Monthly Archives

November 2018

Airbnb Faces Class-Action Lawsuit In Israel After Dropping West Bank Listings

By | Class Action Lawsuits
The Irish Times reported on November 24, 2018 that an Airbnb host who lives in the West Bank outpost of Kida, between Ramallah and Nablus in the West Bank, has filed a class action lawsuit against Airbnb in the Jerusalem district court regarding Airbnb’s decision to remove listings in West Bank settlements from its website.  The class action lawsuit filed in Israel alleges that Israeli law forbids discrimination based on the place where you live, “and what Airbnb has done is by all means discrimination based on the place where you live.” The lawsuit contends that Airbnb’s removing or restricting the listings solely in the West Bank constitutes extreme, offensive and outrageous discrimination.
The Airbnb class action lawsuit, in which more than two hundred plaintiffs are expected to join, according to the plaintiff’s class action lawyer, alleges, in part: “As far as Airbnb is concerned, their clients can deny women or minorities to rent apartments from them, offer listings in war zones or in regions where tens of thousands of people have been expelled from their homes. The only thing that is prohibited is to be a settler in Israel.”

Airbnb’s global head of policy and communications stated in response to a call to boycott Airbnb in Israel, “Israel is a special place and our over 22,000 hosts are special people who have welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests to Israel. We understand that this is a hard and complicated issue and we appreciate everyone’s perspective.”

In announcing the removal of West Bank listings from its website, Airbnb stated, “We are certainly not experts when it comes to historic conflicts in this region. Our team is struggling with this problem and we have been working hard to reach the right approach. We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”

If your business is presently or may soon be involved in class action litigation in the United States, email us at info@businesslitigationcontingencylawyers.com or telephone us toll-free in the United States at 800-756-2143 to find class action lawyers who may handle your class action litigation matter on a contingency basis.

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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Catholic Church Alleging Clergy Sexual Abuse

By | Class Action Lawsuits

The Catholic News Agency announced on November 15, 2018 that the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Holy See are named in a class action lawsuit filed on November 13, 2018 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by six men who claim they were sexually abused by Catholic clergy during their childhoods. The class action lawsuit seeks compensatory damages as well as public contrition and reparation from the Church.

The 80-page suit alleges that the Vatican and the bishops knew about and covered up the “endemic, systemic, rampant, and pervasive rape and sexual abuse” of the plaintiffs and others at the hands of active members of the clergy, religious orders, and other Church representatives. The class action lawsuit alleges that Church leaders protected and promoted the offenders.

The lawsuit charges that the “wrongful actions, inaction, omissions, cover-up, deception, and concealment” created a “conspiracy of silence to their financial and reputational benefit and to Plaintiffs’ and Class Members’ personal, mental, psychological, and financial detriment,” which actions are “ongoing and continuous.”

The class-action lawsuit alleges that the bishops and the Vatican violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”)  because the bishops engaged in federal mail fraud and wire fraud in the cover-up of abuse. The lawsuit alleges that because the Catholic Church in the U.S. is an “unincorporated association,” it qualifies as an organization that can be held to RICO standards.

The lawsuit seeks to compel the Vatican and the bishops to “comply with various state statutes requiring them to report the abusive Clergy to law enforcement or other responsible authorities, terminate the abusive Clergy, identify the abusive Clergy to the general public so that parents may protect their children going forward, release documents evidencing such Clergy abuse to achieve transparency, and such other relief the Court deems just and proper.”

Source

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Class-Action Lawsuit Filed By Mentally Ill Veterans Certified

By | Class Action Lawsuits

The AP reports that on November 15, 2018, Senior U.S. District Judge Charles Haight Jr. in New Haven, Connecticut certified a class-action lawsuit against Navy Secretary Richard Spencer by veterans who say they were unfairly given less-than-honorable discharges for minor infractions linked to their untreated mental health problems. As a result of certification of the class, thousands of Navy and Marine Corps veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who developed post-traumatic stress disorder but were denied Veterans Affairs health benefits may seek those benefits in the lawsuit.

