Ford Motors sued over mileage efficiency of C-MAX Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid

This consumer fraud class action is based on Defendant Ford Motor Company’s false and misleading marketing campaign for its 2013 model year C-MAX Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid (“Subject Vehicles”). Ford launched the C-MAX Hybrid in October, 2012, touting the vehicle as “America’s most fuel efficient and affordable hybrid utility vehicle.” In its advertising and marketing campaign for the vehicles, Ford claimed that the C-MAX Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid achieved a class leading 47 Miles Per Gallon (MPG). These materials helped FORD achieve record sales for the first two months of C-MAX Hybrid sales, outselling its rival, hybrid sales leader Toyota, but there was a problem.

According to the complaint, these ads were false. In reality, the C-MAX Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid actually achieved far fewer mpg: Plaintiff, who purchased a C-MAX Hybrid in October ,has not achieved 47 mpg, but rather had averaged approximately 37 mpg.

Consumer Reports recently tested the C-MAX Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid and determined that the vehicle achieved 37 and 39 combined MPG, respectively, and those results were confirmed by a reporter at the L.A. Times who found the C-MAX Hybrid got 37.5 combined MPG. Accordingly, though successfully marketed as a class leading 47 mpg vehicle, 2013 C-MAX Hybrid buyers have not achieved anything like that fuel efficiency.

Plaintiff brings this lawsuit on behalf of himself and all purchasers of 2013 FORD C-MAX and Fusion Hybrid vehicles who purchased or leased their vehicles in the United States.

Wells Fargo Bank named in class action over force-placed insurance policies

This is a class action lawsuit filed to redress damages that Plaintiff, and a class of statewide residents in Mississippi, have suffered and will continue to suffer as a result of the practices of Defendants relating to force-placed insurance policies.  According to the complaint, Defendants have engaged in a pattern of unlawful and unconscionable profiteering and self-dealing in regards to their purchase and placement of force-placed insurance policies in bad faith, the purpose of which, at least in part, is to enrich themselves at the expense of Plaintiff and the class which she seeks to represent.

Wells Fargo provides a range of financial services including but not limited to servicing of property mortgages.  Each and every mortgage at issue in this litigation which is owned and/or serviced by Wells Fargo requires borrowers, including Plaintiffs, to maintain insurance on their real property. If the borrower fails to maintain the requisite insurance, Wells Fargo may and routinely forcibly place insurance on the property.

Pursuant to the mortgage contracts at issue, once an insurance policy has lapsed, Wells Fargo can purchase insurance for the home, “force-place” it, and then charge the borrower the full cost of the premium. However, these premiums are not the actual amount that Wells Fargo pays, because a substantial portion of the premiums are refunded to Wells Fargo through various kickbacks and/or unwarranted commissions.

In accomplishing this forced placement, Wells Fargo, in bad faith, entered into an exclusive arrangement with QBE to be the sole insurance provider for all forced placed policies. Under this arrangement the Defendants charge exorbitant rates to Plaintiff and the Class who have no way of refusing the force-placed charges. These premium rates or charges were not arrived at on a competitive basis and were well in excess of those which could have been retained in the open market by Wells Fargo, Plaintiff or the Class. Accordingly, no good faith arms-length transactions are taking place.

The premiums on force-placed insurance policies generally cost at multiple times more than what the borrower was either originally paying or what the borrower could obtain if done so on a competitive basis on the open market.

The force-placed insurance policies are extremely lucrative for the insurance providers and generate extremely high profit margins. Wells Fargo and QBE have reaped significant profits relating to the force-placed insurance.

Wells Fargo receives commissions or kickbacks from the force-placed insurance companies or the insurance brokers or agents once one of the high-priced, force-placed, insurance policies is purchased. These kickbacks are directly tied to the cost of the force-placed insurance and are usually a percentage of the total cost of the policy. This arrangement provides Wells Fargo with an incentive to purchase the highest priced force-placed insurance policy on a non-competitive basis that it can the higher the cost of the insurance policy, the higher their commission or kickback. Ultimately, the consumer, and in his case, the Plaintiff pays the bill.

