Archive for Lawsuit

PFAS Lawsuits Flood Courts and Billions in Possible Damages Could Be On the Line

Since 2005, more than 6,400 PFAS-related lawsuits have been filed. This type of heavy litigation presents a huge threat to companies that use PFAS, including E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., as well as 3M Co., Chemguard Inc., Kidde-Fenwal Inc., National Foam Inc., and Dynax Corp.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, shortened to PFAS, are durable and water-repellant. Some of the most common types of PFAS that are sold on the market today are Teflon and Scotchguard. These products have been around since the 1950s, and gained in popularity due to their durability and water-repellant properties. Unfortunately, despite being mainstays in many homes for decades, it has become apparent that PFAS can cause health problems and environmental damage due to the chemicals that the products contained.

Starting in 2005, lawsuits started being filed, primarily against E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., due to these health issues and environmental damage. However, in the last few years we have seen more and more lawsuits being filed against other companies that manufacture PFAS products. Individuals are suing these companies for the health issues their products may have caused, while city governments, including the City of Anaheim, California, is suing for damage done to the environment by these products.

Some estimates state that the liabilities for PFAS could reach in excess of $30 billion dollars. Obviously, this would be a worst-case scenario. but based on the large amount of damage that has been done and the sheer number of cases and companies involved, there could be major financial repercussions, which could lead to major companies being unable to survive and going out of business.

As the lawsuits make their way through the courts, it is becoming apparent that the courts are starting cases off based on the role that companies had in manufacturing PFAS products. For example, some of them only made surfactants, while others were finished product manufacturers. Companies that had a role in both parts, such as 3M, are expected to get hit the hardest in the lawsuits.

Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding PFAS lawsuits, but as they make their way through the courts, it will be interesting to see if damages are awarded and how companies manage to survive.

Tennessee State Attorney General Sues Walgreens Over Opioids

The attorney general’s office in Tennessee has filed a lawsuit against Walgreens, claiming the drugstore chain did nothing to stop the abuse of opioids it dispensed, which in turn added to the prescription painkiller addiction crisis in the state. According to the lawsuit, Walgreen’s lack of controls and detection violated the state’s consumer protection act.

The suit alleges that for 14 years, Walgreens pharmacies dispensed oxycodone and hydrocodone pills without doing anything to stop the potential abuse of these medications. The pharmacies were said to have dispensed over 1.1 billion of these pills, with some locations dispensing so many pills that every single person in the town would have had to be taking the medications for the numbers to make sense.

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III claimed in a statement that this was not accidental and that Walgreens ignored clear signs that the drugs were potentially being abused. Walgreens is accused of not giving its pharmacists training in spotting signs of medication abuse and that the locations in Tennessee were actually dispensing opioids to people from several states. In turn, Walgreens released a statement noting that they had not made the pills or given them to prescribing doctors, who were, at the heart of the opioid crisis.

In one example, according to the lawsuit, one doctor in one Tennessee city prescribed over 100,000 pills in less than a year, with about 20 percent of the prescriptions written for patients from outside Tennessee, and Walgreens filled all of these without any alarm bells going off. Walgreens is also accused of filling opioid prescriptions written for children, including toddlers over 2 years old, and prescriptions for dosages well above the normal maximum dose.

The lawsuit is just one of thousands filed by governments and other agencies as a result of an addiction and overdose crisis that has killed over half a million Americans over the past 20 years. Pharmaceutical companies such as Purdue Pharma and drug distributors like AmerisourceBergen have formed the bulk of the defendants in these cases, usually settling for billions of dollars.

Professor Sues University of Washington After Freedom of Speech Debate

The University of Washington is under fire because of an alleged freedom of speech violation reported by one of their professors. The professor decided to sue the institution after reprimanding him for his take on a Native American land ownership debate.

The focus of the lawsuit is the disagreement between a respected member of the University of Washington’s educational staff and the university itself. This lawsuit is especially perplexing because the incident which sparked it stems directly from a request by the governing faculty to include a statement about the professor’s beliefs in regard to the ownership of the land on which the university resides.

Stuart Reges is an engineering and computer science professor at the University of Washington. He offered his opinion on the topic at the urging of the school. However, his take on the subject was met with harsh criticism from the university. His statement offended the University of Washington because he cited the “labor theory” introduced by John Locke. John Locke was a philosopher who created the Second Treatise on Government based on the labor theory of appropriation or a natural law theory.

The theory loosely translates some subject quoted from the Bible that basically states that when a person works the land, it becomes the individual’s property. The basis of the theory was that ownership of the land on which the university sits should be historically the property of Coast Salish people. This group of Native Indigenous people resides throughout British Columbia, the Pacific Northwest, and throughout the United States and Canada. Their native language is Coast Salish.

