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Class Action Lawsuits

Illinois Supreme Court Holds Aggrieved Person Under Biometric Information Privacy Act Need Not Show Actual Injury

By | Business Litigation, Class Action Lawsuits, Data Breach

The Supreme Court of the State of Illinois (“Illinois Supreme Court” ) held in its opinion filed on January 25, 2019 that an individual need not allege some actual injury or adverse effect, beyond violation of his or her rights under the Biometric Information Privacy Act (“Act”) (740 ILCS 14/1 et seq. (West 2016)), in order to qualify as an “aggrieved” person and be entitled to seek liquidated damages and injunctive relief pursuant to the Act.

The Act was enacted in 2008 to help regulate “the collection, use, safeguarding, handling, storage, retention, and destruction of biometric identifiers and information.” § 5(g). The Act defines “biometric identifier” to mean “a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of hand or face geometry.” § 10. “Biometric information” means “any information, regardless of how it is captured, converted, stored, or shared, based on an individual’s biometric identifier used to identify an individual.”

The Act imposes numerous restrictions on how private entities collect, retain, disclose and destroy biometric identifiers. Section 15 of the Act (§ 15) imposes on private entities various obligations regarding the collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of biometric indentifiers and biometric information. Among these is the following:  (b) No private entity may collect, capture, purchase, receive through trade, or otherwise obtain a person’s or a customer’s biometric identifier or biometric information, unless it first: (1) informs the subject or the subject’s legally authorized representative in writing that a biometric identifier or biometric information is being collected or stored; (2) informs the subject or the subject’s legally authorized representative in writing of the specific purpose and length of term for which a biometric identifier or biometric information is being collected, stored, and used; and (3) receives a written release executed by the subject of the biometric identifier or biometric information or the subject’s legally authorized representative.

Under the Act, any person “aggrieved” by a violation of its provisions “shall have a right of action *** against an offending party” and “may recover for each violation” the greater of liquidated damages or actual damages, reasonable attorney fees and costs, and any other relief, including an injunction, that the court deems appropriate. § 20.

In the case the Illinois Supreme Court was deciding,  Six Flags Entertainment Corporation and its subsidiary Great America LLC (“defendants”) own and operate the Six Flags Great America amusement park in Gurnee, Illinois. Defendants sell repeat-entry passes to the park. Since at least 2014, defendants have used a fingerprinting process when issuing those passes. The defendants’ system scans pass holders’ fingerprints; collects, records and stores ‘biometric’ identifiers and information gleaned from the fingerprints; and then stores that data in order to quickly verify customer identities upon subsequent visits by having customers scan their fingerprints to enter the theme park, making entry into the park faster and more seamless, maximizing the time pass holders are in the park spending money, and eliminating lost revenue due to fraud or park entry with someone else’s pass.

The plaintiff’s 14-year-old son visited defendants’ amusement park on a school field trip in May or June 2014, while the fingerprinting system was in operation. The plaintiff purchased a season pass for her son online. The plaintiff paid for the pass and provided personal information about her son, but he had to complete the sign-up process in person once he arrived at the amusement park. The process involved two steps. First, the plaintiff’s son went to a security checkpoint, where he was asked to scan his thumb into defendants’ biometric data capture system. After that, he was directed to a nearby administrative building, where he obtained a season pass card. The card and his thumbprint, when used together, enabled him to gain access as a season pass holder.

The plaintiff’s class-action complaint alleged that neither the plaintiff nor her minor son were informed in writing or in any other way of the specific purpose and length of term for which his fingerprint had been collected. Neither of them signed any written release regarding taking of the fingerprint, and neither of them consented in writing “to the collection, storage, use sale, lease, dissemination, disclosure, redisclosure, or trade of, or for [defendants] to otherwise profit from, [the son’s] thumbprint or associated biometric identifiers or information.”

The defendants argued, and the intermediate appellate court agreed,  that  a plaintiff is not “aggrieved” within the meaning of the Act and may not pursue either damages or injunctive relief under the Act based solely on a defendant’s violation of the statute. Additional injury or adverse effect must be alleged. The injury or adverse effect need not be pecuniary, the appellate court held, but it must be more than a “technical violation of the Act.”

