On February 28, 2017, U. S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton granted final approval to a class action settlement successfully negotiated by Goldenberg Schneider and its co-counsel on behalf of hundreds of individuals who purchased certain long-term care policies from Continental Casualty (CNA). The settlement expands coverage for insureds who currently or may in the future reside in a managed residential care (“MRC”) facility located in Connecticut. Prior to this settlement, CNA routinely denied requests for stays at MRC facilities. The settlement also provides an opportunity for those whose claim was previously denied to recover damages. Additional information about the settlement and policyholders’ options can be found at http://www.ctlongtermcareinsurancesettlement.com/
Goldenberg Schneider, joined by Minnillo & Jenkins, LPA, recently obtained a $3.5 million settlement in a lawsuit seeking justice for Klonda Richey, who was viciously attacked and killed on February 7, 2014 by dangerous dogs owned by her neighbors. For many months prior to the attack, Klonda complained to the authorities that the dogs were an imminent threat to her safety. According to the complaint, Defendant Mark Kumpf, dog warden for Montgomery County and director of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center, took no action on any of her numerous complaints in reckless and/or willful disregard of his statutory duties.
Following Goldenberg Schneider’s success in the Second District Court of Appeals, the case was pending before Judge Mary Wiseman in the Court of Common Pleas for Montgomery County, Ohio. Goldenberg Schneider defeated Kumpf’s motion for summary judgment shortly before the case resolved. This settlement is believed to be the largest recovery ever against an animal control agency resulting from a dog attack.
SILV Communication “Slamming” Class Action
Goldenberg Schneider has joined forces with attorneys from Minnillo & Jenkins Co., LPA, in bringing a putative class action against Silv Communications, Inc. (“Silv”) on behalf of approximately 25,000 class members. The class action complaint alleges that class members had their long distance telephone service provider switched to Silv without permission in violation of 47 U.S.C. §§ 201(b) and 258(b) of the federal Wire or Radio Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. (the “Communications Act”) and Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations. This unlawful practice is known as “slamming.” On June 13, 2017, United States District Court Judge Timothy S. Black entered an order granting preliminary approval to a class action settlement that provides for the creation of a $450,000 settlement fund that will be used to pay claims up to $120 per class member.
The court will hold a hearing on October 23, 2017 to decide whether to grant final approval to the settlement. Class members may make a claim for monetary benefits, exclude themselves from the settlement, object to the settlement, or ask to speak at the hearing. The case, Kimber Baldwin Designs, LLC v. Silv Communications, Inc., No 1:16-CV-00448, is currently pending before Judge Black in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
Goldenberg Schneider has joined forces with the Lyon Firm, in bringing a putative class action against U.S. Bank National Association (“U.S. Bank”) alleging that U.S. Bank repeatedly failed to timely record thousands of mortgage satisfactions as required by Ohio Revised Code Section 5301.36. Ohio law requires lenders to record a satisfaction of mortgage within 90 days from the date a loan is paid off. Failure to timely record a satisfaction can result in a statutory damages payment to each such homeowner. On May 10, 2017, Judge Robert C. Winkler of the Court of Common Pleas for Hamilton County, Ohio entered an order granting preliminary approval to a settlement that would create a $1.75 million settlement fund and pay up to $225 for each class member who submits a valid claim.
The Court will hold a hearing on October 23, 2017 to decide whether to grant final approval to the settlement. Class members may make a claim for monetary benefits, exclude themselves from the settlement, object to the settlement, or ask to speak at the hearing. The deadline to submit a Claim Form is September 5, 2017. The case, Wade v. U.S.Bank Nat’l Assoc., Case No. A1501522, is currently pending before Judge Winkler in the Court of Common Pleas for Hamilton County, Ohio.
Goldenberg Schneider has joined forces with attorneys from Spector Roseman & Kodroff, PC, and others in prosecuting putative class actions against some of the largest suppliers of automotive parts alleging that they have engaged in a large-scale, decade-long conspiracy to unlawfully fix and artificially raise automotive part prices. These massive price-fixing class actions are being brought on behalf of direct purchasers who were overcharged for various kinds of automotive parts, including wire harness products, heater control panels, instrument panel clusters, fuel senders, occupant safety restraint system products, bearings, air conditioning systems, starters, windshield wiper systems, windshield washer systems, spark plugs, oxygen sensors, fuel injection systems, alternators, ignition coils and power window motors.
