s spending of the money in its Beach Utility Fund to cover legal fees. This includes a $925,000 payment made to settle a lawsuit regarding unpaid fees allegedly owed to Birdsall Engineering for services that only partially related to the beach.

The latest suit states that the new beach parking fee ordinance which increased the fee twofold, is in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine. It forces beachgoers to pay a charge that benefits Belmar taxpayers. The suit also refers to the Department of Environmental Protection’s legal requirement that beach parking fees be spent exclusively on beach maintenance and operations. One of the plaintiffs, Patricia Corea, states that the borough should have prevented tax increases by limiting or freezing its spending. Corea and her fellow plaintiffs believe that the mayor and the council have betrayed the public’s trust. This new suit is the latest of several suits filed against Belmar’s beach practices.

they-have-been-front-center-many-legal-challengesThe group of plaintiffs is led by Belmar resident Joy DeSanctis and represented by former Mayor Kenneth Pringle’s law firm. They’ve been front and center for many of the legal challenges against the borough. DeSanctis alleges that the current mayor has displayed a pattern of using Belmar accounts to pay bills unrelated to public services. She alleges that Mayor Doherty has “…disregarded the true obligation of the accounts and legal guidelines of [their] use.”

The plaintiffs demand that the court order the borough to place all Ocean Avenue parking fee proceeds in the Beach Utility Fund. They also demand that the court issue an order that bars the borough from using the money derived from its “Buy-a-Board” effort for anything but the boardwalk.

School District Comes to Settlement with Teacher in Free Speech Case

A lawsuit filed brought by a fired Wayne County, Ohio teacher has been settled in his favor, thereby avoiding a potentially long, embarrassing, and more expensive trial.  The teacher, Keith Allison was fired after expressing his support for vegan substitutes for milk on his personal Facebook page.  The school’s superintendent and principal met with Allison and warned him that Wayne County had a large agrarian presence, including dairy farmers, so he needed to be careful about his posts.

pictures-included-in-post-no-permissionPictures he included in his post were of the livestock of a local farmer, used without permission. When posting about a vegan lifestyle and providing a sort of indictment about cruelty to animals continued to happen, Allison was eventually fired.

The school district indicated that the lawsuit settlement payment was agreed to in order to avoid a lengthy and more expensive court battle.  Ken Calderone, the district attorney said that a court case could have been much larger than the agreed upon $17,500 settlement.  This amount was agreed upon as the amount of lost income Allison missed out on, and the contribution to his retirement plan.  As part of the agreement, Allison was required to apologize to the farmer whose cattle he took pictures of and posted on Facebook.

Allison was supported in his lawsuit by the ACLU of Ohio and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who provided him with financial and legal assistance in bringing charges and ultimately pursuing the case for wrongful termination.  Calderone, speaking for the school district also said that the district had a policy regarding free speech outside of school, which this qualifies for since the post was made from home in the Summer. Allison will
use some of the settlement funds to give money to the ACLU and PETA, as agreed upon when they joined him in support.

school-district-policyAlthough not common, lawsuit settlement cases similar to this do occur from time-to-time regarding free speech rights and employers attempting to control that speech outside of the workplace.  In this case, the school district actually had a policy that indicated staff had free speech rights, as long as the speech was constitutional and didn’t cause an undue interruption at school.


Wrongfully Convicted – Why a Settlement Doesn’t Feel Like Enough

After going through a wrongful conviction lawsuit, Obie Anthony and his co-defendant, Reggie Cole, don’t think that the huge $8.3 million lawsuit settlement payment makes up for all the years they spent behind bars. A judge recently threw out Anthony’s murder conviction, but after spending 17 years in prison, Anthony doesn’t feel like the money makes up for the suffering he’s endured.

This lawsuit settlement payment settled a civil lawsuit that showed a murder investigation with many problems, such physical-evidence-connecting-to-murderas perjured testimony, withholding evidence, and ignoring leads pointing to other suspects.

The case goes back to 1994 when Felip Gonazales Angeles shot outside of a brothel in South Los Angeles. Both Anthony and Cole ended up convicted for this murder, even though no physical evidence connecting them to the murder was ever found. John Jones, the pimp running the brothel was the key eyewitness in the case. After being convicted of murder, both men were sent to prison without parole.

