Last week was a busy one in our small corner of the Internet. Swept up under the commotion of the historic Equifax data breach settlement were a number of other significant settlements that you may want to be aware of, as they affect everyone from Google job applicants to coconut oil lovers. It’s worth noting that these deals are all at varying points of the settlement process, so some of you may be seeing checks a little sooner than others.
In this special edition of the roundup, we’ll break down each of these settlements and explain what you’ll need to know if you’ve been affected.
Nature’s Way Ends Coconut Oil Class Action for $1.8 Million
First up, a motion has been submitted for preliminary approval of a $1.8 million settlement that will resolve a 2016 case that claimed Nature’s Way overstated the health benefits of its coconut oils. Keep in mind that this is only a proposed deal, so the details of the settlement still have time to change. If given the final OK as it stands, the settlement would grant class members between $3 and $6 per jar of extra virgin coconut oil or liquid coconut cooking oil.
For customers who’ve kept their receipts, there’s no limit to the number of products for which they can claim compensation, while those without proof will only be able to submit claims for up to three products. Any surplus left in the settlement fund after initial payments are made will be tacked on as additional reimbursement to all valid claims.
But wait, there’s more! The proposed settlement also stipulates that Nature’s Way will, for at least five years, stop blatantly advertising its coconut oils as “healthy,” “ideal for exercise and weight loss programs,” or alongside similar statements unless there’s a change in Food and Drug Administration regulations. Luckily, Nature’s Way already made these changes over the course of the litigation.
A settlement website should be launched soon, so check back to our settlements page in the coming weeks to file your claim.
On-Hold $16 Million ADT Security Systems Settlement Given Final Greenlight
ADT has received final approval for a $16 million settlement that puts to rest several class action lawsuits that claimed the company attempted to hide the fact that its security systems were vulnerable to hacking. Because this was final approval, it should only be a matter of time before checks are sent out.
As part of the settlement, those who bought systems from ADT between November 13, 2009 and July 23, 2014 will be able to claim $15; those who bought them after ADT became aware of the vulnerabilities (between July 24, 2014 and August 15, 2016) will be eligible to receive $45.
We hope you filed your claims already, because the deadline for doing so was back in February 2018. Check the settlement website for more info.
While we’re here. . .
It’s worth noting that both the ADT settlement and the Nature’s Way case, among others, were put on hold in anticipation of the Ninth Circuit Court’s en banc review of a settlement stemming from multidistrict litigation that alleged Hyundai and Kia misstated the fuel efficiency of their vehicles. You may be wondering how a case about fuel efficiency could have any bearing on litigation involving security systems or coconut oil, but it all boils down to how cases are handled when they involve more than one state—and therefore, a myriad of different state laws.
Essentially, the $200 million Hyundai/Kia settlement was axed because the judge failed to consider variations in the affected states’ laws before certifying a nationwide class. That decision to toss the settlement was revisited and eventually reversed. If it hadn’t been, many other cases would have followed suit (pun very much intended) and we wouldn’t have had either of these settlements.
Seagram’s Gingerly Settles False Labeling Class Action for $2.45 Million
For those ginger ale drinkers who were left high and dry by the Canada Dry settlement, you may be in luck. Seagram’s has settled a lawsuit filed over similar allegations—specifically that its ginger ale products were wrongfully labeled as being “Made with Real Ginger.” You don’t need to have proof of purchase to claim your piece of the $2.45 million settlement, but if you do, you will be eligible for more money than if you didn’t. (This is why we always advise keeping your receipts!)
For this case, the settlement site is already live. So, if you bought Seagram's Ginger Ale, Seagram's Diet Ginger Ale, Seagram's Raspberry Ginger Ale, or Seagram's Diet Raspberry Ginger Ale between April 1, 2013 and June 23, 2019, you can file a claim right now if you so choose.
Revised $117.5 Million Yahoo Data Breach Settlement Given Preliminary OK
It looks like we’re finally nearing the end of the long and arduous multidistrict litigation brought on by multiple data breaches involving nearly 194 million Yahoo accounts compromised between 2012 and 2016. A revised $117.5 million settlement has been granted preliminary approval by United States District Judge Lucy Koh after two previous iterations of the deal were rejected for being too vague and inadequately describing the nature of a 2012 security incident, which, by the way, wasn’t revealed until last year.
The final fairness hearing is set for April 2, 2020. If granted final approval, the settlement will cover:
All U.S. and Israel residents and small businesses with Yahoo accounts at any time during the period January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2016.”
