/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/170424.mbx              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

              Monday, April 24, 2017, Vol. 19, No. 81


1-800 CONTACTS: "Nance" Anticompetitive Suit Sent to D. Utah
A PLUS: Faces "Rembert" Lawsuit Alleging Violation of FLSA
AMAZON.COM LLC: "Miller" Seeks OT Pay, Missed Breaks Premium
BAXTER INT'L: Faces DOJ Criminal Probe Into IV Saline Sales
BENITEZ LANDSCAPING: "Saavedra" Suit to Recover Overtime Pay

BMW: Judge Dismisses Class Action Over Soft-Close Feature
BRAVO BRIO: "Raether" Suit Claims Overtime, Hits Tip Credit
BUDGET RENT: Plaintiff in Billing Suit Seeks Summary Judgment
CARECENTRIX: Faces Class Action Over Data Breach
CHADBOURNE & PARKE: Partner Wants Judge to Halt Expulsion Vote

CHEVRON CORP: Judge Nixes Gas Drilling Rig Explosion Class Action
CHIQUITA BRANDS: 2019 Trial Scheduled in Terrorism Funding Suit
CITIBANK: Court Finds Another Exception to Arbitration Deal
CLEAR CONNECTIONS: Faces "Neill" Suit Alleging FLSA Violation
COASTAL CHEMICAL: Faces "Navarez" Suit Alleging FLSA Violation

COSTCO WHOLESALE: Class Certification Decision to Remember
CUMMINGS OIL: Judge Remands Earthquake Class Action to State Court
DYCK O'NEAL: "Saunders" Sues Over Illegal Collection Calls
ENDO INT'L: Retirement Fund's Suit To Be Moved To Federal Court
FACEBOOK: Warned on EU Client Data Collection

FACEBOOK INC: Disputes Advertising Discrimination Claims
FEDEX OFFICE: "Johnson" Denied Seat at Workplace, Seeks Damages
FIFTH THIRD: Faces Suit Over Identity Protection Programs
FORD MOTOR: Keeps Shelby Mustags in Product Lineup Amid Suits
FOX LAKE, IL: Faces Class Action Over Unlawful Arrests

FRED'S STORES: Faces "Wallace" Suit Over FACTA Violation
GLASSBORO: Landlords Fight Rental Rules
GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION: Faces "Redmon" Suit Alleging FLSA Violation
GOOGLE: Nexus Bootloops Class Action Probe Could Lead to a Lawsuit
GREAT RAPIDS: Asserts Non-recorded Line "3407" Not for Cover-ups

GREENBAX ENTERPRISES: Wants Former Employees' Class Action Tossed
HALYARD HEALTH: Liable for Damages in Faulty Equipment Case
HCP INC: Covered Up ManorCare's Performance, Class Action Says
HAPPY DAYS: "Busgith" Suit to Recover Overtime Pay
HILL'S PRESCRIPTION: Pet Food a Profit Scheme, Suit Says

INVENTURE FOODS: May 30 Lead Plaintiff Motion Deadline Set
JOHNSON & JOHNSON: 5th Talcum Powder Trial Begins in Missouri
KANE COUNTY, IL: Clerk Faces Class Action Over Unlawful Fees
LION BIOTECHNOLOGIES: Faces Shareholder Suit Over Stock Promotion
LONG BEACH, CA: Settles Class Action Suit for ADA Improvements

LUMOS NETWORKS: "Schwartz" Suit Opposes EQT Merger Deal
MARLBORO LIGHTS: Settlement Checks Have Been Shipped Out
MBR MANAGEMENT: "Tourville" Seeks Unpaid Wages and Damages
MERCK & CO: Kahn Swick's $10.6MM Fee Request in Vioxx Suit Moved
MISSION BEACH: Employees File Suit Over Payroll Practices

MONTANA UNIVERSITY: Settles Class Action Over Insurance Policy
NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION: Plaintiff Seeks Mediator in ADA Case
NH MEDICAL: Judge Puts Brakes on $50MM Insurance Payouts
NEW MEXICO: PED Faces Class Action Over Sick Leave Penalty
NISSAN: Faces Class Action Over Defective Sentra Transmission

ODWALLA INC: Asks Court to Dismiss Delivery Driver's Suit
OILFIELD INSTRUMENTATION: "Ross" Suit to Recover Overtime Pay
ON TRAC: Faces "Price" Lawsuit Alleging Violation of FLSA
PANTAGES THEATRE: Faces Suit Over Misleading Representations
PIOLA PROPERTY: "Jorge" Sues Over Overbilled, Unfinished Work

PLAINS ALL: Faces Suit Over Highland Oil Spill
PUBLIC EDUCATION: Faces Suit Over Sick Day Policy
QUEBEC: Court Allows Suit Over School Fees to Go Ahead
RASH CURTIS: Faces "Richardson" Lawsuit Under TCPA, FDCPA
SANTA ROSA: Cheated Fire Fighters on Overtime Pay, Suit Claims

SCHOOL BOARD OF MIAMI-DADE: "Pineda" Suit Alleges FLSA Violation
SCOTTS MIRACLE-GRO: Faces "Oziablo" Lawsuit Under FLSA, NJWHL
SPRINT CORP: "Scott" Seeks Work-Relate Benefits, Reimbursements
ST. CLAIR, AL: Systemic Prison Problems Persists Amidst Changes
SYNGENTA: GMO Corn Suit Advancing in Federal Court

TAKATA CORP: Bankruptcy Looms After Settling Class Action
UBER: San Diego Judge Advances False Advertising Claims
VIRGINIA: Plaintiffs Seek Reversal of DMV Class Action Dismissal
WELLS FARGO: Law Dep't Criticized Over Fake Accounts Scandal
WELLS FARGO: Allen Parker Named New GC Amid Fake Accounts Scandal

WILDCAT INVESTMENTS: Faces "Mende" Lawsuit Under Ohio Wage Act
VOLKSWAGEN AG: Judge Tosses Hagens Berman's $28.5MM Fee Request

* Banks & Credit Card Companies Really Hate Class-Action Lawsuits
* Bull's-Eye on Gender Pay Gap; Laws, Lawsuits Proliferating
* CFPB Has Yet Finalize Arbitration Rule Amid Concerns
* Class Actions Land in European Union
* India Lacks Specific Laws Relating to Automobile Recalls

* New York Merchants Obtain Favorable ruling in Surcharge Case
* Plaintiffs Bar Wants to See More Women in MDL Committees
* U.S. Supreme Court Addresses Issue of Restaurant 'Tip Pooling'


1-800 CONTACTS: "Nance" Anticompetitive Suit Sent to D. Utah
The case captioned TYLER NANCE, on behalf of himself and all
others similarly situated, v. 1-800 CONTACTS, INC., Defendant,
Case No. Case 2:17-cv-00283-BCW, originally filed at the U.S.
District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas on March 22,
2017, has been removed to the United States District Court for the
District of Utah and assigned Case Number 4:17-cv-00178, according
to a docket entry dated April 11, 2017.

The case accuses Defendant of anticompetitive and unlawful conduct
in breach of a series of bilateral agreements between 1-800
Contacts and numerous competitors in the market for online sales
of contact lenses that prevent the parties to those agreements
from competing against one another through online search

1-800 CONTACTS, INC. is an online seller of contact lenses in the
United States. [BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

     Randall K. Pulliam, Esq.
     Joseph Henry "Hank" Bates, Esq.
     Justin Craig, Esq.
     519 West 7th Street
     Little Rock, AK 72201
     Phone: (501) 312-8500
     Fax: (501) 312-8505
     E-mail: rpulliam@cbplaw.com

        - and -

     Steven L. Bloch, Esq.
     One Tower Bridge
     100 Front Street, Suite 1235
     West Conshohocken, PA 19428
     Phone: 610.834.7506
     Fax: 610.834. 7509
     E-mail: sbloch@baileyglasser.com

        - and -

     James L. Kauffman, Esq.
     1054 31st Street, NW, Suite 230
     Washington, DC 20007
     Phone: 202.463.2101
     Fax: 202.463.2103
     E-mail: jkauffman@baileyglasser.com

A PLUS: Faces "Rembert" Lawsuit Alleging Violation of FLSA
CHRISTINA REMBERT, on behalf of herself and others similarly
situated, 3389 Sunset Hollow Canal Winchester, Ohio 43110
Plaintiff, vs. A PLUS HOME HEALTH CARE AGENCY LLC, c/o Statutory
Agent : Jury Demand Endorsed Hereon Elliott Osunde 3592 Pendent
Lane Columbus, Ohio 43207 And ELLIOTT OSUNDE 3592 Pendent Lane
Columbus, Ohio 43207, Defendants, CASE NO. 2:17-cv-287 (S.D. Ohio,
April 12, 2017), alleges that Plaintiff and Home Care Employees
were not paid overtime compensation at a rate of one and one half
times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of
40 in a workweek in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Defendant A Plus Home Health Care Agency LLC is a home care
service provider with locations in Lancaster, Ohio and Columbus,
Ohio.  Plaintiff was a Licensed Practical Nurse. [BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

     Peter G. Friedmann, Esq.
     Rachel A. Sabo, Esq.
     1457 S. High Street
     Columbus, OH 43207
     Phone: 614-610-9756
     Fax: 614-737-9812
     E-mail: Pete@TFFLegal.com

        - and -

     Greg R. Mansell, Esq.
     Carrie J. Dyer, Esq.
     1457 S. High St.
     Columbus, OH 43207
     Phone: 614.610.4134
     Fax: 513.826.9311
     E-mail: Greg@MansellLawLLC.com

AMAZON.COM LLC: "Miller" Seeks OT Pay, Missed Breaks Premium
Jasmine Miller, individually and on behalf of all others similarly
situated, Plaintiff, v. AMAZON.COM, LLC, a Delaware Limited
Liability Company and Does 1 through 500, inclusive, Defendants,
Case No. RG17856285 (Cal. Super., April 11, 2017), seeks all
unpaid regular wages for unpaid time, including liquidated
damages, unpaid overtime and double-time wages, unpaid premium
wages for noncompliant meal periods, unpaid premium wages for
noncompliant rest periods, reimbursement of all reasonable and
necessary business expenditures, statutory damages for failing to
pay wages on time, statutory damages and penalties, restitution
for minimum wages, overtime wages, meal and rest period premiums
and any other form of wages, including but not limited to vacation
wages and reasonable and necessary business expenses, pre- and
post-judgment interest and such other and further relief for
violation of the California Labor Code, Industrial Welfare
Commission Wage Order No. 9-2001 and California's Unfair
Competition Law.

