New York Times Op-Ed: “Let Consumers Sue Companies”

Scam Fraud Consumer Rights

A powerful op-ed published this week in the New York Times examines recent workings in the House and Senate to fundamentally undermine consumer rights in the United States. The Consumer Financial Protection Board recently created a new rule preventing companies from denying consumers the right to band together and go to court when they are treated unfairly. The rule would act to keep companies from restricting consumer recourse to binding, closed-door arbitration outside the courts and sidestepping the judicial system. [Read more…]

U.S. Regulators Approve of Volkswagen Plan to Fix or Buy Back Vehicles in Emissions Cheating Scandal

U.S. Regulators Approve of Volkswagen Plan to Fix or Buy Back Vehicles in Emissions Cheating Scandal

Volkswagen and U.S. environmental regulators have announced the government’s approval of the agreement for the German automaker to fix or buy back the diesel vehicles involved in VW’s illegal emissions cheating scandal. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the plan will involve approximately 326,000 VW vehicles sold between 2009 and 2014, “the first generation of the ‘Clean Diesel’ cars with 2.0-liter TDI engines, including the Jetta, Golf, Beetle and Audi A3.” [Read more…]

Classes Certified in Federal Class Action Lawsuit Against DIRECTV Over Alleged Violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

Mobile Phones TCPA Telemarketing Violations

Two proposed plaintiff classes have been certified in a federal lawsuit against DIRECTV over allegations the company violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and related rules promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission by making unwanted telemarketing phone calls to consumers. The case is Cordoba v. DirecTV LLC, No. 1:15-CV-3755-MHC, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. [Read more…]

Associated Press Talks with Plaintiffs’ Lead Counsel Elizabeth Cabraser About the VW Emissions Settlement

Originally arising as one of the biggest auto-related scandals in U.S. history, the Volkswagen diesel emissions case has led to one of the largest consumer settlements ever – many times higher than the previous automotive industry record. The Associated Press recently interviewed Lieff Cabraser founding partner and Lead Counsel for the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee Elizabeth J. Cabraser on the VW “dirty diesel” emissions settlement. [Read more…]

New CFPB Rule to Ban Companies From Using Arbitration Clauses to Block Class Action Lawsuits

New CFPB Rule to Ban Companies From Using Arbitration Clauses to Block Class Action Lawsuits

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has issued a new rule that will prevent companies from including language in arbitration agreements that would keep consumers from filing class action lawsuits. While companies can still mandate arbitration (as opposed to individual lawsuits) to resolve consumer disputes, they can no longer force consumers to surrender their rights to bring collective group actions when the conduct complained of affects many consumers in a similar fashion. [Read more…]

Elizabeth Cabraser Named Lead Counsel, Chair of Steering Committee in Fiat Chrysler Ecodiesel Emissions Fraud Litigation

Fiat Chrysler Jeep Dodge Diesel Emissions Violations

On June 19, 2017, Judge Edward M. Chen of the Northern District of California named Lieff Cabraser founding partner Elizabeth Cabraser as Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs and Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in litigation against Fiat Chrysler by brought by Jeep and Dodge owners over allegations the company bypassed diesel emission controls in nearly one hundred thousand vehicles. Ms. Cabraser also served in the same role in the recently-concluded case against Volkswagen for similar emissions violations in Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche vehicles. [Read more…]

Wells Fargo Dealer Services Abusive Phone & Text Messaging Settlement Announced

Telephone Consumer Protection Act

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and Burke Law Offices, LLC Announce Proposed Settlement of Wells Fargo Dealer Services TCPA Litigation

A proposed settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit against Wells Fargo Dealer Services, Inc., a division of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (“Wells Fargo”). The lawsuit alleges Wells Fargo violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) by using an automatic telephone dialing system and/or an artificial or prerecorded voice to initiate calls or text messages to cell phones (“Automatic Calls”) in connection with automobile retail installment sale contracts without prior express consent. Wells Fargo denies the allegations, and the Court has not decided who is right. Instead, both sides agreed to a settlement. [Read more…]

