Consumer Protection

TracFone Wireless Data

Pile of different modern smartphones.

Issue: False Advertising

In nationwide class actions against TracFone Wireless, consumers allege that TracFone falsely advertises that its StraightTalk, Net10, and Simple Mobile cell phone plans provide “unlimited” data.

Contrary to this misrepresentation, plaintiffs allege that TracFone implements internally established data usage limits that it purposefully fails to disclose to consumers, and regularly “throttles” (i.e. significantly reduces the speed of) or terminates customers’ data plans pursuant to the secret limits. Plaintiffs legal claims include breach of contract and violation of California’s and Florida’s unfair competition and false advertising laws.

Case Update: $40 Million Anticipated Settlement

On January 28, 2015, Michael W. Sobol, the chair of Lieff Cabraser’s consumer practice group announced that consumers who purchased service plans with “Unlimited data” from TracFone Wireless, Inc., sold under its brands Straight Talk, Net10, Telcel America, or Simple Mobile, may be eligible to receive payments under an anticipated $40 million settlement in a nationwide class action lawsuit.

Consumers who purchased Straight Talk, Net10, Telcel America, or Simple Mobile wireless service plans with “Unlimited data” during the period of July 24, 2009 through December 31, 2014, and who, at any time during this period, had the speed of their data “throttled,” suspended, or terminated at TracFone’s request will either receive a direct payment, or are eligible to participate in the settlement’s claim process.

“The settlement will offer compensation for customers who had the speed of their data service significantly reduced by a practice called ‘throttling,’ despite being promised ‘Unlimited data.’ The settlement will also improve future disclosures and notifications of data limits and throttling practices,” Sobol stated.

Consumers should visit www.PrePaidPhoneRefund.com to learn more about the possible class action settlement and submit their claim. If the settlement is approved, all payments to consumers through the settlement will be made by a Court-appointed claims administrator, as will be specified in the class action settlement agreement, subject to approval by the Court.

Sprint Everything Messaging

Smart phones text message abuse

Issue: Misrepresentation of cell phone plan

Sprint False Advertising from Everything Messaging

On February 1, 2011, plaintiffs filed a consumer protection class action complaint against Sprint for false advertising and misrepresentation in its marketing of its “Everything Messaging” cell phone plan. The plan purported to offer subscribers unlimited voice, text, and “picture messaging.”

However, despite the clear statement that picture messaging would be “unlimited” to subscribers of the “Everything Messaging” plan, consumers were allegedly charged an aggregate of nearly eighty million dollars for sending pictures using their cell phones. In addition, the complaint alleges that charges were effectively concealed from consumers, who experienced additional difficulty in even trying to assess their billing costs.

Contact Lieff Cabraser

If you are a consumer who had or has the Sprint Everything Messaging plan, please use the form below to contact a consumer protection attorney at the national plaintiffs’ law firm of Lieff Cabraser to submit your complaint or share with us your experience with this plan. There is no charge or obligation for our review of your case.


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How did you find our site?

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Do you or did you have the Sprint Everything Messaging plan?

Did you incur casual data charges for sending picture messages?

How much of your monthly casual data charges were for sending picture messages?

How did you find out how much of your casual data charges were for sending picture messages (e.g., Sprint representative told you, you never used the internet)?

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Neurontin Marketing and Sales Practices

white pills

Result: $325 million settlement
Year: 2014

In re Neurontin Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation

Lieff Cabraser served on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in multidistrict litigation arising out of the sale and marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin, manufactured by Parke-Davis, a division of Warner-Lambert Company, which was later acquired by Pfizer, Inc. Lieff Cabraser served as co-counsel to Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals (“Kaiser”) in Kaiser’s trial against Pfizer in the litigation. On March 25, 2010, a federal court jury determined that Pfizer violated a federal antiracketeering law by promoting its drug Neurontin for unapproved uses and found Pfizer must pay Kaiser damages up to $142 million.

At trial, Kaiser presented evidence that Pfizer knowingly marketed Neurontin for unapproved uses without proof that it was effective. Kaiser said it was misled into believing neuropathic pain, migraines, and bipolar disorder were among the conditions that could be treated effectively with Neurontin, which was approved by the FDA as an adjunctive therapy to treat epilepsy and later for post-herpetic neuralgia, a specific type of neuropathic pain.

In November 2010, the Court issued Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on Kaiser’s claims arising under the California Unfair Competition Law, finding Pfizer liable and ordering that it pay restitution to Kaiser of approximately $95 million. In April 2013, the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed both the jury’s and the District Court’s verdicts. In November 2014, the Court approved a $325 million settlement on behalf of a nationwide class of third party payors.