All cases are pending before Judge Marianne Battani in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit. See In re Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 2:12-md-02311-MOB-MKM. Goldenberg Schneider and its fellow counsel representing the Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs have defeated all motions to dismiss filed to date in all product cases and reached settlements with four defendants totaling approximately $53 million. The U.S. Department of Justice, the Japan Fair Trade Commission, and the European Commission continue to investigate the Automotive Parts industry, and criminal fines levied total $2.5 billion to date, with 35 companies and 29 executives having pleaded guilty or having agreed to plead guilty in the United States.
Goldenberg Schneider, working with co-counsel from Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody & Agnello, P.C. and SeegerWeiss, have settled the Mercedes Blue-Tec Engines Diesel Emissions Fraud litigation. The settlement with Mercedes Benz is valued at more than $700 million and provides substantial benefits to nearly 250,000 owners and lessees of affected diesel Mercedes vehicles. The lawsuit was originally brought in 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The lawsuit alleges that Mercedes-Benz USA teamed up with Robert Bosch GmbH to program its BlueTEC vehicles to release illegally high, dangerous levels of emissions via a “defeat device,” similar to that used by Volkswagen Group that sparked its emissions cheating scandal. Such defeat devices turn off or limit emissions reductions during real-world driving conditions but not during vehicle emissions tests. A defeat device allows a vehicle to pass government emissions testing while exceeding pollution standards under real-world driving conditions. The complaint accuses Mercedes of deceiving consumers with false representations of its BlueTEC vehicles, which it marketed as “earth-friendly.”
If the settlement is approved by the Court, owners of affected Mercedes diesel vehicles may receive the following:
• An Approved Emissions Modification (AEM) free of charge and an extended modification warranty. From a separate settlement with federal and California regulators, these benefits are available even if you do not participate in the class action.
• Protection pending the modification’s effects to your vehicle. AEMs installed in affected vehicles will come with additional protection, should the AEM affect your vehicle’s performance. Affected owners are slated to receive compensation depending on whether the AEM affected fuel economy, horsepower, torque and/or other aftereffects of the emissions modification. Owners may also be able to receive payment for transportation costs in the event their installation of an AEM takes more than three hours to complete.
• Payment for Mercedes’ diesel emissions deficiencies. Under the settlement, current owners and lessees can receive $3,290 if no former owner/lessee submits a claim for the same vehicle. If a former owner/lessee does submit a claim for the same vehicle, current owners and lessees can receive $2,467.50. Former owners and lessees can receive $822.50, divided equally among former owners/lessees who submit claims for the same vehicle.
• Additional payment. For current owners and lessees who have an AEM installed, additional payments may be available under various circumstances. Owners may also receive additional payment if an AEM is not available by October 2022.
More information can be found at the settlement website, www.mbbluetecsettlement.com.
Goldenberg Schneider has joined forces with attorneys from Minnillo & Jenkins, Co., L.P.A. and Finney Law Firm, LLC and filed a putative class action against the Ohio State Teachers’ Retirement Board on behalf of all participants in the Ohio State Teachers’ Retirement System (“STRS”), alleging that changes made to cost-of-living adjustments (“COLA”) in 2017 violated state laws, the U.S. Constitution and the state constitution. In March 2017, the pension fund’s board reduced the COLA to zero from 2% effective July 1, 2017. The suit, filed May 23, 2019 in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, alleges that the pension fund’s elimination of the COLA for all retirees in 2017 violated procedural and substantive due process, impaired their right of contract, and a violated the contracts clause and takings clause in both the U.S. and Ohio constitutions.
The case, Dennis v. State Teachers Retirement Board, No. 1:19-cv-00386-SJD, is currently pending before Judge Susan J. Dlott in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
Goldenberg Schneider, working with co-counsel Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, has filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all owners and lessors of 2018 and 2019 Ford F-150 trucks and 2019 Ford Ranger trucks, which accuses Ford of falsifying tests related to the fuel economy of the most popular vehicle in the world – the, Ford F-150. The lawsuit alleges that Ford deliberately miscalculated and misrepresented factors used in vehicle certification testing in order to report that its vehicles used less fuel and emitted less pollution than they actually do.
For instance, according to testing conducted by plaintiffs following EPA-mandated coastdown procedures, Ford has overstated the fuel economy in its F-150 trucks by 15 percent for highway mileage and 10 percent for city mileage. Assuming the lifetime of a truck is 150,000 miles, city driving would consume an extra 821 gallons over the lifetime of the truck, or at $2.79 national average fuel price, an extra $2,290 in fuel costs. The highway extra fuel (actual MPG compared to Ford’s reported MPG) is 968 gallons or $2,700.
