October’s here, the leaves are changing, and it’s getting harder to avoid pumpkin-flavored everything. And with the start of fall comes ClassAction.org’s latest newsletter. For homeowners, we’ve got news about “loss draft” insurance check problems and leaking washing machines. For drivers, we have the latest on the Volkswagen emissions scandal and reports that the paint on some Hyundai vehicles is peeling, bubbling and generally just causing headaches for consumers. Read on for our latest investigations, and as always, the newest class action settlements. Stay warm everyone!
Cars are complex machines, and it’s generally accepted that with advances in technology, the potential for complex problems increases. Know what’s not supposed to be complicated, though? Paint. Of all the decisions car owners make, the color of your car is (hopefully) one of the most hassle-free. A number of Hyundai owners, however, have reported problems with the paint on their cars, including instances in which the coating bubbled, chipped and even peeled right off. For some drivers, this is happening in more than one area of the car, and now attorneys are investigating whether a defect is behind these problems. Multiple makes and models seem to be affected and, in cases where the car’s out of warranty, owners are paying out-of-pocket for new paint jobs. If you’re a Hyundai owner and you’ve had problems with your car’s paint, you may be able to help us figure out whether a class action can be filed. Want to learn more? Get in touch.
Real estate appraisers who work more than forty hours per week could be owed overtime wages – and class action lawsuits are already being filed on their behalf. Allegations have surfaced that some companies are misclassifying their appraisers as “exempt” from overtime pay, meaning they’re not paying them extra when they work more than 40 hours a week. While there are a handful of employees that can be legally considered “exempt” from overtime pay and other legal requirements, attorneys now believe these exemptions do not apply to real estate appraisers. The fact is, exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act – the government regulations that cover areas such as overtime wages – tend to be very specific and, although companies may tell appraisers that they’re exempt and not owed overtime, this may not always be true. In one recent lawsuit filed against a Bank of America subsidiary, real estate appraisers were awarded up to $100,000 each once the suit was settled. To learn more about overtime cases involving real estate appraisers and what you can do, click here.
If you’re a homeowner who’s made a claim worth $10,000 or more on your insurance following a significant event such as a fire, hurricane or other disaster, you may have had hidden fees charged by your bank. Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are looking into whether banks could face lawsuits for charging inspection fees as part of certain “loss draft” procedures, and any homeowner who submitted a significant claim to their homeowners’ policy may be affected. Here’s how it works: following a claim, many banks choose to hold onto the insurance proceeds, known as the loss draft check, until they receive proof (in the form of an inspection report) that repairs to the property are actually taking place. The catch? The cost of the bank's required inspection is being taken out of the check before the money is released to the homeowner – and, in most cases, without the homeowner ever knowing. Attorneys working with us believe these banks are acting illegally and that homeowners may be able to take legal action. Read more.
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The Body Shop Text Messages
APA Practice Assessment Fee (Oct. 12)
Charming Charlie (Oct. 12)
Nutro Ultra Dog Food (Oct. 18)
To view a complete list of settlements and to find out how you can file a claim, click here.
Volkswagen is facing serious allegations – and a number of lawsuits – after the EPA discovered the company was deliberately falsifying emissions data in its diesel-engine vehicles. A huge number of Volkswagen and Audi models are affected, and if you drive a Jetta, Beetle, Golf, Audi A3 or Passat, your car may be covered by the pending litigation. While the cars are still roadworthy and no physical defects have been linked to the falsified emission reports, the company has reportedly installed software designed to evade the legal standard for emissions. Lawsuits say that after the software fixes are made, consumers will have to pay more in gas and that the cars’ horsepower and efficiency will be substantially downgraded – meaning consumers won’t be getting what they paid for. Read more.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether a defect is causing certain Samsung washing machines to leak from the bottom. To help with this investigation, we’re asking to hear from anyone who has experienced this problem. We’ve heard reports that water can spill out of the bottom of the washers, potentially causing damage to the surrounding floors and carpets. The issue seems to stem from the machine’s drain pumps – which, for one consumer, reportedly exploded during use. Doing laundry may be boring, but no one needs that. If you own a Samsung washing machine, get in touch today and tell us about it.
After years of legal back and forth and millions of dollars in copyright fees, a judge ruled last month that the song “Happy Birthday” is out of copyright – and the company that has long enforced its claim can no longer charge when people want to use it. It’s a good day for common sense – and, of course, for Hollywood, which will now be able to use the lyrics and music for commercial reasons without having to pay Warner/Chappel Music, Inc. first.
Class actions have long been part of the U.S. legal system, but as of last week, private collective actions will begin in the UK following changes to consumer laws. The new laws, which for now only allow for opt-out collective actions, are limited to cases where companies broke anti-competition laws, but there’s good reason to think this could open the door to a wider interpretation of the law in the future. The UK joins a number of countries, including South Korea, Thailand, Italy, and France, to experiment with introducing class action lawsuits as a way of bolstering consumer rights.
A new lawsuit has been filed against Giorgio Armani Corp. – and this isn’t the first – alleging that the company misclassifies its interns to avoid paying them the minimum wage and offering other perks typically afforded to employees. Like many internship lawsuits, the basis of the suit is simple: plaintiffs say that Armani hired unpaid interns to do employee-level tasks, hoping to avoid paying wages while still benefiting from the work being done. The suit was initially filed in May, but was put on hold when Armani argued that the lead plaintiff had actually been working for A/X Armani Exchange, a company that operates separately from Giorgio Armani Corp. The case was eventually split into two separate lawsuits – one against A/X and the latest, with a new lead plaintiff, against Armani itself. The suits are seeking back pay, among other damages.
Even as Zoloft’s maker, Pfizer, continues to face dozens of lawsuits, the company has agreed to update the warning label on its popular antidepressant to indicate the potential risk of heart defects in children whose mothers take the medication. While the company is – of course – keen to state that the update is part of a wider FDA revamp of pregnancy warnings and that they still deny the link between Zoloft and birth defects, the move can only be seen as a good thing. The language is currently in draft form and it’s not yet known when the new labels will be added to the drug.
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