The Illinois Supreme Court stated that through the Act, the Illinois General Assembly has codified that individuals possess a right to privacy in and control over their biometric identifiers and biometric information. The duties imposed on private entities by section 15 of the Act regarding the collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of a person’s or customer’s biometric identifiers or biometric information define the contours of that statutory right. The Illinois Supreme Court held that accordingly, when a private entity fails to comply with one of section 15’s requirements, that violation constitutes an invasion, impairment, or denial of the statutory rights of any person or customer whose biometric identifier or biometric information is subject to the breach. Such a person or customer would clearly be “aggrieved” within the meaning of section 20 of the Act and entitled to seek recovery under that provision (a person is prejudiced or aggrieved, in the legal sense, when a legal right is invaded by the act complained of or his pecuniary interest is directly affected by the decree or judgment.). No additional consequences need be pleaded or proved. The violation, in itself, is sufficient to support the individual’s or customer’s statutory cause of action.

Source

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Facebook Alleged To Have Promoted “Friendly Fraud” Through Children’s Games

By | Business Fraud, Business Litigation, Class Action Lawsuits

The Center for Investigative Reporting (“Reveal”) announced on January 24, 2019 in an article entitled, “Facebook knowingly duped game-playing kids and their parents out of money” that “Facebook orchestrated a multiyear effort that duped children and their parents out of money, in some cases hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and then often refused to give the money back, according to court documents unsealed” that span from 2010 to 2014.

Reveal analyzed more than 135 pages of documents that were recently unsealed as part of a class-action lawsuit focused on how Facebook allegedly targeted children in an effort to expand revenue for online games, such as Angry Birds, PetVille and Ninja Saga. The unsealed documents include internal Facebook memos, secret strategies, and employee emails that Reveal describes as painting a troubling picture of how the social media giant conducted business.

Reveal describes how Facebook encouraged game developers to let children spend money without their parents’ permission – something the social media giant called “friendly fraud” – in an effort to maximize revenues (“friendly fraud” is the term Facebook used when children spent money on games without their parents’ permission). Sometimes the children did not even know they were spending money but Facebook employees knew it: their own reports allegedly showed underage users did not realize their parents’ credit cards were connected to their Facebook accounts and they were spending real money in the games.

Reveal claims that Facebook denied requests for refunds when parents found out how much their children had spent (a child could spend hundreds of dollars a day on in-game features such as arming their character with a flaming sword or a new magic spell to defeat an enemy, even if they did not realize it until their parents received their credit card bills) and that Facebook employees referred to these children as “whales” – a term borrowed from the casino industry to describe profligate spenders.

Facebook reportedly had analyzed data on game revenue from children for the time period from October 12, 2010 through January 12, 2011 and found that children had “spent a whopping $3.6 million” during the three-month period. Facebook also found that more than 9 percent of the money it made from children was being clawed back by the credit card companies (the average chargeback rate for businesses is 0.5 percent, according to the Merchant Risk Council; the Federal Trade Commission said in an unrelated fraud case in 2016 that a 2 percent chargeback rate was a “red flag” of a “deceptive” business).

Facebook reportedly found that with regard to the Angry Birds game, about 93 percent of the time the refunds were a result of credit card holders not realizing the game was charging their account (Facebook found that the average age of those playing Angry Birds was 5). Reveal stated that rather than trying to stop children from making costly mistakes, a Facebook internal memo entitled “Friendly Fraud – what it is, why it’s challenging, and why you shouldn’t try to block it” stated that developers should just give free virtual items to users who complain, things such as flaming swords, extra lives and other in-game enhancements – this was better than refunding money to kids because, as the Facebook employee said in her message, “Virtual goods bear no cost.”

Facebook released the following statement in response to Reveal’s request for an interview:

“We were contacted by the Center for Investigative Reporting last year, and we voluntarily unsealed documents related to a 2012 case about our refund policies for in-app purchases that parents believe were made in error by their minor children. We intend to release additional documents as instructed by the court. Facebook works with parents and experts to offer tools for families navigating Facebook and the web. As part of that work, we routinely examine our own practices, and in 2016 agreed to update our terms and provide dedicated resources for refund requests related to purchased made by minors on Facebook.”