Hostess Brands, Inc. Investigated for Alleged Violations of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act

The investigation focuses on whether Hostess violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, (“WARN”) the WARN Act, with respect to notification of plant closings or mass layoffs to the Company’s employees.

Except in certain, limited circumstances, under the WARN Act, employers with 100 or more employees such as Hostess are generally required to provide its employees with at least sixty (60) calendar days advance notification of plant closings or mass layoffs. If a plant closing or mass layoff is postponed beyond the date in the original notice provided, additional notice is required. Rolling or routine periodic notices are not acceptable under the WARN Act.

Toys “R” Us named in class action for unfair business practices

The class action lawsuit  seeks to remedy an unfair, deceptive, and unlawful business practice of Toys “R” Us, Inc. who routinely offers to provide a “free gift” to consumers who purchase items through its Internet website without intention of providing consumers the free gift that is offered (or a comparable replacement gift). Rather, after an item is purchased, Defendant regularly notifies customers that it is only providing a free gift of substantially lesser value than that which was advertised or, in the alternative, no free gift at all.

As alleged in the complaint, this business practice, thus, constitutes a modern “bait and switch” scheme. Toys R Us does not honor its promises to provide the promised free gift, and indeed never intended to honor its promises.

Plaintiff seeks to certify a nationwide class to provide redress to a class of similarly situated consumers who have been harmed by the false and misleading marketing practices in which Defendant has engaged.

See a copy of the complaint: Toys R Us Complaint

Volkswagen named in class action over alleged defect in automatic transmission of 2003-2007 Beetles

 

Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated owners and lessees within the United States of model year 2003-2007 Volkswagen New Beetle automobiles equipped with a Tiptronic automatic transmission to seek monetary, declaratory, and equitable relief for their claims arising out of a defect in the design and/or manufacture of the automatic transmission of the subject vehicles. The defect causes the transmission to malfunction and require replacement, thereby forcing vehicle owners to sustain monetary damages, and leaving them with a malfunctioning vehicle. Defendant Volkswagen Group of America (“Volkswagen” or “Defendant”) has been aware of the defect, but at first chose to ignore it, and shirked all responsibility.

According to the complaint, when the clamor of affected vehicle owners grew, Volkswagen eventually agreed to extend the warranty but only for the valve body of the transmission for the subject vehicles. This warranty extension, however, is of little use because it does not cover any damage to the vehicle’s transmission which, as a direct result of the defective transmission valve body, fails and needs replacement at a cost of several thousands of dollars. In effect, Volkswagen’s offer to extend the warranty but to limit that extended coverage only to the transmission’s valve body while washing its hands of any liability for the resultant damage to the transmission itself, is tantamount to relying on the proverbial “finger in the dike” approach to dealing (or refusing to deal) with the defects prevalent in VW’s transmission.

The Cash Store and Instaloans named in class action lawsuits for overcharging

 

The lawsuit brought in Manitoba accuses The Cash Store and Instaloans of charging more than provincial law allows.

The suit alleges the firms are violating the Manitoba Consumer Protection Act and PayDay Loans Act and regulations, inflating the cost of borrowing by forcing customers to buy cash or debit cards to access their loans through an ATM operator.

Manitoba brought in regulations in October 2010 that limit the cost of credit for payday loans to 17 per cent of the principal advanced. The suit alleges the payday firms changed their practices to evade the regulations so they could charge customers higher fees.

The suit alleges Cash Store and Instaloans, with the addition of extra fees, is imposing loan costs of 23 per cent, in violation of Manitoba law.

Other lenders named in the suit are: Loansalberta Inc., Assistive Financial Corp., and DirectCash Payments Inc.

The class action is asking the courts to order the firms to repay the Winnipeg woman and others in the suit for the borrowing costs they incurred in taking out the payday loans and for the court to award unspecified damages for the firms participating in a conspiracy to overcharge its customers.

