Collective & Group Actions for Victims of Financial Crime

Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 2)

Google sued in $5 billion class action lawsuit for tracking ‘private’ internet use

A $ billion class action lawsuit has been filed, that alleges Google has been tracking users’ browsing habits despite engaging Chrome’s Incognito mode.

The lawsuit is seeking a minimum of five billion dollars, and would likely include “millions” of Google Chrome users. The lawsuit, filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, covers users who have used Incognito mode since June 1, 2016.

According to the complaint, Google gathers data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, and other Applications and plug-ins, including smartphone apps.

The complaint, which was seen by Reuters, claimed that Google is capable of learning about users’ friends, hobbies, shopping habits, and the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” a user searches for.

The complaint states that Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone.”

The lawsuit is hoping to receive $5,000 in damages per user for violating federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.

A Google spokesperson has pushed back against the lawsuit, claiming that the company discloses such risks.

“[W]e clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity.”


EasyJet faces £18 billion class-action lawsuit over data breach

The lawsuit aims to secure up to £2,000 per impacted customer.

UK budget airline easyJet is facing an £18 billion class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of customers impacted by a recently-disclosed data breach.

Made public on May 19, easyJet said that information belonging to nine million customers may have been exposed in a cyberattack, including over 2,200 credit card records.

The “highly sophisticated” attacker to blame for the security incident managed to access this financial information, as well as email addresses and travel details. EasyJet is still contacting impacted travelers.

The carrier did not explain how or exactly when the data breach took place, beyond that “unauthorized access” has been “closed off.”

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have been notified, of which the latter has the power to impose heavy fines under GDPR if an investigation finds the carrier has been lax in data protection and security.

Last year, British Airways faced a “notice of intent” filed by the ICO to fine the airline £183.4 million for failing to protect the data of 500,000 customers in a data breach during 2018.

However, easyJet has a more immediate legal concern due to law firm PGMBM, which has issued a class-action claim with a potential liability of £18 billion, or up to £2,000 per impacted customer.

The lawsuit has been filed in the High Court of London on behalf of customers. According to the firm, easyJet’s data breach took place in January 2020, and while the ICO was apparently notified at this time, customers were not informed until four months later.

“The sensitive personal data leaked includes full names, email addresses, and travel data that included departure dates, arrival dates, and booking dates,” PGMBM says. “In particular, the exposure of details of individuals’ personal travel patterns may pose security risks to individuals and is a gross invasion of privacy.”

The class-action lawsuit leans on GDPR legislation which gives consumers the right to claim compensation when their information is compromised in security incidents.

Tom Goodhead, PGMBM Managing Partner said the “monumental” data breach is a “terrible failure of responsibility that has a serious impact on easyJet’s customers.”

EasyJet told ZDNet that the company “will not be commenting on this matter.”

In related news this month, Verizon’s latest Data Breach Investigation Report highlights how a common factor in data breaches, the misconfiguration of cloud-based repositories and buckets, continues to a problem of which the scale is being made more apparent due to increased reporting.

Furthermore, Verizon says that configuration errors are now a rising trend in data breaches, alongside malware variants including scrapers, the use of stolen credentials, and phishing.


Time Share Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman Sues Diamond Resorts For Elder Abuse And Fraud

PALM SPRINGS, Calif., May 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Timeshare cancellation attorney Mitchell Sussman files lawsuit against Diamond Resorts.

Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman has filed a lawsuit on behalf of his clients, Minoru and Mari Imai, a retired couple who’d discovered in May that a timeshare they’d purchased in April was not what was promised. The case entitled Imai v. Diamond, Orange County Superior Court, case no. 30-2019-01087447-CU-FR-CJC  alleges  that after a six hour presentation a Diamond salesperson,  acting as a duel agent with the fiduciary responsibility duty to act in good faith and with fair disclosures, opened two credits cards in his clients’ name without their knowledge or consent and charged these credit cards a combined amount of $24,000.00.

