Audi named in class action lawsuit for use of emissions defeat devices in gasoline vehicles equipped with automatic transmissions

 

Plaintiff brings this action in connection with Audi’s practice of equipping certain gasoline vehicles with an illegal “defeat device” designed to evade governmental emissions regulations by tricking the public and regulators into thinking the vehicles emit far less noxious carbon dioxide gas (“CO2”) than they actually do.

In September 2015, and again in November 2015, Volkswagen and Audi admitted using defeat device software to activate emissions controls when diesel cars were being smog tested and deactivate those controls during normal, on-road driving. Volkswagen, Audi AG’s parent company, took the position that the diesel defeat device was an isolated incident, which it dubiously blamed on “rogue engineers.”

As alleged, it was not an isolated incident, and the unlawful activity was not perpetrated by a few “rogue engineers” but by hundreds of personnel throughout the companies.

Moreover, Audi’s unlawful activity was not limited to its diesel vehicles. It has recently been reported that Audi has been hiding its use of a completely different defeat device on additional gasoline vehicles equipped with automatic transmissions.

The vehicles containing the illegal defeat device include at least those vehicles Audi equipped with (1) a ZF 8HP55 “AL551” transmission, including but not limited to, the A6, A8, Q5, and Q 7 or (2) a DL 501-7Q “DL 501” transmission, including, but not limited to, the Audi S4, S5, S6, and S7 models (collectively the “Affected Vehicles”). In those vehicles, Audi installed software which detects when the vehicle undergoes emissions and mileage testing and then programs the car to shift into each higher gear sooner, thus reducing engine RPM, fuel consumption, and CO2 emissions. But otherwise, during normal driving operation, the cars’ shift points are higher, resulting in more power and acceleration, but increased fuel consumption, lower MPG, and higher CO2 emissions.

Audi sold the Affected Vehicles to Plaintiff and Class members without informing them of the existence of the defeat devices, and by falsely representing to them that the Affected Vehicles were compliant with all relevant emissions standards when in normal use. Audi also falsely represented the fuel efficiency of the Affected Vehicles.

Because the existence of the defeat devices was concealed, Plaintiff and the Class members were unaware that the vehicles they purchased were equipped with illegal defeat devices. Plaintiff and Class members suffered damages as a result of Audi’s misrepresentations and omissions regarding the defeat device. Plaintiff would not have purchased the Affected Vehicle at all and/or—if the Affected Vehicle’s true nature had been disclosed and mitigated, and the Affected Vehicle rendered legal to sell—would have paid significantly less for it. At the very least, Plaintiff and Class members overpaid for their vehicles, which are incapable of providing the balance of performance, fuel efficiency, and cleanliness that Audi advertised. Plaintiff and Class members have also suffered diminution of vehicle value now that the existence of the defeat device has been revealed.

Complaint

 L’Oreal USA, Inc., makers of Matrix Biolage Keratindose Pro-Keratin + Silk Shampoo named in class action for false advertising

 

This is a nationwide class action brought by Plaintiffs on behalf of consumers who purchased Matrix Biolage Keratindose Pro-Keratin + Silk Shampoo, Pro-Keratin + Silk Conditioner, and/or Pro-Keratin Renewal Spray.

As alleged, keratin is a protein naturally present in human hair, skin and nails. It is made by cells called keratinocytes and consists of amino acids. Its primary function is to protect the cells in hair, skin and nails from damage or stress. Through its uniform, nationwide advertising campaign, including the name of the Keratindose Product line and the names of each Product, Defendants have led consumers to believe that their Keratindose Products actually contain keratin and will confer the claimed benefits of keratin to the consumer.

According to the complaint, the Keratindose Products do not contain any keratin at all and are incapable of providing the claimed benefits of keratin to the consumer.

 

Naming the Products “Keratindose” when they contain no keratin, and echoing that representation with additional statements on the Product labels and in a uniform advertising campaign, is unlawful. The Keratindose Products’ labels are false, deceptive and misleading, in violation of the Federal Food Drug & Cosmetics Act and its parallel state statutes, and almost every state warranty, consumer protection, and product labeling law throughout the United States.

  1. Defendants’ misbranding is intentional, and renders the Products worthless or less valuable. If Defendants had disclosed to Plaintiffs and putative Class Members that their Keratindose Products do not contain any keratin at all, and that the Products do not provide the claimed benefits of keratin, Plaintiffs and putative Class Members would not have purchased the Products or they would have paid less for the Products.

As a result of Defendants’ misconduct and misrepresentations, Plaintiffs and putative Class Members have suffered injury in fact, including economic damages.

