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What You May Have Missed – January 4, 2017

And . . . . . . we’re back! Happy New Year, readers!

Let’s dive right in, shall we? Here’s what you may have missed over the holidays:

Tesla Facing Class Action After Sudden Acceleration Sends Car into Plaintiff’s Living Room

Filed – December 30, 2016

A Tesla owner has filed a proposed class action against the company claiming his Model X vehicle experienced a “sudden unintended acceleration event” while in park that sent the car through the wall that separated his living room from his garage. (Pictures of the damage are included in the complaint.) The lawsuit claims Model X vehicles are “susceptible to sudden unintended acceleration” and Tesla, despite awareness of the problem, failed to disclose, explain, or fix the issue, leaving thousands of Model X owners with cars that could potentially uncontrollably accelerate. 

Complaint

Class Action Against Wells Fargo Alleges Both RICO and FLSA Violations

Filed – December 27, 2016

Wells Fargo’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad past few months proceeds to drag on, with no sign of it clearing up any time soon. A proposed 87-page class action, which was filed by eleven former employees, alleges the beleaguered bank engaged in a fraudulent scheme to increase its stock prices through aggressively set sales goals Wells Fargo knew to be “unrealistic and impossible for employees to attain on a regular basis” without resorting to what the complaint calls “sales misconduct.” Employees who did not take part in the bank’s now well-documented unethical sales practices, the lawsuit claims, were subject to systematic, retaliatory actions.

Complaint

Lawsuit: Honeywell International Improperly Installed FL Residents’ Digital Electricity Meters

Filed – December 28, 2016

A proposed class action says Honeywell International Inc. put customers at a “high risk of suffering damage,” as well as incurring additional monetary costs, as a result of removing some Florida residents’ analog electric meters and replacing them with digital “Smart Meters.” According to the 26-page complaint, Honeywell International failed to warn proposed class members that the improper installation of a Smart Meter—the alleged result of “improper training, supervision and inspection prior to and during installation”—created a high risk of damage to a property’s electrical infrastructure and appliances. The plaintiff claims the defendant’s alleged wrongdoing stemmed from the pressure of needing to install roughly 4.3 million Smart Meters ahead of a project’s scheduled end date.

Complaint

Class Action Claims Harmless Harvest Falsely Labeled Coconut Water as “Organic”

Filed – December 23, 2016

According to a proposed class action, defendant Harmless Harvest violated consumer protection laws in all 50 states by fraudulently representing its tropically sourced coconut water products as “100% Organic” and “USDA Organic.” The company knew at least a significant portion of the drinks were neither organic nor USDA-certified as organic, the lawsuit claims. The 60-page complaint says four of the defendant’s coconut water products were deceptively marketed and advertised, with the company demanding a premium price for drinks allegedly purchased from coconut plantations with no organic certification.

Complaint

New Point-of-Sale Systems Harmed Rent-A-Center’s Operations, Securities Class Action Claims

Filed - December 23, 2016

A proposed class action filed on behalf of Rent-A-Center stockholders claims the company violated federal law after the alleged improper installation of a new point-of-sale system caused “severe harm” to the company’s operations, namely its new customer credit program. Filed in Texas, the case alleges that the defendant failed to disclose in Securities Exchange Commission filings that, among other issues, its new point-of-sale system was performing poorly (with the system experiencing several complete outages) and, as a result, Rent-A-Center could not implement its Acceptance Now credit system for new customers. Because of these nondisclosures, the complaint claims, the defendant failed to meet revenue and profitability benchmarks relayed to investors.

Complaint

Class Action Says State Farm Acted in Bad Faith in Calculating Fire Damage Estimates

Filed – December 22, 2016

A proposed class action out of New Jersey claims State Farm Fire and Casualty Company breached the terms and conditions of a consumer’s policy by claiming the agreement allowed the company to determine the price of fixing the damaged portion of the plaintiff’s property by using a software formula that did not accurately estimate the true cost of damage repairs. According to the case, the damage repair estimate software used by State Farm produces estimates using either a “new construction” formula (in the event of a total loss and demolition of a property) or a “repair” formula (in the event the property remains intact but the damaged portion can be replaced). The plaintiff argues State Farm “determined that the replacement cost value of [his property] under the replacement formula was less than the replacement cost value under the repair formula.”

Complaint

Genworth Financial, Execs Hit with Class Action Over Long-Term Care Insurance Policies

Filed – December 28, 2016

Genworth Financial, Inc., Genworth Life Insurance Company, Genworth Life Insurance Company of New York, and several executives are the defendants in a proposed class action filed in Virginia. The 61-page lawsuit alleges the defendants caused long-term care insurance policy holders financial harm by unlawfully depleting policy reserves, the portion of the defendants’ revenue held aside to pay future insurance claims. The defendants—the country’s largest provider of long term care insurance—allegedly lied about its financial strength and the company’s overall stability. From the lawsuit: “Defendants executed an undisclosed scheme from 2010 until late 2014 to buoy Genworth’s stock price and enrich themselves by diverting hundreds of millions of dollars of policyholders’ premium payments away from Genworth’s reserve funds and into their own pockets and the coffers of GFI and its investors.”