Microsoft sued over Surface tablet memory

According to the lawsuit, the Surface does not have the 32 gigabytes of storage Microsoft advertises because the operating system and pre-installed apps take up almost half of the tablet’s memory.

Although Microsoft has acknowledged the tablet’s limited free storage capacity in both the 32 gigabyte and 64 gigabyte versions, and lists the free-space capacity on its website, the Plaintiff claims the information was not readily made available to consumers

Toyota settles securities class action lawsuit over massive recall of vehicles

Toyota Motor Corp. has agreed to settle a lawsuit with U.S. investors over massive recalls of its vehicles from late 2009 to 2010 due to acceleration problems, which caused its shares to plummet.

Toyota will pay $25.5 million to settle the class action lawsuit, according to U.S. media reports.

The lawsuit alleged that the company failed to disclose information about the unintended acceleration of its vehicles, although company executives were aware of the defects even before the massive recalls, which led its shares to slide about 20 percent within a week

Kia Motors and Hyundai Motors named in class action over miscalculating standard mile per gallon usage on automobiles

Kia Motors and Hyundai Motors (“Defendants”) market and sell numerous models of vehicles in the United States, including the following 2011 through 2013 models: 2013 Hyundai Accent, Azera, Elantra, Genesis, Santa Fe, Tucson and Veloster; 20I3 Kia Rio, Sorento, Soul and Sportage; 2012 Hyundai Accent, Azera, Elantra, Genesis, Sonata, Tucson and Veloster; 2012 Kia Optima hybrid, Rio, Sorento, Soul and Sportage; 2011Hyundai Elantra and Sonata hybrid; and 2011 Kia Optima hybrid (the “Subject Vehicles”).

Over the past two years, Defendants have uniformly represented in product advertising that each of the Subject Vehicles will obtain a standard mile per gallon range. However, based on a federal government investigation spawned by many consumer complaints, both Defendants have recently admitted that the calculations for these ranges were miscalculated and uniformly wrong. This is material to consumers, since as stated by Gina McCarthy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”): “Consumers rely on the window sticker to help make informed choices about the cars they buy.”

According to the EPA, this is not a situation where the company complied with EPA testing procedures in accordance with regulations promulgated by the government, but rather admittedly failed to comply with such procedures and regulations. This action does not seek to alter or amend Defendants obligations for providing correct mileage calculation statements, which Defendants admittedly did not do. These representations were made in the Subject Vehicles’ advertising, including brochures, billboards, and publicly disseminated commercials.

As alleged in the complaint, Defendants engaged in an extensive advertising campaign emanating from California and taking place throughout the United States and Canada. Part of the goal of this advertising campaign was to convince consumers that many Subject Vehicles achieved gas mileage in the 40 mile per gallon range, which is a very important threshold for marketing purposes. While the differences vary, in almost all the circumstances in question as a result of the downward adjustment the vehicles will not reach that level — a fact that was and is material to Plaintiff and the reasonable consumer who purchased or leased at least one of the Subject Vehicles.

Because of this deceptive advertising campaign, and the claims made therein, Defendants have charged a price premium for the Subject Vehicles and/or increased demand therefor. While Defendants have attempted to address this admitted problem by offering consumers debit cards, they either know or reasonably should know what they are offering will not reimburse consumers for their actual out of pocket losses as the debit card is only for certain mileage differences, requires them to visit their car dealer for “verification” purposes, is not in cash such that they can count on the entire amount not being used, and fails to provide compensation for the fact that many consumers, such as Plaintiff, would not have bought or leased these vehicles at the prices they did if the true facts had been timely disclosed.

This action is brought by Plaintiff on behalf of a class comprising all similarly situated consumers who purchased or leased one or more of the Subject Vehicles other than for resale or distribution and seeks to halt the use of a “refund” program that does not fully compensate consumers for their losses and does not operate as a release of claims, or at a minimum ensures it is an offset against actual losses, as well as to correct the misperception that such false and deceptive advertising has created in the minds of consumers and obtain full redress for those who purchased or leased one or more Subject Vehicles.

