ClassAction.org’s weekly roundup is here, bringing you the latest news and developments in cases across the United States.
Uber “Inherently Dangerous,” Suit Claims
International Business Times reported on Tuesday that Uber, the already controversial but undeniably successful ride-sharing program, is facing a class action in the U.S. District Court in Northern California for failing to guarantee the “suitability, safety or ability” of its drivers. The lawsuit claims that Uber’s marketing relies on unsubstantiated statements regarding the relative safety of the company’s service compared to taxis and other short-term ride options – despite the fact Uber outsources its driver background checks to a third party.
Uber’s no stranger to lawsuits, and has faced criticism and even bans in several European cities over a range of problems. This latest lawsuit has been filed on behalf of all U.S. customers who downloaded and used the Uber app.
Here’s Something to Like: Facebook Class Action Hearing Set For April 9
Back in August, we reported on a privacy lawsuit filed in Vienna, Austria, claiming that Facebook violates the privacy laws of the European Union (“EU”), lacks effective consent for the use of Europeans’ user information, and supports the U.S.’s NSA “PRISM” surveillance program. Thousands of plaintiffs from across the EU signed up to join the suit at the time, and now the first hearing date has been set for April 9, 2015. More than 25,000 claimants are listed - and there would be many more if that weren’t the cap imposed by European law. Each plaintiff could claim as much as $560 – although the damage to Facebook’s reputation could potentially be much more costly.
Muscle Milk Overstates Nutritional Benefits, Suit Alleges
Cytosport Inc., the maker of Muscle Milk protein supplements, is facing a new lawsuit in California after consumers claimed the products’ health benefits are inaccurately represented in marketing and on the products’ labels. The suit, a putative class action, alleges that consumers are misled as to the presence of a certain muscle-building nutrient in the powdered and ready-to-drink versions of Muscle Milk. According to the class action complaint, “[p]ersons requiring a certain amount of protein supplementation, whether as part of fitness regimen or for particular health needs, are left to ingest less protein than defendant states will be provided.” The company’s accused of breaking federal and state laws. The suit is Clay et al v. Cytosport Inc., case number 3:15-cv-00165, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
TracFone Data Throttling Leads to $40 Million Settlement
The Federal Trade Commission this week announced that a $40 million settlement had been reached with TracFone – the largest prepaid mobile phone provider in the United States. The company was accused of deceiving customers with “hollow promises” of unlimited data service, when in fact the company cut or slowed customers’ data after they had used a certain amount within a thirty-day period. The FTC complaint claims the company had been misleading customers since 2009 and notes that:
The complaint states that there was no technical reason for TracFone to limit data, such as to reduce network congestion; rather, internal documents showed that the company’s data policies were created to ‘reduce the high costs associated’ with providing the unlimited data that it had promised.
The FTC sued AT&T last year over its alleged data throttling practices – claims the company continues to deny.
Fire, Crash Hazards Prompt Massive Nissan SUV Recall
Nissan has recalled more than 64,000 of its SUVs after federal safety regulators discovered water seepage in certain Nissan Rogue models that could cause electrical fires. Inspectors also found faulty latches in some Infinitis and Pathfinders – a problem that could cause the vehicles’ hoods to open without warning. After the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration released two reports last week, Nissan announced that it would begin alerting owners and dealers. The recall affects:
- 2008 – 2014 Nissan Rogues
- 2013 – 2014 Pathfinders
- 2013 Infiniti JX35s
- 2014 Infiniti QX60s
The recall includes hyrbrid versions of all affected models.
Pfizer To Pay $400 Million To End Shareholder Suit Over Off-Label Drug Marketing
Pfizer is reportedly ready to pay more than $400 million to settle a shareholder suit that alleges the drug maker illegally marketed drugs, eventually losing shareholders’ money after civil and criminal charges were brought by federal authorities. As the Wall Street Journal explains:
"[B]etween January 2006 and January 2009, Pfizer marketed several drugs on an off-label basis. The medicines included the Bextra painkiller that was withdrawn from the market in 2005; the Geodon antipsychotic; the Zyvox antibiotic and the Lyrica epilepsy treatment.
The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in 2010, alleged that the sales boost the drug maker received from the marketing prompted Pfizer executives to make “false and misleading statements about Pfizer’s financial performance and sales practices [that] caused Pfizer stock to trade at artificially inflated prices.
But the price of Pfizer stock dropped in Jan. 26, 2009 after the drug maker revealed plans to pay $2.3 billion to resolve criminal and civil allegations that these drugs were marketed illegally."
One good thing may come out of this, though. The FDA is now developing guidelines to better address how drug makers should respond to doctors’ requests for off-label use information.