Miller was employed by Amazon, an online retailer, as a
messenger/courier and/or local delivery driver, providing pick-up
and delivery services. She worked out of Amazon's tub terminal
warehouse located at 990 Beecher Street in San Leandro, California
94577. [BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

      Keith M. Stern, Esq.
      Hazel Solis Rojas, Esq.
      One Flagler
      14 NE 1st Avenue, Suite 800
      Miami, FL 33132
      Telephone: (305) 901-1379
      Facsimile: (561) 288-9031
      E-mail: employlaw@keithstern.com

BAXTER INT'L: Faces DOJ Criminal Probe Into IV Saline Sales
Carl Surran at Seeking Alpha reports a Baxter International
(NYSE:BAX) employee has received a grand jury subpoena related to
a criminal investigation by the Justice Department's Antitrust
Division into the company's sales practices of intravenous saline,
according to a Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission.

The subpoena seeks "documents and testimony regarding the
manufacturing, selling, pricing and shortages of intravenous
solutions and containers," including saline solutions and other
injectable medicines sold by the company.

BAX disclosed in February that the New York Attorney General had
asked for information about its business practices in the IV
saline industry, and a class action lawsuit filed last year
accused it of taking part in a conspiracy to fix saline solution

BENITEZ LANDSCAPING: "Saavedra" Suit to Recover Overtime Pay
Juan Carlos Saavedra, Plaintiff, v. Benitez Landscaping and
Cleaning Service, LLC and Victor Benitez, individually,
Defendants, Case No. 3:17-cv-02508 (D.N.J., April 12, 2017) seeks
overtime compensation and minimum wage compensation as well as
reimbursement of all pay and benefits denied, liquidated damages,
costs and expenses of this action and reasonable legal fees and
all other relief under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New
Jersey State Wage and Hour Law.

Plaintiff worked as a general laborer for the Defendants'
landscaping business in Warren, Somerset County, New Jersey. [BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

      Jodi J. Jaffe, Esq.
      Andrew I. Glenn, Esq.
      301 N. Harrison Street, Suite 9F, #306
      Princeton, NJ 08540
      Telephone: (201) 687-9977
      Facsimile: (201) 595-0308
      Email: JJaffe@JaffeGlenn.com

BMW: Judge Dismisses Class Action Over Soft-Close Feature
John Kennedy at Law360, reports a California federal judge on
April 12 slammed the door on a proposed consumer fraud class
action claiming BMW is responsible for finger injuries sustained
from soft-closing automatic doors, finding that the underlying
facts don't back up the car-owners' claims.

The three named plaintiffs accused BMW of failing to disclose the
fact that its soft-close feature didn't include finger-detecting
sensors, an omission the proposed class said breached various
warranties, caused them to overpay for a defective feature and
ultimately devalued their vehicles. The feature is an optional
add-on that costs between USD500 and USD1,000 and automatically
pulls the door firmly closed when it's within 6 millimeters of
being shut.

In her order, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman said that
although the injuries of the three plaintiffs were severe, they
didn't try to recover money for their injuries and instead pursued
claims grounded in consumer fraud. Specifically, even though they
appear to be able to back up product liability claims, they
expressly declined to do so and then failed to establish viable
consumer protection and breach of warranty claims, she said.

"Although plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to demonstrate
that their injuries are not hypothetical, those injuries do not
support standing to sue on the claims asserted here," Judge
Freeman said. "Plaintiffs' attempt to hybridize products liability
and consumer fraud doctrines here fails because ultimately, under
the facts pled, plaintiffs have not suffered any injury in fact
related to the claims at issue."

The owners had argued that the actual gap between various parts of
the door might be larger than 6 millimeters when the soft-close
feature activates, crushing anything caught between, including
their fingers. All of them said that they wouldn't have been
injured if their vehicles didn't have the feature and that BMW
knew of the alleged defect since it began offering the system in

But BMW said that it never promised finger-detecting sensors and
that the proposed class doesn't have standing to bring the suit.

The plaintiffs attempted to convince the judge of their standing,
saying that BMW tricked them into buying or leasing the vehicles
by fraudulently concealing the lack of finger-detecting sensors.
They also said they paid for vehicles that had a soft-close system
that would safely close the door but that BMW didn't deliver.

Judge Freeman disagreed, finding that the lack of a sensor isn't a
design defect in the context of consumer fraud. The system didn't
malfunction or fail and the owners didn't show how a properly
functioning product could be deemed defective, the judge said.

The owners also claimed that they'd paid for a product that lacked
a safety feature, but they didn't say that the finger-detecting
feature was bargained for. It's well established that someone who
gets exactly what they paid for hasn't been harmed by the
manufacturer's conduct, the judge said.

Judge Freeman frequently cited the Central District of
California's 2016 decision in Lassen v. Nissan, in which the court
rejected claims that Nissan vehicles lost value due to an alleged
defect. The Nissan owners in that case had claimed their vehicles'
keyless systems were defective because they didn't have an "auto-
off" feature that could mitigate danger.

The plaintiffs in the instant case attempted to distinguish their
case from Lassen by arguing that in that case, only trained
drivers use the keyless fob, whereas in the instant case, anyone
who enters or exits the vehicles uses doors. Judge Freeman was not

"The court is unclear why this distinction matters," she said.
"Any person, by the time they are old enough to get near a car
door, knows that you do not put your finger in a door."

Judge Freeman also refused to let the plaintiffs amend their
complaint, finding that they'd repeatedly failed to fix flawed
claims -- the complaint dismissed had been amended twice. She
further found that there doesn't appear to be any set of facts
that could support the owners' claims.

Neither side could be reached for comment on April 14.

BMW is represented by Eric Y. Kizirian --
eric.kizirian@lewisbrisbrois.com -- Michael K. Grimaldi --
Michael.grimaldi@lewisbrisbrois.com --  and Dyanne J. Cho --
Dyanne.Cho@lewisbrisbois.com -- of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith

The plaintiffs are represented by Hovanes Margarian --
info@margarianlaw.com --  of The Margarian Law Firm.

The case is Azoulai v. BMW of North America LLC, case number 5:16-
cv-00589, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of

BRAVO BRIO: "Raether" Suit Claims Overtime, Hits Tip Credit
Angela Raether, Plaintiff, v. Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, Inc.,
Defendant, Case No. 2:17-cv-00280, (S.D. Ohio, April 7, 2017),
seeks restitution for the taxes paid on over-reported income,
statutory damages, the difference between full minimum wage and
tip credit wage that they received, liquidated damages, treble
damages, attorney fees and costs, and any other damages to which
they may be entitled under law or equity under the Fair Labor
Standards Act.

Bravo Brio operates the BRIO brand of restaurants. Plaintiff
performed various non-managerial and non-administrative duties,
such as serving customers, at the Brio Restaurant located at 4459
Cedar Park Drive, Beavercreek, OH, from March 2010 until July
2016. Plaintiff, on behalf of herself and all other persons
similarly situated, known and unknown, files this complaint
against the Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, Inc. for being paid less
than the full minimum wage per hour after Defendant allegedly took
a tip credit based on the tips she received from customers. [BN]

Plaintiff is represented by:

      Jessica L. Olsheski, Esq.
      600 East Rich Street
      Columbus, OH 43215
      Tel: (614) 252-5500
      Tel: (614) 252-5058
      Email: jessica.olsheski@justice-law.net

             - and -

      Kristen M. Myers, Esq.
      Kimberly S. Phillips, Esq.
      Peter L. Cassady, Esq.
      895 Central Avenue, Suite 300
      Cincinnati, OH 45202
      Tel: (513) 621-2100
      Fax: (513) 621-0106
      Email: kmyers@beckman-weil.com

BUDGET RENT: Plaintiff in Billing Suit Seeks Summary Judgment
Emma Cueto at Law360 reports a woman who claims Budget Rent A Car
System Inc. used misleading practices when billing her for damage
to a rental car asked a Pennsylvania federal court on April 13 for
a quick win in her suit, arguing that Budget's collection letters
were confusing and did not match up with her rental agreement.

Anne Humphreys, who initially filed her suit as a proposed class
action before being denied class certification last year, argued
that after her rental car stalled in the rain, Budget's bill for
USD11,000 explained damages in a way that could clearly confuse an
average customer by giving different estimates of the car's value
and no clear explanation of how the amount owed was calculated.
She said that her case is similar to other consumer protection
suits in which the court has granted summary judgment.

Humphreys asks that Budget and its collection company, Viking
Collection Service Inc., pay statutory damages under the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act and her attorneys' fees.

"The courts in this district and elsewhere have granted summary
judgment to FDCPA plaintiffs who, like plaintiff here, were
presented with misleading demands for payment," the motion states.
"Viking's communications with plaintiff were undoubtedly confusing
and misleading not only to plaintiff -- as she testified -- but
also to the least sophisticated debtor."

Humphreys says she was sent a bill in January 2009 after her
rental car stalled in a rainstorm and needed to be towed. She
initially sued in 2010 on behalf of herself and others subjected
to Budget's allegedly misleading practices, though class
certification was denied with prejudice in July.

Humphreys claimed that Budget was unfairly charging customers for
revenue lost while their rental cars were being repaired and the
loss in the value of the cars due to the damage. After
those claims were trimmed in 2014, Humphreys proceeded with claims
for breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith
and fair dealing.

Budget's wrongdoing, Humphreys argued the motion, is evident from
its billing documents, which she said violate the FDCPA standard
of protection for the "least sophisticated debtor." Although
Humphreys does not dispute that she was liable for the damages
since she opted not to sign a loss damage waiver when renting the
car, she claims that the USD11,000 bill she received was
unnecessarily confusing, listing numerous figures, including
several different evaluations of the car's worth such as "fair
market value" and "actual cash value" with no explanation of what
these numbers meant or how the total amount owed was calculated.
This confusion, she states, caused her great anxiety.

Humphreys also claims that the charges on her bill differ from the
charges authorized by the rental agreement, and that there are
important discrepancies between the various documents she
received, including different listings for the date of the car's
failure, information that goes into calculating the final bill.

In arguing that the judge should grant her a win, Humphreys argued
that these facts are obvious from the bills and the rental
agreement provided, that they represent a clear violation of the
FDCPA, and that there are other consumer protection cases that set
a precedent for awarding summary judgment in cases like hers,
citing cases such as Annunziato v. Collecto Inc., a case involving
bills that listed confusing and misleading costs.

Counsel for Humphreys and Budget Rent A Car did not respond on
April 14.

Representatives for Budget Rent A Car did not respond on April 14
to a request for comment.

Ann Humphreys is represented by Todd S. Collins -- tcollins@bm.net
-- and Shoshana Savett -- stsavett@bm.net --  of Berger & Montague
PC, Ann Miller of Law Office of Ann Miller and Daniel Harris of
The Law Offices of Daniel Harris.

