Consumer Fraud Lawyer

Aspinall v. Philip Morris Companies, Inc.

Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP is currently representing a certified class of Massachusetts residents and other regular purchasers from neighboring states who bought Marlboro Lights cigarettes in Massachusetts between approximately 1994 and 1998. The consumers challenge the labeling of such cigarettes as "Lights" and delivering "Lowered Tar and Nicotine" as false and misleading, in violation of the Massachusetts consumer protection statute. You can read the Plaintiffs’ Third Amended Class Action Complaint by clicking here, and the Defendants' Answers to the Complaint by clicking here.

The case was originally certified as a class action in October of 2001 and affirmed by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in August of 2004, which is reported at 442 Mass. 381 (2004). The favorable decision of the Supreme Judicial Court in this action has been essential in ensuring the rights of Massachusetts consumers to bring their claims for unfair and deceptive business practices in the form of a class action.

The firm also successfully prevailed against Philip Morris' argument that a consumers' claims under state law were preempted by federal law and the actions of the Federal Trade Commission, before both the Massachusetts Superior Court and the Supreme Judicial Court, which is reported at 453 Mass. 431 (2009).

Following a five week trial in late 2015, the Court found that by making health reassurance claims about Marlboro Lights, Philip Morris engaged in willful and knowing violations of the Massachusetts consumer protection laws. The Court awarded the Class damages in the statutory of $4,942,500, plus prejudgment interest calculated at the rate of 12% per year starting on November 25, 1998.  To read the Court’s Findings of Fact and Conclusions of law please click here.

On April 26, 2016, the parties reached a proposed settlement of this case that will be reviewed by the Court at a hearing on September 29, 2016.  Under the proposed settlement, Philip Morris has agreed to pay the Class the full amount that was awarded by the Court after the trial, which totals $15,273,815.  If the settlement is approved, Class members who submit valid and timely Claim Forms will receive equal shares of the net recovery, up to a maximum amount of $225 per Class member. 

To learn more about the settlement and how to submit a Class Form, please visit the settlement website: www.MALightsSettlement.com.

 

Massachusetts Dunkin Donuts Settlement

Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP represents classes in two separate lawsuits of all persons who ordered a baked good with butter, but received margarine or butter substitute, between June 24, 2012 and June 24, 2016 at a Dunkin Donuts store owned or operated by Defendants in Massachusetts. In both cases, the Court has entered an Order giving preliminary approval of a settlement and provisional class certification. To learn more about the proposed settlement, click here: Massachusetts Dunkin Donuts Settlement

 

Cadillac Monroney Stickers

Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP represents a class of purchasers of General Motors’ sales of cars with false statements on the new car window labels. On the new car window labels for several vehicle models, including the 2014 Cadillac CTS Sedan and the 2014 Cadillac CTS VSport, General Motors stated that the cars had achieved 5-star National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety ratings for three different crash tests. In fact, those model cars had not been crash tested by the NHTSA at all. General Motors has admitted that the new car window labels falsely represented that the cars had been crash tested and received 5-star NHTSA safety ratings when, in fact, they had not been crash tested at all. It has done so in letters to some Cadillac purchasers. Click here to see an example of that letter.

Shapiro Haber & Urmy has brought a class action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida on behalf of people who purchased General Motors cars with false new car window labels. That action is entitled Carriuolo v. General Motors Company, No. 14-61429. Click here to see the Class Action Complaint in that case. The District Court certified a class of Florida purchasers of the 2014 Cadillac CTS Sedans, and the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has affirmed the certification of the class.

If you purchased a 2014 Cadillac, we would welcome the opportunity to speak with you, regardless of where you live. There would be no cost or obligation on your part in speaking with us. Please call Patrick Vallely or Edward Haber at (617) 439-3939 or 1-800-287-8119, e-mail us at shu@shulaw.com, or click here to contact us through our website.

