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Class Action Roundup – December 16, 2016

Walmart Will Pay $7.5M to End Class Action Over Denial of Gay Couples’ Health Benefits

Walmart will fork over $7.5 million to settle a class action brought by a former employee who alleged the retail juggernaut denied same-sex couples the same spousal health insurance benefits provided to straight couples between 2011 and 2013. Though the agreement has not been formally approved by a judge, the settlement will reportedly cover individuals who worked for Walmart between 2011 and 2013 who were in a same-sex union. According to a report on the deal by the Daily Mail, it is unknown at this time how many current and former Walmart workers may be eligible for a piece of the settlement.

The suit was filed in Massachusetts court in July 2015 by an employee whose spouse was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. The couple reportedly spent upward of $150,000 on treatment after Walmart denied the plaintiff’s spouse insurance coverage.

Learn more about the settlement with Kalhan Rosenblatt’s article over at The Daily Mail.

Report: Trump Labor Secretary Pick’s Companies Are No Stranger to Class Actions

A report from The Arizona Republic notes that companies owned by president-elect Donald Trump’s nomination for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, have been named in numerous class action lawsuits claiming employees were not paid proper wages. Described in the report as a “turnaround specialist,” Puzder and his company, CKE Restaurant Holdings (which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardees restaurants), reportedly spent $20 million handling various labor actions in 2014, and before that, were hit with a still-pending class action in 2013 claiming restaurant managers were not paid for all time worked despite being on call at all hours. Back even further, in 2004, CKE reportedly paid $9 million to settle three class actions filed over the company’s overtime pay practices.

Read more about Andrew Puzder and his sometimes controversial career—and why some have criticized his nomination as Labor Secretary—in Jordan Buie’s piece on The Arizona Republic’s website.

Class Action Ropes Prudential Financial Inc. Into Wells Fargo Accounts Fraud Aftermath

Wells Fargo’s phony accounts scandal has now spilled into the laps of other financial heavyweights. Prudential Financial Inc. this week was hit with a class action alleging the company worked with Wells Fargo to perpetrate its scheme of signing customers up for life insurance policies without their consent. Filed in New Jersey, the lawsuit specifically claims Prudential signed up unknowing Wells Fargo customers for its MyTerm life insurance program and withdrew fees from their accounts. The plaintiff filed the suit after receiving a collection letter in the mail for unpaid life insurance premiums for a Prudential policy for which he never signed up.

Go in depth with this developing lawsuit by reading Charles Toutant’s write up at TheRecorder.com.

Judge Gives OK to $4.25M Shop Vac Wet-Dry Vacuum Settlement

Final approval was given by a federal judge this week to a settlement that will close the book on a bevy of class actions filed across the country that claimed Shop Vac Corp’s wet-dry vacuums were not as powerful as advertised. Filed in 2012, the lawsuit alleged Shop Vac, as well as co-defendants Lowe’s Home Centers Inc. and Lowe’s HIW Inc., misled consumers by overstating the true horsepower and tank capacity of the vacuums. In addition to consumer compensation, as part of the settlement Shop Vac agreed to extend warranties on the affected vacuums by two years and will alter its marketing materials to reflect the true specs of its products.

The settlement covers consumers who purchased or were given a wet-dry vacuum between January 1, 2006 and the present.

Catch up on the case with John Beaugue’s report of the settlement’s final approval and initial write up of the agreement over on PennLive.com.

Former Disney Admin Employees File Suit After Being Forced to Train Replacements

A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of 250 administrative office employees who claim Walt Disney Parks and Resorts terminated their jobs and replaced them with foreign workers who they were responsible for training. The suit alleges in part that many of the workers applied for open positions within Disney after being terminated but were not rehired despite being “well-qualified” for the roles. Further, the complaint claims Disney laid off the workers “based solely on their national origin and race.”

One former proposed class member described the 90 days in which the just-fired workers were forced to train their replacements as “disgraceful and demoralizing.”

Check out WFTV’s report on the suit here.

Defective Field Turf Allegations Come to a Head, First Class Actions Filed in New Jersey

A six month-long NJ Advance Media investigation has resulted in the filing of the first two of possibly many class action lawsuits against FieldTurf USA and its parent company alleging the companies knowingly sold defective synthetic grass fields. In the last seven days, Newark, New Jersey schools and the Borough of Carteret have both filed proposed class actions claiming FieldTurf, a leader in the artificial sports field industry, defrauded hundreds of public and private schools across the state, as well as municipalities who paid for the fields.

These lawsuits come after New Jersey Senators Corey Booker and Robert Menendez call for a nationwide federal investigation of FieldTurf, pleading that the government has to be “vigilant against deception and misuse of taxpayer dollars.”

Check out Mike Ozanian’s report on the lawsuits over at Forbes. 

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