“My clients were only made aware of this at the end of the presentation when the agent explained he’d already taken those steps for them. It is outrageous to think that someone would do this to senior citizens.”

But perhaps most egregious according to Sussman was that Mr. Imai, a diabetic, had been deprived of food and drink other than water even though he complained of hypoglycemia.

“The degree to which Diamond’s agent intimidated and lied to my clients is almost criminal,” Sussman alleges.   “He fraudulently filled out a credit application which indicated that the Imai’s were gainfully employed earning $185,000.00 per year when in fact they were retired and on a fixed income.”

In addition to charging the down payment on the Imai’s credit cards, the salesman had plaintiffs execute loan documents obligating them to ten years of payments of over $700.00 per month.

“They could never in their lifetime utilize all the points sold to them,” says Sussman. “Moreover, the agents fraud put my clients in dire financial condition.  And his promises that the timeshare would appreciate appears to be an out and out lie. If it weren’t you would think that Diamond would be only too happy to take it back and resell it themselves.”

About Attorney Sussman
Mitchell Reed Sussman has been practicing Real Estate and Bankruptcy Law for over 40 years.  More information  about timeshares can be found by visiting the website

SOURCE Law Offices of Mitchell Reed Sussman


Investors Bring Class Action Lawsuit against for “Biggest of All Crypto Frauds”

Coin-Offering Scam Netted Company Billions paid mere $24 million settlement to the SEC last year, leaving investors worldwide holding the bag for worthless digital asset that promised would finance a new open-source software; instead, token’s valuation plunged 85%

Suit filed in NY’s Southern District by leading investor law firm Grant & Eisenhofer along with renowned investor advocate James Koutoulas, blockchain/cryptocurrency litigator Jenny Vatrenko, and Northwestern University Bluhm Legal Clinic

NEW YORK, May 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — A diverse group of individual and corporate investors has filed a class action lawsuit today against blockchain software firm, alleging it defrauded them through a year-long illegal initial coin offering that netted the company in excess of $4 billion but left investors with an unregulated asset that became virtually worthless.

The suit, brought in federal court in the Southern District of New York, was filed jointly by leading investor law firm Grant & Eisenhofer along with renowned investor advocate James L. Koutoulas, blockchain and cryptocurrency litigator Jenny Vatrenko, and J. Samuel Tenenbaum of The Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Complex Civil Litigation and Investor Protection Center at Northwestern University.

The action, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, is brought on behalf of all persons or entities who purchased or acquired EOS tokens during the period between June 26, 2017 and the present. The action is captioned: Crypto Assets Opportunity Fund LLC and Johnny Hong v., Brendan Blumer, Daniel Larimer, Ian Grigg, and Brock Pierce, 1:20-cv-3829 (S.D.N.Y.). It is related to the action Williams et al. v. Block.One et al., 1:20-cv-02809 (S.D.N.Y.) pending before Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Today’s filing is’s second legal challenge over its ICO. Last September, the company agreed to a $24 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission — a relative slap on the wrist that did little to promote investor protection. The new complaint is an effort to hold and its leadership accountable for duping global investors in what may be “the biggest of all crypto frauds.”

In asserting violations by of Sections 5, 12(a)(1)-(2), and 15 of the 1933 Securities Act and Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the 1934 Securities Exchange Act, the lawsuit alleges breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment by defendants, who comprise both current and former company executives. They include co-founders Brendan Blumer and Daniel Larimer, who remain with, and co-founder Brock Pierce, who has since departed. Also named is former partner Ian Grigg., founded in 2017, has operations in Virginia and Hong Kong but is registered in the Cayman Islands. Starting in June 2017 and over the course of almost a year, it sold 900 million EOS cryptocurrency tokens by aggressively marketing to investors in the United States and other countries.

Announced with great fanfare and publicized as a means of funding a new open-source software and superior competitor to the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains, the offering was accompanied by a Times Square billboard ad, a bullish white paper, presentations by company principals at blockchain conferences and meet-ups, and promotion via crypto-focused online news and investor outlets. As the complaint states, “defendants worked cooperatively to promote EOSIO as the next, superior version of the existing blockchain….”