Budget Rent A Car is represented by Bridget E. Montgomery --
bmontgomery@eckertseamans.com -- Adam M. Shienvold --
ashienvold@eckertseamans.com --  and Carol L. Press --
cpress@eckertseamans.com -- of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott

The case is Anne Humphreys v. Budget Rent A Car System Inc. et
al., case number 2:10-cv-01302, in the U.S. District Court for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

CARECENTRIX: Faces Class Action Over Data Breach
Home Health Care News reports that in an ongoing battle of a data
beach of information on up to 2,000 employees at CareCentrix, one
employee whose information was compromised has fought back against
the company's attempt to dismiss the case.

In March 2016, CareCentrix admitted to its current and former
employees that 2015 IRS statements had been hacked by an
unauthorized individual when someone impersonated a CareCentrix
employee through email and obtained W-2 forms and other sensitive

The former employee, Sarah Hapka, filed a class action suit
against CareCentrix, a home health coordination company that works
with payors and providers to create managed care networks, in June
2016 following the data breach.

CareCentrix has attempted to have the case dismissed, arguing that
its information was stolen.

Ms. Hapka said in her memorandum that CareCentrix cannot compared
its negligence with the intentional conduct, or theft, of another,
and asked the court to reject CareCentrix's motion to dismiss.

"CareCentrix is barred from comparing its negligence in failing to
protect its employees' personal information with the acts of the
data thief who intentionally exploited the company's lax data
security," the argument reads.

CHADBOURNE & PARKE: Partner Wants Judge to Halt Expulsion Vote
Scott Flaherty, writing for The Am Law Daily, reports that a week
after Chadbourne & Parke announced it would hold a partnership
vote on whether to expel Washington, D.C.-based partner Kerrie
Campbell, who is leading a gender bias suit against the firm,
Ms. Campbell and her lawyers urged a federal judge to block the
vote from taking place.

On April 12, Ms. Campbell's legal team, led by Sanford Heisler
name partner David Sanford, filed an emergency motion and other
papers in Manhattan federal court, arguing that the partner vote
is part of a broader effort to punish Campbell for bringing the
litigation and discouraging potential gender discrimination claims
from other woman partners.

"The purpose and effect . . . was not only to demean and humiliate
Ms. Campbell, but also to convey a direct and undisguised threat
to the firm's other female partners: anyone who joins this action
places her career and reputation in jeopardy," Ms. Campbell's
lawyers wrote in a brief.

In response to the April 12 court filings, a spokesman for
Chadbourne said that the expulsion vote was "entirely foreseeable"
and that Campbell was "well aware" it would be coming.

"Plaintiffs' effort to seek to stop an orderly expulsion
proceeding, which conforms to the partnership agreement that
Ms. Campbell herself signed, would have its own chilling effect on
the right of partnerships to manage their own businesses and
enforce their own contracts," he said.  The firm has tapped
Proskauer Rose partners Kathleen McKenna --
kmckenna@proskauer.com -- and Evandro Gigante --
egigante@proskauer.com -- to defend it in the case.

Chadbourne also criticized Ms. Campbell and her lawyers for
mounting an "obvious public relations offensive" meant to draw
attention to the suit.

"This motion itself is another grandstanding measure by
Ms. Campbell and her counsel, clearly written more for the press
coverage they hope to receive than out of any real notion that the
remedies they seek are justifiable or appropriate," the firm
spokesman said.

First filed in August, Ms. Campbell's suit claims that men call
the shots at Chadbourne and that female partners receive lower pay
and fewer leadership opportunities than their male counterparts.
Two other former partners have since joined Campbell's complaint -
- onetime products liability chairwoman Mary Yelenick, now of
counsel at Chadbourne after retiring from the partnership in
December, and former Kiev office managing partner Jaroslawa
Zelinsky Johnson.  The women have sought certification to continue
the suit as a collective action.
The firm issued a statement on April 5 announcing that a
partnership vote would take place on whether to expel Campbell,
who joined Chadbourne in 2014 from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. That
vote was scheduled to take place on April 19.

Chadbourne's statement alleged that Campbell had questionable
personal and legal judgment, and "serious and disruptive failures
in practice management." The statement also noted that last year
Chadbourne's management committee asked Campbell to leave the firm
voluntarily.  Chadbourne went on to say that "she decided not to
do so and, instead, chose to pursue baseless claims in the cynical
pursuit of a big and undeserved payday."

In the court papers filed on April 12, Ms. Campbell and her
lawyers allege that Chadbourne took an unusual step by alerting
the press about the impending expulsion vote before notifying
Campbell and other partners.  Ms. Campbell wrote in a declaration
that she only learned about the vote after receiving a voice mail
from a journalist at The American Lawyer seeking comment on
Chadbourne's public announcement.

She also alleged that Ms. Chadbourne has stopped paying her.  In
her declaration, she stated that she didn't receive her scheduled
direct deposit in early April, and that the firm's finance
department hasn't provided her with any explanation.

"It is my understanding that the firm does not intend to make any
further salary payments to me," Ms. Campbell wrote.

Ms. Campbell has previously maintained that after complaining
within the firm about alleged gender bias, her compensation
dropped to about $9,000 per month -- less than a first-year
associate's salary.  The April 12 filings asked U.S. District
Judge J. Paul Oetken to suspend the partnership vote on Campbell's
fate at the firm.  It also urged the judge to issue a corrective
notice to all potential members of the collective lawsuit,
specifying to female partners that they can't be retaliated
against for taking part in the case.

Chadbourne disputes Ms. Campbell's compensation claims and has
called the gender bias case against it meritless.

CHEVRON CORP: Judge Nixes Gas Drilling Rig Explosion Class Action
D. Matthew Allen, Esq., and Thaddeus Ewald, Esq., at Carlton
Fields, in an article for JD Supra Business Advisor, wrote that
the Northern District of California recently denied a motion for
class certification in a case against Chevron Corporation
connected to a 2012 explosion at a Nigerian natural gas drilling
rig and the environmental impacts of that explosion. The case had
an extensive procedural history which saw numerous amended
complaints, a series of revisions revising the putative class down
from over 65,000 Nigerians to a fraction of that number, and
multiple extensions of discovery deadlines and filing deadlines on
the motion to certify. The most recent opinion resolved a series
of evidentiary disputes and, most importantly, the motion to
certify a class action.

The court began by noting persisting problems in the proposed
class definition before moving onto the substantive class action
requirements under Federal Rule 23. Although there was a
typicality concern because the named plaintiff Gbarabe was
potentially subject to a unique standing defense, the court
declined to ultimately decide the issue because the class
certification motion failed on adequacy and superiority grounds.
The court concluded that Gbarabe was an inadequate representative
because of serious credibility concerns arising from plaintiff's
false statements and inconsistent testimony. Further, the court
found class counsel inadequate because of its complete disregard
for scheduling orders and demonstrated unfamiliarity with the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Additionally, the putative class action failed on superiority
grounds under Federal Rule 23(b). Each of the superiority
considerations analyzed weighed in favor of Chevron: the
significant individual interest in controlling the litigation, the
existence of over 70 pre-existing lawsuits in Nigerian courts
related to the explosion, the tenuous connections of the
underlying facts to the Northern District of California, and the
likely difficulty in managing thousands of Nigerian plaintiffs.
For these reasons, the plaintiff failed to meet its burden to
justify class certification and the court denied the motion.

Gbarabe v. Chevron Corp. Case No 14-173 (USDC N.D. Cal. Mar. 13,

CHIQUITA BRANDS: 2019 Trial Scheduled in Terrorism Funding Suit
Sue Reisinger, writing for Corporate Counsel, reports that in the
spring of 2003, Robert Olson, then general counsel of Chiquita
Brands International Inc., was advising the company on whether to
continue making illegal "security payments" to known terrorists in
Colombia.  The money bought protection for the company's employees
and banana plantations.

Mr. Olson told Chiquita executives to keep paying.  Warned by
outside counsel that funding foreign terrorists is a federal
crime, court records show that Mr. Olson responded with words he
must surely regret today.

"Just let them sue us, come at us," he said.

Well, "come at us" they did.  First came the government, then the
civil plaintiffs.  And for the past 10 years, Mr. Olson and
Chiquita have been living with the constant litigation hanging
over them -- along with the threat of hundreds of millions of
dollars in liability.

The civil suits arose after 2007 when Chiquita ended the
government's criminal case by pleading guilty.  The company became
the only U.S. corporation ever to confess to financing a
designated global terrorist group.  It paid a $25 million fine,
made compliance reforms and served five years on probation.
Within a few months of the conviction, family members of terrorist
victims -- some 6,000 thousand of them -- filed civil suits.  And
they sued not only Chiquita, but also Mr. Olson and six other
executives individually.  These suits, fought every step of the
way by Chiquita, have been wending their way through federal court
for a decade.

Now the end may be near.  U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra of the
Southern District of Florida, where the civil cases were combined
under multidistrict litigation, has dismissed some claims, but
continued others.  Last November he ordered the stay on discovery
to be lifted.  Earlier this year he steered the parties toward a
trial date in the spring of 2019, and discovery is set to begin
any day.

Chiquita's lawyers, led by Covington & Burling, declined to
comment for this story.  But a company spokesman said, "Chiquita
offers its condolences to all Colombians who suffered during this
regrettable period of the country's history.  We have been clear
that, at all times, the company prioritized the safety of its
employees and their families, and acted accordingly. Chiquita is
confident that once the evidence is considered by the court, the
company will be fully vindicated."

The plaintiffs, though, envision a different outcome.
"Our clients have waited over a decade for justice," says
plaintiffs attorney Lee Wolosky, of Boies Schiller Flexner.  "We
will be delighted to put this case in front of a jury, where the
facts will speak for themselves."

Those facts start with the criminal investigation more than a
decade ago.  At the time Chiquita claimed it had a moral right to
pay some $1.7 million to a terrorist group known as AUC in order
to keep its employees and property in Colombia safe. It was so
sure of its moral high ground that it self-disclosed the payments
to the Department of Justice.

Hardened against terrorism after 9/11, DOJ lawyers were not
pleased. A criminal investigation ensued. Chiquita and Olson hired
former U.S. attorney general Richard Thornburgh and soon-to-be
attorney general Eric Holder Jr., of Covington & Burling, to plead
their case at main Justice.

But one prosecutor was so outraged by the company's misconduct
that he wanted to bring murder charges. A grand jury considered
whether the individual executives should be criminally charged
with offering material support to terrorists, which carries a life
sentence in prison.