The class action lawsuit alleges that veterans with less-than-honorable discharges prevents them from getting VA benefits including mental health treatment.

The lead plaintiff’s attorney stated after the class action was certified, “This decision is a victory for the tens of thousands of military veterans suffering from service-connected PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury). The fact that the Court has now recognized this class of veterans is further evidence of the Department of Defense’s disgraceful violation of the legal rights of the men and women who have served their country.”

The named plaintiff in the class action lawsuit alleges that he had developed PTSD after serving in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and received an other-than-honorable discharge for a single incident of self-medicating himself with an illegal drug. The Naval Discharge Review Board rejected his request for a discharge upgrade, as it has done with similar applications by thousands of other veterans.

The Yale Law School students who are representing the veterans in the certified class-action lawsuit have filed a similar lawsuit against the Army in which they allege that nearly one-third of the more than 2 million Americans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from PTSD and related mental health conditions, and that the military is issuing less-than-honorable discharges at historically high rates, often for minor infractions attributable to undiagnosed mental illness.

According to reports, the discharge review boards for the Army and Air Force granted about 51 percent of discharge upgrade applications involving PTSD, while the Navy board granted only 16 percent.

Source

If your business is presently or may soon be involved in class action litigation in the United States, email us at info@businesslitigationcontingencylawyers.com or telephone us toll-free in the United States at 800-756-2143 to find class action lawyers who may handle your class action litigation matter on a contingency basis.

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$25.5M Verdict Against Aetna For Bad Faith Denial Of Cancer Treatment

By | Business Litigation

A jury in Oklahoma awarded $25.5 million ($15.5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages) to the family of a woman who died from brain cancer, for Aetna’s bad faith in denying her health insurance coverage for cancer treatment, finding that Aetna acted recklessly in denying her proton beam therapy to treat her Stage 4 nasopharyngeal cancer that was near her brain stem. Aetna had denied the treatment that her doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas ordered because Aetna considered proton beam therapy to be experimental and investigational.

The woman’s doctors had recommended proton beam therapy because the targeted cancer treatment was appropriate for her specific form and location of cancer without the significant risk of blindness associated with traditional radiation therapy. Aetna’s bad faith denial of coverage forced the 54-year-old woman and her husband to mortgage their home and to set up a GoFundMe page to raise the $92,082.19 cost of treatment. Tragically, the woman died in May 2015 due in part to a viral infection that reached her brain.

Aetna’s attorney reportedly told the jury in his closing arguments that Aetna was proud of the three medical directors employed by Aetna who had denied coverage for the woman’s proton beam therapy, even going so far as to turn to the three medical directors who were sitting in the front row in the courtroom to thank them.

The foreperson of the 12-person jury stated after the verdict that expert testimony during trial established that proton beam therapy was not experimental. She also stated that the jury took into consideration that one of Aetna’s medical directors testified about handling 80 cases per day and that the three medical directors spent more time in preparing for the trial than in reviewing the woman’s treatment requests. “No one was looking at her specific case. That’s where we decided that obviously they were in breach of contract and should’ve paid for that treatment. It was medically necessary in her situation.”

A radiation oncologist who testified during the trial stated after the jury’s verdict: “The thing I tried to illustrate to the jury is that proton therapy is not a new, experimental technique, like Aetna wants to claim. Proton therapy is a well-established treatment for cancer and has been for decades … Nobody in the oncology community considers proton therapy experimental for the treatment of cancer.” The radiation oncologist testified that standard radiation therapy to treat the woman’s cancer could have been used in her case but that the risks of such were “severe”: “She would go blind. She would lose a significant portion of her memory on the left side of her brain and still not have a very good chance at a cure. For her particular tumor, [proton therapy] was extremely valuable.” Before the woman died, scans showed that her tumor was shrinking and that the treatment was working.

Aetna’s lead defense attorney reportedly walked up to the woman’s husband after the jury’s verdict to congratulate him and then callously told him he would lose on appeal.

