What’s breaking in the world of class action news this week? Twitter, BMW, Samsung, Best Buy and even the state of Michigan (oh my!) are all making headlines. Read on to learn more.
Lawsuit Claims Twitter Intercepts and Reads Private Messages
Twitter asserts that its direct messages allow users the opportunity to talk to one another without broadcasting their conversations all over the Twittersphere. But are these messages really private? According to a new lawsuit, they’re not. The suit, which was filed in California federal court, claims that direct messages sent between users are being immediately intercepted, read and, in some cases, even changed. Now, this sounds completely malicious when you imagine another human intruding into a private conversation and altering what’s said to your friends and professional acquaintances. In reality, it’s the algorithms Twitter uses to manage its URL link shorteners that are said to be responsible for the intrusion.
When a link is shared in a private message (from The New York Times, let’s say), Twitter’s algorithms will automatically replace that link with its own shortened URL. Less malicious than a human reading and changing the message? Sure. But since the users are being routed through Twitter’s analytics servers before being sent to the linked site, Twitter gets the benefit of showing that it’s the source of the traffic – and this allows them to negotiate for better advertising rates, according to the suit. The lawsuit says that Twitter is violating certain consumer privacy laws and seeks damages as high as $100 per user, per day.
In 2013, a similar case hit Google. The search engine was accused of scanning private email accounts for keywords to help deliver custom advertisements. The suit was eventually laid to rest, in Google’s favor, when a judge denied class certification. While this ruling doesn’t automatically define the outcome of the lawsuit Twitter’s facing, it does lend to some speculation. Is what Twitter’s doing any more legally actionable than what Google was doing two years ago? Though the cases are similar, they’re not identical. We can’t be sure what will happen in this case; only time will tell. So keep checking in with us for updates.
Alleged Defects in BMW Engines Drive Legal Action
A proposed class action has hit BMW and claims that some of the automaker’s cars have serious defects. According to the suit, a defect in the company’s N63 engine is causing a number of problems for drivers, including excessive oil consumption, shortened battery lifespan, and frequent engine repairs. The suit also claims that the rate at which the N63 goes through oil presents a risk of the engine seizing up due to the lack of necessary lubricant – which potentially could result in a life-threatening accident.
The plaintiff, Scott Crockett, looks to represent a nationwide class of those who purchased cars with the N63 engine, believing that there are tens of thousands affected.
Game of Phones, Call for Class Certification in Samsung Case Denied
Plaintiffs were hung up after a federal judge in Texas denied class certification in a case against Samsung that alleged the company’s Galaxy S phones were defective. According to the suit, the phones failed after only a few months of use and would freeze and power off randomly. While that is almost as annoying as writers who love phone puns, it is not a problem that’s fit for a class action lawsuit, according to the judge. In order for the suit to proceed as a class action, the court would have had to determine, among other things, whether each class member’s defect was covered by his or her individual warranty. Basically, the motion for certification was denied because the plaintiffs’ claims were too specific to prove that Samsung breached their warranty definitively for all class members.
Best Buy Vacuum Filter Marketing Is Misleading Says Lawsuit
Best Buy has been hit with a class action suit that says the HEPA filtration systems in a line of Electrolux vacuum cleaners were, well, not there. Instead of the advertised HEPA filter that “traps dust, pet dander and pollen, preventing it from escaping back into the air,” plaintiff Christopher Early says the $189 Electrolux vacuum he bought from Best Buy only had an “allergen” filter.
According to the plaintiff, a call to the manufacturer confirmed that Best Buy does not carry Electrolux vacuums with HEPA filters – even though the store advertised that it did. The type of filter plays a large role in the lives of those with allergy or asthma issues, like our plaintiff in this case. Early says that Best Buy’s marketing campaign was deceitful and that he, as well as other class members, suffered harm. If certified, the lawsuit will be open to all consumers who live in Virginia and purchased the vacuum cleaner in question during the class period.
Michigan Seizes Tax Refunds, Lawsuit Follows
Why is Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency facing allegations that it illegally seized state and federal income tax refunds? Because it’s new “workers” marked a number of people’s unemployment claims as fraudulent when they shouldn’t have been, according to a suit filed this week. The lawsuit says that UIA let go a number of workers and replaced them with automated machines. And, because machines can’t discern motive (yet), they couldn’t assess whether innocent mistakes were just that - or the result of fraud. As a result, the machines marked every discrepancy as an act of fraud, resulting in the seizure of individuals’ tax return money, according to the suit.
Attorney Jennifer Lord claims that anyone who applied for and received unemployment within the last six years is a potential victim of the faulty automated system. The lawsuit is seeking economic damages equal to those seized and for the court to declare the agency’s automated decision-making illegal.
Sears and Whirlpool Settle with Repairs and Rebates
Sears and Whirlpool agreed to pay for repairs in order to settle a class action that was originally filed in 2011. The companies were accused of not knowing, or being reckless in not knowing, that certain dishwashers contained faulty electric components. According to the suit, these faulty circuit boards caused the dishwashers to overheat with no warning, melt, smoke and finally combust. The settlement proposed last week would grant different awards to different class members according to the damages they suffered. Those who already had to repair or replace their dishwashers because of a fire will receive a minimum of $200, but those with documentation of their repairs may be able to ask for more.