As the complaint notes, however, at no time during all of this fanfare did register its offering with the SEC, as required by U.S. securities law, nor seek an exemption from registration (for which it did not qualify).

The complaint alleges that the consequence of this willful evasion of regulations – expressly established to promote fairness and investor confidence – was to blind the ICO’s investors, depriving them of disclosures regarding’s financial history, operations and budget, executive compensation, material trends, risk factors, and other information required by law. In essence, the complaint alleges, made a wild-card coin offering that profited the company handsomely but ultimately left investors holding little more than crypto-dust. In September 2019, the SEC issued a cease-and-desist order against further sale of’s tokens, determining they were securities under the law and had been sold without proper registration. At no time had the company disclosed that it was subject of a government investigation.
Attorneys representing investors note that’s $24 million settlement with the SEC represents a meager 0.6% of the $4 billion raised through its ICO. Unusually, the settlement did not require registration of the tokens going forward, or reimbursement or rescission for investors; nor did it disqualify from making securities offerings in the future. The lawsuit argues that the company’s minor mea culpa was only a tiny speed bump in what remains a successful scheme to defraud investors.

“Institutional funds that were lied to by have a duty to all their investors – large and small – to take action against fraudsters and con artists,” said James Koutoulas, CEO of hedge fund Typhon Capital Management and securities lawyer who formed the nonprofit Commodity Customer Coalition and led the 101% recovery of $6.7 billion for victims of the MF Global bankruptcy. He continued, “We believe in the cryptocurrency space, which is why those who exploit it for naked personal gain need to be held accountable. Where the SEC only dipped a toe into upholding securities laws and protecting investors, our action encourages those who were swindled by this biggest of all crypto frauds to join us in pressing the courts for justice and restitution.”

Daniel Berger, a director at Grant & Eisenhofer and veteran class action litigator, said, “Investors of all types deserve to be treated equitably and honestly. This lawsuit is an important means to redress the brazenly unlawful conduct that exhibited in defrauding investors through its EOS token offering.”

For investors who purchased or acquired EOS securities during the Class Period, you are a member of this proposed Class and may be able to seek appointment as lead plaintiff, which is a court-appointed representative for the Class, by complying with the relevant provisions for the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “PSLRA”). See 15 U.S.C. Section 78u-4(a)(2)(A)(i)-(iv). If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff, you must move the Court no later than June 8, 2020. You need not seek to become a lead plaintiff in order to share in any possible recovery. You may retain counsel of your choice to represent you in this action.

About Grant & Eisenhofer P.A.
Grant & Eisenhofer is one of the U.S.’s leading litigation firms, with a highly successful track record representing plaintiffs in complex litigation and arbitration matters. The firm has offices in Wilmington (Delaware), New York, Chicago, Birmingham, and San Francisco, and an international docket of high-profile cases. G&E’s clients include institutional investors and other plaintiffs in U.S. and international securities matters, derivative and corporate governance lawsuits, shareholder activism matters, bankruptcy litigation, antitrust actions, consumer class actions, whistleblower cases involving the False Claims Act, mass tort and environmental suits, birth injury litigation, intellectual property disputes, and civil rights suits. The firm has recovered over $27 billion for clients in the last ten years, and has twice been cited by RiskMetrics for securing the highest average investor recovery in securities class actions. G&E has been named one of the country’s top plaintiffs’ law firms by The National Law Journal for more than a decade, and was named one of the U.S.’s “Most Feared Plaintiffs Firms” as well as one of Delaware’s “Regional Powerhouses for 2018” by Law360. For more information, visit


Gainey McKenna & Egleston Announces A Class Action Lawsuit Has Been Filed Against Groupon, Inc.