Complaint

White Wave, makers of Silk Almond Beverages, named in class action lawsuit over mislabeling of the beverage

Plaintiff brings this action on behalf of all persons in the United States who, at any time since four years prior to the filing of this complaint, purchased any Silk Almond milk beverage (“Silk Almond Beverages”) manufactured, marketed, distributed, and sold by WWF Operating Company, dba White Wave Services, Inc. (“WhiteWave” or “Defendant”).

This case arises out of the false, misleading, and deceptive marketing practices of Defendant’s Silk Almond milk products. Defendant has deceptively informed and led its customers to believe that they were purchasing, for a premium price, a dairy milk alternative that is nutritionally equivalent, and even superior, to dairy milk, as defined by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (the “FDA”).

As alleged, Silk Almond Beverages significantly lack many of the essential nutrients and vitamins provided in dairy milk, which Defendant fails to disclose to and actively conceals from consumers.

By calling its Silk Almond Beverages “milk”, a term historically used to define cow’s milk, Defendant has capitalized on reasonable consumers’ understanding of the well-known health benefits and essential nutrients that dairy milk provides without actually providing those health benefits and essential nutrients. Moreover, Defendant’s entire marketing strategy portrays its Silk Almond Beverages as nutritionally superior to dairy milk.

Defendant fails to label its Silk Almond Beverages as “imitation milk”, as required by the FDA, which requires products to be labeled “imitation” if there is any reduction in the content of essential nutrients present in a measurable amount in the standardized food for which the product is substituting. Thus, Silk Almond Beverages must be labeled “imitation milk” because they are, in fact, nutritionally inferior to dairy milk due to their reduction in the content of essential nutrients present in a measurable amount in dairy milk, as identified above and throughout this complaint.

Moreover, because Defendant utilizes the common or usual name of a food (i.e. “milk”) but fails to reveal the basic nature and characterizing ingredients of the Silk Almond Beverages, in accordance with 21 C.F.R. § 102.5(b), Defendant must label its Almond Beverages as “imitation milk”, as required by 21 C.F.R. § 101.3(e).

The Complaint alleges that the amount of essential vitamins and nutrients provided by dairy milk has a material bearing on price and consumer acceptance of products attempting to substitute dairy milk. WhiteWave has labeled its products to highlight its low calorie and fat content as compared to fat-free dairy milk and has been successful in capturing the market share previously attributed to dairy milk due to its omissions regarding the actual nutritional comparison of essential nutrients. By deceiving consumers about the nature, quality, and/or ingredients of its products, WhiteWave is able to command a premium price, increasing consumers’ willingness to pay and reduce the market share of competing products, thereby increasing its own sales and profits.

The complaint also alleges that Defendant’s deceptive labeling poses a serious health concern to consumers. In fact, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report found that in cases where people do not consume dairy, the levels of calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A and riboflavin drop below the recommended intake, and intake levels of potassium, vitamin D and choline also drop substantially.

COMPLAINT

HP named in class action lawsuit for installing firmware that caused wireless printers to fail when being used with non-HP brand ink cartridges

 

Plaintiffs contend that HP intentionally installed firmware on certain wirelessly-enabled HP printers that caused the printers to fail when being used with non-HP brand ink cartridges.

As alleged, Plaintiffs are the purchasers of “all-in-one” HP printers and devices offered by and sold through Defendants. On or around September 13, 2016, these printers ceased to function. The malfunction of the printers was caused by firmware that HP wirelessly installed on these printers in March 2016, without notice or consent from their owners. The firmware operated to disable the printers if ink cartridges manufactured by an HP competitor were being used. In such cases, error messages appeared on the printer and/or the device sending the print job to the printer stating that the printer error was due to a damaged or failed ink cartridge. The error messages instructed the users to replace the non-HP ink cartridges with new cartridges. Only if the cartridges were replaced with ones manufactured by HP did the printers resume operation.

HP intentionally installed this firmware in order to force consumers to purchase HP’s more expensive ink cartridges as opposed to the less expensive ink cartridges manufactured by its competitors. This scheme was intended to and did cause HP to profit in the form of ink cartridge sales and servicing charges.

HP misrepresented to Plaintiffs that the printers were compatible with non-HP ink cartridges. Plaintiffs were induced to purchase the printers and/or ink cartridges from Defendants based on these misrepresentations regarding the functionality and quality of the printers. Defendants also intentionally misrepresented that the printers failed because the ink cartridges being used were damaged or had failed.

COMPLAINT

Michelin North America named in class action lawsuit for misrepresenting tread depth on tires

Defendant produces tires for passenger vehicles. These included the Michelin Pilot Super Sport, Ultra High Performance tire in various sizes (“PSS Tire”). These are marketed as ultrahigh performance tires, and are standard equipment on many luxury sports cars, such as the Chevrolet Corvette, BMW, and Mercedes Benz vehicles.