The lawsuit seeks to recover damages related to the falsified fuel economy of affected Ford trucks, as well as injunctive relief halting Ford’s design, manufacture, marketing, sale and lease of the trucks. The suit also seeks punitive damages under certain laws for Ford’s alleged knowledge of its misrepresented fuel economy prior to sale of the trucks. The suit asserts claims for fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive trade practices, unjust enrichment, fraud, breach of warranty, false advertising and violation of dozens of state consumer-protection laws.
On August 1, 2019, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred the lawsuit along with more than a dozen “tag-along” actions to the Eastern District of Michigan to be consolidated for pretrial proceedings before Judge Sean F. Cox. See In re Ford Motor Co. F-150 and Ranger Truck Fuel Economy Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, MDL No. 2901.
If you or anyone you know purchased or leased an affected vehicle and would like additional information about your legal rights, we would be pleased to discuss the matter with you. You can contact the attorneys at Goldenberg Schneider, LPA, by calling 513-982-1569 or sending an email to [email protected].
Goldenberg Schneider has filed a putative class action alleging that Acura knowingly sold its 2019-2020 RDX vehicles with defective infotainment systems. According to the lawsuit filed July. 11, 2019 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, owners and lessees of the affected vehicles report that the infotainment system – an integrated in-vehicle communication, navigation and entertainment system – behaves erratically, malfunctions, and freezes, thereby distracting the driver and posing a safety hazard. The defect can cause the infotainment system to crash while the vehicle is in motion, rendering the navigation and other dashboard features to become inoperable. The defect can also cause the infotainment system to remain on even after the vehicle is turned off, thereby draining the vehicle’s battery. The lawsuit alleges Acura breached its own warranty by simply replacing defective parts with equally defective parts, thereby leaving consumers caught in a cycle of use, malfunction, and replacement.
The lawsuit further alleges that Acura distributed pre-release promotional materials to dealers touting that the vehicles would feature Android Auto compatibility, knowing that those dealers would in turn pass that information on to consumers to promote the Vehicles. But when the Vehicles went on sale in 2018, they came equipped with Apple CarPlay but not Android Auto. Acura claimed at the time that Android Auto compatibility was temporarily delayed but promised prospective buyers and lessees that Android Auto would be made available to all 2019-2020 RDX vehicles through a software update “soon.” Yet more than a year has passed since the 2019 RDX vehicles were released and vehicle owners and lessees are still waiting to receive the important feature Acura promised.
The lawsuit seeks both monetary reimbursement for those who purchased or leased an affected vehicles, and also seeks action from the court barring Acura from continuing to sell vehicles with the defective infotainment system.
If you or anyone you know purchased or leased a 2019-2020 Acura RDX vehicle and would like additional information about your legal rights, we would be pleased to discuss the matter with you. You can contact the attorneys at Goldenberg Schneider, LPA, by calling 513-982-1569 or sending an email to [email protected].
Goldenberg Schneider has filed a putative class action alleging that Honda knowingly sold its 2018-2019 Honda Odyssey and 2019 Honda Pilot vehicles with defective infotainment systems. According to the lawsuit filed Mar. 22, 2019 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, owners of the affected vehicles report that the infotainment system – an integrated in-vehicle communication, navigation and entertainment system – behaves erratically, malfunctioning, freezing, and creating a safety hazard and distraction. The defect can cause safety-related systems (including backup camera functions) to fail, and can create distracting random audio or video. The defect can also cause the entire center console to go black or blue while the vehicle is in motion, and cause navigation and other dashboard features to shut down completely while in use. The lawsuit alleges Honda breached its own warranty by simply replacing defective parts with equally defective parts, thereby leaving consumers caught in a cycle of use, malfunction and replacement. 2019 Acura RDX vehicles appear to have the same infotainment system and suffer from the same defect.
The lawsuit against Honda seeks both monetary reimbursement for those who purchased or leased an affected Honda Odyssey or Pilot, and also seeks action from the court barring Honda from continuing to sell vehicles with the defective infotainment system.
If you or anyone you know purchased or leased a Honda or Acura vehicle and would like additional information about your legal rights, we would be pleased to discuss the matter with you. You can contact the attorneys at Goldenberg Schneider, LPA, by calling 513-982-1569 or sending an email to [email protected].