NEW YORK, May 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Gainey McKenna & Egleston announces that a class action lawsuit has been filed against Groupon, Inc. (“Groupon” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: GRPN) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of those who purchased or acquired the securities of Groupon between November 4, 2019 and February 18, 2020, inclusive (the “Class Period”).  The lawsuit seeks to recover damages for Groupon investors under the federal securities laws.

The Complaint alleges Defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose: (1) the Company was experiencing fewer customer engagements in its Goods category; (2) Groupon relied on its Goods category to drive its sales, especially during the holiday season; (3) as a result of the foregoing, the Company was likely to experience reduced sales; and (4) as a result of the foregoing, Defendants’ positive statements about the Company’s business, operations, and prospects, were materially misleading and/or lacked a reasonable basis. When the true details entered the market, the lawsuit claims that investors suffered damages.

Investors who purchased or otherwise acquired shares of Groupon during the Class Period should contact the Firm prior to the June 29, 2020 lead plaintiff motion deadline.  A lead plaintiff is a representative party acting on behalf of other class members in directing the litigation.  If you wish to discuss your rights or interests regarding this class action, please contact Thomas J. McKenna, Esq. or Gregory M. Egleston, Esq. of Gainey McKenna & Egleston at (212) 983-1300, or via e-mail at [email protected] or [email protected].

Please visit our website at for more information about the firm.



Travel Bans During COVID Crisis Fuel Call For Timeshare Reform

In the wake of COVID-19, a flood of timeshare owners have tried to cancel their contracts, citing travel bans and health fears that make them untenable.

Disastrous as it is, the pandemic alone is not a valid reason to exit a timeshare, according to timeshare exit companies. However, there are plenty of valid reasons to cancel a contract for a timeshare, including exorbitant maintenance fees, false advertising, and fraud, according to Brandon Reed, the CEO and founder of Timeshare Exit Team and a founding member of the Coalition to Reform Timeshare.

Reed points out that timeshares – a shared ownership in a resort or vacation property – were different in the early years. “When timeshares first appeared in the 1970s, they were less expensive then and allowed people to visit the property on certain dates each year, so owners could plan around it,” he says. But fast forward to 2020:  Millennials, he says, are not interested in timeshares, and companies are trying to make up for it by squeezing an inordinate amount of money from people who buy or already own them.

“The sellers are promising this beautiful property which you can visit any time you want, and often that’s not true at all,” says Reed, a former timeshare owner. “And they’re expensive now, with the average price at nearly $21,455. If you take out a timeshare mortgage at a high interest rate, you could end up paying nearly double that over a 10-year period. And on top of that, you have yearly maintenance fees. But what’s worse — and what people rarely understand — is that nearly two-thirds of these are sold in perpetuity, meaning that you can’t get rid of them! You can try to sell them, sure — eBay has dozens of timeshares selling for a dollar, and even then no one will buy them.”

Many buyers have learned about this the hard way, including Frank and Betty Lusk, who were almost in their nineties when they went on a Caribbean cruise in September 2018 and were approached by a Diamond Resorts salesman on the voyage. Using high-pressure tactics, he persuaded them to buy a $150,000 timeshare that billed them for thousands of dollars each month – landing Betty Lusk in the hospital several times with stress-related illnesses – before they were able to cancel it with the help of Reed and his Seattle-based timeshare exit team.


Courts Allows Shareholder Class Action Against Goldman Sachs Tied to 2008 Crisis

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. must face a shareholder class action accusing the bank of hiding conflicts of interest, including behind-the-scenes dealings with a prominent hedge fund manager, when creating risky subprime securities before the 2008 financial crisis.

In a 2-1 decision last Tuesday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said Goldman failed to overcome a legal presumption that shareholders relied on its pledges to guard against conflicts, when deciding to buy the bank’s stock.

These included alleged misstatements that client interests “always come first” and “integrity and honesty are at the heart of our business.”

The court also rejected Goldman’s argument that allowing class actions based on “general” misstatements would turn securities fraud claims into “a form of investor insurance,” exposing companies to a flood of baseless litigation.