In order to give further insight into the professor’s opinion piece inserted into his syllabus, we can refer back to the Washington Law Review’s published article recognizing the ownership of the land where the University of Washington campus sits as their property by way of this labor theory. This stance was created and adopted by the Washington Law Review in conjunction with Professor Emeritus Bob Anderson.No more details are currently available regarding the lawsuit’s progress or any other parties involved in the dispute.

Department of Justice Sues Chicago Cubs for ADA Violations after Wrigley Field Renovation

Wrigley Field in Chicago is one of major league baseball’s most iconic stadiums. More than 100 years old, the ballpark recently completed more than a hundred-million-dollar renovation to modernize and update it.

However, the Cubs organization is now facing a federal lawsuit for allegations that the stadium violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to public filings, the lawsuit alleges that the remodeling “removed the best wheelchair seating in the stadium, failed to incorporate wheelchair seating into new premium clubs and group seating areas, designed and constructed wheelchair seating in the last row of general admission areas that does not meet the requirements of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, and failed to remove architectural barriers to access in unaltered portions of Wrigley Field where it was readily achievable to do so.”

The 1060 Project, as the renovation was known, is charged with discriminating against individuals with disabilities in a statement by the United States Attorney’s Office. “The Cubs rebuilt much of Wrigley Field and had ample opportunity – and a significant ADA obligation – to incorporate wheelchair seating and other accessible elements into the updated facility,” said John Lausch, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois via statement.

Lausch said that the renovation, including tearing down and rebuilding the bleacher and lower grandstand, was subject to ADA requirements, but failed to provide the necessary accommodations.

Title III of the ADA makes it illegal for public accommodations (including sports stadiums) to exclude people with disabilities from enjoying the facilities. The lawsuit provides several specific examples of how the renovations affected people with disabilities:

  • The renovations added new premium and club seating while eliminating wheelchair seating except for those that are part of a group that has rented the space.
  • The only general wheelchair seats on the bleacher concourse are now in areas that are often obscured by television cameras or covered by a mesh tarp that prevents a line of sight to the field if spectators are standing.
  • Some new group seating areas are not wheelchair-accessible.
  • More than half of the wheelchair seats in the lower grandstand are in the very last row with obstructed views from overhangs.

Besides field viewing, the lawsuit also alleges that counters for ticket windows and concession stands are too high for wheelchair users and restrooms have paper towel dispensers that are too high.

In a statement, the Cubs said they are disappointed with the decision by the Department of Justice to file suit and hope to resolve the matter amicably. The DOJ is seeking changes to the facility and fines.

Judge Dismisses Wells Fargo Class-action Lawsuit

A federal judge in California dismissed a class-action lawsuit brought against Wells Fargo by its shareholders. The plaintiffs claimed they had been defrauded when they bought Wells Fargo stock from Jan 1, 2012, through Aug 3, 2016. They sued the bank for misleading its shareholders about its deteriorating loan performance — and because it halted dividend payments during that same period. The investors in question were demanding a payout of $1 billion. The judge felt there was no evidence that anyone else had purchased stock during those three years and therefore dismissed the case with prejudice.

Wells Fargo Has Been Dealing with a $185 Million Fake Account Scandal

The bank has been fighting against a class-action lawsuit, which alleges that the company’s staff opened millions of fake accounts in customers’ names without their consent or knowledge.

Wells Fargo has admitted that it created millions of fake accounts but claims it did not intend to do so. On Friday, the bank announced that it would be dismissing the case filed by a dozen customers who claimed they were victims of fraud by Wells Fargo employees.

The reason? The judge decided that because these customers signed up for online banking services, they consented to have their information shared with Wells Fargo’s internal fraud department.

Judge Said Wells Fargo Customers Would Have to Take Their Case to Arbitration

In a decision that could have wide-ranging implications for other companies, U.S. District Judge William Alsup on Tuesday dismissed a class-action lawsuit against Wells Fargo, alleging that the bank used illegal sales practices to boost its financial results.

The ruling means that customers harmed by Wells Fargo’s alleged practices will not be able to pursue their claims in court. Instead, they will have to take their case to arbitration — a process that is less costly than going through the courts and which many consumers are unaware even exists.

Bottom Line

Even though the legal battle is far from over, this dismissal is good news for Wells Fargo. It means the judge agrees with Wells Fargo’s argument that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear its claims because Wells Fargo has fallen short of the minimum number of defendants required. But even if Wells Fargo is ultimately successful, it will have to re-file its lawsuit–and in some ways, its strategy going forward may have to change.

