In an interesting twist on the interpretation of the Federal Arbitration Act, an Arizona federal judge ruled that drivers’ contractor agreements with Swift Transportation Co. were contracts of employment, making them exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). The FAA exempts from arbitration “contracts of employment of seamen, railroad workers, and workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” Read more…
Class Actions Blog
U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman announced that she would grant final approval to the proposed settlement agreement between Hyundai and class members alleging that the Hyundai Sonata contains a defective engine. Named plaintiff, Elizabeth Mendoza, originally filed the class-action lawsuit in the spring of 2015. Mendoza claimed that the 2.4-liter Theta II engines that are installed in various Hyundai Sonata models contain a defacer that causes them to fail. The complaint alleges that the defect is due to faulty connecting rod bearings. Specifically, that when the bearings fail they cause metal debris to spread throughout the engine by way of the engine oil. Read more…
Three cruise marketing companies have reportedly agreed to settle a class action alleging they violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by robo-calling millions of American consumers with offers for free trips. The deal will reportedly cost the companies between $56 million and $76 million to settle the claims.
The deal, involving Caribbean Cruise Line Inc., The Berkley Group Inc. and Vacation Ownership Marketing Tours Inc. was entered into just shortly before the trial was set to begin.
The plaintiffs, which include 1 million people who received calls from Caribbean Cruise Line and its subsidiary marketing companies between August 2011 and August 2012, will reportedly receive about $500 for each call they received. The amount class members will receive will change depending on how many people make claims. The minimum amount the companies will pay will be $56 million, while the maximum will be $76 million.
The case is Birchmeier et al. v. Caribbean Cruise Line Inc. et al., case number 1:12-cv-04069, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Here is a good article on how class actions can provide happy endings: http://www.patriciamclinn.com/harlequin-lawsuit-happy-ending/
Employees of Dreamworks Animation who worked as animators have announced they have agreed to a $50 million settlement arising out of a class action alleging that Dreamworks Animation entered into a “no poach” agreement with other studios over the hiring of animators. The lawsuit had been filed in September 2014, and claims against Twentieth Century Fox and Sony Corp. had previously settled. Twentieth Century Fox agreed to pay $6 million and Sony Corp. agreed to pay $13 million. Judge Lucy Koh approved those settlements.
The complaints were filed after the U.S. Department of Justice began an investigation into the hiring practices of Silicon Valley businesses. Last year, Judge Koh approved a $415 million settlement in a different class action accusing Google, Inc., Apple Inc. and others of agreeing not to poach each other’s software engineers.
The case is In re: Animation Workers Antitrust Litigation, case number 5:14-cv-04062, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $50 million to a class of more than 250,000 mortgage holders to settle claims that the bank improperly marked up fees for third-party home appraisals following loan defaults in California. The complaint alleged that although the mortgage agreements allowed Wells Fargo to charge borrowers for getting broker price opinions (“BPO’s”) from third-party real estate brokers, Wells Fargo secretly charged more for the BPOs than the bank paid for them. A BPO is an informal type of home appraisal prepared by a real estate broker that a lender will typically demand once a borrower defaults on a residential loan.
The case is Latara Bias, et al., v. Wells Fargo & Co., et al., case number 4:12-cv-00664, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.