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February 13, 2014 / Steven Soliman

Apple iPhone Fires Likely to Lead to Lawsuits

iPhone

On January 31, 2014, a middle school student in Kennebunk, Maine suffered second-degree burns when her iPhone 5c caught fire in her pants. The 14-year old girl had just sat down before class was to start when she and her friends heard a pop from the phone in her pocket, and smoke immediately started billowing around her. As her pants caught fire, other students rushed to her aid and helped put the fire out.

This is not the first time an Apple product has allegedly burst into flames and caused injury. There have been numerous accounts of similar fires and injuries both in the United States and abroad. Most recently, on August 20, 2013, a California man was charging his iPhone 4 when it suddenly burst into flames reaching at least one-foot in height. He contacted Apple to inform them and figure out whether the smoke he had inhaled was toxic, but they refused to answer and instead offered him only a replacement phone. The California man did not file suit.

Again, in 2009, an iPod Touch exploded in its owner’s pocket causing him second-degree burns. A lawsuit was filed against Apple, alleging that Apple failed to provide adequate warnings as to the risks of their products. The lawsuit was ultimately settled outside of court for an undisclosed amount.

As this issue grows increasingly more common, it will likely result in a slew of lawsuits against Apple.

If you or someone you know has been harmed as a result of a product’s failure to warn, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a private consultation.

February 12, 2014 / Nazareth M. Haysbert

Side Effects of NuvaRing Contraceptive Forces Merck Into $100 Million Settlement

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New Jersey based drugmaker Merck has agreed to settle thousands of lawsuits brought by women and families of women, who have suffered severe side effects, including heart attacks, stroke, and death, from use of Merck’s NuvaRing contraceptive ring. The settlement was announced just one day after the American Heart Association issued new guidelines recommending that women using an oral contraceptive, which includes NuvaRing, get screened for high blood pressure because the contraceptive “can up risks for blood clots and stroke.” Severe side effects connected to NuvaRing include blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer of the reproductive organs and breasts.

Merck has refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing, and still supports the research that led to the approval of NuvaRing, but has stated it will settle all U.S. litigation involving the product to avoid further litigation. The settlement will also cover some patients eligible to sue Merck but who have yet to file suit.

The settlement could resolve as many as 3,800 cases, including lawsuits filed in New Jersey by more than 200 women who accused the drugmaker of selling NuvaRing despite knowing it posed a higher risk of heart attack-inducing blood clots than competing products.

If you have purchased the NuvaRing contraceptive, experienced a negative side effect, or had a family member die from side effects linked to the NuvaRing contraceptive, contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for more information and a free consultation regarding your possible claims.

February 11, 2014 / Nazareth M. Haysbert

$1 Million Settlement Reached in Louis Vuitton Consumer Privacy Lawsuit

louis vuitton

On January 9, 2014, William Q. Hayes, United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of California, granted final approval to a class action settlement against luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton. The class action lawsuit alleged that a California Louis Vuitton store requested and received personal identification information from its credit card customers in violation of Section 1747.08(a) of the California Civil Code, which specifically prohibits retailers from requesting and recording personal identification information, such as an address, zip code, phone number, and email address, when making certain credit card transactions with customers.

Louis Vuitton denies the allegations, but decided to settle the class action lawsuit, entitled Deanna Morey v. Louis Vuitton North America, Inc., to avoid further litigation. Under the terms of the settlement, Louis Vuitton has agreed to reward Louis Vuitton Merchandise Certificates, in the amount of $41, to over 23,000 consumers who submitted valid claims.

If you or a loved one feels they have been misled by deceptive sales practices, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential evaluation of your rights.

February 5, 2014 / Scott Tillett

Pepsi Sued in Consumer Class Action for Failure to Warn of Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Soft Drinks

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On January 23, 2014, Thamar Santisteban Cortina filed a class action lawsuit against Pepsico, Inc., in San Diego federal court (Case No. 3:14cv168), accusing the soft drink giant of using dangerous chemicals in Pepsi’s caramel coloring without warning consumers.

Cortina alleges that Pepsi soft drinks contain dangerous levels of the carcinogen 4-methylimidazole (“-MeI”), an impurity in the caramel coloring used in the soft drinks. According to a study by the National Toxicology Program, laboratory animals developed significant increases in cancerous lung tumors after exposure to 4-MeI. California law requires manufacturers of beverages containing more than 29 micrograms of 4-MeI per 12-ounce serving to include “clear and reasonable” warning labels. The lawsuit alleges that Pepsi beverages containing harmful levels of 4-MeI do not contain the warning labels required by Proposition 65 and that Cortina and other California consumers would not have purchased the beverages had they known they contained carcinogens.