Reader’s Digest Publisher Sold Michigan Subscribers’ Personal Info, Pays $8.2 Million to Settle Privacy Law Violations

Published materials books magazines digital publications

Trusted Media Brands, the publisher of Reader’s Digest, Country, Simple & Delicious and Taste of Home magazines, will pay $8.2 million in the settlement of a proposed class action that accused the company of selling the personal information of its subscribers. As reported by Law360 (subscription), this is “the largest-ever deal in a case alleging violations of Michigan’s privacy laws.” [Read more…]

Senators Accuse AT&T of Using Forced Arbitration to Overcharge Customers

AT&T Allegedly Using Forced Arbitration to Overcharge Customers

Five U.S. senators claim major telecommunications company AT&T is utilizing forced arbitration clauses in order to sidestep its customers’ efforts to get justice for claims of rampant overcharging. The Dallas-based company allegedly charges consumers for AT&T services at rates significantly higher than those originally offered in a wide range of advertised promotions, then forces customers seeking redress into unfavorable mandatory arbitration. [Read more…]

Judge Hits Dish Network with Unprecedented $280 Million in Penalties Over Violations of Do-Not-Call Laws

Judge Hits Dish Network with Unprecedented $280 Million in Penalties Over Violations of Do-Not-Call Laws

An Illinois federal judge has awarded $280 million to the federal government and the states of California, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio as part of its efforts to permanently block Dish Network LLC and its telemarketing vendors from violating the National “Do-Not-Call” Registry laws. The major satellite service provider allegedly invaded consumers’ privacy by making vast numbers of illegal telemarketing calls without making any efforts to shield recipients who had signed up for the national Do Not Call registry. [Read more…]

New Jersey Added to Growing List of States Considering “Right to Repair” Legislation

New Jersey Added to Growing List of States Considering “Right to Repair” Legislation

As reported by Motherboard, New Jersey assemblyman Paul Moriarty recently introduced a new bill known as the “Fair Repair Act,” passage of which would require electronics manufacturers who sell their products in New Jersey to sell gadget replacement parts to the general public, as well as to independent repair companies. New Jersey is the twelfth state to consider such legislation, which would work to end the stranglehold many tech manufacturing companies have on user repair efforts, requiring the purchasers of modern devices to come directly to the tech giants for repairs. [Read more…]

Elizabeth Cabraser on the VW Diesel Settlements: A Road to Justice for Consumers & the Environment

Elizabeth Cabraser, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein

As a result of Volkswagen’s conduct in installing “cheat devices” in its 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter diesel engines to evade emissions standards, consumers “became unwitting accomplices in one of the biggest auto-related scandals in U.S. history, driving vehicles that were emitting as much as 40 times the permitted levels of nitrogen oxides into the earth’s atmosphere.” In an op-ed piece published today by The Recorder, Elizabeth Cabraser anatomizes the VW case and its attendant historic settlements, unprecedented for their scope and complexity, combining consumer compensation, environmental relief, fines and penalties, coordinated by the Department of Justice, EPA, California Air Resources Board and California Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission and class plaintiffs. [Read more…]

AT&T Facing Thousands of Consumer Complaints About Bait-and-Switch Overcharging

AT&T Facing Thousands of Consumer Complaints About Bait-and-Switch Overcharging for Services

A CBS News investigation has revealed over 4,200 customer complaints that have been filed with the federal government against AT&T and DirecTV relating to false deals, rescinded promotions, and overcharging in the past two years alone. An excellent video report by correspondent Anna Werner lays out the story and describes how the company reportedly overcharges consumers, in part by first offering drastic discounts that disappear once monthly bills start showing up. [Read more…]

Number of Unauthorized Wells Fargo Bank Accounts Significantly Larger Than Initially Reported

