American Psychological Association, Inc. named in class action lawsuit over imposition of special assessments

This is a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of current and former APA members who have paid special or practice assessment fees as part of their annual dues. The APA falsely and deceitfully misled its members into thinking that payment of the special or practice assessment was mandatory and required for membership in the APA, when in fact that was not true.

The APA, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit corporation organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, is the world’s largest association of licensed psychologists with thousands of members throughout the country.

Since at least 2001, the APA had falsely represented to its members that a “mandatory” practice or special assessment over and above the annual dues was required for membership in the APA. In fact, payment of that assessment (which as of 2011 amounted to approximately $140.00 per member per year) was completely voluntary, and solely required for membership in the APA’s 501(c)(6) organization, the APAPO—a separate organization operated by the same leadership as APA from the same address in Washington, D.C. The APAPO conducts professional advocacy and lobbying on behalf of members.

The APAPO is organized under section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code, ostensibly as an organization that is separate from APA, for purposes of conducting lobbying and advocacy activities. Such activities could not be lawfully conducted by the APA, which is a 501(c)(3) organization.

Recognizing that many of its members would not voluntarily pay to fund this lobbying and advocacy organization, APA deliberately sought to maximize lobbying funds outside of the proper lawful function of a 501(c)(3) entity. The APA misrepresented to its members that as part of annual membership renewal there was a “mandatory” assessment, which it then allocated to the APAPO.

Complaint: Amer Psy Assoc 12-24-13

Costco sued for placing optometrists in its retail stores and offering customers the ability to obtain an eye examination and to purchase the resulting prescription eyewear in the same location

An “optometrist” is a medical professional who performs eye examinations and writes prescriptions for corrective lenses. To perform these functions in California, an optometrist must hold a valid Doctor of Optometry degree and maintain a valid license from the California Board of Optometry. By contrast, a “dispensing optician” or “optician,” is an individual who dispenses prescription eyewear for profit. Notably, opticians do not need any specialized degrees, nor do they need to obtain a professional license. Rather, an optician need only register with the Medical Board of California.

California law precludes opticians from conducting eye examinations and writing prescriptions for corrective lenses.  Since at least 1981, California law has also been understood to prohibit joint franchise or business relationships between retailers of prescription eyewear and optometrists.  This includes, most notably, a ban on the establishment of so-called “one-stop shops,” wherein a corporation arranges for an optometrist to provide eye examinations “on or near” the same retail space where prescription eyewear is sold.

Costco continues to offer customers the ability to obtain both an eye examination from an optometrist and eyewear from an optician in its retail stores, a fact which Costco unabashedly advertises on its website, among other places.

As alleged, Costco has violated California law by placing optometrists in its retail stores  and offering customers the ability to obtain an eye examination and to purchase the resulting prescription eyewear in the same location. Costco has further violated California law by creating an atmosphere in which professionally licensed optometrists operate for all practical purposes under the influence and control of Costco retail stores. And Costco has further violated California law by advertising the joint nature of its optometrist-retail operation.

Horizon Healthcare Services, Inc., dba Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield Of New Jersey named in class action lawsuit over data breach

This is a nationwide class action brought against Horizon Healthcare Services, Inc., dba Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield Of New Jersey (“Defendant “)for failing to adequately secure and safeguard its members’ (1) sensitive personally identifiable information (“PII”), which includes without limitation members’ names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and addresses; and (2) protected health information (“PHI”) which contains PII, in addition to members’ demographic information, medical histories, test and laboratory results, insurance information, and other data collected by health care professionals to identify an individual and determine appropriate care.

As detailed in the complaint, in early November 2013, two unencrypted laptop computers were stolen from Defendant’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey.  According to Defendant’s website, over 839,000 members were notified that their personal information may have been breached.

In its Privacy Policy, Defendant falsely claims that it “maintain[s] appropriate administrative, technical and physical safeguards to reasonably protect [members’] Private Information.”