This lawsuit coincides with a January 23, 2014, Consumer Reports article, reporting that Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Pepsi One beverages purchased in California each contained more than 29 micrograms of 4-MeI per 12-ounce serving. Pepsico responded by stating that consumers who drink diet sodas generally drink less than a third of a 12-ounce can per day, and therefore the soft drinks do not require cancer-risk warning labels, even if they contain more than 29 micrograms of 4-MeI per can. Consumer Reports has alerted the California Attorney General’s office and the FDA of their findings. According to Consumer Reports, “the FDA said it does not believe that 4-MeI from caramel color at levels currently in food pose a risk. However, they appreciated Consumer Reports’ tests and are currently doing their own tests of foods, including sodas, for 4-MeI.”

Cortina has also filed a separate but similar lawsuit against Goya Foods, Inc. in San Diego federal Court (Case No. 3:14cv169), alleging the soft drink “Malta Goya” contains more than 29 micrograms of 4-MeI per 12-ounce serving without cancer-risk warning labels. Cortina alleges that both Pepsico and Goya knew about the risks associated with 4-MeI bust deliberately concealed them from consumers. Both lawsuits allege negligence, false advertising, misrepresentations, and violations of the California Unfair Competition Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act for failure to warn consumers of unsafe levels of 4-MeI.

If you believe you have purchased a product containing harmful ingredients or have purchased a product based upon false advertising, you may be entitled to relief. Please call Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.

February 4, 2014 / JH

Gerber: Class Action Taking Baby Steps to Certification

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A California federal judge recently refused to dismiss a putative class action lawsuit alleging that Gerber Products mislabels its baby food products.  U.S. District Court Judge Lucy H. Koh denied Gerber’s motion to dismiss the class action, but dismissed some of the class claims.

The class, led by California resident Natalia Bruton, alleges Gerber labeled baby food products as an “Excellent” and “Good” source of vitamins and minerals.  The labels also state Gerber’s products are “Healthy” for growth and immune support with “No Added Sugar.”

Bruton claims that federal law restricts companies making nutritional, sugar content, or health claims for food products targeted for children under the age of two.  Addressing this claim, Judge Koh stated that Bruton must be more specific about how Gerber violated federal law.

“In the absence of any federal regulatory authority that imposes upon Gerber a duty to disclose its own labeling misstatements, the Court concludes that Bruton is attempting to impose a labeling requirement that is not identical to federal requirements,” said Koh.

Bruton’s claim for violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), however, survived Gerber’s motion.

Judge Koh explained that food misbranding cases require actual reliance and injury “to establish statutory standing under the UCL’s “unlawful” prong whenever the underlying alleged misconduct is deceptive or fraudulent.”  Because Bruton adequately plead injury and reliance, she may proceed with the prosecution of her UCL claim.

Gerber products at issue include Gerber Nature Select, Gerber Yogurt Blends, Gerber Graduates Fruit, Gerber Organic SmartNourish, Gerber Organic SmartNourish, and Gerber Single Grain Cereals brands.  Judge Koh removed some products from the class action’s original lawsuit because they were not similar enough to the products purchased by Bruton.

The Gerber Class Action is being litigated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  See Bruton v. Gerber Products Co., et al., Case No. 5:12-cv-02412.

January 31, 2014 / Brian Bush

Wisconsin Jury Awards $910,000 Teen Injured In Bicycle Accident

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On March 10, 2010, Trevor Brady was riding his bicycle near a construction site when he ran into several iron beams protruding from a backhoe two feet into the sidewalk. Trevor’s cheek was torn off, and he suffered other facial lacerations and injuries to his teeth. He was 13 years old.

The Defendant, Plocher Construction, immediately accepted liability for the accident. The case went to trial on the issue of damages. According to the lawsuit, Plaintiffs sought $3.5 million for disfigurement, loss of normal life, pain and suffering and emotional distress. However, the defense asked the jury to award the Plaintiff only his actual medical expenses: $250,000. The defense argued that Trevor was living a normal life, which included dating and planning to go to college.

At the conclusion of trial, Jurors awarded $725,000 to Trevor to compensate him for his injuries, which required plastic and oral surgeries, and over 60 visits to physicians. The jury also awarded Trevor’s parents $185,000.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident, or as a pedestrian, in connection with a dangerous condition on or near a construction site or a public roadway, you are encouraged to contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation. You may be entitled to compensation for you injuries, including economic and non-economic damages.

January 28, 2014 / Scott Tillett

Neiman Marcus Announces as Many as 1.1 Million Customer Credit Cards Compromised

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On January 22, 2014, retailer Neiman Marcus published a letter to consumers on its website, revealing that between July 16, 2013 and October 30, 2013, as many as 1.1 million customer payment cards used in the company’s US stores may have been illegally accessed by third parties.

According to the letter, hackers secretly installed “malicious software” in Neiman Marcus’ computer systems capable of collecting credit card information. As of January 22, 2014, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover have notified Neiman Marcus that approximately 2,400 credit and debit cards were fraudulently used after being used at Neiman Marcus stores. According to Neiman Marcus, social security numbers and birth dates were not compromised, the company has not seen any fraudulent activity on Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf Goodman cards, customers who have shopped online have not been affected, and Personal Identification Numbers (“PINs”) have not been compromised because the company does not use PIN pads for in-store purchases.