 

Eli Lilly and Company named in class action over deceptive and unlawful marketing of Cymbalta

The complaint arises out of Defendant Eli Lilly and Company’s (“Lilly”) deceptive and unlawful marketing of the “blockbuster” antidepressant Cymbalta (generically known as duloxetine). Since Cymbalta first entered the antidepressant market in 2004, Lilly has engaged in a calculated campaign to mislead consumers and healthcare professionals about the frequency, severity, and duration of symptoms associated with stopping Cymbalta, a condition known as Cymbalta withdrawal.

Lilly’s clinical trials of Cymbalta indicate that Cymbalta withdrawal is a frequent and, at times, painful condition. Users stopping Cymbalta experience symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, paresthesiam, vomiting, irritability, nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, hyperhidrosis, sensory disturbances, suicidal ideation, electrical “brain zaps,” seizures, and vertigo. These symptoms can range from mild to severe—the latter consisting of debilitating and painful symptoms that last several months.

Since Cymbalta’s release in 2004, Lilly has warned consumers and healthcare professionals that Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms occur “at a rate greater than or equal to one (1) percent[.]” This characterization is at best misleading. In truth, Lilly’s own clinical trials indicate that up to fifty-one (51) percent of Cymbalta users experience withdrawal symptoms, and approximately thirty (30) percent of users experience moderate or severe symptoms.

Lilly has carefully crafted a warning label that is designed to mislead consumers and healthcare professionals into believing that Cymbalta withdrawal is rare or mild. The reason why is simple—Lilly knows that once it gets users “hooked” on Cymbalta, Lilly will have a legion of physically-dependant, life-long customers.

In response to Lilly’s deceptive and unlawful marketing practices, a community of former and current Cymbalta users has emerged to provide mutual support and guidance in dealing with Cymbalta withdrawal. Since Lilly has not provided any substantive guidance on how to properly deal with Cymbalta withdrawal, people have developed ad hoc programs for slowly weaning off Cymbalta over several months. Regardless of the approach, however, users attempting to stop Cymbalta, even gradually, experience substantial withdrawal symptoms. Users can even experience Cymbalta withdrawal months after they have fully stopped taking the drug.

The Plaintiff, like many Cymbalta consumers within the United States, used Cymbalta to treat ongoing depression and anxiety. She believed, based on Lilly’s extensive marketing and promotion that Cymbalta would help her manage the symptoms related to her medical condition. She did not know at that time, however, that she was trading marginal relief from depression and anxiety for dependency on a drug. After taking Cymbalta for a period of time, Plaintiff felt that her depression and anxiety had improved and she decided to stop Cymbalta. But, despite her best efforts, she could not. She began to experience substantial and significant withdrawal symptoms including, but not limited to, severe nausea, electrical “brain zaps,” full-body shaking, and debilitating tunnel vision. She was forced to continue Cymbalta just to mitigate the withdrawal. She was, in other words, “hooked.”

Although it took her almost an entire year, Plaintiff was able to slowly wean herself off Cymbalta. However, even after she had finally stopped Cymbalta, she continued to experience withdrawal symptoms for several months. Plaintiff would have never started Cymbalta if she had known the truth.

Lilly knew that disclosing the real risks of Cymbalta withdrawal in its marketing and risk disclosure materials would have been disastrous to its sales. Instead of honestly disclosing the risks associated with Cymbalta withdrawal and letting consumers and prescribing healthcare professionals decide if Cymbalta was worth the risk, Lilly chose to engage in deceptive and unlawful marketing practices designed to hide the truth.

As a result of Lilly’s deceptive and unlawful marketing practices, it is estimated that Lilly has sold approximately $18 billion in Cymbalta between 2004 and 2011.

Plaintiff brings this lawsuit against Lilly in two capacities. First, Plaintiff brings a consumer protection class action, on behalf of herself and those similarly situated, seeking relief for Lilly’s deceptive and unlawful marketing of Cymbalta in the United States. Second, Plaintiff brings suit on behalf of herself for the personal injuries and pain she sustained during her Cymbalta withdrawal.