Settlement of EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Cost Hotel Owners $370,000

Federal officials claim that a hotel manager in Washington abused two female housekeepers sexually. Hotel owners neglected to look into the manager who harassed Latina housekeepers.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that GIPHX10, LLC, and Jaffer, Inc., Edmonton, Canada-based firm, will pay $370,000 to those who sexually abused two female former housekeeping employees. The company has also agreed to provide other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit.

The proprietors of the hotel allegedly allowed the male housekeeping manager to harass those housekeepers sexually. The EEOC claimed that the harassment included touching the women while they were cleaning hotel rooms by themselves, making fun of them for protesting the assaults, and making sexually suggestive remarks to them.

The manager also repeatedly threatened to rape one employee. One woman left her job due to her concern for her safety.

After one of the housekeepers and a bilingual co-worker complained about the harassment to the general manager, GIPHX10, LLC, and Jaffer, Inc. chose not to look into the claims in-depth. Instead, the owners turned a blind eye and accepted the manager’s denial. The general manager allegedly subsequently took revenge, according to the EEOC.

The claimed behavior breaks the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s Title VII. As a result, both employees entered into the EEOC lawsuit, added new state law allegations, and on June 3, 2021, the court added Jaffer, Inc. as a necessary party.

The two employees will receive $370,000 from GIPHX10, LLC and Jaffer, Inc. as part of the three-year consent order that ends the lawsuit. The company has also been asked to keep a consultant to create policies that help in preventing sexual harassment like this one.

According to the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, workplace harassment increases when there is an enormous power difference and employees have limited English language proficiency. EEOC San Francisco District Director Nancy Sienko also said employers must inform employees about harassment policies in a language they can comprehend.

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Carmen makes it clear that the Commission’s top priority continues to be protecting vulnerable workers and preventing and resolving workplace harassment.

New Apple Watch Patent Lawsuit Could Put Your Favorite Watch Out of Reach, Out of Style

Just when you thought Apple Watch was the hit of the year, it seems your favorite wearable may not be as high-tech as once thought. A new lawsuit was filed against American electronics giant Apple and its smartwatch device, alleging it has infringed on a patent held by Fort Wayne-based tech company Fossil Group. The suit claims that Fossil’s smartwatches have copied a design for a wristwatch presented by Apple nearly 20 years ago.

If you have an Apple Watch, there’s a good chance that you’re about to lose access to some features because of this lawsuit.

What are Patent Lawsuits?

Patent lawsuits are disputes between patent owners and alleged infringers who argue that their products or services infringe upon the patent owner’s intellectual property rights.

A patent holder may file a patent lawsuit against an alleged infringer. The defendant can be a manufacturer, distributor, retailer, or service provider. The plaintiff in the case may also seek injunctions against infringing activities under the law.

2 Things You Should Know About the Patent Lawsuit on Apple Watches

Here are two things you need to know about the patent lawsuit against apple:

It’s not the first Time Apple’s Been Sued for Infringement

Apple Watch is not the first Time Apple’s been sued for Infringement.

Nokia sued the company in the U.S., Japan, and Germany over patent infringement in 2011. The lawsuit was settled out of court, with Nokia agreeing to pay Apple $1 billion (U.S.).

In 2012, Apple settled a patent dispute with Samsung over smartphone technology that allowed users to quickly scroll through phone lists and contacts without having to tap on each item individually.

The Lawsuit Could Cost Apple up to $100 million.

According to court documents, Apple’s lawsuit against Fossil Inc. could cost the company up to $100 million.

The technology giant accused Fossil of violating patents related to the design and functionality of its Apple Watch, arguing that it had been selling watches with similar features for years before Apple launched its smartwatch.

Bottom Line

Considering the popularity of Apple and Apple Watch products, it is likely that many companies have submitted patent applications related to developing smartwatches. Apart from a few details regarding the case, we will have to wait until  the case starts.

Developments from Amazon’s Decision to Terminate Free Whole Foods Delivery from Prime

Did you know Amazon recently terminated the free Whole Foods Delivery services on prime in September? Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017 and, in 2018, introduced a free two-hour delivery service for orders over $ 35 for Prime subscribers.

Analysts then embraced these moves since they saw them as an opportunity for Amazon to thrive amid competition. The recent activity to terminate the service and add a $99 .95 service fee was met by a pair of class-action lawsuits demanding refunds for thousands of subscribers.

An Overview of the Class Action Suits Filed Against Amazon One

The first suit was in May, while the second one was in June. As you will find out, both class action suits shed light on the fact that customers felt duped. Read on.

1. May Class-Action Suit

It was filed in a Washington court. The main allegations in this class suit are that.