Source

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Class-Action Status Granted To Claims That Detroit Funeral Home Mishandled Remains Of Numerous Fetuses And Babies

By | Business Fraud, Class Action Lawsuits

On November 5, 2018, a judge granted class-action status for the claims against a Detroit funeral home, Wayne State University, and a local cemetery in which it is alleged that the defendants mishandled the remains of more than 200 babies and fetuses. On October 19, 2018, the Detroit Police Department reportedly removed 63 fetuses (36 fetuses in boxes and an additional 27 fetuses in freezers) from the defendant funeral home. Another Detroit funeral home was raided by Detroit police investigating similar allegations against that funeral home, where the remains of 10 fetuses and one infant were found hidden in a ceiling compartment on October 12, 2018, according to reports.

The Michigan  Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (“LARA”) had announced on November 1, 2018: “Due to an increase in complaints and case complexity seen by the Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ (LARA) mortuary science regulators, Gov. Rick Snyder has formed a new team of multiple state departments to address concerns regarding funeral homes across the state.”

LARA had previously announced on October 19, 2018 the suspension of the mortuary science licenses of the defendant funeral home after its inspectors found “heinous conditions and negligent conduct at the home that included:

  • Three unrefrigerated boxes containing the remains of a total of approximately 36 deceased bodies of fetuses or infants plus a deep freezer containing an unknown number of additional deceased bodies. Some of the deceased had dates of death in 2015.
  • Respondents failed to certify and file death certificates for the dead bodies of the fetuses and infants for whom they assumed custody with the appropriate governmental authority within 72 hours of death.
  • Absent any statutory exception, the failure or refusal to properly supervise the final disposition of a dead human body after agreeing to provide the services of a funeral director within 60 days of receiving the body is a criminal violation under Section 160c of the Michigan Penal Code.
  • Respondents failed to secure permits for removal or burial of dead human bodies before interment or disposal.
  • Respondents obtained possession or embalmed the dead human bodies of the fetuses and infants without first being expressly directed or authorized to do so by a relative of the deceased persons or a person entitled to custody.”

The Detroit funeral home class action lawsuit was filed by a mother who alleged that the remains of her daughter were not handled properly after she requested that her baby’s body be donated to Wayne State University School of Medical for research purposes.

Source

If your business is presently or may soon be involved in class action litigation in the United States, email us at info@businesslitigationcontingencylawyers.com or telephone us toll-free in the United States at 800-756-2143 to find class action lawyers who may handle your class action litigation matter on a contingency basis.

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Stryker Hip Implants Multidistrict Litigation Settlement Announced

By | Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), product liability lawsuits

On November 2, 2018, Stryker and National Plaintiff’s Leadership in MDL 2768 of the consolidated proceedings before Judge Talwani announced in Court a proposed Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) for eligible claimants. The Stryker Hip Settlement includes those cases filed in the MDL 2768 in Massachusetts, the MCL 624 consolidated proceedings in New Jersey and/or other jurisdictions for cases already filed and pending. It is believed the eligibility of the failed implants include both recalled and unrecalled cobalt chromium V40 heads and compatible stem system configurations including Accolade TMZF, Accolade 2, Citation, Meridian and Rejuvenate.

The initial settlement terms are confidential and were not publicly disclosed. The settlements amounts are believed to vary and criteria for amounts of individual offers will be based upon varying factors including the degree of harm and components necessitated to be removed. It was stated that the settlement will not settle all filed claims. It is believed, however, to be a substantial step to begin resolving claims in the underlying Stryker hip litigation. It is believed that this settlement will resolve the first cases picked for the initial Bellwether trials and discovery will be stayed through the Summer of 2019.

If your business is presently or may soon be involved in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the United States, email us at info@businesslitigationcontingencylawyers.com or telephone us toll-free in the United States at 800-756-2143 to find MDL lawyers who may handle your MDL litigation matter on a contingency basis.