In the end, only the company was charged with a crime. But Olson,
then 60, retired under pressure after 11 years with the company.
He is now in private practice at Dins-more & Shohl in Cincinnati,
where Chiquita was once based. (Corporate Counsel magazine laid
out the entire criminal tale in its December 2007 issue.)
Mr. Olson declined to comment about the civil litigation.  But 10
years ago, after the criminal ordeal, he told Corporate Counsel,
"The entire experience was a Kafkaesque nightmare that haunted me
day and night for years."

Now he may have to relive that nightmare in a civil trial.  The
plaintiffs' complaints paint Mr. Olson as the leader in the
decision-making that kept Chiquita's money flowing to terrorists.
They also contend that among other things, in April 2002, Mr.
Olson approved new procedures designed to disguise the AUC
payments at a presentation to the board of director's audit

Plaintiffs also say Mr. Olson and the company were doing more than
just protecting employees and property. In fact, plaintiffs argue,
Chiquita was guarding its millions of dollars in profits while the
AUC used violence to keep union organizers away from workers.

The complaints accuse individual executives of acting "with
knowledge that the AUC was a violent terrorist organization which
had unleashed a systematic campaign of terror -- death threats,
extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, kidnappings, forced
disappearances and looting -- against vast swathes of the
Colombian civilian population as a means of undermining community
and individual support for the left-wing guerrillas."

Chiquita counters with its morality argument.  The company
spokesperson says, "As the public record shows, the U.S. attorney
involved in the case concluded that Chiquita was the victim of
extortion by the Colombian paramilitary forces and consequently
was forced to make payments."

But that statement misconstrues the criminal findings.  The U.S.
attorney did indeed say in a statement of facts that Chiquita was
being extorted, but noted that the company had failed to report
the extortion to U.S. or Colombian authorities for years.
The statement goes on, "The situation that Chiquita described
[was] not a case of true duress because [it] has a legal option --
to withdraw from Colombia. . . . The company made a business
decision to remain in Colombia and pay the AUC for over six
years." (The company eventually sold its Colombian operations.)
The statement concludes: "Regardless of the company's motivations,
defendant Chiquita's money helped buy weapons and ammunition used
to kill innocent victims of terrorism. Simply put, defendant
Chiquita funded terrorism."

Such statements inspire the plaintiffs' Wolosky, who is a former
member of the National Security Council under two presidents and
most recently served as former President Barack Obama's special
envoy dealing with Guantanamo.  Mr. Wolosky looks at the facts and
sees a winner.  "We believe Chiquita is doomed if this case goes
to trial, and that it faces liability in the hundreds of millions
of dollars," he says.

But Will It Go to Trial?
Mr. Wolosky says the case has marched steadily forward, and he
thinks the trial is near even though the defendants are still
launching procedural attacks.

Chiquita has fought the complaints on a variety of fronts with
some success.  The defendants' attacks included, among other
things, alleged lack of jurisdiction, failure to state a proper
claim, extraterritoriality, failure to exhaust adequate remedies
in Colombia, lack of criminal intent, statute of limitation bars
and improper forum under forum non conveniens.

With these motions, the defendants have been able to slowly chip
away at the claims, appealing when they lost in the district
court.  In a significant victory, they were able to remove claims
filed under the Alien Tort Statute after winning on appeal to the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

They also won a motion to dismiss some state law claims for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction on grounds of extraterritoriality,
that is, the violent acts did not occur in the states but in
Colombia.  The company and two individuals -- lesser players than
Olson -- also won dismissal of claims based on the Torture Victim
Protection Act (TVPA) on the same grounds.

What's left of the plaintiffs' cases mainly rests on TVPA claims
against the remaining individual defendants, plus tort claims
based on state and Colombian laws.

The defendants are down to their last couple of procedural moves.
First, rather than dismiss the TVPA claims against Mr. Olson and
other individuals for lack of personal jurisdiction, Judge Marra
has remanded those cases back to the states -- that means New
Jersey in Mr. Olson's case.

Mr. Olson is fighting that transfer.  The move is "with this
court's understanding and expectation that the cases may be
transferred back to this court," once plaintiffs cure the
jurisdictional issue, Judge Marra's order said.

Meanwhile Chiquita has filed a last gasp action to avoid trial.
Last November Judge Marra ruled against Chiquita's motion seeking
dismissal based on forum non conveniens.  The judge said that
Colombians would not be able to safely seek redress in Colombia.

But on Jan. 30 the company petitioned the Eleventh Circuit for an
extraordinary remedy. It seeks a writ of mandamus dismissing the
remaining claims against it for forum non conveniens.  "Chiquita
is unaware of any case in which a U.S. court has so broadly
impugned the adequacy of a democratic nation's judicial system,
much less that of a close ally," the company's brief states.
Mr. Wolosky wasn't surprised by Chiquita's move, which he expects
to fail.  "Chiquita has taken every procedural route it could to
avoid going to trial," he says, "which is not surprising given the
criminal admissions it made in its plea deal with the government."

The resolution is nearing.  Ten years after Chiquita's guilty
plea, either the company and its embattled former general counsel
will finally be free of U.S. courts, or the families of the
terrorists' victims will finally grasp their justice.

CITIBANK: Court Finds Another Exception to Arbitration Deal
Mazen Khatib, Esq., and Suzanne Steinke, Esq., Mitchell Silberberg
& Knupp LLP, in an article for JD Supra Business Advisor, wrote
that many employers enter into pre-dispute arbitration agreements
with their employees so that any future claims or disputes between
the employer and the employee get resolved through binding
arbitration, rather than a court of law. The United States Supreme
Court has traditionally favored the enforcement of such
arbitration agreements as written. This has included approving
agreements that contain a waiver of the right to bring a class
action in any forum, meaning that an employer and an employee must
resolve all disputes in arbitration and on an individual, not
class-wide, basis. This class action waiver is significant for
employers because an employee is stopped from bringing any claim
in court or arbitration to benefit and on behalf of any employees
other than herself.

California courts have been reluctant to fully embrace pre-dispute
arbitration agreements, even though they are generally required to
follow U.S. Supreme Court pronouncements in this area. Although
California's highest court has finally accepted that class action
waivers in arbitration agreements are enforceable, with its recent
decision in McGill v. Citibank, it once again shows its
willingness to find exceptions to avoid fully enforcing these
agreements as written.

In McGill, the Court was faced with a consumer pre-dispute
arbitration agreement which, as conceded by the parties, waived
the right to seek, in any forum, "public injunctive relief."
Public injunctive relief is relief that is meant to stop unlawful
acts from continuing in the future and is intended to primarily
benefit the general public rather than the plaintiff singularly.
The McGill plaintiff, a Citibank customer, had sought both
individual relief and public injunctive relief for alleged
violations of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, the false
advertising law, and the unfair competition law ("UCL"). The Court
ruled that, unlike the pre-dispute waiver of class actions, which
are now uniformly approved by the courts, the waiver in McGill was
unenforceable as against California public policy because it
sought to waive the plaintiff's statutory right under the UCL and
other laws to seek public injunction relief.  In other words, the
Court distinguished the permissible waiver of class actions as
only waiving the "procedure" of seeking in any forum monetary or
other relief on behalf of others as a class action, whereas the
McGill waiver sought to deny the plaintiff the "substantive"
statutory right to seek in any forum a particular type of relief,
i.e., public injunctive relief on behalf of the public at large.
The Court framed its decision narrowly as prohibiting waiver of
any statutory right to seek a public injunction in any forum and
expressly declined to address whether claims for public injunctive
relief could be decided in an arbitration forum, leaving that
issue for another day.

The California Supreme Court's ruling in McGill is important to
employers even though the case concerns an arbitration agreement
in the consumer, rather than employment, setting and even though
the Court's ruling hinges on the parties' concession that the
agreement resulted in a complete waiver of the right to seek
public injunctive relief in any forum. Indeed, the language that
created the impermissible waiver is likely very similar to
language many employers have included in their pre-dispute
arbitration agreements to ensure the permissible waiver of class
actions in any forum. For example, the McGill plaintiff cited
provisions such as "the arbitrator may award relief only on an
individual (non-class, nonrepresentative) basis," "[a]n award in
arbitration shall determine the rights and obligations between the
named parties only, and only in respect of the Claims in
arbitration, and shall not have any bearing on the rights and
obligations of any other person, or on the resolution of any other
dispute," and "neither you, we, nor any other person may pursue
the Claims in arbitration as a class action, private attorney
general action or other representative action," as creating the
waiver of public injunctive relief ultimately struck down by the

This is not to say that the Court's ruling means that every
employment arbitration agreement that includes similar language to
the agreement in McGill impermissibly waives the right to seek
public injunction relief for alleged violation of statutes such as
the UCL. Nonetheless, employers are advised to carefully review
their arbitration agreements to ensure that any class action
waiver language does not inadvertently support an unlawful waiver
of public injunctive relief.


Is the Court's decision in McGill limited to consumer arbitration

No.  McGill held unlawful a waiver of the statutory right to seek
in any forum public injunctive relief pursuant to statutes such as
the Unfair Competition Law, which benefits the public as a whole.
Since the UCL is frequently alleged in employment litigation,
employers are well advised to assume McGill potentially will be
applied to strike down similar waivers in the employment context.
Will employers still be able to enter into enforceable pre-dispute
arbitration agreements with employees?

Yes, but employers should refrain from intentionally or
inadvertently seeking waiver of employees' rights to seek public
injunctive relief in any forum.

What can employers do to limit the risk of a challenge to their
arbitration agreements as impermissibly waiving the right to seek
public injunctive relief?
Employers should review their arbitration agreements for the same
or similar language as appeared in the McGill agreement and
revise, as necessary.  Employers also should consider, if they do
not already have one, including a severance clause in their
arbitration agreements.  This type of clause authorizes a court or
arbitrator to sever a provision deemed unlawful while leaving the
remainder of the arbitration agreement intact.  In this way, the
arbitration agreement is better protected from being found
unenforceable as a whole when a single provision is found contrary
to applicable law.

CLEAR CONNECTIONS: Faces "Neill" Suit Alleging FLSA Violation
DJ NEILL, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly
situated, Plaintiff, v. CLEAR CONNECTIONS GROUP, LLC, and MICHAEL
RAY KING, JR., Individually, Defendants, Case No. 1:17-cv-00333
(W.D. Tex., April 11, 2017), alleges that Plaintiff routinely
worked in excess of 40 hours per week but was not paid overtime
for doing so because Defendants misclassified their installers as
independent contractors and only paid them on a piece-rate basis
in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Defendants are involved in the business of installation of
broadband telecommunications, internet and telephone systems.
Plaintiff worked for Defendants as an installer whose primary
responsibility was the installation of internet,
telecommunications and cable systems.[BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

     J. Derek Braziel, Esq.
     J. Forester, Esq.
     Travis Gasper, Esq.
     LEE & BRAZIEL, L.L.P.
     1801 N. Lamar Street, Suite 325
     Dallas, TX 75202
     Phone: (214) 749-1400
     Fax: (214) 749-1010
     E-mail: jdbraziel-b-law.com

COASTAL CHEMICAL: Faces "Navarez" Suit Alleging FLSA Violation
ANDRES NAVAREZ, individually and for others similarly situated,
Plaintiffs, v. COASTAL CHEMICAL CO., LLC, Defendant, Case No.
5:17-cv-00313 (W.D. Tex., April 11, 2017), alleges that for years,
Coastal Chemical Co., LLC (Coastal) did not pay its land
technicians overtime as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act;
instead, Coastal paid all of its land technicians a base salary
and bonuses.