Source

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J. P. Morgan Chase May Face Class-Action Lawsuit Alleging Manipulation Of Precious Metals Markets

By | Business Litigation, Class Action Lawsuits

J. P. Morgan Chase, the nation’s largest  bank, may face a class-action lawsuit alleging its manipulation of the precious metals markets for years, in light of at least six lawsuits having been filed over the past month in federal court in New York after a plea agreement involving a former J. P. Morgan precious metals trader was made public by federal prosecutors in Connecticut.

On November 6, 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut announced that the former precious metals trader admitted that from approximately 2009 through 2015, he conspired with other precious metals traders at J. P. Morgan Chase to manipulate the markets for gold, silver, platinum and palladium futures contracts traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange Inc. (NYMEX) and Commodity Exchange Inc. (COMEX).

The trader and his fellow precious metals traders at J. P. Morgan Chase allegedly routinely placed orders for precious metals future contracts with the intent to cancel those orders before execution (the Spoof Orders).  This trading strategy was admittedly intended to inject materially false and misleading liquidity and price information into the precious metals futures contracts markets by placing the Spoof Orders in order to deceive other market participants about the existence of supply and demand.

The Spoof Orders allegedly were designed to artificially move the price of precious metals futures contracts in a direction that was favorable to the trader and his co-conspirators at J. P. Morgan Chase, to the detriment of other market participants.  In pleading guilty, the trader admitted that he learned this deceptive trading strategy from more senior traders at J. P. Morgan Chase, and he personally deployed this strategy hundreds of times with the knowledge and consent of his immediate supervisors.

Source

A potential class action lawsuit would include all persons who purchased or sold futures contracts or an option on NYMEX platinum or palladium or COMEX silver or gold between at least January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2015, which may include thousands of traders.

Source

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“Camp Fire” Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against PG&E Corporation

By | Class Action Lawsuits

A class action lawsuit was filed against PG&E Corporation in the Superior Court of the State of California County of San Francisco on December 5, 2018 alleging that it is responsbile for the devastation cause by the “Camp Fire” during November 2018.

The class action complaint alleges the November 2018 Camp Fire was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in modern California history that razed more than 150,000 acres across parts of Butte and Plumas Counties, destroying homes, businesses, and lives. The Camp Fire started just before sunrise on November 8th near the town of Pulga and moved rapidly west, virtually leveling the town of Paradise, with at least 88 lives lost, countless others injured, and 25 people still missing. The Camp Fire completely destroyed nearly 14,000 homes and hundreds of commercial buildings, along with everything in them.

The Camp Fire class action complaint further alleges that tens of thousands of people are now displaced from their homes, and many are now forced to live in shelters, tents, or their cars. They are left not knowing where they will sleep, when they will have a roof over their heads again, or whether they will be able to rebuild their lives.

The plaintiffs contend that the Camp Fire was caused by unsafe electrical infrastructure owned, operated, and (improperly) maintained by PG&E Corporation, and that PG&E had a duty to properly maintain its electrical infrastructure to ensure its safe operation, including by adequately designing, constructing, monitoring, maintaining, operating, repairing, replacing, and/or improving its power lines, poles, transformers, conductors, insulators, reclosers, and/or other electrical equipment.

The plaintiffs allege that PG&E Corporation’s duty included inspecting and managing vegetation around its power lines and/or other electrical equipment given the foreseeable risk of such vegetation coming into contact with this equipment and starting fires. Even though PG&E knew that its infrastructure was aging, unsafe, and vulnerable to weather and environmental conditions, it failed to fulfill these duties, and failed to take preventative measures in the face of known high-risk weather conditions, such as de-energizing its electrical equipment. The plaintiffs state that PG&E’s failures ultimately resulted in the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history.

The plaintiffs contend that the catastrophic damage and loss of life was preventable: PG&E’s failing infrastructure and its inadequate efforts to maintain its equipment and mitigate risk have caused tragedy before, and PG&E has been sanctioned a number of times for virtually identical misconduct. Despite notice of its past failures and even public reprimand, PG&E has continued to cut corners and put profits over safety, and continued to operate dangerous equipment without adequate risk management controls in place.

