How are you feeling after Thanksgiving? Have you finished digesting? Are you still working on the leftovers sitting on the top shelf in your fridge?
Well, we hope you left some room. What we have for you today is another roundup of the most pressing class action news this side of the kid’s table.
NHL to Settle Concussion Lawsuit for Nearly $19 Million
In what many have declared a clear win for team owners and the league, the NHL has tentatively agreed to settle claims from more than 300 retired players who allege the organization concealed the potential harm caused by repeated head injuries while promoting a “culture of extreme violence.” The nearly $19 million agreement is subject to approval from a relatively small group of 146 former players who sued the NHL as plaintiffs and the 172 who retained counsel and joined on as claimants. The NHL has admitted to no wrongdoing.
According to the New York Times, the deal includes free neuropsychological testing and assessments to be paid for by the league, as well as up to $75,000 per player for medical treatment and possible cash payouts of $20,000 per player. The settlement is also set to establish a $2.5 million Common Good Fund to assist with the health and welfare of other retired players.
The settlement comes nearly four months to the day after a Minnesota federal judge denied certification of the former players’ lawsuit as a class action, which would have significantly expanded the number of players who could have taken part in litigation against the NHL. A class action would have created a class of living retired players and a class of living and dead players who were clinically diagnosed with neurological ailments linked to head trauma.
It’s only natural that the settlement be compared in both monetary value and scope to that reached between the NFL and former players. Whereas the NFL’s $1 billion, 65-year class action-resolving settlement is to be split among upward of 20,000 retired players and their families—the process for which has, to put it lightly, gone far from swimmingly (see Ty’s writeup below)—the NHL’s $18.9 million payout excludes the vast majority of retired players and will likely be fully paid out over a much shorter period of time.
“While the NFL has pledged to pay out approximately $1 billion, the NHL has agreed to pay less than 2% of that amount,” Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann wrote.
Head over to the New York Times to read Ken Belson’s writeup on the settlement.
Six Major Broadcasters Settle with Department of Justice Over Alleged TV Ad Price Collusion
As a proposed antitrust class action lawsuit works its way through the legal pipeline, six of the biggest players in TV broadcasting have reached a settlement with the Department of Justice to resolve allegations of collusion and ad price manipulation. Sinclair Broadcast Group, Raycom Media, Tribune Media, Meredith Corp., Griffin Communications and Dreamcatcher Broadcasting have entered into an agreement with the DOJ that forbids the companies from sharing non-public information about ad sales for seven years, the Washington Post writes.
It’s unclear at this point whether the settlement with the DOJ foreshadows a potential resolution to class action litigation filed over allegations of collusion. According to the Post, three of the broadcasters have made no comment on the settlement, yet Meredith noted that it was “in the company’s best interest” to settle. Tribune, while calling the allegations a “distraction,” expressed that it was glad to move past the issue, and Raycom stated that it’s seen “no evidence that the alleged information sharing had any actual competitive impact in any advertising market.”
Los Angeles Rams Opt to Settle Class Actions Over St. Louis Personal Seat Licenses
The Los Angeles Rams have taken a knee on three class action lawsuits, choosing to settle with fans who bought personal seat licenses (PSLs), i.e. a license that guarantees a holder the right to buy season tickets for certain seats in a stadium, during the team’s two decades in St. Louis. The plaintiffs, who sued the team just weeks after NFL owners issued their approval in January 2016 for the Rams to move back to Los Angeles, sought both the right to buy tickets to Rams games in Los Angeles and refunds on unused portions of PSLs. A primary issue in the lawsuits was the fact that the plaintiffs’ original PSLs for Rams games at the Edward Jones Dime were to run through the end of the 2024 season.
Financial details of the settlement have yet to be made public, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. [Update - ESPN.com reports the settlement is worth $24 million.]
Early NFL Concussion Settlement Numbers Lackluster for Class Members
The National Football League’s $1 billion settlement was supposed to offer some relief for former players (and their families) who had to deal with the effects of chronic brain trauma – but the initial numbers show these individuals are getting much less than anticipated. According to a USA Today report, a significant portion of the funds set aside for class members is being withheld – leaving mere fractions for those who were promised relief. In some cases, people have been left with pennies on the dollar of what they were owed – or have even been told that, after deductions and “holdbacks,” their pending payments are now in the red.
Money is reportedly being withheld in case, for instance, families end up owing money for the former players’ medical treatment and will now remain in the NFL’s settlement fund or be redirected to insurance companies, credit card companies or anyone else who has “placed a lien on the awards in an effort to secure a piece of the payout.”
Former players are blaming the attorneys in particular for filing liens despite doing minimal amounts of work. Many were fired before the case settled and documents reveal that some were asking for nearly 25 percent of a player’s award for only 15 months of work. This is only a piece of the entire picture, though.