Among the representations made on the Specification Documents are figures and measurements related to tread depth on the tires. Tread depth is a vertical measurement between the top of the tread rubber to the bottom of the tire’s deepest grooves. In the United States, tread depth is measured in increments of one thirty second of an inch (1/32nd inch). Tread depth is typically measured with a tire tread depth gauge.

New tires used on passenger cars typically start with between 9/32″ to 11/32″ of original tread depth, depending on the grand and model. Tires are legally “worn out” and should be replaced in most States when they reach 2/32″ of remaining tread depth. For example, a typical tire that starts with 10/32″ of original tread depth has only 8/32″ of useable tread depth. Its useable tread depth is calculated by subtracting a worn out tire’s 2/32″ from the new tire’s original depth of 10/32″.

Tread depth for the tires at issue in this lawsuit are consistently at least 1/32” less than the tread depth represented by Defendant Michelin in its Specification Documents. Because of that, Plaintiff and Class Members have received approximately 10% to 12.5% less tread depth and usable tread, and therefore an equivalent reduction in tire mileage, use, and value compared to the same tire with tread depth as actually represented by Defendant.

COMPLAINT

Tesla named in class action lawsuit over sudden acceleration issue in Model X vehicles

 

Since the introduction of the Model X, Defendant Tesla Motors, Inc., has sold approximately 16,000 Model X vehicles throughout the United States. Model X vehicles operate with an electronic acceleration control system by which complex computer and sensor systems communicate an accelerator pedal’s position to the vehicle’s onboard computers, telling the vehicle how fast it should go.

Able to accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour in 2.9 to 3.8 seconds (depending on battery pack) and equipped with advanced safety features including Forward Collision Warning and Advanced Early Braking, Tesla proclaims that the Model X is “the safest, fastest and most capable sport utility vehicle in history.”

As alleged, the Model X is susceptible to sudden unintended acceleration (“SUA”), in which the Model X will accelerate at full power even though the driver reports that they did not command the acceleration by pressing on the accelerator pedal, either at all or not to the degree that would call for the application of full power.

COMPLAINT

Staples named in class action lawsuit for failing to honor obligations of its Member Rewards Program

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The complaint alleges that Staples engaged in a deceptive scheme whereby it purported to offer and provide to Plaintiff and the Class—as Staples Rewards Program Members (“Members”)—credit for a certain percentage of his/her/their total Qualifying Purchase Amount (“Rewards Points”) for purchases made during the applicable calendar quarter when, in fact, Members received credit in amounts far less than the represented percentage of their Qualifying Purchase Amount.

Specifically, Staples took affirmative steps to ensure that its Members received Program credit at rates well below the percentage represented of Purchase Amount by applying coupons used on exempted items (i.e., items that do not constitute as a “Qualifying Purchase”) on a pro rata basis across all purchases made—including “Qualifying Purchases” which should be added in their entirety to a Member’s quarterly total Qualifying Purchase Amount causing them to accrue fewer Rewards Points than represented. By employing this deceptive method of calculating Rewards Points, Staples shorted its Members’ account credit which could have been used towards the purchase of most merchandise in Staples’ stores, online at staples.com, or by phone.

Staples engaged in, and continues to engage in, an egregious misleading and deceptive practice designed to take advantage of its Members. Per the Staples Rewards Program and Conditions (the “Program”)that were in effect when Plaintiff made his purchase (annexed hereto as Exhibit B), “Members’ accounts will receive credit for Qualifying Purchases . . . made during the applicable calendar quarter if the Reward minimum . . . is met. Qualifying Purchase Amount is the amount paid at checkout after application of all promotions, coupons and Rewards redemption.” It is simply unfair and deceptive to apply coupons redeemable only for non-qualifying purchases under the Program on a pro rata basis across all purchases made in the same transaction—including merchandise qualifying under the Program. Indeed, Defendant’s sale receipts conceal this practice and apply coupons only to a single item—the item for which the coupon applies. This practice violates statutory and common law.

Complaint

Nestle USA, manufacturer of Lean Cuisine products, named in class action for deceptively marketing its products as containing no preservatives

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Plaintiff brings this class action against NESTLE USA, INC, for the deceptive practice of marketing its Lean Cuisine® frozen meals as having “No Preservatives” when many of them contain citric acid (2-hydroxypropane-1,2,3-tricarboxylic acid), a well-known preservative commonly used in commercial food and drink products.