The 2013 massive data breach could have been prevented. Six years earlier, in early January 2008, Horizon suffered a similar theft, placing it on notice of the vulnerability of its data security. At that time, a different laptop containing PII for roughly 300,000 members was stolen from the residence of one of Defendant’s employees. The massive breach caught the attention of government officials, prompting an inquiry into Defendant’s practices. Defendant responded by claiming to be in the process of encrypting all desktops, laptops, and portable media devices, a process it anticipated would be completed in March 2008

The laptops stolen in 2013 contained members’ unencrypted PII as well as PHI. Defendant’s failure to comply with longstanding industry standard encryption protocols was a violation of its own privacy practices and jeopardized Defendant’s members’ PII and PHI.

According to the lawsuit, because of the 2008 laptop theft and ensuing public concern, Defendant assuredly knew the risks involved in maintaining sensitive member PH and PHI on unencrypted laptops and indeed publicly stated it would change its practices; nonetheless, Defendant continued to store such sensitive material in an unsafe manner.

Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit on behalf of themselves and all others in the United States who enrolled in Defendant’s health insurance plans on or before November 3, 2013, and whose PII or PHI resided on one or more laptops stolen from Defendant’s headquarters in Newark on or about November 1-3, 2013, alleging that Defendant has violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. 1681 1681x, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, breached its contract with Plaintiffs and members of the proposed Class, and acted negligently in safeguarding its members’ PII and PHI. Plaintiffs seek damages as well as injunctive relief requiring Defendant to take steps to ensure that its members’ PHI and PH are adequately protected.

NJOY, INC.; and SOTTERA INC named in class action over deceptive advertising of NJOY, NJOY Kings, and OneJoy e-cigarettes

 

Defendant, the manufacturer of the NJOY brand of electronic cigarettes, has a uniform and long-standing pattern of employing unfair and deceptive practices with respect to the sale of its products through misrepresentations and omissions concerning the potential health risks thereof.

NJOY manufactured and sold, among others, NJOY, NJOY Kings, and OneJoy e-cigarettes. These, together with related paraphernalia such as NJOY replacement batteries, chargers, and cartridges, are collectively referenced herein as “NJOY E-Cigarettes.”

As alleged, one of Defendant’s principal marketing slogans is that its NJOY E-Cigarettes provide “everything you like about smoking without the things you don’t,” and variations of that statement. This is deceptive, false and misleading because it is not true that NJOY E-Cigarettes are “without the things you don’t” like about traditional tobacco cigarettes. Studies have shown that electronic cigarettes, including NJOY E-Cigarettes contain disease causing substances that are dangerous to your health – which are among the most important “things you don’t” like about traditional tobacco cigarettes. In fact, despite Defendant’s marketing slogan that its NJOY E-Cigarettes are “without the things you don’t” like about traditional tobacco cigarettes, which conveys the impression that NJOY E-Cigarettes carry no risk of and do not cause disease as traditional tobacco cigarettes do, Defendant fails to disclose not only what it should know about the contents of its own products, but that numerous studies have shown that electronic cigarettes, including NJOY E-Cigarettes, contain carcinogens, toxins and other impurities (including some of those also found in tobacco cigarettes) that do carry the risk of and cause disease. Studies also show that certain electronic cigarettes, including NJOY E-Cigarettes, require that the user take deeper puffs to produce vapor than the puffs required for a traditional tobacco cigarette, and that this could be harmful to users’ health. Furthermore, there is widespread agreement in the scientific community that further research is necessary before the full negative effects of electronic cigarette use on users’ health can be known.

The complaint contends that Defendant has employed numerous methods to convey to consumers throughout the United States its deceptive, false and misleading message about its E-Cigarettes, including its packaging, product inserts, and print advertisements, as well as its website through which it sells its product directly to the public.

As a result of Defendant’s deceptive, false and misleading claims in its advertising, consumers – including Plaintiff and the other members of the proposed Class – have purchased NJOY E-Cigarettes without being advised that they contain a variety of toxins, impurities, and related potential health hazards as found by various studies discussed in more detail below. Had Defendant disclosed these material facts, Plaintiff would not have purchased Defendant’s NJOY E-Cigarettes.