“We are not blind to the widespread understanding that class certification can pressure defendants into settling large claims, meritorious or not, because of the financial risk of going to trial,” Circuit Judge Richard Wesley wrote. “But our law already beats back this parade of horribles.”

Goldman spokeswoman Maeve DuVally said the bank intends to ask the entire appeals court to review the decision.

The lawsuit led by three pension plans said Goldman fraudulently overstated its ability to manage conflicts, causing more than $13 billion of losses for shareholders from February 2007 to June 2010.

Thomas Dubbs, a lawyer for the shareholders, said they were pleased with the decision and look forward to proceeding to trial.

Goldman admitted it was a “mistake” not to reveal it had allowed hedge fund manager John Paulson to choose some mortgages to include in Abacus, and that he bet against the CDO through short sales.

Paulson made a roughly $1 billion profit at the expense of CDO investors.

Wesley rejected Goldman’s claim that only in “special circumstances” could a court find that if revelations of bad news caused a company’s stock to fall, it could infer that the price had previously been inflated by the same amount.

Circuit Judge Richard Sullivan dissented. He said the class should be decertified because Goldman had offered “persuasive and uncontradicted” evidence that earlier disclosures of its alleged conflicts did not affect its stock price.

The case was returned to U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty in Manhattan, who certified the class action in August 2018.

The case is Arkansas Teacher Retirement System et al v. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 18-3667.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by Marguerita Choy and Matthew Lewis)


Recent Class Action Lawsuit Could Cost Binance Billions of Dollars

Binance is one of several large cryptocurrency firms named in a series of recent class action lawsuits. If the lawsuits go south for this global company, it could end up costing them billions of dollars.

Class action is looking for new members

Roche Cyrulnik Freedman has recently brought eleven class action lawsuits against some of the biggest names in the crypto space, including Binance. To learn more about these cases, Cointelegraph spoke with Kyle Roche of Roche Cyrulnik Freedman, who shared his rationale behind these litigations:
“Growing enthusiasm for Bitcoin spilled over into the market for initial coin offerings (‘ICOs’), which investors flocked to in the hope of finding the next Bitcoin. The cases allege that exchanges and issuers failed to comply with federal and state securities laws.”

He also added the class action is open to new members “…who purchased any of the tokens or did business on any of the exchanges named as Defendants. We want investors to reach out to us.”

Billions of dollars on the line

According to an anonymous source who is familiar with the matter, there was “a method to the madness”. Apparently, the focus was on “pre-minted” assets, not cryptocurrencies that employ mining:
“Most of these projects [the ones that issued pre-minted tokens] are still pretty centralized”. The source also cited a statement by director William H. Hinman of the Division of Corporation Finance of the SEC, in which he asserted that Ether ETH may not be a security, since it is sufficiently decentralized.

The same source told us that the plaintiffs expect legal wranglings to take 3 to 4 years. Discussing potential monetary damages, they said: “It’s hard to say, but it could be in the billions of dollars, Binance alone did billions.”

Binance’s past may come back to bite it

Binance currently offers 802 trading pairs, with most of the available assets representing ERC20 or other pre-minted tokens. In 2017, Binance issued its own ERC20 token, BNB. Around the same time, Binance conducted its first Initial Exchange Offering (IEO). They have since established a platform dedicated to this business activity, called Binance Launchpad.

However, Binance only stopped serving U.S. residents in June 2019. Thus, if any of Binance’s previously-available assets are retroactively classified as securities, plaintiffs may still have a realistic chance in court.

Binance Vs. Binance.US

The striking difference in the way Binance.US has approached the U.S. market could potentially play in the plaintiffs’ hands. Binance.US as a U.S. based entity that has no legal affiliation with Binance. As an entity, it needs to be fully compliant with the U.S. federal and state rules and regulations. This is the main reason why Binance.US is still not serving clients in several states. Furthermore, Binance.US has developed a Digital Asset Risk Assessment Framework. One of the main goals of this framework is legal compliance. Unlike Binance, Binance.US offers only around 30 digital assets to its U.S. customers.