The plaintiffs seek the costs of repair, depreciation, and/or replacement of damaged, destroyed, and/or lost personal and/or real property;
loss of use, benefit, goodwill, and enjoyment of the plaintiffs’ real and/or personal property, and/or alternative living expenses; loss of wages, earning capacity, and/or business profits or proceeds and/or any related displacement expenses; attorneys’ fees, expert fees, consultant fees, and litigation costs and expense, as allowed under California Code of Civil Procedure § 1021.9; treble or double damages for wrongful injuries to timber, trees, or underwood on their property, as allowed under California Civil Code § 3346; general damages for fear, worry, annoyance, disturbance, inconvenience, mental anguish, emotional distress, and loss of quiet enjoyment of property; and, punitive/exemplary damages, inter alia.

Source

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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Walmart And Drug Companies Regarding Adulterated High Blood Pressure Medication

By | Class Action Lawsuits, product liability lawsuits

On December 1, 2018, a proposed class action  lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Tampa Division (“federal court”) regarding Walmart and the other defendants’ (Aurobindo Pharma Ltd., ScieGen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Westminster Pharmaceuticals, LLC)  “manufacturing, distribution, and sale of generic irbesartan prescription medications containing an active pharmaceutical ingredient (“API”) adulterated with N-nitrosodiethylamine (“NDEA”), a probable human carcinogen.” Irbesartan is a prescription medication mainly used to treat high blood pressure and diabetic nephropathy.

The federal class-action lawsuit alleges: “Due to manufacturing defects originating in Defendant Aurobindo Pharma Ltd.’s (“Aurobindo”) facility in India, certain batches of irbesartan active pharmaceutical ingredient were supplied to Defendant ScieGen Pharmaceuticals, LLC (“ScieGen”), and thus introduced to the United States market, that were adulterated with the probable human carcinogen, NDEA (the “Adulterated Irbesartan”). After ScieGen used the Adulterated Irbesartan to manufacture and produce finished generic prescription irbesartan tablets, ScieGen shipped the tablets containing Adulterated Irbesartan to Defendant Westminster Pharmaceuticals (“Westminster”) in or about Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida. Westminster, in turn, further manufactured, labeled, packaged, and
distributed the tablets containing Adulterated Irbesartan to pharmaceutical retailers nationwide, including Defendant Walmart Inc. (“Walmart”).”

The federal class action lawsuit further alleges: “Plaintiff and the putative class members were injured by paying the full purchase price of their medications containing Adulterated Irbesartan and by paying for incidental medical expenses. These medications are worthless because they are contaminated with carcinogenic and harmful NDEA and are thus not fit for human consumption.”

What Is Irbesartan?

Irbesartan is a generic drug generally used to treat high blood pressure and diabetic nephropathy, a complication of type 2 diabetes which affects the kidneys. Irbesartan is the generic form of the brand-name drug Avapro. Avapro was initially approved by the FDA and marketed in the United States in 1997.

The federal class action lawsuit alleges: “As a result of Aurobindo’s poor quality-control measures and failure to comply with cGMPs [current Good Manufacturing Practices], its irbesartan API became adulterated and contaminated by NDEA. NDEA is not an FDA-approved ingredient for branded Avapro or generic irbesartan. None of Defendants’ irbesartan products (or any irbesartan product, for that
matter) identify NDEA as an ingredient on their products’ labels or elsewhere … By introducing their irbesartan products into the United States market under the name “irbesartan” as a therapeutic equivalent to Avapro and with the FDA-approved label that is the same as that of Avapro, Defendants represented and warranted to end users that their products are in fact the same as and are therapeutically
interchangeable with Avapro … The presence of NDEA in the Adulterated Irbesartan: (1) renders Defendants’ irbesartan products non-bioequivalent (i.e., not the same) to Avapro and thus non-therapeutically interchangeable with Avapro, thus breaching Defendants’ express
warranties of sameness; (2) was the result of gross deviations from cGMPs thus rendering Defendants’ irbesartan products non-therapeutically equivalent to Avapro, and thus breaching Defendants’ warranties of sameness; and (3) results in Defendants’ irbesartan
containing an ingredient that is not also contained in Avapro, also breaching Defendants’ warranty of sameness (and warranty that the products contained the ingredients listed on each Defendants’ FDA-approved label) … Due to its status as a probable human carcinogen as listed by both the International Agency for Research on Cancer (“IARC”) and as determined by pharmaceutical regulators such as the European Medicines Agency and the FDA, NDEA is not an FDA-approved ingredient in irbesartan. The presence of NDEA in the
Adulterated Irbesartan results in Defendants’ irbesartan products being non-merchantable and not fit for its ordinary purposes (i.e., as a therapeutically interchangeable generic version of Avapro), breaching Defendants’ implied warranties of merchantability and/or
fitness for ordinary purposes.”