Coastal Chemical Co., LLC is an oilfield service company with
significant operations throughout the United States in Texas,
Louisiana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado.  Plaintiff
worked for Coastal as a land technician. [BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

     Richard J. (Rex) Burch, Esq.
     8 Greenway Plaza, Suite 1500
     Houston, TX 77046
     Phone: (713) 877-8788
     Fax: (713) 877-8065
     E-mail: rburch@brucknerburch.com

        - and -

     Michael A. Josephson, Esq.
     Jessica M. Bresler, Esq.
     Andrew Dunlap, Esq.
     11 Greenway Plaza, Suite 3050
     Houston, TX 77046
     Phone: 713-352-1100
     Fax: 713-352-3300
     E-mail: mjosephson@mybackwages.com

COSTCO WHOLESALE: Class Certification Decision to Remember
D. Matthew Allen, Esq., and Joseph Lang, Jr., Esq., at Carlton
Fields, in an article for JD Supra Business Advisor, wrote that on
March 16, 2017, the Southern District of California certified a
class action against the manufacturer of gingko biloba and Costco
Wholesale Corporation, the seller.

Plaintiff alleged, on behalf of a putative class of California
purchasers of TruNature Gingko, that the product does not provide
any mental clarity, memory, or mental alertness benefits.
Plaintiff's claims were brought under California's unfair
competition law and California's Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
The district court determined that plaintiff's proposed class
action satisfied all of the requirements for certification. This
was so, in large measure, because plaintiff set the bar for
herself to prove that the product was in fact worthless:

"According to Plaintiff, anyone who purchased TruNature Gingko
suffered the same harm because they would not have purchased
TruNature Gingko but for these false statements and as a result
paid money for a worthless product." That is, "Plaintiff's entire
lawsuit rides on her claim that TruNature Gingko provides no
benefits and that the statements on the product labels are false.
The answer to these questions will be the same for the entire
class. Likewise, the determination of whether the statements on
the label are material and likely to deceive a reasonable consumer
will be the same for the entire class."

Specifically, plaintiff argued that "TruNature Gingko has no value
whatsoever and that any perceived benefits by consumers are merely
the result of a placebo effect." The district court concluded
that, "[i]f Plaintiff can prove that TruNature Gingko does not
have any impact on brain health or memory and therefore does not
perform as advertised on the labels and is worthless, the putative
class will be entitled to restitution of the full amount they paid
for the product."

In reaching its conclusion, the district court distinguished cases
where the products at issue "could provide some value to their
purchasers even if they did not perform as advertised and for
which it strains credulity to argue that no consumers would have
purchased them if not for the allegedly false statement." Thus,
the crux of plaintiff's allegations is that TruNature Gingko
provides zero benefit and is completely worthless.

Korolshteyn v. Costco Wholesale Corp., No. 3:15-cv-709-CAB-RBB,
2017 WL 1020391 (S.D. Cal. Mar. 16, 2017).

CUMMINGS OIL: Judge Remands Earthquake Class Action to State Court
Kat Sieniuc at Law360 reports a federal judge on April 12 remanded
to state court a suit claiming the fracking operations of two oil
companies caused destructive earthquakes in an Oklahoma county,
ruling Oklahoma district court doesn't have jurisdiction over the
case since proposed class members don't include those who reside
on tribal or federal lands.

In an order concluding the putative class action doesn't include
any land subject to federal regulation, U.S. District Judge Claire
V. Eegan decided the separate bids by Cummings Oil Company and
Eagle Road Oil LLC to toss the case belong back in Pawnee County
District Court.

"Cummings removed the case to this court on the assumption that
plaintiff included owners of trust or restricted land, but the
court has determined that the plaintiff did not intend to include
owners of land subject to regulation by the [Bureau of Indian
Affairs] in the membership of the putative class action," the
order said. "This means that federal law governing lands held by
Indians in trust or restricted status will not be applicable to
the claims of any potential class member and there is no
substantial issue of federal law that would support removal of
this case to federal court."

Plaintiff James Adams first filed the suit in Pawnee County
District Court last year on behalf of himself and other Oklahoma
residents whose property had suffered damage from earthquakes
allegedly caused by the oil companies' disposal of wastewater into
injection wells. The case was removed by Cummings to federal court
in December.

Adams argued that the case was improperly removed, since the class
action petition he filed in state court alleged only state law
claims and expressly excluded any lands subject to federal Indian

"Remand is proper here because, despite the notice of removal
seemingly asserting that Indian lands are at issue, which are
subject to federal restrictions and BIA oversight, nevertheless
the notice fails to explain (both factually and legally) why those
Indian lands are not within the federal and tribal land exclusion
of the class definition," Adams said in his Jan. 20 petition for

Both Cummings and Eagle Road moved to toss the case, saying Adams
failed to allege that specific well operations caused an
earthquake that damaged his property, and that he hadn't pled his
claims in compliance with federal pleading requirements.

But Judge Eagan ruled that wasn't the federal court's business to
decide, telling the companies to take it up back in the county.

The suit stems from a 5.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Pawnee in
September 2016, and 41 subsequent quakes that together have caused
substantial damage to Pawnee and surrounding areas.

The parties were not able to be immediately reached for comment.

Adams, seeking damages for destroyed property, market value losses
and emotional distress, as well as punitive damages, alleges these
earthquakes were caused by the oil companies' nearby fracking

Adams is represented by Scott Poynter of Poynter Law Group, Robin
L. Greenwald -- rgreenwald@weitzlux.com -- and Curt D. Marshall --
cmarshall@weitzlux.com -- of Weitz & Luxenberg PC, Keith Allen
Ward -- keith@keithwardlaw.com -- of Keith A. Ward PLLC and
attorney Billy Joe Ellington.

Eagle Road is represented by Steven J Adams -- sadams@gablelaw.com
-- and Ryan Pittman -- rpittman@gablelaw.com -- of GableGotwals.

Cummings is represented by Kenneth H. Blakley --
kenneth.blakley@mcafeetaft.com -- and Michael F. Smith --
michael.smith@mcafeetaft.com -- of McAfee & Taft PC.

The case is James Adams v. Eagle Road Oil Company et al., case
number 16-cv-0757, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of Oklahoma.

DYCK O'NEAL: "Saunders" Sues Over Illegal Collection Calls
Karen Saunders, and as a class representative for all others
similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. Dyck O'Neal, Inc., Defendant,
Case No. 1:17-cv-00335, (W.D. Mich., April 12, 2017), seeks to
enjoin Defendant from using, or hiring any third party to use
prerecorded messages during calls to cell phones.  The suit
further seeks damages, attorneys' fees and costs and such other
and further relief under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Defendant has initiated multiple telephone calls to Plaintiff's
cellular telephone in an attempt to collect a debt. These messages
were prerecorded and were played using equipment that were used to
automatically and sequentially call a list of telephone numbers.

Plaintiff is represented by:

     Larry P. Smith, Esq.
     David Marco, Esq.
     55 W. Monroe Street, Suite 1200
     Chicago, IL 60603
     Tel: (312) 361-1690
     Fax: (312) 602-3911
     Email: lsmith@smithmarco.com

            - and -

     Alexander H. Burke, Esq.
     155 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 9020
     Chicago, IL 60601
     Tel: (312) 729-5288
     Fax: (312) 729-5289
     Email: ABurke@BurkeLawLLC.com

ENDO INT'L: Retirement Fund's Suit To Be Moved To Federal Court
Nicholas Malfitano at Penn Record reports defendants in a
securities fraud action brought by a public employee retirement
organization have filed to remove the action from the Chester
County Court of Common Pleas to the U.S. District Court for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

On Feb. 28, the Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi
filed a class-action suit against a long list of defendants in
Pennsylvania state court, including Endo International PLC, Rajiv
Kanishka Liyanaarchchie de Silva, Suketu P. Upadhyay, Daniel A.
Rudio, Roger H. Kimmel, Shane M. Cooke, John J. Delucca, Arthur
J.Higgins, Nancy J. Hutson, Michael Hyatt, William P. Montague,
Jill D. Smith and William F. Spengler (the removing defendants).

Subsequently, service was made on March 8 upon Goldman Sachs &
Co., J.P. Morgan Securities, LLC, Barclays Capital, Inc., Deutsche
Bank Securities, Inc., RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Citigroup Global
Markets, Inc., Morgan Stanley & Co., LLC, Suntrust Robinson
Humphrey, Inc., TD Securities (USA) LLC and MUFG Securities
Americas, Inc. (the underwriter defendants).

In 1998, the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (SLUSA)
was enacted to make U.S. federal court the exclusive venue for
securities class-action lawsuits, in effect amending the
Securities Act of 1933 in this regard.

"Plaintiff and other members of the class purchased Endo common
stock on the offering from the underwriter defendants pursuant to
the registration statement at the offering price of USD83.25 per
share. However, plaintiff and the class were unaware that the
registration statement contained untrue statements of then-present
material fact and failed to disclose material information and
negative trends about Endo's generic division required by SEC
regulations. When the truth about the false and misleading nature
of the registration statement was revealed, Endo's stock price
plummeted, damaging plaintiff and members of the class," the
original lawsuit read, as its main claim.

Based upon this allegation, the removing defendants believe the
common shares of Endo stock, as the securities at issue, fall
under the auspices of SLUSA since they were and currently still
are listed on the NASDAQ index, and are therefore removable to
federal court.

The plaintiff is represented by Mark S. Goldman --
goldman@lawgsp.com --  of Goldman Scarlato & Penny, in

The defendants are represented by Laura Hughes McNally --
lhmcnally@morganlewis.com -- and J. Gordon Cooney Jr. --
jgcooney@morganlewis.com -- of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, plus Kevin
T. Kerns -- kk@sprucelaw.com -- and Matthew C. Monroe --
mm@sprucelaw.com -- of Spruce Law Group, all in Philadelphia.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case

FACEBOOK: Warned on EU Client Data Collection
Companies like Facebook will soon find it harder to continue their
current ways of collecting client data when tougher EU data
protection rules come into force next year, Austrian privacy
activist Max Schrems says.