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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against United HealthCare Insurance Co. For Reduced Benefits Paid For Mental Health Care

By | Class Action Lawsuits

A class-action lawsuit was filed on October 16, 2018 against United HealthCare Insurance Co. and United Behavioral Health claiming that they have systematically violated the legal duties owed to plan participants by imposing arbitrary reimbursement penalties on psychotherapy rendered by psychologists and master’s level counselors. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants have a policy in place that reduces the “eligible expense” of covered charges by 25 percent when provided by a psychologist and 35 percent when provided by a master’s level counselor, such as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). As a result, anyone receiving psychotherapy services from a psychologist or social worker is subject to reduced reimbursements.

The plaintiff disputed the amount United would pay for her covered treatment for her post-traumatic stress disorder, which included individual counseling from a LCSW with post-graduate training who was considered out-of-network and therefore benefits were determined based on an “eligible expense,” which is the maximum amount eligible for reimbursement. The plaintiff argues that these arbitrary reimbursement penalties violate the Federal Parity Act and the Affordable Care Act by discriminating against certain behavioral health providers and patients.

The plaintiff’s lead class-action counsel stated at the time of filing the class-action complaint, “We believe United is clearly violating its duty to plan holders by imposing arbitrary reimbursement penalties. Through these penalties, United is devaluing psychotherapy and is ultimately limiting access to an essential health benefit that plays a critical role in addressing pervasive public health issues, such as mental health and substance abuse disorders.”

The plaintiff’s co-counsel stated: “We have seen the data from NIH – that 26 percent of American adults suffer from some type of mental health condition each year – and that outpatient psychotherapy is crucial to the ongoing treatment and recovery for those who suffer from these conditions. Yet we still see examples like this one, of private insurance companies taking steps to systematically deny or diminish mental health benefits to plan holders. We continue to fight to hold insurers accountable for this kind of discriminatory behavior.”

Source

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California Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Manufacturers And Providers Of Scooters

By | Class Action Lawsuits

On October 19, 2018, a proposed class action lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of the State of California County of Los Angeles – Central District on behalf of nine injured plaintiffs accusing various manufacturers and providers of electric scooters that are popping up in many U.S. cities with ever-increasing  numbers, of “deployment” of  “fleets of defective ‘Scooters'” in California.

The class-action complaint accuses the defendants of “endangering the health, safety and welfare of riders, pedestrians and the general public” because the Scooters “are, would become and would continue to be an unsafe, dangerous and damaging public nuisance as used in the manners in which the Defendants … intended and/or should have known the Scooters were going to be used.”

The class-action lawsuit alleges, in part: “In “dumping” thousands of Scooters onto our streets, sidewalks and other Public Places within a very short period of time, without any signficant, reasonable or appropriate warning to or approval by public authorities, the Scooter Defendants, and each of them, have acted in a grossly negligent manner and outrageously, maliciously, fraudulently and oppresssively and/or with a conscious disregard for the health, safety and welfare of the Plaintiffs, and each of them, and the general public, thereby justifying the imposition of punitive or expemplary damages.”

The class action complaint further alleges: “Scooter Defendants’ deployment of the Scooters throughout the Public Places of California has caused civil unrest with individuals throwing the Scooters into trashcans, dumpsters, the Venice Canals and the Pacific Ocean, in addition to lighting the Scooters on fire (which, due to their batteries, can cause explosions), and burying them into the sand of California’s beaches.”

The Scooters involved in the proposed California class action lawsuit include scooters deployed by Lime and Bird, which are manufactured by Xiaomi and Segway.

Source (Class Action Complaint)

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U.S. Chamber Institute For Legal Reform Issues Report About Class Action Lawsuits In The U.S.

By | Business Litigation, Class Action Lawsuits, Statistics

The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (“ILR”) issued a report on October 26, 2018 entitled “A Rising Threat: The New Class Action Racket That Harms Investors and the Economy” in which it opines, “The securities class action system is spinning out of control. Abusive lawsuits are imposing huge costs on investors without providing any benefit. The only winners are the lawyers, who take home millions of dollars in fees. And we have seen this movie before.”