In 2000, Cole was charged with murder after stabbing another inmate to death. It was Cole’s claim that he acted in self-defense that brought light to his plight. Eventually, the California Innocence Project started looking into the case and found that Jones fabricated his testimony. Cole’s conviction was overturned in 2009, and two years later Anthony was released and was found innocent of the crime as well.

After both men were found innocent, they sued the city of Los Angeles and the detectives on the case for wrongful imprisonment. The suit alleged that detectives wrote reports mischaracterizing eyewitness accounts, suppressed evidence, and protected Jones, ignoring his illegal activities and failing to pursue alternative theories in the case.

While not all lawsuits result in a settlement payment, in this case, Los Angeles paid out $8.3 million to Obie Anthony. Both Marilyn Bednarski and David McLane represented Anthony in this case, and McLane commented that Anthony was paid such a huge settlement because of police wrongdoing and Anthony’s innocence. However, he-has-plans-for-the-moneywhile Anthony was awarded a settlement, the city has never admitted to any wrongdoing and argues that detectives properly conducted the investigation.

Although Anthony doesn’t feel like the money takes care of his suffering, he does have plans to move on. He plans to use his money to open a transition center for exonerated prisoners, giving them a place to go and people to rely on once they’re released from prison.


Amazon Files Lawsuit Over Fake Reviews

Amazon has recently filed a lawsuit against several different online companies that participate in the sale of forged reviews. Businesses who have poor reviews on their products can seek out services where anonymous writers will lawsuit-against-different-online-companies-forged-reviewsdeliver fake five-star reviews as a means of deceiving buyers into purchasing poorly rated products.

Amazon alleges that these sites are infringing on trademarks, as well as engaging in deception, and they are seeking a lawsuit settlement payment as compensation for the resulting damages. Many of the sites specifically offer Amazon reviews, with names such as and, which Amazon argues is in violation of their trademark.

The entire purpose of reviews is for consumers to gain honest feedback from other consumers about the safety, reliability, viability, and durability of a product. When companies engage in the posting of fake reviews, it not only encourages deceptive marketing but can also proliferate the usage and consumption of faulty or dangerous products.

One of Amazon’s key services is to provide an immense product selection and accurate reviews, and it provides a valuable resource for conscientious consumers. It is currently the largest and most used product search engine on the web. As such, the existence of fake reviews not only damages the customer experience, but it damages the
reputation of Amazon as well.

amazon-warehouse-largestLawsuits such as this are imperative to maintaining the reputability and trustworthiness of businesses, so consumers can continue to have confidence and assurance over the products they purchase. Amazon took a noble step in filing a lawsuit, which will hopefully serve as a warning to others hoping to profit off of the callous deception of consumers. Though, as James Tenser from VSN strategies stated, “Paid ads should be identified as such. Amazon’s legal action is welcome now, but Amazon has already profited greatly over the years from turning a blind eye to this odious practice.”

While Amazon may have ignored this problem for far too long, hopefully this lawsuit is indicative of a needed change in business practices, where honesty and integrity prevail over profits and deception. Unfortunately, forging reviews is a pervasive problem, and it will take a lot of work on behalf of Amazon and members of the reviewing community to hold all businesses accountable for these detrimental practices.

Exploring Suits Between US Government and Jacksonville Ambulance Companies and Hospitals

According to a suit filed by the US federal government, Century Ambulance and Liberty Ambulance allegedly collaborated with four area hospitals to transport Medicare and Medicaid patients lacking true medical need, in Jacksonville, Florida. The patients all ended up at one of four regional hospitals: Orange Park Medical Center, UF Health Jacksonville, Memorial Hospital and Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, landing those institutions in hot water as well. The suit government-lawsuitstrongly suggests the ambulance companies fraudulently claimed more than 15 million dollars for those misrepresented patients.

The case sailed along to the settlement stage with help from key witness, EMT Shawn Pelletier. The witness testified about witnessing document falsification when billing US government controlled insurance programs. Pelletier will collect a portion of the lawsuit settlement payment for his participation as a whistleblower for this case.

Of course, the ambulance companies and hospitals all deny purposefully filing fraudulent claims in an effort to collect more money. In fact, the named institutions and companies decry the need for the lawsuit settlement cases at all. The operating managers blame a lack of adequate employee training in addition to the complexities of Medicare and Medicaid filing rules for the discrepancies. The companies intend to rectify the problem through increased training and alternative transportation options for stable patients.