The 29-year-old law student won a landmark case in 2015, when the
EU top court struck down a data-sharing scheme with the United
States, ruling that it did not fully protect the rights of EU

The case centred on Schrems' complaint that Facebook stores user
data in the US, where intelligence services can gain access to

Schrems said that the new EU General Data Protection Regulation is
an improvement, even though it is imperfect in many ways.
"The General Regulation makes data protection enforceable," he

"In the future, there will not only be fines, but any aggrieved
party will also be able to claim emotional damages. If there is a
high number of affected people, these damages can far exceed the

"In any case, the breathing space for Facebook and other such
companies is definitely shrinking if they do not comply with the

Under the new rules, fines for companies can run up to EUR25
million  (AUD35 million).

However, the EU legislation has severe shortcomings, Schrems said.
"For example, the administrative regulations put a heavy burden on
companies. Also, many of the rules are too hazy. The 28 (EU)
member states only managed to agree on a few concrete issues. When
you set fines of up to 25 million euros, you would also need
clearer and simpler rules for citizens and businesses."
Since his legal victory in 2015, Schrems has pursued other ways to
challenge Facebook.

The EU's top court is currently mulling whether Schrems can file
an international class action lawsuit in Austria against the US
social media giant.

"The European Court of Justice will probably decide by the end of
the year. If we win, we have 25,000 supporters on our class action
roster," Schrems said.

The planned class suit targets Facebook's participation in online
spying by the US National Security Agency and other alleged data
breaches, such as the tracking of users on other websites.

Schrems is also party to a case in which Ireland's data protection
agency seeks a ruling on the European Commission's model contract
clauses that companies such as Facebook use to transfer personal
user data to non-EU countries.

"The most important question is whether the [Irish] court will
state again in this case that there is a massive misuse of data in
the US under the shield of national security," Schrems said.

FACEBOOK INC: Disputes Advertising Discrimination Claims
Ross Todd, writing for The Recorder, reports that lawyers for
Facebook Inc. are fighting back against claims that the company
violated federal antidiscrimination laws by allowing advertisers
to exclude certain users from viewing social media promotions for
housing, credit and employment opportunities.

A New York woman and two African-American Louisiana residents sued
Facebook in November 2016 claiming that the social media site's
advertising portal allows ad-purchasers to target or exclude users
on the basis of race, gender or religion.  But in a motion to
dismiss the suit filed on April 3, Facebook's lawyers at Munger,
Tolles & Olson claim that Facebook expressly forbids advertisers
from violating antidiscrimination laws and that the company can't
be held liable for the actions of third-party advertisers thanks
to the broad immunities granted to internet companies by Section
230 of the Communications Decency Act.

"Advertisers, not Facebook, are responsible for both the content
of their ads and what targeting criteria to use, if any," wrote
the Munger lawyers, led by partner Rosemarie Ring --
Rose.Ring@mto.com.  "Facebook's provision of these neutral tools
to advertisers falls squarely within the scope of CDA immunity."

The CDA is something of a weapon of choice for internet companies
facing a wide range of lawsuits.  In recent months, Twitter Inc.
has relied on CDA immunity provisions to elude claims that it
provided material support to terrorist groups and executives at
Backpage.com invoked the law to get criminal charges dismissed in
a sex-trafficking case.

Ms. Ring's colleague Jonathan Blavin, however, had less luck when
he attempted to wield the CDA for Airbnb Inc. to block enforcement
of a San Francisco ordinance that carries stiff penalties for
companies providing booking services for illegal short-term
rentals. U.S. District Judge James Donato rejected Airbnb's
argument and has referred that case out for settlement

One challenge for the Munger team is that Facebook created the
drop-down tools that allow users to place ads based on targeted
"affinity groups."  Facebook's lawyers at Munger acknowledge in a
footnote to the April 3 filing that since December the company has
"disallowed" targeting based on ethnic affinity categories for ads
offering housing, employment or credit opportunities.

But the company continues to maintain that its social advertising
platform is a sort of "neutral tool" that a third party can use
for either proper or improper purposes that falls under CDA
protections. Ring wrote that "what makes the ads allegedly
unlawful are the discriminatory targeting decisions that might
have been made by some unidentified advertisers -- not the neutral
tools provided on Facebook's Ad Platform."

"The provision of these neutral tools does not transform Facebook
into a content provider," Ms. Ring wrote.

Ms. Ring didn't immediately respond to messages on April 4.

The case Onuoha et al v. Facebook is set for a hearing on June 1
before U.S. District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose.

FEDEX OFFICE: "Johnson" Denied Seat at Workplace, Seeks Damages
Jeanetta Johnson, an individual on behalf of herself and on behalf
of all persons similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. Fedex Office and
Print Services, Inc. and Does 1 through 50, Inclusive, Defendants,
Case RG17856291 (Cal. Super., April 11, 2017) seeks recovery of
civil penalties, interest, including prejudgment interest at the
legal rate, attorneys' fees and cost of suit and such other and
further relief pursuant to the California Labor Code.

Defendant operates about 1,800 retail stores in the United States,
providing printing and duplication, presentation support and
related business assistance and serve as drop-off points for
deliveries to be made by affiliates FedEx Express and FedEx
Ground. It also sells office supplies and rents out computers and
video conferencing rooms. Plaintiff worked as a sales associate,
regularly working behind a sales counter. She claims to have been
denied suitable seating for her work station. [BN]

Plaintiff is represented by:

      Norman B. Blumenthal, Esq.
      Kyle R. Nordrehaug, Esq.
      Aparajit Bhowmik, Esq.
      2255 Calle Clara
      La Jolla, CA 92037
      Telephone: (858) 551-1223
      Facsimile: (858) 551-1232

FIFTH THIRD: Faces Suit Over Identity Protection Programs
Jason Stoogenke at WSOCTV reports a customer is suing Fifth Third
Bank, accusing it of deceptive sales practices.

Keri Wells, who is a Wake County resident represented by a
Charlotte lawyer, accuses the bank of misleading customers with
its identity theft protection plans.

Fifth Third has two identity protection programs. The basic one is
USD9.95 per month and the premium version is USD14.95 per month.
The plaintiff accuses the bank of enrolling consumers in the more
expensive plan without adequately disclosing to them the less
expensive option first.

The plaintiff also said the programs provide little or no
protection against certain kinds of identity theft, that they
don't cover unauthorized electronic funds transfers and other
similar monetary losses, but that the bank implies exactly the

The plaintiff even calls the programs overpriced and of dubious

The plaintiff is arguing this should be a class action lawsuit,
that this is bigger than just her.

Action 9 investigator Jason Stoogenke reached out to the bank
April 14 afternoon, but hadn't heard back.

FORD MOTOR: Keeps Shelby Mustags in Product Lineup Amid Suits
Jack Walsworth, writing for Automotive News, reports that Ford
Motor Co. is keeping the Shelby GT350 and GT350R Mustangs in its
product lineup for the 2018 model year.

Except for the addition of three colors -- Orange Fury, Kona Blue
and Lead Foot Gray -- Ford said on April 17 both high-performance
models will remain unchanged for the 2018 model year.

They are set to arrive in fall with pricing to be announced this
summer, a Ford spokesman said.

For the 2017 model year, the Shelby GT350 started at $57,045 and
the GT350R started at $64,545.  Both prices include shipping.

The GT350R adds 19-inch carbon-fiber wheels and Michelin Pilot
Sport Cup 2 Tires.  It features a carbon-fiber rear wing, larger
front splitter and uniquely tuned chassis.  To reduce weight and
improve performance on the track, there's no rear seat, rear view
camera, audio system, Sync, floor mat, auxiliary gauges, tire
inflator and sealant kit, or USB port.

The Shelby GT350 Mustang went on sale near the end of 2015.

The 5.2-liter flat-plane crankshaft V-8 delivers 526 hp, and is
Ford's highest-revving eight-cylinder, topping out at 8,250 rpm.

Some Shelby GT350 Mustang owners sought class-action status last
month in a suit against Ford that claims the performance model is
not the "hot rod" they wanted because the cars overheat and lose

The owners are suing Ford in federal court for about $228 million.
The suit contends the affected Shelby Mustangs have faulty
transmissions and rear differentials that can overheat in as
little as 15 minutes.

The suit claims that Ford fixed the problem in 2017 vehicles, but
told owners of 2016 models they were responsible for repairs,
which owners claim is a breach of the car's warranty.

FOX LAKE, IL: Faces Class Action Over Unlawful Arrests
WBJD Radio reports a federal class-action lawsuit has been filed
by three suburban Chicago men who say they were targeted as
suspects in the 2015 shooting a police officer whose death was
later declared a suicide.

Raymond Willoughby, Damien Ward, and Dan Cooper allege they were
unlawfully arrested based on Gliniewicz's fabricated description.
They were handcuffed and held in custody for hours.

The lawsuit alleges the Fox Lake Police Department had good reason
to suspect from the beginning that Gliniewicz's death was a
suicide, but still pursued the case.

The lawsuit filed on April 12 names several police departments and
the FBI.

Officials with Fox Lake and the FBI didn't immediately return

Authorities say Gliniewicz staged his suicide to look like a
homicide because he feared discovery of his embezzlement of youth
program funds.

FRED'S STORES: Faces "Wallace" Suit Over FACTA Violation
Melanie Wallace, Sascha Feliciano and Heather Tyler, on behalf of
themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v.
Fred's Stores of Tennessee, Inc. and Does 1 through 100,
inclusive. Defendants, Case No. 2017CV288599, (Ga. Super., April
11, 2017), seeks statutory damages, punitive damages, costs and
attorney fees for violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit
Transactions Act.

Fred's Stores of Tennessee, Inc. owns, manages, maintains and/or
operates retail store locations throughout the State of Georgia
under the name Fred's, Fred's Super Dollar and Fred's Pharmacy.

Defendants allegedly printed more than the last 5 digits of the
card number on receipts provided to debit card cardholders
transacting business with Defendants. They printed the first 6
digits and the last 4 digits of the debit card number on debit
card receipts. This exposes the Plaintiffs to identity theft and
credit and debit card fraud, says the complaint. [BN]

Plaintiff is represented by:

      Charles Austin Gower Jr., Esq.
      Shaun Patrick O'Hara, Esq.
      1425 Wynnton Road
      P.O. Box 5509
      Columbus, GA 31906
      Telephone: (706) 324-5685
      Facsimile: (7060 322-2964
      Email: austin@cagower.com

             - and -

      Chant Yedalian, Esq.
      1010 N. Central Ave.
      Glendale, CA 91202
      Telephone: (877) 574-7100
      Facsimile: (877) 574-9411

GLASSBORO: Landlords Fight Rental Rules
Carly Romalino at Courier Post reports the living room carpet came
up and front yard trees came down.