Defendant sold Plaintiff and Class members, and continues to sell consumers, the following products containing citric acid with misleading “No Preservatives” language:

  1. Lean Cuisine® favorites Alfredo Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli
  2. Lean Cuisine® favorites Four Cheese Cannelloni
  3. Lean Cuisine® favorites Cheese Ravioli
  4. Lean Cuisine® favorites Chicken Enchilada Suiza
  5. Lean Cuisine® favorites Fettuccini Alfredo
  6. Lean Cuisine® favorites Classic Five Cheese Lasagna
  7. Lean Cuisine® favorites Asian-Style Pot Stickers
  8. Lean Cuisine® favorites Spaghetti with Meatballs
  9. Lean Cuisine® favorites Macaroni & Cheese
  10. Lean Cuisine® favorites Chicken Fettuccini
  11. Lean Cuisine® favorites Five Cheese Rigatoni
  12. Lean Cuisine® favorites Cheddar Potatoes with Broccoli
  13. Lean Cuisine® favorites Lasagna with Meat Sauce
  14. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Roasted Chicken & Garden Vegetables
  15. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Creamy Basil Chicken with Tortellini
  16. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Chicken with Almonds
  17. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Sesame Chicken
  18. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Chicken Pecan
  19. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Ginger Garlic Stir Fry with Chicken
  20. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Tortilla Crusted Fish
  21. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Orange Chicken
  22. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Apple Cranberry Chicken
  23. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Chile Lime Chicken
  24. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Mushroom Mezzaluna Ravioli
  25. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Ranchero Braised Beef
  26. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Cheese and Bean Enchilada Verde
  27. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Cheese Tortellini
  28. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Ravioli
  29. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Spicy Beef & Bean Enchilada
  30. Lean Cuisine® MARKETPLACE Spicy Mexican Black Beans & Rice
  31. Lean Cuisine® Comfort Chicken Parmesan
  32. Lean Cuisine® Comfort Herb Roasted Chicken
  33. Lean Cuisine® Comfort Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes
  34. Lean Cuisine® Comfort Salisbury Steak with Macaroni & Cheese
  35. Lean Cuisine® Comfort Shrimp Alfredo
  36. Lean Cuisine® Comfort Grilled Chicken Caesar
  37. Lean Cuisine® Craveables Four Cheese Pizza

 

By deceptively marketing the Products as having “No Preservatives,” Defendant wrongfully capitalized on, and reaped enormous profits from, consumers’ strong preference for food products made free of preservatives.

Plaintiff brings this proposed consumer class action on behalf of herself and all other persons in New York, who, from the applicable limitations period up to and including the present purchased for consumption and not resale any of Defendant’s Products.

 

Transnational Foods, Inc named in class action lawsuit over sales of fake octopus

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Transnational Foods, Inc (“TFI”) is a food product brand that sells three canned octopus products under the brand name “Pampa”: (1) Octopus in Garlic Sauce, (2) Octopus in Vegetable Oil, and (3) Octopus in Marinara Sauce (collectively the “Octopus Products”).

Cerqueira is a large seafood supplier and cannery that supplies various seafood products to United States based brands. At all times relevant, and during the relevant class period, it supplied and supplies all of the Octopus Products to TFI. It also sells similar products to other United States brands including but not limited to Roland Foods, Iberia, and Vigo Importing Co., and Conchita Foods, Inc. (all octopus sold in the United States which were and are supplied by Cerqueira shall be referred to as the “Cerqueira Cross-Brand Octopus Products”).

TFI has labeled and sold its Octopus Products as octopus (or pulpo). Independent DNA testing, however, has determined that TFI’s Octopus Products (supplied by Cerqueira) are actually jumbo squid and not octopus; squid is significantly cheaper and of a lower quality than octopus. The word “Octopus” or “Pulpo” is prominently displayed on the label of each box in a large font as shown below. Nowhere on the box does it state that the Octopus Products contain squid instead of octopus. Additional testing has revealed that this bait and switch is occurring throughout the Cerqueira Cross-Brand Octopus Products.

Plaintiff is informed and believes that TFI and Cerqueira have intentionally replaced the octopus in its Octopus Products with squid as a cheap substitute to save money because they knew an ordinary consumer would have trouble distinguishing the difference. In fact, in 2011, CERQUEIRA was sanctioned by a local government in Spain for this bait and switch, and CERQUEIRA committed to stopping the offending conduct.

Complaint

Viva Labs named in class action over misleading marketing of Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

viva-labs-organic-extra-virgin-coconut-oil-32-ounce_382282

Viva Labs misleadingly labels and markets its Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil as healthy, and as a healthy alternative to butter and other cooking oils, despite that it is actually inherently unhealthy and a less healthy alternative.

Plaintiff relied upon Viva Labs’misleading claims when purchasing the Coconut Oil and was damaged as a result. She brings this action challenging Viva Labs’ labeling and marketing claims relating to the Coconut Oil on behalf of herself, all other similarly-situated consumers in California, and the general public, alleging violations of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750 et seq. (“CLRA”), Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 et seq. (“UCL”), and False Advertising Law, id. §§ 17500 et seq. (“FAL”). Plaintiff further alleges that Viva Labs breached express and implied warranties under state law.

Complaint