Complaint

Office Depot Facing Class Action Over Unpaid Overtime, Off-The-Clock Work

Filed – December 29, 2016

A former assistant store manager has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Office Depot claiming he and similarly situated workers were not paid proper overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Filed in Georgia, the lawsuit says the plaintiff, who worked for Office Depot from 2011 through July 2016, was paid proper time-and-a-half overtime wages only after working more than 46 hours in a week. Under the FLSA, time-and-a-half overtime pay is generally owed to non-exempt workers for each hour worked over 40 in a workweek.

Complaint

GEICO Knocked with Class Action Over Alleged FCRA Violations

Filed – December 30, 2016

A recently filed proposed class action against Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) claims the company violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by failing to provide proposed class members with a copy of their criminal background reports and/or FCRA rights before taking adverse action when considering employment. The plaintiff claims the defendant rescinded a job offer after her background report erroneously showed the existence of a felony conviction.

Complaint

Vortens, Sanitarios Lamosa Facing Class Action Over Defective Ceramic Toilet Tanks

Filed – January 1, 2017

Mexican companies Vortens, Inc. and Sanitarios Lamosa S.A. DE C.V. are the defendants in a class action alleging the companies designed, manufactured and sold ceramic toilet tanks for residential use that were defective and could “spontaneously crack.” According to the case, which notes essential admissions of the defect by the defendants, the cracking defect manifests on the inside of the tanks, which can quickly get worse due to the water pressure. The cause of the defect, the complaint argues, was deduced after examination showed that the ceramic tanks were fired either too rapidly or allowed to cool down too quickly or unevenly.

Complaint

Owners of Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower Hit with FLSA Class Action

Filed – December 30, 2016

A proposed class action out of Nevada claims American Casino & Entertainment Properties, LLC (which does business as the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower) violated federal and state labor laws with its wage practices. The complaint alleges the defendant failed to pay proposed class members proper overtime wages for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek, as well as overtime to individuals who worked longer than eight hours per day. Proposed class members say the defendants would round employees’ work time off to the nearest hour, which skewed wages in the casino’s favor.

Complaint

Walden University Facing Lawsuit Over Alleged Doctoral Program Deception

Filed – December 29, 2016

The operating entity of Walden University, LLC and Laureate International Universities is under the gun after a proposed class action claimed the defendants misled doctoral students about its dissertation process. The plaintiff alleges the defendants’ deception ensured the company would continue to receive tuition and fee payments from doctoral students well beyond the completion dates promised to proposed class members through marketing materials, recruiters, and admissions officers. The 93-page lawsuit asserts the defendants designed a program that would “ensure that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for students to timely complete, or complete at all, their doctoral programs.”

Complaint

Unauthorized Credit Report Inquiries Yield Class Action Against Capital One Bank, N.A.

Filed – December 30, 2016

A proposed class action out of California claims defendant Capital One Bank, N.A. violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by submitting numerous unauthorized credit report inquiries pertaining to the plaintiff even though the individual had no financial obligations nor conducted any business with the bank. According to the case, the defendant’s inquiry for the plaintiff’s credit report “falls outside the scope of any permissible use or access” granted by the FCRA.

Complaint

 RICO Class Action Filed Against Humana Insurance Company

Filed – December 29, 2016

Humana, Inc. and subsidiaries Humana Insurance Company and Humana Pharmacy Solutions, Inc. are the defendants in a proposed class action claiming the entities violated the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The defendants allegedly utilized a “claw back” scheme to collect excessive payments made by pharmacies stemming from “unauthorized and excessive” prescription drug costs charged to insured patients.

Complaint

HVAC, Testing Companies Hit with Class Action Over Electric Heat Pumps

Filed – December 29, 2016

Carrier Corporation, Rheem Manufacturing Company, Nortek Global HVAC and a host of other defendants are on the wrong side of a class action claiming consumers were sold HVAC equipment that came with defective unitary electric heaters that did not include a fail-safe electric power cutoff device. This alleged defect, the lawsuit says, presents a serious fire risk and could render entire HVAC systems unfit for use.

Complaint

Intercoast Career Institute Knocked with Fraud Class Action

Filed – December 30, 2016

A proposed class action claims defendant Intercoast Career Institute, a for-profit school, operated a “sham” nursing education program that provided “little, if any, education value to its students.” The plaintiff claims she and proposed class members were misled by the defendant on numerous levels—while not being adequately prepared for the jobs for which they were training. The defendant allegedly failed to staff its school with qualified faculty members or provide critical clinical experience and test training to students, all while raking in tuition fees and federal financial aid money.

Complaint

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