Articles Posted in Class Action

Redspin, a leading IT-security assessor, released a report today putting the Anthem health care personal security breach in context. Daniel W. Berger said in a statement released with the report that the enormity of the hack means that “all breach statistics need to be reported as pre- or post- Anthem.” He went on to say that Anthem’s failure to protect their customers’ personal information has re-defined online security problems and that the costs of the breach could exceed one billion dollars.

Due to a data-sharing agreement between companies, the breach exposed not only Anthem’s millions of customers, but millions more customers on other plans. More than 80 million customers have had their personal information exposed.

The breach’s legal liabilities may extend to more than 50 health insurance companies nationwide. These health insurance companies can be held liable for the breach under state laws as well as under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Anthem is coming under fire for not encrypting its customers’ sensitive personal data, which may have made it a prime target for hackers who stand to make millions selling this personal information online.

More than 50 class action lawsuits related to the breach have been filed in less than a month.

Bahe, Cook, Cantley and Nefzger is currently reviewing and accepting cases from consumers that have been injured as a result of Anthem’s failure to protect its customers’ personal information.  We are accepting cases on a nationwide basis.

The personal information of 80 million or more Americans was stolen in a data breach discovered by Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health care company. The information accessed during the hack includes names, addresses, birth dates, and social security numbers. At this time, the company is claiming no medical information was stolen in the attack. This represents the largest breach of medical privacy in the United States to date.

These types of security breaches, which have become far too common, can result in harms including identity theft, financial loss, and invasion of personal privacy. All too often, stolen personal information ends up in an underground market place for sale to unscrupulous people and companies which use and exploit it. Obviously, this can and does wreak havoc on the lives of innocent consumers. If evidence suggests Anthem failed to adequately protect its customers’ information, then their customers may have claims against them for those failures.

Bahe, Cook, Cantley and Nefzger is currently reviewing and accepting cases from consumers that have been injured as a result of Anthem’s failure to protect its customers’ personal information.  We are accepting cases on a nationwide basis.

BCCN attorney Nathan Williams, along with The Lyon Firm, has filed a class action complaint in federal court on behalf of all Kentucky corn farmers. The complaint, filed November 26th, was brought against Syngenta Corporation for the premature release of a genetically-modified corn seed known as Agrisure Viptera.

Syngenta released the seed before it had received import approval from China, which ultimately resulted in U.S. corn being excluded from the Chinese market. The complaint alleges that domestic corn prices were negatively impacted as a result. Furthermore, it is alleged that Syngenta misrepresented the importance of the export market for corn prices with the intention of encouraging farmers to continue planting MIR 162 corn even though Syngenta knew that MIR 162 had not been approved by China.

There have been numerous lawsuits filed against Syngenta on behalf of corn farmers and other companies across the country.

Bahe Cook Cantley & Nefzger is currently reviewing and accepting cases on behalf of Kentucky corn farmers that sold corn from the fall of 2013 to the present. Feel free to call and speak with one of our attorneys at (502) 587-2002.

A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by the Center for Defensive Driving, a non-profit driver safety group, against Ford Motor Company. The lawsuit alleges that Ford failed to correct defects in vehicle touch-screen control systems (MyFord Touch) that created safety hazards for drivers. The lawsuit is brought on behalf of customers who purchased or leased Ford vehicles equipped with a MyFord Touch system, as well as MyLincoln Touch and MyMercury Touch. According to plaintiffs, Ford has received several complaints that the system freezes up, malfunctions, blacks out and fails to connect with mobile devices. The complaint claims that these errors have caused “significant safety risks” for drivers, taking their attention away from the road when the system malfunctions and failing to call 911 during emergencies as designed. The lawsuit seeks a court order forcing Ford to recall or replace the systems, as well as monetary damages.

Ford Motor Co. was sued by Pennsylvania car owners who said its hybrid models don’t deliver on fuel-efficiency claims. Ford’s 2013 Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid models provide significantly worse fuel economy than the advertised 47 miles per gallon, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Philadelphia. The inaccurate representations allowed Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford to falsely claim those models outperformed competing vehicles, according to the suit.

“Plaintiffs are some of the tens of thousands of consumers who purchased a Fusion Hybrid or C-Max Hybrid, only to be stuck with under-performing, less valuable vehicles that inflict higher fuel costs on their owners,” according to the complaint.

The Fusion, redesigned by Ford late last year, was the sixth best-selling model in the U.S. through March. Last month the model was selling from dealer lots faster and at higher prices than Toyota Motor Corp.’s Camry and Honda Motor Co.’s Accord.

“Ford’s fuel economy labels are generated in accordance with EPA procedures and protocols,” Todd Nissen, a Ford spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
Ford knew or should have known that the hybrid versions of the C-Max and Fusion don’t deliver advertised fuel ratings, according to the complaint. The company uses a “driveability” test facility to simulate real-world conditions and both cars also come equipped with a SmartGauge on-board computer that displays current fuel economy, according to the complaint.

Ford said in December it’s talking to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about how it tests fuel economy performance on new vehicles amid reports its hybrids fell short of mileage promises. Nissen said today that the company agrees with the EPA “that hybrid fuel economy performance industrywide is far more variable compared to conventional models.” “We are open to a dialogue with the agencies to further improve the process for generating fuel economy labels,” Nissen said in the statement.

The lawsuit, which seeks damages of at least $5 million, accuses Ford of fraud and violating the state’s unfair-trade practices and consumer protection laws.