The FDA announced on October 26, 2018 that Aurobindo had recalled several  batches of irbesartan API that it had dispatched to ScieGen.  Aurobindo recalled 22 Batches of its irbesartan API, all supplied to ScieGen, and all contaminated with NDEA. The FDA announced that on October 30, 2018, ScieGen had issued its own recall of irbesartan that it supplied to Westminster as well as Golden State Medical Supply, Inc.

Source

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Data Breach Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Marriott International, Inc.

By | Class Action Lawsuits, Data Breach

A class-action lawsuit was filed on November 30, 2018 against Marriott International, Inc. (“Marriott) on behalf of over 500 million consumers whose personal information, including their names, birthdates, addresses, locations, gender information, email addresses, payment card information, and passport information were stolen.

Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott is a leading global lodging company with more than 6,700 properties across 130 countries and territories, reporting revenues of more than $22 billion in fiscal year 2017. Founded by J. Willard and Alice Marriott and guided by family leadership for more than 90 years, the company is headquartered outside of Washington, D.C. Marriott’s hotel brands include W Hotels, St. Regis, Sheraton Hotels, and Westin Hotels. Source

The class action lawsuit alleges that cybercriminals broke into Marriott’s servers in 2014 and obtained the personal information of approximately 500 million Marriott customers, and continued to have access throughout Marriott’s system, with unfettered and undetected access, for four years. The lawsuit alleges that Marriott did not discover the breach until September 8, 2018 yet did not notify its consumers until November 30, 2018. Marriott allegedly does not know the origin or identity of the hackers and has not fully assessed the scope of the attack.

The Marriott class action lawsuit alleges that Marriott failed to ensure the integrity of its servers and to properly safeguard consumers’ highly sensitive and confidential information, knowing that it had an obligation to protect the personal and financial data of its guests and customers and being aware of the significant repercussions to its customers if it failed to do so.  The class-action lawsuit alleges that Marriott  violated consumer protection statutes, breached confidence, and was reckless and grossly negligent.

Source

On November 30, 2018, Marriott issued the following statement (in part):

Marriott has taken measures to investigate and address a data security incident involving the Starwood guest reservation database.  On November 19, 2018, the investigation determined that there was unauthorized access to the database, which contained guest information relating to reservations at Starwood properties* on or before September 10, 2018.

On September 8, 2018, Marriott received an alert from an internal security tool regarding an attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database in the United States.  Marriott quickly engaged leading security experts to help determine what occurred.  Marriott learned during the investigation that there had been unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014.  The company recently discovered that an unauthorized party had copied and encrypted information, and took steps towards removing it.  On November 19, 2018, Marriott was able to decrypt the information and determined that the contents were from the Starwood guest reservation database.

The company has not finished identifying duplicate information in the database, but believes it contains information on up to approximately 500 million guests who made a reservation at a Starwood property.  For approximately 327 million of these guests, the information includes some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest (“SPG”) account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date, and communication preferences.  For some, the information also includes payment card numbers and payment card expiration dates, but the payment card numbers were encrypted using Advanced Encryption Standard encryption (AES-128).  There are two components needed to decrypt the payment card numbers, and at this point, Marriott has not been able to rule out the possibility that both were taken.  For the remaining guests, the information was limited to name and sometimes other data such as mailing address, email address, or other information.

Source

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Maryland Class Action Lawsuit Contends Pharmaceutical Company Unlawfully Barred Generic Version Of Its Drug

By | Business Litigation, Class Action Lawsuits

On November 20, 2018, a proposed federal class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland against Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Actelion Clinical Research, Inc., and Actelion Pharmaceuticals US, Inc. (“Actelion”) alleging that Actelion engaged in an “illegal scheme to maintain its monopoly over the prescription drug bosentan.”

