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Los Angeles Class Actions Law Blog

Man asks appeals court to restore consumer class-action claim

A class action suit that was dismissed by a federal district court judge is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The initial class action, filed by a homeowner in a California state court against Ocwen Loan Servicing, claimed that Ocwen sent false or inaccurate information to credit bureaus regarding the debt allegedly owed on foreclosed properties. The consumer class-action claim was then removed to federal court by Ocwen and later dismissed by the federal court judge.

The suit claimed that Ocwen violated the California Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act (CCRA) when it reported that the homeowner was liable for the $400,000 difference between the balance of the mortgage and the amount received for the sale of the property after it was foreclosed. The home was sold through a nonjudicial foreclosure in 2009. The homeowner discovered the $400,000 amount was on his credit record in June 2011.

Consumer class-action claim filed against Lumber Liquidators

A leading wood laminate distributor, Lumber Liquidators, has itself knee-deep in federal class-action litigation due to claims that its wood flooring contains dangerously high levels of formaldehyde. Adding fuel to the fire raised by a consumer class-action claim, the national "60 Minutes" program supplied support to the charges by actually testing the wood in several homes. The results showed levels of the chemical that were 13 times higher than what is allowed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

A suit was recently filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which included claims that the kits that the company sent out to customers to test the wood were under-reporting the levels of formaldehyde. The suit also alleged that the company represented the test kits to be from an independent third party but they were actually made by Lumber Liquidators in an attempt to intentionally mislead customers. The suit also claims that the company falsely labeled the wood as being safe when it knew that it was not.

Wage and hour claims are growing on behalf of tipped workers

People who work primarily for tips are often financially mistreated by their employers. Class actions in California and throughout the country are filed on behalf of waiters, bartenders and other restaurant workers who work for tips but all too often end up with earnings in violation of federal laws. Wage and hour claims, along with other class action employment lawsuits, are a significant source of class action litigation.

Chain restaurants are sometimes implicated in taking advantage of their tipped workers. Under federal law, an employer is supposed to make up the difference between tipped earnings and minimum wage so that the employee can be assured of at least minimum wage. A class action lawsuit was recently filed in another state claiming that a restaurant chain called Dinosaur Bar-B-Que had run roughshod over its tipped employees by not paying them the amount needed to get them up to minimum wage, and for a long list of other alleged economic abuses.

Consumer class-action claim assails high arsenic in some wines

A new consumer claim is revealing some little known facts about a popular product. A consumer class-action claim was filed in a California state court last week against 28 wineries that allegedly violated state law by knowingly producing wine contaminated with arsenic. It is also claimed that the companies failed to inform consumers about the potential dangers.

The testing was done at a lab in Denver on 1306 different kinds of wine. The results showed 83 at dangerously increased levels of inorganic arsenic. The testing was confirmed by two additional labs. The complaint alleges that some products exceeded the safe limit by 500 percent.

Consumer class actions far superior to arbitration, study says

Are consumers better off using arbitration to resolve contractual disputes or do they do better by using consumer class actions? In Sec. 1028(a) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, Congress directed the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) to study and report on the use of arbitration provisions that are mandated by consumer financial products. The CFPB issued its report recently, in which it concluded that consumer class actions in California and all other states have delivered vastly greater settlement sums to a vastly larger number of consumers.

However, critics of the CFPB report are trying to claim little of the money got through to consumers themselves. They also say that the resolution of small claims outside of litigation is a widespread process that was underestimated in the study.  An analysis of one series of claims involving debit card holders and overdraft penalties appears to disprove the critics' claims. There is scant evidence that any amounts were paid to consumers through arbitration or otherwise, but it is certain that 29 million consumer account holders received $1 billion through class actions regarding debit card claimants that were consolidated in 2009.  

Front-loading washers are the object of consumer class actions

In recent years, a busy area for consumer lawsuits has been the controversy over front-loading washing machines. These machines were apparently developed to be more energy-efficient than top-loading models, but they've had a record of problems. Those issues have translated into a number of consumer class actions nationally, including in California.

The main complaint seems to be over a mold and mildew problem. The leading manufacturers of front-loading machines have faced and are facing lawsuits claiming that a certain rubber seal in the machines is a breeding ground for a black, slimy substance that is allegedly a bacterial mold substance. Although there do not seem to be any significant reports of serious injuries or illness from the defect, the reports of frustration by consumers are substantial, and the problem has been critical enough to spawn numerous lawsuits across the country.

Consumer litigation claims toxic poisoning in pet food product

Pet owners rely on leading companies like Nestle Purina PetCare Company to put safe and nutritious pet foods on the market. However, when a dog owner comes to believe that one of his dogs died and two others became deathly ill from consuming a Purina dog food called Beneful, the situation may turn contentious. In fact, that owner has filed consumer litigation against Purina in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that the product contains toxins dangerous to dogs.

One of those alleged toxins is propylene glycol, described as a toxin that is used in automobile antifreeze. The complaint also states that the kibble mixture contains mycotoxins, a fungus-based toxin that occurs in grains. The complaint alleges that more than 3,000 complaints were made online regarding dogs becoming ill or dying after consuming the product.

Consumer class-action claim filed to compensate malware attacks

A computer manufacturer called Lenovo found itself in a bit of hot water recently over charges that it pre-loaded a dangerous malware program on new PCs sold to the public. The program, called Superfish, is alleged to be a form of malicious spyware that cuts down a computer's security system and exposes it to dangerous attacks. It takes over a system, intercepts secure communications, and allows the system to be, in essence, controlled by external sources. Due to the seriousness of the matter, a consumer class-action claim has been started against Lenovo and Superfish in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

The class action seeks to represent purchasers of Lenovo products that contained the malicious script. Anyone who has battled an attack of malware on a private computer knows the frustration of being helplessly exposed to a flood of dangerous demands and destructive programming trespasses. Most users facing a strong malware attack experience intense frustration due to the aggressor's formidable ability to survive all attempts to strike it down.

Deceptive business practices claimed against 3 beverage makers

Three class action lawsuits based on consumer fraud have been filed in separate federal district courts located in California. The three cases have a similar thread running through them, in that all three defendants are makers and sellers of so-called health beverages that are either billed as all-natural or as misleading in some other aspect of its advertising. In all three of the cases, deceptive business practices or false advertising is alleged, and monetary damages along with injunctive relief are requested.

One case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, alleges that the maker of a product called Muscle Milk does not contain milk. The allegations also complain that the maker, Cytosport, falsely advertises Muscle Milk as being a healthy and nutritious product, when in fact the products are filled with fats. The complaint alleges that the labels on Muscle Milk products falsely lead consumers to believe that they are lean products that contain significant muscle-building ingredients.  

Consumer class-action claim filed over massive data breach

When a company is hacked and its customer data stolen, one certain outcome will be class action lawsuits by customers against the corporate entity. The consumer class-action claim is often the best legal remedy available to get recompense for the vast numbers of individual victims of such crimes. The most recent notable corporate victim of a massive data breach has been health insurer Anthem. In the aftermath of the attack class actions have been filed in California and two other states to vindicate customer rights.

The breach was particularly devastating in that it affected some 80 million customers, former customers and even employees of the giant healthcare complex. Moreover, the amount of information is alarming, consisting of names, addresses, social security numbers, email addresses, income and employment data. In other words, there was enough information stolen to easily assume an individual victim's identity for any number of criminal purposes.

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