Minnesota Becomes First State to Sue CenturyLink Over Billing, Sales Practices
Minnesota has become the first state to file a lawsuit against CenturyLink over the beleaguered telecomm company’s allegedly deceptive billing and sales practices. The lawsuit, filed by Minnesota’s attorney general after more than a year of investigation sparked by hundreds of consumer complaints, claims CenturyLink “regularly misquoted the price of its internet and television services,” and joins similar litigation filed in six other states over the company’s allegedly unconscionable business conduct.
Bloomberg reports this latest action—on the heels of a $12 billion case filed against the company in June—comes as CenturyLink is still working out the specifics of a $34 billion merger with Level 3 Communications, which the publication says hopes to loft CenturyLink into the same league as AT&T and other heavyweight communication and data providers.
As for the goals of the Minnesota litigation, state Attorney General Lori Swanson said she and her team hope consumers can eventually be reimbursed for the harm allegedly caused by CenturyLink and its shady sales culture.
Bloomberg writers Polly Mosendz and Scott Moritz have all the details on this developing story.
Report Claims Johnson & Johnson Tried to Quash Pelvic Mesh Warnings in Australia
An Australian court this week heard Johnson & Johnson attempted to block French health authority Haute Autorite de Sante from publishing a reporting warning against the use of its pelvic mesh devices. The revelation, which came amidst the trial for a class action case filed against J&J in Australia, was coupled with allegations that Johnson & Johnson effectively used Australian women as “guinea pigs” for its now-maligned product before the devices were approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and made available on the country’s market in 2005.
The Guardian reports Haute Autorite de Sante was preparing to publish a report on the mesh devices that found the products needed to undergo randomized, controlled testing before they could be approved for use.
“It concluded they should be used only in clinical research until such a trial date was complete. At that stage, the devices had been on the Australian market for two years,” The Guardian wrote.
Writer Christopher Knaus has more at TheGuardian.com.
A Win for Uber Drivers Seeking Employee Status
The New York Times reported on July 12 a federal court in North Carolina has granted conditional certification to a class action filed by Uber drivers over alleged Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations. With certification, the suit’s lead plaintiffs now have leave to seek out roughly 18,000 other drivers who (smartly) opted out of arbitration clauses in their contracts with the beleaguered ride-sharing company.
“The ruling today is going to allow drivers across the country to band together to challenge Uber’s misclassification of them,” the plaintiffs’ attorney said. “They are employees and should be getting minimum wage and overtime as required by federal law.”
The Times notes class members still have a long road to travel. Though the lawsuit has received conditional certification, a final ruling on whether the case can proceed as a true class action may come only after a possibly lengthy discovery phase in which Uber is expected to exert its might to get the court to decertify the class.
While troubling reports of a toxic corporate culture, deceptive business practices and unchecked sexual harassment have been at the top of Uber’s list of problems of late—the latter of which effectively forced out the company’s CEO— lawsuits brought on behalf of drivers who allege they deserve FLSA protections, to be treated like bona fide employees entitled to overtime wages, have plagued the company since its earliest days.
Check out David Steritfeld’s piece for the New York Times for more.
Fed Up Long Island Rail Road Riders File Class Action Against MTA
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is facing a proposed class action brought by Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) riders who’ve gone past their breaking point with unacceptable riding conditions, disruptions caused by frequent shutdowns, and endless delays. An Associated Press report published online by ABC News says the lawsuit is believed to be the first of its kind, the first litigation brought by riders over mounting problems with trains heading in and out of Penn Station in New York.
“It’s getting unsafe. People are fighting because it’s so unbearable. The anxiety is out of control,” one named plaintiff said.
The AP wrote the lawsuit against the MTA, the LIRR’s parent company, cites alleged breach of contract, negligence, and even “intentional infliction of emotional distress” among the company’s laundry list of failings.
Long Island Rail Road patrons are bearing the brunt of widespread Amtrak infrastructure upgrades that have disrupted the commutes of riders across New York and New Jersey.
Associated Press writer Frank Eltman has the details over at ABC News’ website.
Class Action Against TD Bank Over Marketing Calls Does Not Received Class Status
US District Judge Jerome Simandle last week chose not to grant class status to a lawsuit filed against TD Bank over its alleged habit of calling customers’ cell phones without consent. In his decision, which was reported on by the Courier Post, Judge Simandle said it would be impossible to identify members of the proposed class without executing “extensive and individualized fact finding, or ‘mini-trials,'” thereby making a class action inappropriate. The plaintiff did herself (and the proposed class) no favors, as Judge Simandle said the woman agreed to receive “the vast majority” of the calls after opening a Target credit card in 2007.
Writer Jim Walsh has complete coverage of the decision at CourierPostOnline.com.
Racial Discrimination Suit Against MetLife Yields $32.5 Million Settlement
InsuranceBusinessMag.com reports a $32.5 million settlement has been approved that will end a lawsuit filed against MetLife over alleged racial discrimination. Of the $32.5 million settlement total, $25.35 million will be distributed to class members.
Filed in 2015, the former employees who brought the suit alleged MetLife maintained “a racially biased corporate culture and stereotypical views about the skills, abilities, and potential of African Americans that affect personnel.” More specifically, the complaint claimed MetLife’s management selection methods “systematically and disproportionately” left out African American employees from branch management and many “management-feeder” positions. The situation at MetLife deteriorated to where non-African Americans in job roles similar to class members who never expressed interest in management positions were selected for such roles over their more-qualified peers.
Industry publication InsuranceBusinessMag.com has more on the settlement over at its website.
Ashley Madison Parent Co. Offers to Pay $11.2 Million Data Breach Settlement
The company behind online adultery hub Ashley Madison offered last week to shell out $11.2 million to settle litigation over a July 2015 data breach that exposed the personal information of the site’s roughly 37 million users. The potential settlement, offered by Ruby Corp, still requires approval by a federal judge. Affected Ashley Madison users may be able to claim up to $3,500 of the settlement each.
Reuters writes the data breach cost Ashley Madison—whose marketing slogan was “Life is short. Have an affair.”—more than a quarter of its revenue, money spent to update its security and privacy measures.
Jonathan Stempel has a full report on these developments over at Reuters. A full timeline of events leading up to and after the data breach can be found at The International Business Times.