Defendants respond

Cointelegraph reached out to every company involved in these cases. Most either did not respond or responded with “no comment” to our inquiries. The only meaningful response came from a Bibox customer representative: “We are running the exchange [that] provides crypto trading service and cryptocurrencies are not securities”. They also added that Bibox is currently working to secure a legal opinion. Although the slew of class action lawsuits does not represent an immediate danger to Binance, it may pave the way for more litigation and regulatory inquiries into this crypto leviathan in the future. This may eventually lead to the off-shore exchange losing its leadership.


Florida felons’ voting rights case is now a class action lawsuit

(CNN)A legal challenge against a Florida law that requires former felons to pay back all legal financial obligations before they vote is now a class action lawsuit.

On Tuesday, the federal judge overseeing the case granted class certification to the lawsuit, paving the way for any final decision issued, following a trial in late April, to apply not just to the original 17 plaintiffs but to all Florida felons.

US District Court Judge Robert Hinkle’s final ruling would extend to over 430,000 felons who would be eligible to vote but for unpaid financial obligations. Convicted felons in Florida had their voting rights restored with a constitutional amendment passed in November 2018. After Amendment 4 went into effect in January 2019, the GOP-led Florida legislature passed a bill that clarified all terms of sentence to include legal financial obligations such as fines, fees and restitution.

Hinkle’s order on Tuesday granting class certification is another setback for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who signed the bill into law last year. CNN has reached out to DeSantis and Lee’s offices for comment.

The Campaign Legal Center, who sued on the behalf of three Floridians with prior felony convictions, sought class certification last fall on the claims that the law discriminates on wealth and imposes a poll tax.

Though the governor and secretary of state have yet to respond to Tuesday’s announcement, the state officials back in November objected, arguing in part that it’s unnecessary, too broad and “plaintiffs have not met their burden to define the proposed wealth-based discrimination subclass.”

They argued in a court document that certification based on wealth is “problematic, ill defined, and requires hundreds of thousands (up to as many as one million) of determinations regarding which former felons are ‘genuinely unable to pay’ their outstanding financial obligations.” The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a main backer of Amendment 4 that has remained out of the legal fray, called Hinkle’s Tuesday decision a “major victory in the fight to restore voting rights to Florida’s returning citizens.”

“The decision by the court to certify this case as a class action is a big deal because it drastically expands the number of people who can get immediate relief from 17 to hundreds of thousands,” the group’s executive director Desmond Meade said in a statement. The classification is the latest legal hurdle in an ongoing clash between voting rights advocates and Florida Republican lawmakers over the restoration of felon voting rights.

In October, Hinkle granted a preliminary injunction, allowing the plaintiffs to register to vote regardless of fines and fees associated with their convictions. A US appeals court upheld the judge’s decision in February.

“The state, however, continues to insist that these rulings apply only to the individual Floridians who are participating in this lawsuit,” the Campaign Legal Center said in a statement. “(Tuesday’s) ruling ensures that practice must come to an end.”

“Two federal courts announced a constitutional principle: no one can be denied the right to vote for failing to pay something they cannot afford. There should never have been a question as to whether that constitutional principle should apply to all Floridians,” Sean Morales-Doyle, the senior counsel for the Brennan Center, another plaintiff in the case, said in a statement.

The case goes to trial on April 27, after previously being delayed due to coronavirus concerns. The trial will be held remotely and by video conference to adhere to the social distancing guidelines in place. During a Wednesday pretrial hearing, the judge and lawyers tested their video conference capabilities and walked through logistics of the upcoming trial. The public is allowed to listen in via phone.


Class action lawsuits related to coronavirus spike across the country

he crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has set off a maelstrom of legal disputes stemming from forced business closures and allegations of fraud, among many other complaints. Class-action lawsuits, in particular, have been used to address some of the most egregious reports of misconduct.

These kinds of legal actions are perfect vehicles for frauds perpetrated on consumers and shareholders, where the wrongdoing alleged is so widespread that plaintiffs benefit from banding together.