Neiman Marcus has not indicated what part of its computer system was infected by the malware, and it is not clear whether the attack on Neiman Marcus is related to the November-December 2013 attack on Target databases, which affected approximately 70 million individuals and 40 million credit and debit card accounts. Neiman Marcus is offering a free year of credit monitoring and identity-theft protection services to customers who shopped with the company between January 2013 and January 2014. The company also recommends its customers check their credit card statements for fraudulent activity and report any suspicious transactions to the card issuer immediately.

Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP is currently litigating a class action lawsuit against Adobe Systems, Inc. on behalf of American consumers in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (Case No. 13-cv-05596) related to a 2013 data breach. If you believe your personal and/or financial information has been compromised, you may be entitled to relief. Please call Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.

January 23, 2014 / Steven Soliman

McDonalds Sued Again Over Hot Coffee

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A Los Angeles woman has filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s Corp. alleging that she was burned by hot coffee that spilled on her at one of the chain’s restaurants in Los Angeles.

The story is a familiar one, as this lawsuit comes 20 years after a jury awarded $2.9 million to an elderly woman who spilled coffee and suffered third degree burns which required skin graft surgery, after it was revealed that the restaurant was ordered to keep its coffee at dangerously high temperatures to maintain taste. Though the verdict was widely criticized, it is believed that the elderly woman passed away not long afterwards as a result of her serious injuries.

The new case was filed by Paulette Carr, who alleged that she was injured on January 9, 2012 after ordering coffee at the drive-thru window of the McDonald’s on Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys, California. Specifically, the complaint explains, “The lid for the hot coffee was negligently, carelessly, and improperly placed on the coffee cup…resulting in the lid coming off the top of the coffee at the window, causing the hot coffee to spill onto the plaintiff.” However, the complaint does not allege what injuries she suffered as a result.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury as a result of another person’s negligence, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a private consultation.

January 21, 2014 / Corina Valderrama

Lawsuit against Credit Card Equipment Fees Granted Class Certification

A California federal judge has certified a class action lawsuit that claims credit card equipment companies charged merchants excessive fees and hidden costs. According to the lawsuit, several major companies that provide electronic payment services participated in a scheme to charge merchants excessive fees and other hidden costs to lease credit and debit card processing equipment.

Specifically, plaintiffs claim that the companies convince merchants “through a series of deceitful misrepresentations and forged documents to enroll in fraudulent equipment leases.” Plaintiffs argue that the high cost of the equipment leases surpasses the cost of the equipment and, instead, the money is being used to pay commissions.

These companies used deceitful tactics to present their contracts as legitimate, claims the lawsuit. For example, plaintiffs claim that they were presented with only one page of a contract that apparently included multiple pages. Likewise, these companies presented contracts with signatures on the first page instead of the last page.

The plaintiffs allege claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), California’s Unfair Competition Law, California business law, and negligent misrepresentation. They sought certification of a class of merchants who entered into contracts or leases for card services with any of the defendants since March 26, 2006, plus five subclasses.

On December 20, California District Judge Claudia Wilken granted the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in part, certifying two subclasses.

If you feel that you have been the victim of deceitful business practices, please contact Khorrami Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a private consultation.

January 13, 2014 / Scott Tillett

Ford Hit with Another Class Action Lawsuit for Malfunctioning MyFord Touch System

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Ford Fusion owner Sandra Storto has sued Ford Motor Co. in a federal class action in Chicago for problems consumers continue to experience with the MyFord Touch System. The system utilizes an LCD touch screen to control vehicle GPS navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth communication, heat and air, and to contact emergency services after an accident.

According to Courthouse News Service, the MyFord Touch System has been installed in certain Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury models since 2011. Consumers pay a premium of up to $1,795 for the system, which the lawsuit alleges “does not perform as intended, advertised or promised by Ford.” Consumer complaints to Ford and found on the internet indicate that the system stops working intermittently, the screen goes dark or does not respond to touch commands, fails to properly connect to mobile phones and drops calls, interfaces poorly with Apple Computer products, and improperly calculates navigation routes. The lawsuit also alleges that the system poses safety risks to drivers associated with extended time focusing on malfunctioning features, decreased visibility due to malfunctions in the defrost system and rear-view camera, and failures of the 911 dial feature after an accident.

This is not the first lawsuit against Ford related to the malfunctioning system as The Center for Defensive Driving filed a similar class action in a California federal court on July 15, 2013 (Case No. CV13-5068). Since that lawsuit was filed, Ford has issued software updates, attempting to fix the problems, but has not remedied the issues experienced by Storto and other class members.

Storto has alleged fraud, unjust enrichment, deceptive trade, and Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act violations. She claims that she and other consumers would not have purchased or leased the vehicles or would have paid substantially less for them had they known of the defects.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of fraud or has purchased a product that does not perform as promised, you may be entitled to relief. Please call Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.

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