Until the lawyers working for both sides finalize the written up settlement agreement, the case continues to sit in limbo for the time being. In the meantime, the government filed a second lawsuit against Liberty Ambulance for additional claims found during the discovery period of the trial. The settlements only seek to collect the money wrongfully taken from the government’s insurance accounts. Unless the lawyers can prove criminal wrongdoing by the responsible parties’, the case will not result in felony fraud charges for all of those involved.

the-judge-will-assign-termsThe companies’ deemed responsible for the fraudulent claims must repay the total listed amount by the given date or face further repercussions. The judge will assign the terms of the lawsuit settlement payment upon giving the final order on the case. For the foreseeable future, all further claims from these companies, and related claims from un-involved entities, will be under intense scrutiny by all US government insurance representatives.

U.S. District Judge Allows Former NHL Players to Pursue Lawsuit Against League

Former NHL players including All-Stars Bernie Nicholls and Gary Leeman have begun proceedings for compensation for concussion related injuries acquired during the game.

Judge Susan Nelson has confirmed the validity of these claims put forth by about 70 former NHL players in the lawsuit against the League claiming that they knowingly withheld information about the long term effect of concussions.

This is not the first lawsuit settlement case of its kind. A precedent was set by the NFL on July 7, 2014 when United States District Court granted preliminary approval of a settlement in a similar case. The proposed settlement will offer three benefits: medical exams for retirees, monetary awards for diagnosis of ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Dementia and certain cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE diagnosed after death and finally, and NHL-accountableinitiatives related to football safety.

Lawsuit settlement cases such as this are designed, not to make anyone rich, but to allow them to live their lives with the conditions caused by negligence of their former employers. This lawsuit is expected to cost the league nearly one billion dollars.

The attorneys for the former players stated: “It is time for the NHL to be held accountable for deliberately ignoring and concealing the risks of repeated head impacts, and finally provide security and care to retired players whom the league has depended on for its success.”

The League replied: “While we would have hoped for a different result on this motion, we understand that the case is at a relatively early stage, and there will be ample opportunity for us to establish our defenses as the discovery process progresses.” They also argued for dismissal of part of the lawsuit because of the amount of time that has passed since many of the players suffered injuries.

sports-concussionThe plaintiffs are seeking unspecified financial damages and medical monitoring for the myriad of neurological disorders that are common among both former NHL and former NFL players, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Their lawsuit will increase awareness of the dangers of concussion injuries and increase safety standards by the league, regardless of the lawsuit settlement payment.

Former BYU Student Settles Landlord-Tenant Lawsuit

apartment-complexAndrew White, a former BYU student, has settled a highly publicized eviction lawsuit. White was evicted from his Provo apartment complex after his landlord claimed that he violated policies in his lease along with BYU’s code of honor and residential living standards. White, who is gay, allegedly had a dispute with his roommates over food which eventually led to them kicking him out of the house. His roommates allegedly turned against him after he admitted that he was gay and professed his adoration for one of his fellow apartment tenants.

White was evicted from his apartment in the Village at South Campus in Provo on January 23. The eviction occurred 10 days after the conflict with his three male roommates. Court documents show that the altercation included gay slurs directed at White. It eventually led to a physical fight that left White with a couple of bruised ribs.

White subsequently filed a lawsuit on March 19 based on landlord-tenant law and did not actually claim that he had been victimized by the apartment complex due to his sexual preference. White’s suit named the apartment complex’s owner, Peak Joaquin Holdings, LLC, as the lone defendant. The apartment complex is approved by BYU, so tenants are supposed to adhere to the university’s moral code. While it can be argued that White’s behavior does not mimic the religious principles of the university’s owner, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, his argument was strong enough to force the defendant’s hand.

settlement-termsTerms of the settlement were not disclosed. Yet White demanded damages in excess of $100,000, so it is believed that he emerged from the conflict with a sizable lawsuit settlement payment. White demanded such a large sum in order to pay for his relocation costs, damages, the repair and replacement of personal belongings and compensation for stress, fear and anxiety that he has endured since his eviction from the Village at South Campus.

Lawsuit settlement cases like White’s are quite common as most defendants would rather settle in order to avoid the costs, time commitment and risks associated with retaining legal counsel and proceeding through court hearings, testimony and so on.