Bosentan is a dual endothelin receptor antagonist that Actelion sells as a treatment for pulmonary artery hypertension (“PAH”) under the brand name “Tracleer.” PAH is a relatively rare, but chronic, and potentially fatal disorder in which elevated blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs causes the heart to work harder than normal. It affects between 10,000 and 20,000 people in the U.S. — most of them women. PAH is a progressive condition. Without treatment, only about 70% of patients survive a year after diagnosis. PAH is also an extremely expensive condition to treat. In 2016, America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry organization of health insurers, estimated that average drug spending for PAH patients was between $103,464 and $196,560 per year.

The proposed class action lawsuit alleges that while Tracleer is a highly profitable drug (billions in sales for Actelion) and Actelion’s regulatory and patent exclusivity over the use of bosentan to treat PAH expired by November 20, 2008 and November 20, 2015, respectively, no generic manufacturer has brought a generic bosentan to market. At least four manufacturers started the process of bringing a generic bosentan to market, but Actelion allegedly unlawfully blockaded the regulatory process for generic manufacturers to proceed and, thereby, illegally maintained its monopoly over bosentan.

The proposed class action lawsuit alleges that Actelion blocked would-be generic bosentan manufacturers from obtaining samples of Tracleer. This prevented a generic version of bosenten coming to market because in order to obtain FDA approval of a generic drug application, a generic manufacturer must run comparison tests to establish that the brand and the generic are bioequivalent — that is, that the generic is absorbed in the body at the same rate and to the same extent as the brand. Doing so requires samples of the brand product. Without these samples, generic manufacturers cannot complete the regulatory process and cannot bring a competing generic to market.

The proposed class action lawsuit alleges that Actelion prevented would-be generic bosentan competitors from purchasing samples of Tracleer by forbidding its distributors from selling Tracleer to those generic manufacturers and refusing to sell Tracleer directly to the manufacturers as well. By doing both, Actelion allegedly blocked every path generic manufacturers had to obtain samples of Tracleer.

The proposed class action lawsuit alleges that, unable to get samples of Tracleer from distributors as they usually would, at least
four generic manufacturers requested samples directly from Actelion, offering to pay the market price for the samples. Actelion refused, allegedly offering subterfuge for its reason. Tracleer carries risks of serious liver damage and birth defects if taken during pregnancy. Therefore, the FDA approved Actelion’s New Drug Application (“NDA”) for Tracleer subject to two restrictions: (1) a “black box” warning on Tracleer’s packaging, and (2) Actelion’s implementation of a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (“REMS”) for Tracleer. Actelion cited its REMS as the reason it would not sell to would-be generic competitors.

The proposed class action lawsuit alleges that Actelion cited the safety protocols imposed by FDA as the reason it refused to sell Tracleer samples to generic manufacturers (and the reason it prevented its distributors from selling them as well). Congress has specified however, that REMS may not be used to delay generic competition. The FDA has also expressly indicated that REMs do not prevent distributors from selling samples to generics nor empower the NDA holder to veto such sales. Indeed, the FDA has repeatedly confirmed that allowing the generics to buy samples does not run afoul of the FDA’s required safety protocols, both generally and with respect to Tracleer specifically.

The proposed class action lawsuit alleges that Actelion wanted to keep its competitors out of the market in order to prevent competition and prolong its monopoly well past its period of legitimate exclusivity, and this is the only logical explanation for Actelion foregoing potential sales, but it is allegedly illegal: the FTC, the FDA, courts, and commentators all agree that the antitrust laws do not tolerate such exclusionary conduct.

The proposed class action lawsuit alleges that Actelion’s anticompetitive scheme has been 100% effective. To date, no generic Tracleer is available in the U.S. nearly three years after the expiration of the Tracleer patent. Actelion’s alleged scheme has forced Plaintiff and other purchasers to pay higher prices for bosentan for far longer than they otherwise would have. Absent Actelion’s years-long blockade, one or more generics would have been available at or around the expiration of Tracleer’s patent protection in November 2015. Actelion’s alleged unlawful conduct has prevented generic manufacturers from entering the market with competing generic bosentan products and has cost purchasers hundreds of millions of dollars in overcharge damages.

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES HEALTH ASSOCIATION V. ACTELION PHARMACEUTICALS LTD, ET AL., Case 1:18-cv-03571-CCB.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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