National Grid

Pile of different modern smartphones.

Lieff Cabraser represents consumers in a class action lawsuit against National Grid USA, the owner of multiple gas and electric companies in New York, Massachusetts, and other New England states, and these utilities for allegedly placing unsolicited and repeated automated calls to the cell phones and smart phones of their customers from March 2011 to the present.

These unwanted phone calls were conducted by automatic telephone dialing system (called an autodailer or robocall machine) and/or using an artificial or prerecorded voice. The calls were made by debt collection companies including NCO Financial Systems, acting as agents for National Grid and the power companies and seek payment for alleged past due utility bills.

The complaint charges that National Grid and the power companies violated the the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a federal law which prohibits abusive telephone practices by lenders, marketers, and other companies, and places strict limits on the use of autodialers to call or send texts to cell phones.

“Nobody should be subjected to repeated, intrusive autodialer calls at all hours from a debt collector, lender, or other company, especially on their cell phones,” commented Lieff Cabraser attorney Jonathan D. Selbin.

The utilities owned by National Grid that are named as defendants in the complaint include:

  • Boston Gas Company
  • Colonial Gas Company
  • Essex Gas Company
  • Keyspan Corporation
  • Keyspan Gas East Corporation
  • Massachusetts Electric Company
  • Nantucket Electric Company
  • Niagra Mohawk Holdings, Inc.
  • Niagra Mohawk Power Corporation
  • The Brooklyn Union Gas Company, and
  • The Narragansett Electric Company.

Contact Lieff Cabraser

If you have received automated phone calls to your cell or mobile phone from NCO Financial Systems, National Grid, or one of the above-listed utilities, we wish to learn of your experience. The information you provide will assist us in holding National Grid accountable and stopping its alleged abusive telemarketing practices. There is no charge or obligation for our review of your complaint.

We will review your claim without fee or obligation, and Lieff Cabraser agrees to protect your name and all confidential information you submit against disclosure, publication or unauthorized use to the full extent under the law.Please note: Completion of this form cannot contractually obligate plaintiffs’ attorneys to represent you. We can only serve as your attorney if you and we both agree, in writing, that we will serve as your counsel.


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Name of company that made the calls/texts:

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If you received a call, did the call use a prerecorded message?

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National Arbitration Forum

Law defined

Issue: Fraud and conspiracy

National Arbitration Forum Consumer Fraud Lawsuit

Lieff Cabraser represents consumers in a class action lawsuit against the National Arbitration Forum (“NAF”), and several entities related to NAF. The suit alleges that the defendants conspired to conduct sham consumer debt arbitrations that harmed consumers.

NAF Lawsuit Plaintiffs’ Allegations

As the largest consumer credit arbitration company in the nation, the NAF holds itself out to the public, courts and consumers as a neutral third party arbitration service. The NAF claims it is independent of the debt collection agencies and creditors that use its services.

In fact, as alleged in the complaint against the NAF and the other defendants, the NAF is closely tied to the credit and debt collections industries. As a result, consumers whose cases are arbitrated through the NAF are placed at a significant disadvantage. Specific allegations against the NAF include:

  • The NAF has conspired with several major creditors to mandate binding arbitration clauses in the term and condition of sale in standard consumer debt agreements such as credit cards, consumer loans, utilities, telecommunications, health care and consumer leases. This conspiracy eliminates consumer access to the court system.
  • The NAF conceals its link to the credit agencies through extensive affirmative representations, material omission and complex and opaque corporate structuring.
  • The NAF conducts sham arbitrations which virtually always result in a favorable ruling for the banks and credit card companies that utilize NAF’s services.
  • The NAF and co-defendants have profited unfairly from this biased process.

Case Update

On February 22, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson denied in large part motions to dismiss the class action lawsuit filed by consumers against the NAF and several entities that own NAF, alleging fraud and racketeering activity. The plaintiffs, consumers whose debt disputes were submitted to binding arbitration before the NAF, allege NAF conducted sham arbitrations that resulted in rulings in favor of creditors.

Morgan Stanley Mortgage Discrimination

Law defined

Result: $16 million settlement
Year: 2008

Five African-American residents of Detroit, Michigan, joined by Michigan Legal Services, have brought a class action lawsuit against Morgan Stanley for discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights laws.