On March 16, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf refused to dismiss a putative class action brought by Goldenberg Schneider on behalf of policyholders against Continental Casualty Co. (“Continental Casualty”). The plaintiff in that case seeks to represent a class of elderly individuals who purchased long term care insurance policies containing an Alternate Plan of Care Benefit (“APC”) from Continental Casualty and who sought coverage pursuant to the APC for stays at alternate (non-nursing home) facilities, but who had their claims wrongfully denied. The complaint also seeks injunctive relief on behalf of policyholders nationwide to stop Defendant’s wrongful conduct. The complaint alleges that Continental Casualty wrongfully refuses all APC coverage requests unless there are no traditional nursing homes in the area of the insured, a prerequisite that lacks any basis in the actual text of the APC or underlying long term care policies. On March 16, 2015, Judge Mark L. Wolf denied Continental Casualty’s motion to dismiss the action, finding that the plaintiff asserted a viable claim that defendant failed to act in good faith in denying her request for coverage for her stay at an assisted living facility pursuant to the APC Benefit. The case is currently pending before Judge Wolf in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Federal Court Grants Final Approval To Historic Cincinnati Pension Settlement Agreement
On October 5, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Michael R. Barrett granted final approval to a historic agreement to settle a series of cases relating to the City of Cincinnati Retirement System, known as the CRS. This settlement comprehensively reforms the CRS and establishes minimum City funding levels which, when combined with other reforms, will eventually lead to a stable and adequately funded pension plan.
The City of Cincinnati has maintained a pension plan for its employees since 1931. Although the CRS has assets of approximately $2.2 billion, in recent years its liabilities have far exceeded its assets by more than $800 million, meaning the CRS is seriously “underfunded.” In 2011, the city of Cincinnati adopted changes to its pension plan that significantly increased the percentage of wages contributed by active city employees, lengthened the amount of time they would need to work before becoming eligible for full retirement benefits, and reduced the value of the future retirement benefits they would receive. But these reforms did not include any significant changes for retirees, so the brunt of the reforms fell on current city employees.
In 2012, Goldenberg Schneider, LPA, joined forces with co-counsel from Minnillo & Jenkins Co., LPA, Klausner, Kaufman, Jensen & Levinson, and The Law Office of Marc Mezibov, Inc. by combining parallel actions brought on behalf of current employees of the city of Cincinnati challenging the 2011 changes. Once the cases were consolidated, another group representing retirees joined the lawsuit. With the assistance of Judge Barrett, the parties embarked on a lengthy process of analysis and negotiation, and entered into a settlement that comprehensively reforms the CRS, establishes a consistent level of city funding, and reinstates several key provisions that were eliminated in the 2011 changes for employees who were vested in the plan at that time.
While many of these changes relate to the calculation of the amount of retirement benefits, collectively they have tremendous economic value to current employees. For example, since 2011 City employees who work over 30 years have been receiving less credit towards their pension benefit for each year worked in excess of 30 years than they did for the first 30 years. The result was a perverse incentive for the city’s most experienced employees to retire early. Under the settlement, years worked in excess of 30 years will receive equal credit when computing pension benefits. Similarly, city employees will once again be able to retire after reaching 30 years of city service regardless of age, and their pension benefits will be subject to a fixed annual cost of living adjustment of three percent. In addition, as a result of the settlement, class members now have a vested right to health care benefits upon retirement for the next 30 years. Collectively, the pension and health care benefits for the current employees class members are valued at a minimum of $165 million.
Goldenberg Schneider is proud to have played a central role in achieving this settlement. We are grateful to our co-counsel for partnering with us in this endeavor, and to all the parties involved and their counsel for their hard work and leadership in reaching this major step toward comprehensive pension reform in Cincinnati.
On December 18, 2015, Hon. Sandra S. Beckwith of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio granted final approval to a settlement agreement establishing a $500,000 fund to compensate borrowers who were charged interest at a rate exceeding 21% as defined by Ohio Revised Code 1321.51(E). Plaintiff, represented by Goldenberg Schneider and Minnillo & Jenkins, LPA, alleged that Eagle Financial Services, Inc., d/b/a Eagle Loan Company of Ohio, Inc. (“Eagle Loan”) routinely issued loans that violate the Ohio Mortgage Loan Act (Ohio Revised Code § 1321.51 et seq.) by charging and collecting interest in excess of the rate permitted by Ohio law. See Adams. V. Eagle Financial Services, Inc., S.D. Ohio No. 1:14-cv-00656-SSB.