Fraley v. Facebook Settlement

Shapiro Haber & Urmy is representing Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC), a non-profit organization named as a cy pres recipient in the Settlement Agreement in Fraley v. Facebook, a class action lawsuit alleging that Facebook used members’ likenesses and names without consent – including minors between ages 13 and 17. 

After Shapiro Haber & Urmy conducted an independent review of the settlement, CCFC determined that the settlement is “in direct violation of [its] mission to help parents raise healthy families by limiting commercial access to children.”  CCFC then took the unprecedented step of rejecting the cy pres award and supporting the brief filed by Public Citizen on behalf of minors objecting to the settlement.

In an amicus letter filed with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, CCFC states that “this settlement is bad for children because it provides a release of liability without forcing Facebook to make any real changes that would protect children from the commercial use of their names and images” and “authorizes Facebook to continue to violate laws in seven states that provide greater protections for minors.” CCFC urges the Court to reject the settlement in hopes that the parties “negotiate an agreement that would really protect minors.”

Further details on the Fraley v. Facebook case and CCFC’s objections can be found in recent articles by The Consumerist, the New York Times, and CCFC’s press release.

Target Corporation Data Breach Litigation

Shapiro Haber & Urmy has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all persons who used credit or debit cards at Target stores in Massachusetts between November 27 and December 15, 2013, and whose personal and/or financial information was taken. The case is Heller v. Target Corporation, Case Number 1:13-cv-13257 in the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts. If you used a credit or debit card at a Target store in Massachusetts between November 27 and December 15, 2013, and your personal and/or financial information was taken in the data breach, you would be a member of the putative class we seek to represent in the Heller action.  

If you wish to join the lawsuit or discuss your rights in connection with the lawsuit, please contact us at 800-287-8119 or (617) 439-3939, or click here to contact us through our website. 

Force-Placed or Lender-Placed Insurance

Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP is currently prosecuting numerous putative class actions against Bank of America, N.A. in connection with its practices of requiring borrowers to maintain more flood insurance on their homes than required by the terms of their mortgages or deeds of trust as well as allegations that Bank of America unlawfully profits from its force-placed insurance practices.  Working together with other law firms, Shapiro Haber & Urmy currently represents borrowers in the following putative class actions against Bank of America:

Insurance Arbitration Cases

Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP is prosecuting a consumer class action on behalf of all persons who received arbitration awards against seven major auto insurance companies operating in Massachusetts in connection with underinsured, uninsured and third-party bodily injury motorist claims. The plaintiffs challenge the insurance companies' failure to pay interest from the date of the arbitration awards to the date that the insurance company paid the awards, and seek to recover the unpaid interest. In addition, the action seeks to recover triple damages and attorneys' fees under the Massachusetts' consumer protection statute.  On February 25, 2009, the Superior Court held that insurance companies have a common law duty to pay post-award interest on arbitration awards from the date of the award to the date of payment.  On March 3, 2010, the Court also ruled, among other things, that the applicable rate of interest on arbitration awards is 12% per annum.

Plaintiffs have reached settlements with six of the seven insurance companies.  The Court has granted final approval to the settlements.  As part of the settlements, these insurance companies have agreed to pay post-arbitration award interest to class members at 12% per annum, plus prejudgment interest on that amount.  In addition, the settling companies have agreed to implement policies going forward whereby they will pay post-arbitration award interest at 12% per annum on all arbitration awards going forward except in a few specific situations.

Plaintiffs and their counsel continue vigorously to prosecute the case against Defendant Hanover Insurance Company.  On May 21, 2012, the Court denied Hanover’s motion for a ruling that it could not be liable under Massachusetts’ consumer protection statute for its failure to pay post-arbitration award interest.  In doing so, the Court ruled that the “evidence strongly suggests that Hanover had a company-wide policy of not paying interest, knowing that the amount at stake for any individual claim was too small to be pursued in court.”  On June 28, 2012, the Court certified a class of all persons who obtained arbitration awards against Hanover Insurance Company or Hanover insureds under Massachusetts automobile insurance policies from March 26, 2003 to the present, including uninsured, underinsured or third-party bodily injury claims.  Excluded from the class are any persons who were paid post-award interest at the time they were paid their arbitration awards. 