Employees have filed five lawsuits against Pizza Hut franchises owned by NPC International alleging improper overtime payments. The lawsuits all allege that franchise owners forced or encouraged employees to work off the clock without pay.

One of the suits claims managers forced employees to attend training sessions off the clock, another alleges overtime was not paid to workers who worked more than 40 hours. Another lawsuit filed by employees in Tennessee alleges that waiters and waitresses were required to perform other duties, such as cleaning and rolling silverware in napkins, for more than 20 percent of their hours, but were only paid their server’s wage.

There are multiple state and federal regulations that deal with paying employees, particularly in the restaurant industry. The U.S. Department of Labor allows servers to be paid less than minimum wage if their tips make up the difference. The plaintiffs allege that they should be paid minimum wage for those hours they spent performing jobs in which they didn’t earn tips, as well as overtime pay where applicable. They also alleged they were required to report they had received more tips than they did, so the restaurants wouldn’t have to make up the difference to bring them up to minimum wage, and that they had been required to work off the clock.

A Delaware judge has approved a $123 million class action settlement for sexual abuse victims of a local pediatrician. Dr. Earl Bradley was convicted in August 2011 of several counts of child rape involving his patients and sentenced to 14 life terms, plus 164 years in prison. Bradley videotaped his crimes and kept copies in his office. The tapes were uncovered by the police and used as evidence against him.

The class actions suit against Bradley included more than 900 abuse claims over a period of fifteen years. Some of his victims included infants. Pursuant to the settlement, mediator Thomas Rutter will be responsible for distributing the $123 to the victims. Rutter is instructed to evaluate each of the claims and separate them among five categories based on severity.

Local pizza giant, Papa John’s Pizza is facing a $250-million lawsuit from customers who claim that the fast-food chain illegally sent them 500,000 promotional text messages in 2010.
The lawsuit was granted class-action status by a U.S. District Court judge in Seattle late last week. Participants are seeking $500 for each unwanted text, which were alleged to have been sent without the consumer’s permission.

The company disavowed the program in 2010, sending a memo to all of its corporate and franchise stores that “the practice and process of sending UNSOLICITED messages to mobile devices is most likely ILLEGAL.”
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit could cause “one of the largest damages awards ever recovered under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act,” according to legal experts.

“This should be a wake-up call to advertisers; consumers do not want spam on their cellphones. If you do not have permission from your customers, do not send them text messages. It’s as simple as that.”

Merck & Co. Inc. has been a frequent subject on this page, mostly about the litigation involving its drug, Fosamax. However, in other Merck news the pharmacuetical giant has recently agreed to settle a class action lawsuit filed for Missouri consumers over its prescription pain reliever Vioxx in a deal that could cost the drugmaker up to $220 million.

The agreement settles claims that New Jersey-based Merck violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act by promoting and selling Vioxx, which Merck pulled from the shelves eight years ago because of evidence it doubled users’ chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

“This settlement provides benefits that are as good as we could have achieved at trial,” said a representative of the class. It was unclear how many consumers might seek reimbursement, which will ultimately determine the value of the settlement.
Merck took a $39 million third-quarter write-off to help pay for the settlement. As part of the agreement, the company agreed to pay attorneys’ fees and other costs such as advertising to alert consumers.

The executive vice president and general counsel for Merck, said in a news release it “reduces the uncertainty and ongoing defense costs and helps us remain focused on bringing forward innovative products and services for our customers.”

The Food and Drug Administration approved Vioxx as a painkiller in May 1999 but the Justice Department said Merck marketed it almost immediately as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Companies are prohibited from marketing drugs for conditions not approved by the FDA. Vioxx wasn’t approved for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis until 2002.

Merck removed Vioxx from the market in September 2004. The Justice Department charged Merck with violating marketing laws and said the company made false statements about its cardiovascular safety to increase sales.

Missouri was among the 43 states , receiving $13.8 million from Merck. While the nationwide suit was over marketing, the newly resolved Missouri case alleged consumer fraud. It was in litigation for eight years.

Merck settled around 50,000 patient lawsuits in November 2007 for $4.85 billion.

Barnes & Noble, the country’s largest bookseller, said data thieves hacked into payment devices and may have stolen customer credit and debit card information at 63 of its stores nationwide.

Hackers planted bugs in a single card reader at each of the stores, the company said. Customers swipe their payment cards through the machines and, if using a debit card, enter their personal identification number.

Those PINs may be at risk, with other account information, potentially giving thieves access to customers’ private accounts.

Barnes & Noble said it has completed an internal investigation into the “sophisticated criminal effort” and that federal authorities were looking into the crime.

“There is absolutely no indication that any Barnes & Noble employee was involved in this,” said spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating. The company said it also is collaborating with banks, payment card brands and issuers to identify which customer accounts were attacked.

The company’s shares fell 11 cents, or 0.7%, to $15.21. They had fallen as much as 3% during regular trading Wednesday.

Though data breaches of retailer websites are well known, experts said the Barnes & Noble attack was unusual in that it happened in stores, not online.

Among the online breaches this year, 1.5 million passwords were stolen when online dating site eHarmony was hacked, not long after a similar attack on social network LinkedIn claimed 6.5 million passwords.

Last year, a breach exposed personal information and possibly credit card data of 77 million customers using Sony Corp.’s online PlayStation network. Analysts predicted the attack could cost Sony some $50 million in lost revenue, customer reimbursements and security defense.

Besides the damage to its reputation, Barnes & Noble will probably face lawsuits from customers.