On December 14, 2015, Hon. Michael R. Barrett of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio granted final approval to a settlement agreement establishing a $400,000 fund to compensate Ben-Gal cheerleaders for unpaid wages. Plaintiff, represented by Goldenberg Schneider and Minnillo & Jenkins, alleged that the Cincinnati Bengals football team unlawfully failed to compensate Ben-Gal cheerleaders for mandatory practice time and promotional appearances in violation of state and federal labor laws. See Brenneman v. Cincinnati Bengals, Inc., S.D. Ohio No. 1:14-cv-00136MRB.
In 2010, Goldenberg Schneider joined Foley Bezek Behl & Curtis, LLP and Minnillo & Jenkins, Co. LPA in filing the first nationwide class action lawsuit against Google for violating the Federal Wiretap Act. The complaint alleges that Google routinely used Google Street View vehicles equipped with special hardware and software equipment known as “snoopers” and “sniffers” to illegally intercept and record electronic communications transmitted over wireless networks. After Goldenberg Schneider filed suit, numerous additional “tag-a-long” putative class actions were filed throughout the nation. All of the cases have been consolidated before Hon. James Ware in the Northern District of California, San Jose Division. Goldenberg Schneider is part of the lead counsel group in the consolidated proceedings.
In 2011, Judge Ware denied Google’s motion to dismiss the federal wiretapping claim, ruling that the plaintiffs stated a viable claim and that none of the statutory exemptions apply to Google’s data collection actions. Google appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the denial on September 10, 2013. On June 30, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Google, thereby allowing the Ninth Circuit’s decision to stand and permitting the plaintiffs’ lawsuits to proceed.
On March 11, 2014, Judge Charles J. Kubicki, Jr. of the Court of Common Pleas, Hamilton County, Ohio, entered an order granting final approval to a class action settlement negotiated by Goldenberg Schneider, LPA in Kanet v. Third Federal Savings & Loan Association of Cleveland, Case No. A 1302473. The settlement successfully resolved the plaintiff class’ claims stemming from third federal’s repeated failure to timely record thousands of mortgage satisfactions as required by Ohio Revised Code Section 5301.36. Ohio law requires lenders to record a satisfaction of mortgage within 90 days from the date a loan is paid off. Failure to timely record a satisfaction can result in a statutory damages payment to each such homeowner. The $1 million settlement fund provided sufficient funds to compensate each class member approximately $180.
On June 13, 2014, Hon. Michael R. Barrett of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio granted final approval to a settlement agreement establishing a $500,000 fund to compensate Rally’s and Checker’s restaurant employees for unpaid wages. The Plaintiffs, represented by Goldenberg Schneider and Minnillo & Jenkins, alleged that the restaurants improperly required hourly employees to work off the clock and changed employees’ time records in violation of minimum wage and overtime laws. See Kidd v. Rally’s of Ohio, Inc., S.D. Ohio No. 1:12cv157.
Goldenberg Schneider, serving as co-lead class counsel, successfully certified a nationwide class against MetLife for the benefit of beneficiaries of the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (“FEGLI”) Program – the largest group life insurance program in the world. Plaintiffs alleged that MetLife failed to pay sufficient interest on life insurance policy proceeds as required by the terms of the policy. On October 17, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Sandra S. Beckwith granted final approval to an $11.5 million settlement in the case. In December 2013, the last remaining $2.3 million of unclaimed settlement funds was awarded to the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund through a Cy Pres distribution to promote the interests of the class members. The Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund is a nonprofit organization that offers college scholarships, emergency assistance and child care subsidies to civilian federal and postal employees.
Goldenberg Schneider, along with Foley Bezek Behl & Curtis, LLP and Minnillo & Jenkins, Co. LPA, filed the first class action against Verizon for unauthorized $1.99 data usage charges to its customers nationwide. The court recently granted final approval to a settlement reached with Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless resolving plaintiffs’ claims and allegations that Verizon Wireless violated state and federal law by wrongly charging its cellular phone customers for data usage they never accessed or received. As a result of the nationwide settlement and litigation, the class received bill credits and refund checks valued at more than $50 million.
Goldenberg Schneider is prosecuting a lawsuit filed on behalf of a proposed class of direct purchasers of blood reagents and/or related medical equipment. The antitrust complaint alleges that Defendants Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc., Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems, Inc., and Immucor, Inc., conspired to unlawfully fix the prices at which blood reagents would be sold in the United States. The consolidated action is pending before the Honorable Jan E. Dubois in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The court has recently granted preliminary approval to a multimillion-dollar settlement reached with Immucor, Inc.