Water Damage, Online Privacy and Cheerleading Competition
The two biggest stories in this issue deal with the damage water can cause if proper precautions aren’t taken. First, the failures of two dams in Michigan have left many facing severe property damage, all due to alleged negligence of the owners and operators. Then, a certain brand of water heater hoses have allegedly been deteriorating prematurely and causing homeowners’ water supplies to become contaminated with black flakes. Plus, we take a look at whether some companies owned by Facebook (including Instagram and WhatsApp) are violating Illinois privacy law with the collection of their users’ data. Read on for the latest.
On May 19, 2020, heavy rains and flash flooding caused the Edenville and Sanford dams in Michigan to fail – but attorneys have reason to believe that the breach and resulting damage could have been avoided entirely had the dams been properly maintained. Allegedly, the owners were repeatedly warned by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that the Edenville dam was susceptible to catastrophic failure and would likely pose a hazard to surrounding property if met with severe flooding. Yet, the suits claim, the companies failed to construct adequate spillways, make much-needed repairs and come into compliance with federal and state regulations. If successful, lawsuits could provide compensation to Michigan residents in the Edenville and Sanford areas who were affected by the breach. Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are preparing to file additional cases, so if you live or own property near the dams, share your story with us.
If you have to actively think about your water heater, more often than not it means that something is wrong. Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are now investigating one issue in particular that may be arising more often than it should – and it involves a potentially defective water heater hose. Those who bought and used SharkBite “Push-to-Connect” hoses for their water heaters have allegedly experienced a slew of problems – including the appearance of black flakes in the hot water supply and low water pressure – as a result of the rubber inside the hoses deteriorating prematurely. A class action lawsuit could help property owners get back the money they spent replacing their water heater hoses and repairing damaged water fixtures. Plus, a successful case could also force a recall. The details surrounding the reported SharkBite hose problems and the list of product numbers under investigation can be found here.
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An Illinois-specific privacy law has been drawing plenty of attention to what companies do with our biometric information. The law, which is known as the Biometric Information Privacy Act or the BIPA, doesn’t allow for companies to collect or store consumers’ biometric information without their written consent – and the latest investigation into possible violations of the law looks at the data collection practices of Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus VR specifically. Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether Illinois users had their various biometric identifiers – which include facial geometries or “faceprints” – collected and stored without their knowledge or consent. Facebook recently settled a lawsuit after facing allegations it broke the BIPA, but the other companies the social media giant owns didn’t face any consequences as part of the litigation. If you live in Illinois and use Instagram, WhatsApp or Oculus VR, head over to our dedicated page for more information.
A California All-Star Cheer gym is alleging Varsity Brands and a group of subsidiaries have violated federal antitrust laws by charging artificially inflated prices for participation in All-Star competitions and for All-Star apparel. The lawsuit claims that Varsity Brands’ “multi-tiered” scheme involved buying up potential rivals and using exclusionary agreements with All-Star gyms to help eliminate any competition. According to the suit, Varsity Brands’ monopolistic hold allows it to maintain almost exclusive control over the three most important national cheerleading championships—the Cheerleading World Championships, The Summit and the U.S. Finals—and forces gyms who sponsor teams to pay more than they should. The lawsuit calls All-Star Cheer a “notoriously expensive team sport,” with costs ranging from $3,000 to $6,000 per participant, and looks to represent individuals and entities across the country who directly paid Varsity Brands for registration fees, entrance fees and apparel. The full story can be found here.
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