The plaintiffs charge that Morgan Stanley actively ensured the proliferation of high-cost mortgage loans through the company New Century Mortgage Corporation (“New Century”) with specific risk factors in order to bundle and sell mortgage-backed securities to investors. Morgan Stanley was the principal financier of the now-defunct New Century, and orchestrated New Century’s focus on dangerous loans that placed many homeowners on a path to foreclosure.

Because minority residents in the Detroit region were historically subject to housing lending discrimination, they were especially vulnerable to such predatory loans. The lawsuit is the first to seek to hold a bank in the secondary market (the securitizer of pooled loans as opposed to the initial lender, in this case New Century) accountable for the adverse racial impact of such policies and conduct.

Plaintiffs seek certification of the case as a class action for as many as 6,000 African-American homeowners in the Detroit area who may have suffered similar discrimination. Lieff Cabraser serves as plaintiffs’ counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Michigan, and the National Consumer Law Center.

Court Rules Lawsuit Can Proceed

On July 25, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer, Jr., denied in part Morgan Stanley’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, allowing plaintiffs’ claims that the investment bank violated the Fair Housing Act to proceed. The Court stated:

Plaintiffs here have met their pleading burden. First, they have identified the policy that they allege has a disproportionate impact on minorities. That policy consisted of Morgan Stanley (1) routinely purchasing both stated income loans and loans with unreasonably high debt-to-income ratios, (2) routinely purchasing loans with unreasonably high loan-to-value ratios, (3) requiring that New Century’s loans include adjustable rates and prepayment penalties as well as purchasing loans with other high-risk features, (4) providing necessary funding to New Century, and (5) purchasing loans that deviated from basic underwriting standards. Plaintiffs go on to state that these policies resulted in “New Century aggressively target[ing] African-American borrowers and communities … for the Combined-Risk Loans.” (Compl., ¶ 81.)

Indeed, Plaintiffs allege in detail the effect that New Century’s lending had upon the African-American community in the Detroit area. (Compl., ¶¶ 115-122). That lending, according to Plaintiffs, was a direct result of Morgan Stanley’s policies. Indeed, Plaintiffs allege in detail the effect that New Century’s lending had upon the African-American community in the Detroit area. (Compl., ¶¶ 115-122). That lending, according to Plaintiffs, was a direct result of Morgan Stanley’s policies. And while Plaintiffs do not allege that they qualified for better loans, they allege discrimination based only upon the receipt of these predatory, toxic loans placed them at high financial risk. These risks exist regardless of Plaintiffs’ qualifications. On a motion to dismiss, these allegations are sufficient to demonstrate a disparate impact.

Earlier in the opinion, the Court further observed:

Detroit’s recent bankruptcy filing only emphasizes the broader consequences of predatory lending and the foreclosures that inevitably result. Indeed, by 2012, banks had foreclosed on 100,000 homes [in Detroit], which drove down the city’s total real estate value by 30 percent and spurred a mass exodus of nearly a quarter million people. The resulting blight stemming from 60,000 parcels of vacant land and 78,000 vacant structures, of which 38,000 are estimated to be in potentially dangerous condition, has further strained Detroit’s already-taxed resources. And as residents flee the city, Detroit’s shrinking ratepayer base renders its financial outlook even bleaker. Id. Given these conditions, it is not difficult to conclude that Detroit’s current predicament, at least in part, is an outgrowth of the predatory lending at issue here (Internal quotations and citations omitted).

Commenting on the Court’s decision, Lieff Cabraser lawyer Rachel Geman stated,

African-American homeowners harmed by Morgan Stanley’s securitization policies now have the chance to develop evidence to support their classwide claims of discrimination and to request the disgorgement of the bank’s ill-gotten gains. A bank cannot cause the sale of toxic mortgage loans as a future profit stream for itself and then avoid any potential responsibility whatsoever for the disastrous impact of those loans on actual homeowners.

The case, Adkins v. Morgan Stanley, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Visit the ACLU’s website to learn more about the Morgan Stanley Fair Housing Discrimination lawsuit.

McAfee Anti-Virus Auto-Renewal Program

Computers

This nationwide class action alleges that McAfee falsely represents the prices of its computer anti-virus software to customers enrolled in its “auto-renewal” program in violation of California’s and New York’s unfair competition and false advertising laws.

Plaintiff alleges that McAfee’s fraudulent pricing scheme operates on two levels: First, McAfee offers non-auto-renewal subscriptions at stated “discounts” from a “regular” sales price; however, the stated discounts are false because McAfee does not ever sell subscriptions at the stated “regular” price to non-auto-renewal customers. Second, plaintiffs allege that McAfee charges the auto-renewal customers the amount of the false “regular” sales price, claiming it to be the “current” regular price even though it does not sell subscriptions at that price to any other customer.