Unauthorized Wells Fargo Bank Accounts Significantly Larger Than Initially Reported

Court documents included as part of an imminent class action settlement with Wells Fargo Bank indicate that the banking giant created 1.4 million more phony bank and credit card accounts than it had previously reported. As Law360 notes, “The San Francisco-based bank and a class of account holders estimate that between 2002 and 2017 Wells Fargo employees allegedly opened approximately 3.5 million unauthorized accounts, replacing the previous 2.1 million estimate.”
[Read more…]

City of Philadelphia Files Lawsuit Against Wells Fargo for Discriminatory Lending

High-cost mortgage loans

Lawsuit Alleges the Bank Targeted Minority Borrowers with High-Cost Loans

The City of Philadelphia has filed a federal lawsuit against Wells Fargo in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania claiming that Wells Fargo has engaged in discriminatory lending practices that target minority borrowers. The Complaint alleges that commencing in 2004 and continuing through the present, Wells Fargo violated the federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) by steering African-American and Latino borrowers towards high-cost or high-risk loans even where those borrowers’ credit permitted them to obtain more advantageous loans. [Read more…]

Statement on Court Granting Final Approval of Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche 3.0-Liter Emissions and Bosch Settlements

VW Diesel Emissions Case Settlement

San Francisco, CA (May 11, 2017) – Elizabeth Cabraser, lead counsel for the consumer plaintiffs in the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, released the following statement regarding the Court granting final approval of the Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche 3.0-Liter Emissions Settlement and the related Bosch settlement. The final approval hearing was held today in the Northern District of California as part of the multidistrict litigation currently being overseen by Judge Charles M. Breyer. Judge Breyer informed the parties that orders would be entered no later than May 17, 2017. [Read more…]

FCC Creates Task Force to Block Unwanted Robocalls

FCC Creates Task Force to Block Unwanted Robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to move forward in its crackdown on unwanted and intrusive robocalls. Consumers find these automated “robocalls” and text messages to be inherently offensive and harassing, particularly when they are made on a repeat basis, often outside of normal business hours. [Read more…]

Court Grants Final Approval to Volkswagen Emissions 3.0-Liter Vehicle Settlement

Volkswagen Diesel Emissions

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer has granted final approval to a settlement over emissions fraud on Volkswagen’s 3.0-liter engine vehicles in the U.S. with a value of at least $1.2 billion. The settlement covers approximately 82,500 cars and suvs with the larger capacity engines, and follows the previous $14.7 billion settlement for drivers of 2.0-liter engines. The new settlement brings the total measure of VW’s civil payments over the emissions scandal to about $17.4 billion. U.S. Justice Department attorney Joshua Van Eaton noted in court that the result “sends a message to Volkswagen and to others who would consider gaming the system that it does not pay to cheat.” [Read more…]

Supreme Court Clears Way for Cities to Sue Major Banks Over Discriminatory Lending Practices

predatory bank lending

On Monday May 1, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that cities have standing to sue major banks over the kinds of discriminatory lending practices that caused significant harm to low-income neighborhoods through and after the foreclosure crisis and the 2008 recession. Until now, the banks claimed that while forbidding racial discrimination, the Fair Housing Act protected only individuals who suffered discrimination, not entire cities. [Read more…]

Mark Chalos in The Tennessean on United Airlines as the Iceberg’s Tip of Bad Corporate Behavior

Mark Chalos in The Tennessean on United Airlines as the Iceberg's Tip of Bad Corporate Behavior

Lieff Cabraser Nashville office Managing Partner Mark Chalos is no fan of unleashed corporations. As an opinion piece in The Tennessean makes clear, Chalos sees incidents like United Airlines’ recent behavior with respect to a physician manhandled off a flight to make room for an airline employee as emblematic of a system where critical regulation has been steadily eroded, of years of corporate efforts to “eliminate the mechanisms that hold them accountable for their bad behavior.” [Read more…]