Westside EKG

Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP, along with its co-counsel in Florida, is prosecuting a class action on behalf of medical service providers in the State of Florida against various health maintenance organizations ("HMOs") alleging that the HMOs failed to pay claims of non-participating medical service providers for medical services provided to the HMOs' insureds in a timely fashion, in violation of the prompt pay provisions of Florida's Health Maintenance Organization Act, Fla. Stat. § 641.355 (the "Act").

This case has already been to the Florida Supreme Court, where Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP and its Florida co-counsel prevailed with a seminal ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that the prompt pay provisions under the Act are incorporated into the contracts between the HMOs and their insureds. The Court also ruled that non-participating medical service providers are third-party beneficiaries of those contracts and accordingly they may sue the HMOs for their failure to comply with the prompt pay provisions of the Act. Foundation Health v. Westside EKG, 944 So.2d 188 (Fla. 2006). The case is currently back in the trial court (Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit, in and For Broward County).

Overdraft Fees Litigation

Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP is counsel in a putative class action case filed in the Central Division of the District of Utah against Zions First National Bank and its parent Zions Bancorporation. The case alleges that Zions First National Bank and seven other subsidiaries of Zions Bancorporation (Amegy Bank of Texas, California Bank & Trust Co., The Commerce Bank of Oregon, The Commerce Bank of Washington, National Bank of Arizona, Nevada State Bank, and Vectra Bank Colorado) charged and collected excessive overdraft fees in connection with debit card transactions, manipulating the order in which credits and debit card charges were posted to customer accounts so as to maximize the number of overdrafts charged against the accounts, thereby increasing the overdraft fees collected from customers. 

If you now have or have in the past had accounts with any of these banks, we would be interested in speaking with you about your experiences with them. Please call us at (617) 439-3939 or (800) 287-8119.

Excessive Fees Charged for Insufficient Funds Checks

Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP is co-counsel in a case filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Re$ubmitIt, LLC, BSG Financial, LLC, and BankAtlantic.  The class action complaint alleges that Defendants improperly and unlawfully took $50 directly from Plaintiff’s bank account, without Plaintiff’s authorization or consent, as a purported “fee” for re-submitting to Plaintiff’s bank account a check that had been returned due to insufficient funds.

On August 7, 2012, the Judge in this case denied the Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss, finding that the Plaintiff’s Class Action Complaint contains plausible allegations that would be violations of the law if proven at trial.

If you have been charged a fee by Re$ubmitIt or any other company because you gave a store or other business a check which was returned due to insufficient funds (in addition to the fee charged by your bank), we would like to hear from you.  You may have a claim against the company that charged you that fee, or against a company like Re$ubmitIt that took the money out of your bank account.  Call us at (617) 439-3939 or click here to contact us through our website.

Wozo Poster Club Litigation

Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP has filed a consumer class action against Wozo, LLC, Tatto, Inc., and Acknowledge, Inc. in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts for knowingly employing misleading and deceptive online advertising and violating the Electronic Funds Transfer Act. The Complaint alleges that Defendants  advertised “free” posters with a 99-cent shipping fee. However, Defendants failed to adequately disclose that, in signing up for the “free” poster offer, consumers’ credit or debit cards would also be charged $29.99 each month for membership in a “poster club” in which they would receive two arbitrarily chosen posters per month. On March 28, 2012, the Judge in this case denied the Defendants’ Motions To Dismiss, finding that the Plaintiff’s First Amended Class Action Complaint contains plausible allegations that would be violations of the law if proven at trial.

Legal Malpractice

Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP is representing a group of lenders in a suit pending in Suffolk County (MA) Superior Court that alleges legal malpractice against the law firm that represented the lenders with respect to a mortgage on commercial real estate.  The complaint alleges that the law firm had undisclosed conflicts of interest and failed to disclose material facts.