The ILR report states: “Securities class action filings are increasing dramatically, reaching levels not seen since enactment of the 1995 reform law. The numbers tell the story. Filings in 2017—415 or 412, depending on the particular study being examined are:

• More than 50% higher than 2016’s total number of filings;
• More than double the average annual case filings over the past twenty years (193 cases); and
• Against 8.4% of all U.S.-listed companies—more than double 2014’s percentage of 3.5%—which means one out of every twelve public companies was sued in a securities class action in 2017 . . .

annual filings for 2008 through 2016 ranged from 151 to 271, with an average per-year filing number of 190. But in 2017, filings increased to 412—a 122% jump over the per-year average—and will stay at that unprecedented level for 2018.”

The report states that the last eight years have seen a surge in lawsuits challenging merger and acquisition transactions, which is known as “M&A litigation.” In 2009, only 15% of M&A deals over $100 million triggered federal court lawsuits but in 2017, 74% of M&A deals over $100 million triggered federal securities lawsuits.

The report continues: “From 2003 through 2008, less than half of deals valued at $100 million or more were met by a lawsuit. In 2009, that almost doubled—to 76%. From 2010 through 2014, more than 90% of all such deals attracted a lawsuit—with a high of 96% in 2013. Last year, suits targeted 85% of deals … a study of M&A cases from 2003-2011 found that the overwhelming majority of cases were settled (72%) and 77% of settlements provided for disclosure only. Yet the average attorneys’ fee for these cases was $749,000.”

The report states, “For M&A class actions from 2012-2016: Lawyers got nearly two-thirds of the total payments in cases settled or dismissed (both plaintiffs’ and defense lawyers), with only 39% going to shareholders—of course, the overwhelming majority of cases resulted in disclosure-only settlements with only a few cases with shareholder awards responsible for the 39%.”

The Delaware Chancery Court wrote in a case it decided in January 2016 “disclosure settlements are likely to be met with continued disfavor in the future unless the supplemental disclosures address a plainly material misrepresentation or omission.”

Securities law claims filed in federal court targeted 20% of litigated deals in 2015 but increased to 87% in 2017 (state court filings targeted 80% of the litigated deals in 2015 but only 13% in 2017). In 2017, 89% of all cases were dismissed and 75% involved payment of a “mootness fee” to the plaintiffs’ lawyers (i.e., the defendant unilaterally added new disclosures to address the alleged  “deficiencies” cited in the class action complaint, which moots the claim but the defendant pays a “mootness fee” to the plaintiffs’ lawyers in return for dismissal of the case).

The report states that a significant and growing number of event-driven class action claims target biotech, pharmaceutical, and other medical companies: 85 securities class actions were filed against these companies in 2017, compared to 27 such cases filed in 2012.

The report states: “Securities class actions are almost never resolved by a decision on the merits of the underlying claim. Cases that are not dismissed are virtually always settled—because the costs of litigation are high and these cases threaten hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in possible liability.” From 1997 through 2014, only 14 cases went to trial, compared to 3,938 cases resolved by dismissal or settlement over that period.

The report blames plaintiffs’ lawyers for the uptick in securities class action lawsuits: “For all securities class actions during that period the results were not much better: Lawyers continued to do well, reaping 43% of the total payments, with shareholders getting 57%. The average cost per case was $11.9 million. Plaintiffs’ lawyers got $2.3 million and defense lawyers $2.9 million. Even the relatively small percentages of funds that are paid to shareholders provide no net benefit to investors, because the undisputed reality of securities class actions is that they typically accomplish nothing more than shifting money from one innocent investor to another—with huge transaction costs paid to lawyers.”

The report also claims that the mere filing of lawsuits like securities class actions wipes out, on average, 3.5% of the defendant company’s equity value.

Source

What the report fails to discuss are the abuses and wrongdoings committed by some publicly traded companies that harm stockholders, consumers, and others, and which wrongful acts would not become known to the public but for class action lawsuits filed against them, which also serves as a strong deterrent to bad behavior in the future.

If your business is presently or may soon be involved in class action litigation in the United States, email us at info@businesslitigationcontingencylawyers.com or telephone us toll-free in the United States at 800-756-2143 to find class action lawyers who may handle your class action litigation matter on a contingency basis.

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