We’re still in the early stages of the settlement process and there’s no guarantee that things will stay this way – and let’s hope they don’t. Only 700 players out of 20,000 have been cleared for payment so far, and with claimants given the chance to appeal their deductions, it may be a while before we see any real progress for class members.
Adobe Premiere Pro Bug Deletes Video Files According to Class Action
Adobe is staring down a proposed class action that claims its video-editing software Premiere Pro has a little bug that can, you know, delete all the videos you’ve saved. Yeah. Filed by a freelance videographer, the lawsuit claims that he lost close to 500 hours of video – which he valued at nearly $250,000 – because of the bug. Quite the sum, especially if it’s how you make a living. Adobe acknowledged the issue and released an update that should fix the problem, but for some the damage has already been done.
The plaintiff says that he moved Premiere’s “Media Cache” folder onto an external hard drive, where he also stored most of his large digital files, to save space on his computer. After he cleared the cache, however, the suit says the bug wiped his “videos” folder rather than just deleting the files stored in the “Media Cache” folder. (Clearing this cache is a normal thing to do. Premiere creates and stores redundant video files that take up a large amount of space if not cleared.) After days of trying to recover the videos, he gave up on his lost files. Many others reported similar issues on Adobe’s forums.
For more on the story, head over to Gizmodo. And if you use Premiere Pro, make sure you’ve got the latest update.
Ex-Employees File Class Action Against Avon Over Claims of Pregnancy Discrimination
A proposed class action out of New York claims that Avon—which touts itself as “the company for women”—has a systemic practice of discriminating against pregnant and nursing employees.
The plaintiffs are two former workers who charge that the cosmetics company had no regard for their health during or after their pregnancies and penalized them for seeking reasonable accommodations. One plaintiff alleges that despite an office-wide norm of working remotely, her request to work from home during her high-risk pregnancy was denied. Upon going into the office, the case says, the woman was fired on the spot over so-called “performance deficiencies.” This allegedly occurred just days after she disclosed her pregnancy to her supervisor and HR.
The second plaintiff, a microbiologist, claims her employers insisted during her two pregnancies that she continue working with certain chemicals proven to be dangerous to expecting mothers. In addition, the woman says that the company made breastfeeding an “unbearable” experience and treated her as though she was avoiding responsibilities when she had to pump during the workday. The suit mentions that the scientist knew of at least one other pregnant co-worker who faced similar difficulties and often “hid in the lab” to avoid her supervisor’s harassment. According to the case, the plaintiff was forced to quit after her constant complaints to HR about unfair treatment “had fallen on deaf ears.”
For more details on the story, head over to Adweek.
Motel 6 Settles Class Action After Sharing Guest Lists with ICE
Motel 6 has recently agreed to a $7.6 million settlement after the hotel chain supposedly shared guest information with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
The settlement fund, once it’s approved, will provide $50 to anyone whose information was shared with immigration authorities after staying at a Motel 6 sometime between February 1, 2017, and November 2, 2018, according to Phoenix New Times. Guests who were questioned or interrogated by ICE will receive $1,000 each, and anyone who was placed in immigration removal proceedings due to the motel’s actions will each receive at least $7,500.
The lawsuit was originally filed this past January by MALDEF, a Latino civil rights group, after a 2017 New Times report revealed ICE agents made a staggering 20 arrests at two Motel 6 locations in Arizona within an approximately six-month period. When you do the math, that comes out to about one arrest every two weeks. One front desk clerk supposedly admitted that employees sent a daily list to ICE with the names of guests staying at the motel.
“Every morning at about 5 o’clock, we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE,” the worker told reporters.
MALDEF and Motel 6 issued a joint statement about the settlement that, as reported by NPR, insisted the hotel chain has implemented “additional controls” to protect guests’ information and “enhance corporate oversight” of requests made by law enforcement.
Phoenix New Times has more details.
Judge Certifies Class Action Over Denial of VA Benefits for Veterans Suffering PTSD
A U.S. district judge in Connecticut recently certified a class action for Navy and Marine Corps veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who say they were wrongly denied Veterans Affairs health benefits.
The lawsuit, according to CBS News, was filed on behalf of veterans who received less-than-honorable discharges and have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or related conditions brought on by their military service.
The veterans say they were unfairly discharged after committing “minor infractions” stemming from their untreated mental health conditions. Because of their discharge status, the veterans are prevented from receiving VA benefits, including, ironically, mental health treatment.
Garry Monk, executive director of the veterans group that serves as a plaintiff in the case, says the lawsuit was filed to make sure Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffering from PTSD “do not suffer the same injustices as the Vietnam generation.”
“We are thrilled with the court's decision,” Monk stated, “and look forward to creating a world where it doesn't take years of wading through unlawful procedures for these veterans to get relief.”
Check out CBS News for the full story.