Elizabeth Quam, a teacher-turned-landlord, worked on April 10 on
one of 17 properties she owns and rents to college students in

But the borough's requirements to rent are strict, she said.
A lawsuit filed last month by Glassboro Guardians -- a group of
landlords, student tenants and borough residents -- claims the
rental regulations are so tight, ordinances discriminate against
property owners renting to Rowan University students.
Glassboro Guardians, with landlords Quam, Adam Szyfman and Dan
Capo, and student tenant Ryan Deutsch, filed the suit in
March against the borough and its code officers.

The group's first lawsuit against the borough last year was
successful. A judge overturned a 20-year-old borough ordinance
requiring off-street 10-by 20-foot parking spaces for every
occupant of the residence. A judge called the ordinance arbitrary
and capricious. Szyfman called it expensive.

"It's beyond a 10-by 20-foot parking spot," he explained.
"There all these ordinances that apply to rental properties, which
don't apply to a single-family home, which inhibits your ability
to do business."

The lawsuit claims borough ordinances in place since the 1970s
discriminate against landowners renting to college students by
charging high inspection fees, requiring yearly inspections even
if tenants don't change, and requiring more "performance
standards" for rental properties than owner-occupied homes.

Borough attorney Tim Scaffidi said the borough has been served
with the new lawsuit, but it does not comment on pending

More than 100 properties in the borough are represented in the
lawsuit, Szyfman said, adding a class-action status of the lawsuit
would mean every landlord in Glassboro and every student tenant
would be notified of the court action.

"Hundreds of landlords could join the class action," Szyfman

Rental properties "are treated very differently than owner-
occupied properties," Quam said.

"I feel there's an abuse of power ... that allows them to target
landlords specifically renting to college students," she

"If you're a 'yes' person ... you get taken advantage of very

Quam bought her first home in Glassboro when she was an undergrad
at Rowan studying teaching. She wanted to move off campus for
control over who she'd room with and how she could improve her
residence. At 22, her parents helped her buy a house in 2004.
Three friends planned to move in, too. She followed the borough's
procedure, including a USD160 registration fee for a rental

Neighboring towns charge a far lower fee. Mantua charges USD60 to
apply, Washington Township USD50, Clayton USD10, and PItman USD15
per occupant.

"It's just not fair," Szyfman said, calling Glassboro's USD160 fee
an "illegal tax."

Quam said the first house she owned, occupied and rented to three
friends was inspected about four times a year. Every time the
inspector came out, she paid a fee to the borough.
"They force an inspection on you even if it's the same group of
people," Quam claimed, adding the house would be inspected every
time a single tenant changed.

"They would give me a whole list of stuff to do, and most of it
wasn't safety related."

Quam recalled the inspector's report requiring her to clean soap
from the inside of a kitchen cabinet and remove cobwebs from the

"We thought this was a normal way of doing business in Glassboro.
It's an invasion of privacy," Szyfman said.

GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION: Faces "Redmon" Suit Alleging FLSA Violation
BRYAN REDMON, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated,
01119 (S.D. Tex., April 11, 2017), states that Global's
Technicians regularly work far more than 40 hours in a work week;
however, Global classifies all the Technicians as "independent
contractors," and thus does not pay them overtime in violation of
the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Global is in the business of residential and commercial garage
door repair, replacement, and service. [BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

     Todd Slobin, Esq.
     Ricardo J. Prieto, Esq.
     11 Greenway Plaza, Suite 1515
     Houston, TX 77046
     Phone: (713) 621-2277
     Fax: (713) 621-0993
     E-mail: tslobin@eeoc.net

GOOGLE: Nexus Bootloops Class Action Probe Could Lead to a Lawsuit
Justin Diaz at Android Headlines reports there's a class action
investigation over Nexus 6P bootloops that could lead to a lawsuit
against Google over the issue. A new report by Chimicles &
Tikellis LLP states that they're investigating Google over the
potential of a lawsuit due to the bootlooping issues that
consumers have been complaining about, though the bootloops are
only part of the issue as the investigation also includes the
issue of users' devices having problems with an early shutdown, an
issue which started gaining more attention towards the end of last
year when more users seemed to experiencing it.

Some users though not all, of course, were reporting instances of
their devices shutting down when they still had battery life left.
The range of battery life percentage varied from user to user, but
as stated in the reports from last year and in the details from
the formal investigation filing, battery  life for some users was
as little as ten percent and as high sixty percent for others.
This in itself would certainly pose a problem for those who were
seeing their devices shut down closer to sixty percent as they
still had more than half of the battery life left, and it didn't
take Google very long to respond to consumers of the Nexus 6P who
were having this problem stating that they were working to try and
resolve the problem.

The bootloops are another problem entirely as it leaves consumers
without a way to use their phones, whereas those with the early
shutdown problem had at least some use of the device during the
day. As noted by the Chimicles & Tikellis' report, the issue
tracker does contain acknowledgement of the early shutdown problem
but that it has a low priority rating and users still don't have a
definitive time frame on a fix let alone a confirmation that one
is still coming. Due to this and the reportedly unhelpful
resolution that users have been getting over the bootloop problem,
Chimicles & Tikellis are urging users to contact their law firm if
they've personally experienced these issues. Since this is still
just an investigation there is no guarantee that this will lead to
a class action lawsuit like it has for LG over the G4 and V10
which also had issues with bootlooping devices, but it would seem
at the very least that it's a possibility. How good of a
possibility is unclear.

GREAT RAPIDS: Asserts Non-recorded Line "3407" Not for Cover-ups
Amy Biolchini at MLive reports the city's lawyers are claiming
that the Grand Rapids police officers who used the department's
so-called "non-recorded" line have no expectation to privacy under
city policies, according to court documents filed on April 14.

Lawyers for Grand Rapids city and police officials filed a
response on April 14 to the class-action lawsuit brought by former
Lt. Matthew Janiskee over the recording of a phone line in the
police station.

Janiskee claims his rights, as well as those of everyone else has
used that number, were violated.

"GRPD staff and officers were never told, or authorized to use
Line 3407 to cover up any possible crimes being investigated by
GRPD, or potential misconduct/neglect of duty by GRPD officers,"
the city's response to the lawsuit reads.

The city fired Janiskee March 31 for his involvement in the Nov.
19 investigation of former Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Josh
Kuiper's car crash in which alcohol was a factor, according to the
officer on the scene.

The non-recorded line "3407" was used five times that night as
Janiskee talked to the responding officer, Adam Ickes, and a
sergeant, Thomas Warwick, who was in the station and then went to
the crash scene.

The release of those five phone calls is the subject of several
lawsuits. The city took the issue to a federal judge this year to
seek an official ruling on whether they could be used -- and
Janiskee filed a class-action countersuit in that case.

The city denies wrongdoing in recording the phone calls because it
was done inadvertently, according to the city's response to the
class-action suit.

City and department officials have only listened to the five calls
on line 3407 to investigate Janiskee's "potential involvement with
an attempt to cover up a possible crime by Mr. Kuiper, and
possible officer misconduct/neglect of duty," documents show.

The phone number in question -- 616-456-3047 -- is a non-public
line that is used by the watch commander's office for private and
personal phone calls by police. It's also used by the GRPD to
discuss sensitive details of criminal investigations, like the
names of juvenile offenders, victims' identities and alternate

An internal department document from Jan. 21, 2014, provided to
watch commanders detailing their administrative duties states the
3407 line is not recorded. But that document was revised March 9
to state all phone lines in the watch commander's office are

The city has an administrative policy, 84-02, that states users
waive their right to privacy in "anything they create, store,
send, or receive on the city's computer resources," which include
all telephones and other communications equipment.

The policy also states: "Users consent to allowing personnel of
the City of Grand Rapids, as authorized by the City Manager, to
access and review all materials that users create, store, send, or
receive on the Computer Resources."

Responses to the federal lawsuit continue to be filed, and no
resolution has yet been reached on whether the five phone calls
can be released.

Meanwhile, Kent County Judge Dennis Leiber granted motions this
month that prevent the release of the phone calls in an injury
lawsuit against Kuiper brought by the man he hit in the crash.
Kuiper will stand trial for a charge of reckless driving causing
serious impairment of a body function, but a date has not yet been

GREENBAX ENTERPRISES: Wants Former Employees' Class Action Tossed
The Post and Courier reports that The Pig is squealing foul over a
potential class-action lawsuit its executives are facing.
Attorneys for the leaders of Greenbax Enterprises and subsidiary
Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. want a judge to toss out a federal
complaint filed by former employees who allege poor management
decisions and inaction led to the ruin of one of the Charleston
region's most prominent retail businesses.  The employees, in a
class that could reach 1,000, are seeking millions of dollars in
lost retirement benefits.

Attorneys on the other side want the 2016 lawsuit dismissed,
saying the plaintiffs failed to state a claim.  They'll get a
chance to make their arguments next month, according to a filing.
District Court Judge C. Weston Houck will take up the matter May
23 in Charleston.

HALYARD HEALTH: Liable for Damages in Faulty Equipment Case
Seeking Alpha reports that Halyard Health is in the midst of an
ongoing litigation whereby plaintiffs allege that the company
supplied faulty protective equipment to hospitals during an Ebola

A jury found the company (and Kimberly Clark) liable for millions
in compensatory damages and hundreds of millions in punitive
damages with respect to such litigation.

Both companies believe that the verdict is contrary to the
evidence presented and intend to file post-judgment motions and
then possibly file an appeal in the case.

Although such damage awards appear daunting, investors should
focus on the company's successful transformation strategy and not
near-term litigation adversities.

A judge on a post-judgment motion/appeal will likely reduce the
punitive damage awards.  Investors then will benefit from the
company's transformation into a medical devices company.

HCP INC: Covered Up ManorCare's Performance, Class Action Says
Emily Mongan at McKnights reports HCP Inc. allegedly covered up
ManorCare's financial performance and fraud allegations when
communicating with shareholders, according to a class action
lawsuit filed on April 10.

The suit, brought against the real estate investment trust by
shareholder Scott Weldon, argues that HCP told investors that
ManorCare's assets were "secure and unimpaired," and that the
provider had "a long history of compliance with regulations." In
truth, Weldon argues, HCP was either aware of or ignoring more
than USD6 billion in false therapy claims submitted by the
"Despite the fact that the Company was facing significant negative
consequences due to ManorCare's illegal conduct, [HCP] continued
to provide false hope to investors, stating that the DOJ's
intervention in the whistleblower lawsuits would in no way impact
ManorCare's profitability," Weldon's complaint reads. "What's
more, HCP denied that ManorCare had engaged in any wrongdoing."
ManorCare deferred McKnight's requests for comment to HCP; the
company did not respond by production deadline on April 13.