In addition to compensation and credit monitoring for class members, the settlement requires Yahoo to beef up its cybersecurity staffing and budget. Class action notices should be going out soon—barring any other roadblocks—so keep an eye out for instructions on how to file your claim.
Google Settles Age Discrimination Suit with Prospective Engineers
Google has reached an $11 million settlement with older job applicants who claim they were turned down for engineering positions at the tech company because of their age.
If that’s you, you should have heard about this already. That’s because the lawsuit is a collective action, meaning the people affected had to opt into the suit instead of being automatically included as they would in a typical class action. The 227 opt-in plaintiffs—who interviewed with Google in-person for one or more of three engineering positions, were at least 40 years old at the time of the interview, and were denied employment between August 28, 2014 and October 5, 2016—have already signed on to the deal.
The opt-in plaintiffs are set to receive at least $11,465 each, and applicants who believe they earned less income than they would have if Google had hired them may be able to collect even more in lost wages.
Perhaps more relevant are the changes Google has agreed to make moving forward, including training employees and managers on age bias, forming a recruiting subcommittee that will focus on age diversity among engineers, adequately investigating age discrimination complaints, and conducting exit surveys focused on potential discrimination.
At this point, we would normally tell you that the settlement won’t be finalized until a judge officially approves it at a final fairness hearing, but the parties have argued in their joint motion that a fairness hearing is not necessary because the collective members have already had a chance to opt in or object.
“Here, all of the Opt-Ins received notice of the settlement and an opportunity to object. No objections to the settlement were filed, and only 7 Opt-Ins chose not to join the settlement. Thus, a fairness hearing is not necessary…and the settlement should be approved without a hearing,” the motion reads.
A tentative date for a final approval hearing has been scheduled for December 2019 should the judge not finalize the settlement before then.
Another Google Settlement, This Time Over Street View Wi-Fi Data Collection
It’s been a busy week for Google, as the tech giant is also involved in another settlement that will resolve nearly 10-year-old data privacy litigation related to its Street View cars. The proposed deal looks to resolve several class action cases stemming from Google’s May 2010 announcement that its camera-equipped Street View cars had “accidentally” collected 600 gigabytes of data from consumers’ unencrypted Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries while taking pictures for Google Maps. (Don’t worry, Google, we’ve all been there.)
Google agreed to pay $13 million as part of the settlement, a good amount of which will be distributed among cy pres recipients—e.g., organizations “tailored to serve and promote the interests of Class Members.” Sound familiar? That’s because a different Google data privacy cy pres case made it all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court this year. Read more about that case—and cy pres awards—here.
To answer the question on everyone’s mind—yes, that means class members likely won’t see any cash from the deal. The settlement agreement noted that the recovery amount for each class member would have been negligible and that cy pres donations would be of greater benefit to the class because these organizations—which include research centers at Georgetown Law and MIT, privacy research firms, and Consumer Reports, Inc.—have pledged to use the money to fund research, education, and outreach programs that aim to help people protect their privacy.
Google also agreed as part of the settlement that for the next five years, it will destroy all the acquired payload data, not use Street View cars to collect and store payload data without consent, comply with a privacy program, and educate people on wireless network encryption and security.
According to the settlement document, this is “an excellent recovery”—but it still needs to be approved by the judge. The next step is preliminary approval, and then settlement notices will be sent out. At that point, class members will have 90 days to object to the deal. If you don’t like what you see, the notice should provide instructions on how to file an objection. You can find more information about the settlement process on our blog.
Lottery Scam Lawsuits Settled for $4.3 Million
If you bought a lottery ticket in one of 33 states, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., or the Virgin Islands for one of nine different drawings between November 23, 2005 and May 23, 2013, you may be part of a class action settlement that was proposed this week. The settlement seeks to end a lawsuit filed over what’s been called “the largest lottery scam in U.S. history.”
According to the Des Moines Register, people seeking refunds under the settlement will be able to submit up to 10 claims for non-winning tickets without proof of purchase, but settlement administrators reserve the right to request verification to prevent fraud. The amounts people receive will be based on the value of their tickets, whether they have proof of purchase, and the number of claims they submit, the Register writes.
At the heart of the alleged scam was former Multi-State Lottery Association IT director Eddie Tipton who, according to the lawsuit, rigged a number of games by adding a “secret code” that significantly narrowed the odds of winning—from as much as 5 million-to-1 down to 200-to-1. Tipton received a sentence of up to 25 years for his involvement in the scheme.
At this point, the settlement is still awaiting a judge’s preliminary approval, so it may be a while before class members can claim their piece of the deal. In the meantime, it might be a good idea to start searching your junk drawer for any losing tickets you might have lying around.