“There is a tsunami of class-action cases in three principal areas,” Kent Schmidt, a California attorney who specializes in business and class-action litigation, explained to Newsweek. “These early filings can be indicative of the liabilities that companies should take into consideration and inform their practices now to avoid getting hit with one of these costly lawsuits.”

Consumer and shareholder fraud, in addition to violations of employment law, have become the most common harms committed during the crisis. Consumers and shareholders are often alleging that they were misled about the risks of COVID-19, and employees caught up in the ensuing economic downturn have objected to mass-scale firings.

Schmidt, a partner at the firm Dorsey & Whitney, has compiled a running count of the new COVID-19-related class-action suits.

One notable class-action case was filed in mid-March against Norwegian Cruise Lines by a shareholder, remarking how the cruise line represented “positive outlooks for the company in spite of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Among the most startling accusations in the lawsuit, the complaint alleges that the company made “unproven” and “blatantly false” statements regarding COVID-19 in order to “entice customer to purchase cruises, thus endangering the lives of both their customers and crew members.”

Norwegian Cruise Lines did not return a request for comment.

“There is a duty not to misrepresent facts and not to underestimate a risk or overstate your capabilities,” Schmidt explained about these types of cases. “This is where it overlaps with the duties in communications with shareholders,” consumers and others.

While an influx of new legal action may be providing aggrieved plaintiffs with some method of accountability, it has also bolstered a cottage industry of COVID-19 litigation that may be very lucrative for some firms.

Some consumer protection statutes allow plaintiffs to collect punitive damages to deter future misconduct. In other cases, judges may be able to award attorneys’ fees, “including multipliers that are sometimes applied by a court,” further ratcheting up the collections.

Among the scores of COVID-19 plaintiffs seeking to hold alleged wrongdoers accountable is a Washington State civic organization that has filed suit against Fox News for what it claims were direct injuries caused by the company’s “representations that the [corona]virus is a hoax.”

Schmidt called that complaint “the silliest thing I ever heard,” in terms of its legal viability, owing to the multitude of First Amendment issues that come into play.

“I understand the impulse, but the same thing can be said of lots of different outlets,” he observed. “I just don’t think that could ever fly.”

In response to a request for comment about criticisms of her suit, Elizabeth Hallock, an attorney representing the Washington State organization, said anyone is “welcome to bring the defense that claiming a pandemic is a hoax is not harmful.”

“This is a consumer protection case under a remedial statute designed to protect the public from unfair practice and competition,” she added.

The emerging lawsuits pertaining to COVID-19, many of them class-action complaints, span a wide variety of industries. For instance, New York Sports Clubs has been sued for allegedly defrauding members during statewide gym shutdowns. In another case, Inovio Pharmaceuticals was sued for allegedly “falsely claiming that [it] had developed a vaccine” for COVID-19. And the state of Alaska was sued by a union of around 8,000 state employees for allegedly subjecting them to “health and safety risks” during the pandemic.

(A court denied the union’s request for a temporary, judicial work-from-home order, which the state’s attorney general applauded as a way to keep “the state functioning to provide essential services.”)

As employers across the country adjust to new work-from-home requirements, all sorts of new liabilities can arise that human resources managers have not traditionally had to consider. Interactions between workers and colleagues can suddenly appear more intimate, blending the home and professional settings in a way that isn’t germane to a standard, office workplace.

The sudden rise in employees making use of the telecommuting application Zoom, due to COVID-19 social distancing policies, has caused a re-examination of the program’s privacy protections. This, in turn, has led to another class-action lawsuit.

“I think we’re going to see these cases play out for years,” Schmidt remarked. While many court systems have instituted caseload reductions in order to slow their operations, “the filing of new cases does not seem to be impaired.”

“The number of cases we’ve seen in this time of crisis shows that plaintiff’s class-action lawyers see this as an opportunity,” he added.


« Older posts

© 2024 Class Action Claim

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