Kindred Inadequate Staffing

Empty wheelchair parked in hospital hallway

Issue: Inadequate nursing staff levels

Walsh v. Kindred Healthcare, Inc., et al.

Lieff Cabraser, with co-counsel, represents seniors who on behalf of themselves and a proposed class of nursing home residents at Kindred facilities charge that Kindred failed to provide sufficient nurses for elderly and disabled residents at its California skilled nursing facilities in violation of state law.

Understaffing is one of the primary causes of inadequate care and often unsafe conditions in skilled nursing facilities. Plaintiffs allege that during their residence at a Kindred facility, due to inadequate staffing levels, they experienced infrequent, inadequate, and painful turning and repositioning, resulting in pressure sores and injuries; inadequate attention to toileting needs; dirty, unsanitary, and foul-smelling living conditions; no response or long response times to call lights; lack of assistance with grooming and bathing; lack of response to medical and dental problems; lack of assistance with eating; lack of assistance with dressing; failure to provide fluids as needed; and falls.

Bank Overdraft Fees

Bank

Issue: Accounting tricks to maximize overdraft fees

In re Checking Account Overdraft Litigation

Lieff Cabraser serves on the plaintiffs’ executive committee and is the lead plaintiffs’ law firm prosecuting the case against Bank of America in Multi-District Litigation against the nation’s major banks for the collection of excessive overdraft fees. The lawsuits charge that the banks entered charges debiting customer’s accounts from the “largest to the smallest” for the purpose of maximizing the number of times they could assess their customers overdraft fees. In March 2010, the Court denied defendants’ motions to dismiss the complaints.

In November 2011, the Court granted final approval to a $410 million settlement of the case against Bank of America. In approving the settlement, U.S. District Court Judge James Lawrence King stated, “This is a marvelous result for the members of the class.” Judge King added, “[B]ut for the high level of dedication, ability and massive and incredible hard work by the Class attorneys … I do not believe the Class would have ever seen … a penny.”

In September 2012, the Court granted final approval to a $35 million of the case against Union Bank. In approving the settlement, Judge King complimented plaintiffs’ counsel for their outstanding work and effort in resolving the case: “The description of plaintiffs’ counsel, which is a necessary part of the settlement, is, if anything, understated. In my observation of the diligence and professional activity, it’s superb. I know of no other class action case anywhere in the country in the last couple of decades that’s been handled as efficiently as this one has, which is a tribute to the lawyers.”

Unsolicited Robocall Complaints and Abusive Texting Cases

Smart phones text message abuse

Issue: Abusive robocalls and text messages

Harassed by Prerecorded Cell Phone Calls?

Lieff Cabraser represents consumers who have received debt collection, marketing, or other harassing pre-recorded calls to their cell phones without consenting to receive these calls. We are also investigating companies that send unsolicited text messages to customers who did not expressly consent to receiving these messages.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act prohibits abusive telephone practices by lenders and marketers, and places strict limits on the use of autodialers to call or send texts to cell phones.

“Nobody should be subjected to repeated, intrusive autodialer calls at all hours from a debt collector, lender, or other company, especially on their cell phones,” commented attorney Jonathan D. Selbin of Lieff Cabraser.

Contact Lieff Cabraser

Lieff Cabraser is currently investigating complaints that financial institutions and other companies made pre-recorded phone calls related to a loan or credit card to customers’ cellular phones without their prior express consent. If you have received such a call, please use the form below to submit your complaint to Lieff Cabraser.

We will review your claim without fee or obligation, and Lieff Cabraser agrees to protect your name and all confidential information you submit against disclosure, publication or unauthorized use to the full extent under the law.

Please note: Completion of this form cannot contractually obligate plaintiffs’ attorneys to represent you. We can only serve as your attorney if you and we both agree, in writing, that we will serve as your counsel.


First Name (required)

Last Name (required)

Email address (required)

Street Address

City

State

Zip

Telephone Day

Telephone Eve

How did you find our site?

Are you currently represented by an attorney?

Name of company that made the calls/texts:

Do you have an account with this company?

Was the call/message sent to a cell phone, landline, or text message?

If you received a call, did the call use a prerecorded message?

Total number of calls/texts received:

Additional comments:

Please sign me up for your Consumer Law newsletter. Yes