GOYA Foods Inc named in class action over undisclosed health risks in Malta Goya cola soft drinks

GOYA sells “Malta Goya” cola soft drinks throughout the state of California. As alleged, Malta Goya beverages contain an amount of 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI), a carcinogen, sufficient to expose California consumers to substantial health risks. GOYA, however, deceptively omits that Malta Goya beverages contain these amounts of 4-MeI.

As detailed in the complaint, MeI is an impurity generated during the manufacture of caramel colors III and IV used in some soft drinks. 4-MeI has been found by the National Toxicology Program to cause lung tumors in laboratory animals.  According the Consumer Reports Food Safety & Sustainability Center, “There is no ‘safe’ level of 4-MeI, but if you have to set a threshold, it should be well below the Prop 65 level (29 micrograms/day) – and more like 3 micrograms/day.” According to testing performed by Consumer Reports, Malta Goya sold in California from April 2013 to September 2013 contained an average 352.5 micrograms of 4-MeI per 12-ounce serving.

In advertising and selling the Malta Goya beverages, GOYA has and continues to deceptively omit that these soft drinks contain dangers levels of 4-MeI that expose consumers to cancer.

Plaintiff brings this action on behalf of herself and a class of California consumers to rectify the injuries caused by GOYA’S unlawful practices, and to enjoin GOYA’S ongoing deceptive omissions concerning the amount of 4-MeI in Malta Goya beverages.

Investigation of 2013-2014 Toyota Camry, Avalons, Siennas, and Tacomas, and 2014 Corollas or Tundras over potentially defective seat heaters

Toyota announced that it would stop the sale of Camrys, Avalons, Siennas, Tacomas, Corollas and Tundras because of a defective seat heaters that contain padding that does not meet flammability standards. While Toyota felt it was important to prevent the further sale of 36,000 of its vehicles equipped with these seat heaters, it has refused to recall the 2013-14 models it has already sold, claiming it is not a significant safety risk

Ironically, the problem was discovered by a safety agency in South Korea. The Korean Automotive Test and Research Institute, which found that the fabric backing material used near seat heaters did not meet U.S vehicle flammability standards

Toyota has recently been plagued with a variety of problems in its vehicles and has not always been responsive to consumer safety concerns.  Lawyers have opened an investigation of this matter and are interested in speaking with of 2013-2014 Toyota Camry, Avalons, Siennas, and Tacomas, and 2014 Corollas or Tundras that are equipped with seat heaters.

If you are interested in speaking with an attorney about your legal rights, please use the contact box below.  If you would like to share your experiences on this issue we also welcome your public post.

Kaiser Permanente named in class action lawsuit over data breach affecting 49,000 patients

The complaint names Kaiser Foundation Hospital Orange County – Anaheim Medical Center and is brought on behalf of nearly 49,000 patients who were affected by Kaiser’s September 25 data breach.

The breach involved loss of a flash drive with protected health information such as patient names, medical record numbers and dates of birth. The lawsuit claimed that Kaiser violated California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act which requires medical facilities to keep patient information confidential.

 

 

Rheem named in class action lawsuit over corrosive degredation of evaporator coils

Rheem large

 

Rheem is a large manufacturer of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning products for residential use in the United States. Defendant manufactures and sells consumer central air conditioning units under its own trade name and under the Ruud trade name (hereinafter the “Rheem ACs”).

Air conditioners, including Rheem ACs, contain a component known as an evaporator coil, which is an essential component to the system. Inside the evaporator coil, refrigerant (such as Freon, Puron, etc.) absorbs heat from the air passing over a tube and acts as a heat exchange, thereby cooling the home’s air. Air conditioner manufacturers such as Rheem have traditionally manufactured evaporator coils using copper tubing. However, copper coils are uniquely vulnerable to a type of degradation known as “formicary corrosion.”