  • Amazon engages in unfair business practices.
  • Amazon neither reduced the subscription cost nor refunded their customers after terminating the service.
  • Customers did not receive their membership bargain.

2. June Class Action Suit

The second suit happened in Washington, still in the same court where the accusation is that:

  • Amazon misinformed its customers.
  • The company wasn’t clear about their “Free Delivery” and “Free 2-Hour Grocery Delivery” Services.
  • The entity concealed certain product fees only to reveal them in the last stages of the purchase process, which allegedly misled customers (drip ricing).

In this second suit, the issue is that Amazon does not reveal a $9.95 service fee, surprising unsuspecting customers when it’s time to pay.

After introducing the free Whole Foods delivery service, the prices for an annual Amazon subscription increased from $99 to $119. Later, Amazon revealed a $9.95 service fee, which caused an uproar.

Customers allege that the $119 Prime subscription fee included the service fee. Amazon recently increased the subscription fee from 119 to $139, affecting current Prime subscribers and the second class-action suit.

Through all this, Amazon has remained quiet regarding the suit. Other entities might have to look at how they serve their customers after referring to these accusations. Also, it is an opportunity for customers to stay vigilant of the services they pay for.

Judge Grants Injunction to Keep Animal Researchers’ Names Anonymous

A judge has granted representatives at the University of Washington the right to keep their names confidential while participating in animal research.

The injunction was granted after a filing by the committee members. They say that they have been targeted by animal rights activists, who are protesting the university’s use of animal subjects in research.

The activists have spent more than a year attempting to access the name of committee members, saying that the research is illegal. The protests have spread beyond the university campus, with picketers showing up at members’ homes.

The participants, who filed the lawsuit anonymously, are part of the University of Washington Animal Care and Use Committee. While they are permitted to use animal testing, they are legally bound to operate under the Animal Welfare Act

The Animal Care and Use Committee or IACUC exists to monitor the use of animals in the university’s research. This includes ensuring that the use is warranted and that all protocols are observed.

The IACUC includes 70 members, including veterinarians, research scientists, medical professionals, and others. By law, non-scientists such as ethicists or members of the clergy must be included.

Activists from PETA say that the IACUC has brought its actions under suspicion because it does not have an ethicist among its members. They also say that there is no member on staff that fits the requirements of being unaffiliated with the university or animal research entities.

These claims were first brought up by Lisa Jones-Engel. Jones-Engel served on the IACUC between 2017 and 2019 and now works as a senior science advisor at PETA.

Jones-Engel says that the lack of such persons on the IACUC staff causes a conflict of interest, leading to unjustified animal research that could violate the Animal Welfare Act.

She petitioned for the publication of the names, which the university originally agreed to. But the members of the IACUC anonymously filed a restraining order, citing harassment and intimidation both on campus and at their homes.

The intimidation incidents, they say, include leaving threatening voicemails and drawing comparisons to Nazi experimentation during the Second World War.

The judge’s decision has halted the publication of names, though this may be rescinded in a higher court as time goes on.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Filed Against the State of Washington’s Long Term Cares Act

A lawsuit was recently filed challenging the Long Term Cares Act in the state of Washington. That lawsuit was recently dismissed by a federal judge. The lawsuit sought to have the Long Term Cares Act governed by the same rules and regulations as ERISA, but the judge disagreed. In dismissing the lawsuit, the judge ruled that the Long Term Cares Act is not maintained by the employer and it is not an employee benefit plan. Therefore, the judge reasoned, the Long Term Cares Act is not subject to the same rules and regulations set up by ERISA. In addition, the court system indicated that the premiums collected by the Long Term Cares Act fall under the category of a state tax. As a result, they fall under the jurisdictions of the state courts, and not the federal courts.

The Long Term Cares Act in Washington, which was passed in 2019, was due to start collecting taxes in the form of payroll collections from employees in Washington to help cover the long-term care expenses of those who live in the state. In 2021, the governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, announced that the state would pause the collection of such taxes until the program had been reviewed by lawmakers to make sure the act was clear about how it would collect the money and how it would use it.

A class-action lawsuit was filed against the Long Term Cares Act, and it was reviewed by Judge Zilly of the US District Court. Ultimately, the case was dismissed because the judge felt the court system did not have jurisdiction. The Long Term Cares Act is not governed by ERISA, and the premiums are a tax, which means that the case does not fall under the jurisdiction of the federal court.

The plaintiffs held that the state acted as an employer when passing the Long Term Cares Act. If that were true, then the plan should be governed by ERISA. The plaintiffs also reasoned that, because the Long Term Cares Act assesses premiums on everyone and not just state employees, the state is acting as an employer in this situation. The judge dismissed this notion, but the case could be refiled with the state court system.