Formicary corrosion is caused by a chemical reaction between molecules known as volatile organic compounds and the copper tubes, and results in microscopic tunnels within the tubing which causes the coil to leak refrigerant Formicary corrosion is a particularly insidious defect in an evaporator coil because the resultant leakage is difficult to detect, and usually results in consumers being forced to repeatedly refill their air conditioners with refrigerant, often at significant cost, which only works to mask the defect for a period of time, until the Coil fails.  As alleged, Rheem Coils are defective because they are manufactured with materials that, within the industry, are well known to be prone to formicary corrosion, which makes the Rheem Coils unreasonably susceptible to premature rupture and refrigerant leaks under normal use and conditions Rheem has not informed its customers of the Rheem ACs’ susceptibility to formicary corrosion, nor of the current availability of replacement coils which are not susceptible to formicary corrosion. Rheem knew, or reasonably should have known, that the Coils in its air conditioners were unreasonably susceptible to formicary corrosion and thus defective, but has failed or refused to inform consumers or initiate other similar action.

Rheem has not informed its customers of the causes of formicary corrosion, even when replacing failed Coils, which would allow customers to make an informed decision about their risks.

The classes are defined as : All persons residing in the United States who purchased a Rheem AC containing a Rheem Coil, primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.  Also, All persons residing in the United States who purchased a Rheem AC containing a Rheem Coil, primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, and who paid to replace a Rheem AC evaporator coil.

NIBCO, Inc., named in class action lawsuit over cross-linked polyethylene plumbing tubes

Nibco

This case concerns cross-linked polyethylene plumbing tubes (“PEX Tubing”), the brass fittings required to connect the PEX Tubing together (“PEX Fittings”), and the stainless steel clamps (herein “PEX Clamps”) required for joining the PEX Tubing and PEX Fittings. As discussed below, the PEX Tubing, the PEX Fittings and the PEX Clamps at issue are all manufactured or distributed by Defendant NIBCO, Inc. (“NIBCO” or “Defendant”) and suffer from undisclosed design and/or manufacturing defects that inevitably cause them to fail prematurely Specifically, the PEX Tubing suffers from a design and/or manufacturing defect because it is prone to premature oxidative failure and creep rupture.

As alleged in the complaint, the PEX Fittings suffer from a design and/or manufacturing defect because they are prone to dezincification corrosion. The PEX Clamps suffer from a design and/or manufacturing defect because they are prone to failure by chloride-induced stress corrosion cracking. When any of these components fail, it leads to the release of water which causes significant damage to surrounding property and/or prevents the plumbing system from functioning as intended.

NIBCO has manufactured and advertised its PEX Products for use in plumbing systems throughout the United States. It has repeatedly represented that consumers should trust NIBCO to provide the highest quality PEX Products because the company has over 100 years of industry experience and is an industry leader in the manufacture of PEX Products. NIBCO warranted that its PEX tubing would be free from any defects in materials and workmanship for a period ranging from ten (10) years to twenty-five (25) years, dependent upon whether NIBCO PEX fittings and NIBCO valves and installation accessories were also used in the installation.

The complaint contends that contrary to these affirmative statements, the PEX Products suffer from design and/or manufacturing defects. Specifically, and as a result of such defects, the PEX Tubing is predisposed to premature oxidative failure and creep rupture, the PEX Fittings are predisposed to prematurely fail as a result of dezincification corrosion, and the PEX Clamps are predisposed to prematurely fail as a result of chloride-induced stress corrosion cracking.

The PEX Product Defects have caused plumbing systems to catastrophically fail and release water, which has caused and will continue to cause Plaintiffs and the Class to incur damages through no fault of their own.

Plaintiffs seek relief for damages sustained by Plaintiffs and the Class that were proximately caused by NIBCO’s Defective PEX Products used in Plaintiffs’ and Class members’ homes and other structures, or which otherwise were installed in the homes and structures of Plaintiffs and the Class.

Class: All persons or entities who sustained damages proximately caused by NIBCO’s Defective PEX Products used in the water plumbing systems of Plaintiffs’ and Class members’ homes and other structures, or which otherwise were installed in the homes and structures of Plaintiffs and the Class and require remediation.

COMPLAINT