The complaint seeks damages for shareholders, awards to Weldon to
cover the costs of bringing the action, and an assurance that HCP
will reform its internal procedures to protect the company and its
investors "from a repeat of the damaging events."

This week's lawsuit is the second complaint against HCP claiming
the company misled investors about ManorCare's performance; a
similar class action lawsuit was filed last May. HCP spun off its
ManorCare portfolio into a new REIT that same month.

HAPPY DAYS: "Busgith" Suit to Recover Overtime Pay
Vanessa Busgith, Individually, and on behalf of all others
similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. Happy Days Home Health Care
Service, Defendant, Case No. 711728/2016, (N.Y. Sup., September
30, 2016), seeks unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages and
attorneys' fees pursuant to the New York Minimum Wage Act and the
New York Labor Law.

Defendant was in the business of providing health care services
where Busgith was employed as a home health aide.

Plaintiff filed a request for judicial intervention on April 12,

Plaintiff is represented by:

      Abdul K. Hassan, Esq.
      215-28 Hillside Avenue
      Queens Village, NY 11427
      Tel: (718) 740-1000
      Fax: (718) 740-2000
      Email: abdul@abdulhassan.com

Defendant is represented by:

      147-26 Hillside Ave., 2nd Flr.
      Jamaica, NY 11435
      Tel: (718) 298-6029

HILL'S PRESCRIPTION: Pet Food a Profit Scheme, Suit Says
David Ranni at News Observer reports a North Carolina law firm is
one of the primary drivers of a class action lawsuit that alleges
that prescription dog and cat food is a marketing scheme devised
by pet food companies to pump up their profits.

The lawsuit shines a spotlight on an industry that Marion Nestle,
a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University
and the author of one book about pet food and co-author of
another, calls "basically an unregulated industry."

"At the heart of it, the world's largest pet food manufacturers
are requiring that certain pet foods be sold by prescription even
though there is no legal requirement for that prescription," said
Wilmington attorney Jeremy Wilson of Ward and Smith, one of four
law firms behind the lawsuit that seeks to represent consumers
across the country. Ward & Smith has five North Carolina offices,
including one in Raleigh.

Wilson also contends that requiring a prescription from a
veterinarian misleads consumers, providing cover that enables pet
food companies to charge excessive prices.

"Prescription pet food contains no drug or other ingredient not
also common in non-prescription pet food," the lawsuit states.
Defendants in the civil lawsuit filed in federal court in
California in December include the companies behind four brands of
prescription pet foods that dominate the market: Hill's
Prescription Diet, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets, Royal Canin
Veterinary Diet and Iams Veterinary Formula. Iams Veterinary
Formula was withdrawn from the market at the outset of this year.
Also named as defendants are PetSmart, the nation's largest
retailer of pet products; Banfield Pet Hospital, which operates in
900 PetSmart locations as well as dozens of stand-alone locations
and is the largest veterinary chain in the country; and BluePearl
Vet, which which has about 50 locations. Mars Petcare, which owns
the Iams and Royal Canin brands, also owns Banfield and owns about
90 percent of BluePearl.

Collectively, the lawsuit argues, the companies "control the sale
of prescription pet food from manufacture to veterinarian to
retail, which has allowed their deception and price-fixing
conspiracy to be implemented and perpetuated with minimal risk of
detection or defection."

The companies either declined to comment on pending litigation or
didn't respond to a request for comment.

But, in court papers filed earlier this month seeking dismissal of
the case, the companies denied they were engaged in an
"anticompetitive conspiracy." Moreover, they noted that Banfield
and Blue Pearl employ only about 7.5 percent of the nation's
"companion animal veterinarians," and therefore they can't
exercise control over the market.

Of the 15 named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the companies further
argue, just two purchased their prescription pet food from
PetSmart. The others purchased their prescription products from
unnamed veterinarians. Many veterinarians also sell prescription
pet food.

The companies also counter that prescription pet food, far from
being a sham, complies with Food and Drug Administration

The FDA, the companies note, "has repeatedly cautioned in its
public guidance that consumers might be misled -- and their pets
endangered -- if the pet foods at issue were sold without advance
consultation with and authorization by a veterinarian."
In support of that claim, they include as an exhibit an FDA
"compliance policy guide" issued in April 2016.

"When these products are marketed directly to pet owners, there is
a greater potential for product misuse and/or misunderstanding of
the role of the product in the disease treatment," the guidelines
state. "For example, owners of diabetic dogs and cats may
misinterpret claims to 'control blood glucose' to represent that
the product is the sole treatment required for diabetic dogs and
cats when, in fact, these animals my require insulin therapy or
other treatments to adequately control blood glucose."
The guidelines also note that prescription pet foods "have not
been evaluated by the FDA for safety, efficacy, or nutritional

Two North Carolina pet owners who purchased prescription pet food
for their pets are among the named plaintiffs who seek to
represent consumers nationwide. They are Isaac Duncan Ham IV of
Charlotte, whose dog Boone suffers from digestive conditions, and
Alayna Johnson of Leland in Brunswick County, whose dog Beau has
an allergy that causes hair loss and sores.

Both of the North Carolina plaintiffs declined a request for an
interview through their attorneys.

Billions in sales

Prescription pet food accounts for about 5 percent of the USD24
billion in pet food sold in the U.S. each year, according to the
lawsuit, or more than USD1 billion a year.

Prescription pet food is sold to address a lengthy list of
ailments and diseases.

"There's a cancer food. There's a brain food. There's a calm food
for cats with attention-deficit disorder," said Ward and Smith
attorney Trip Coyne.

Susan Thixton, a pet food safety advocate and creator of the
truthaboutpetfood.com website, said she's long expected a lawsuit
along the lines of the pending class action suit.

"Lawyers are the new regulatory system for pet food, because we
don't have much of a regulatory system for pet food," Thixton

Pet food, she said, "is the only food on the planet that's allowed
to make a health claim" by the FDA.

She argues the FDA is out of bounds in carving out a loophole for
pet food makers.

"We can't say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but we can say
this pet food will cure your cat's kidney disease," Thixton said.
"We have to have consistency."

Nevertheless, she added, "my own vet ... believes these foods are
helping -- and they might be. I'm not questioning if they are

Special formulas, not drugs

Dr. Korinn Saker, a veterinarian who's an associate professor of
clinical nutrition at N.C. State University's College of
Veterinary Medicine, said that prescription pet foods are
specially formulated to help manage different diseases but don't
contain any drugs.

"They're formulated ... to address the appropriate protein level,
or to address the appropriate amino acid profile in the diet, or
to address how much sodium should be in the diet for that pet,"
Saker said.

"I think if an animal has a well-documented disease, such as
cardiac disease or kidney disease or liver disease, a majority of
veterinarians will reach for a prescription diet to help manage
that," she said.

Saker also believes that requiring a prescription to purchase
these pet foods is warranted given that the formulations aimed at
specific diseases may not meet the recommended nutrient profile
for healthy pets. For example, depending on the disease,
prescription pet foods can contain unusually high or unusually low
amounts of protein.

"So you want to keep a close eye on (the pet) and you want your
veterinarian to have evaluated your pet and made the decision that
this prescription diet is appropriate," she said.

The lawsuit doesn't address the efficacy of prescription pet food.
"Our case doesn't necessarily contend this is good food (and) it
doesn't necessarily contend that it's bad food," said Coyne. "It
contends that it is improper to co-opt the term prescription and
the prescription requirement that American consumers are familiar

"The term prescription means something to the public," Coyne said.
"There are assumptions there's a drug in there, that there is
medicine, that it's been evaluated as a drug or medicine by the
FDA. None of that is true here."

"By analogy," said Wilson, "I accept spinach is better for me than
a cheeseburger, but that doesn't mean I need a prescription to get

Requiring prescriptions, the lawsuit contends, is a ruse that
enables the companies to charge much higher prices.

"Consumers . . . . would not purchase prescription pet food, or
would not purchase prescription pet food when priced so
excessively relative to similar non-prescription pet foods, if not
for the misleading marketing" of requiring a prescription, the
suit states.

Coyne said the price of prescription pet food is 40 percent or
more higher than other pet food, depending on whether you compare
it to premium non-prescription pet food aimed at specific ailments
or less pricey products.

PetSmart was selling a 3.5-pound bag of Purina ONE Special Care
for cats with urinary problems for USD7.99, or USD2.28 per pound,
while the same size bag of Purina Pro Plan FOCUS for such cats was
USD12.99, or USD3.71 per pound. Meanwhile, a 6-pound bag of the
prescription-only Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets for cats with
urinary problems was USD31.73, or USD5.29 per pound.

The per-pound difference in price was even greater for the 7-pound
bags of the non-prescription Purina products.

More and more pet owners who bring their dogs or cats to N.C.
State's Veterinary Health and Wellness Center are requesting
homemade diets to treat their pets because they are "very
concerned about what they think is a lack of transparency among
the big companies that make pet foods," said Saker. "I think that
it's sort of a general increase in our population's skepticism
about everything."

Saker accommodates those requests. She can formulate recipes that
pet owners can make that will approximate -- or, in her words, "
provide the same or a very similar nutrient profile" to -- a
commercially sold prescription pet food for each pet's particular

INVENTURE FOODS: May 30 Lead Plaintiff Motion Deadline Set
Accesswire reports the following statement is being issued by Levi
& Korsinsky, LLP:

To: All persons or entities who purchased or otherwise acquired
securities of Inventure Foods, Inc. ("Inventure Foods") (SNAK)
between March 3, 2016 and March 16, 2017. You are hereby notified
that a securities class action lawsuit has been commenced in the
United States District Court for the District of Arizona. To get
more information, go to: http://www.zlk.com/pslra-sb/inventure-
foods-inc?wire=1, or contact Joseph E. Levi, Esq. either via email
at -- jlevi@levikorsinsky.com -- or by telephone at (212) 363-
7500, toll-free: (877) 363-5972. There is no cost or obligation to

The complaint alleges that throughout the class period, Defendants
issued materially false and/or misleading statements and/or failed
to disclose that: (1) Inventure lacked adequate internal controls
over accounting and financial reporting; (2) as a result,
Inventure's statements of operations in its fiscal year 2015
results press release contained improper figures; and (3)
consequently, Defendants' statements about Inventure's business,
operations, and prospects were false and misleading and/or lacked
a reasonable basis.

If you suffered a loss in Inventure, you have until May 30, 2017
to request that the Court appoint you as lead plaintiff. Your
ability to share in any recovery doesn't require that you serve as
a lead plaintiff.

Levi & Korsinsky is a national firm with offices in New York,
California, Connecticut, and Washington D.C. The firm's attorneys
have extensive expertise and experience representing investors in
securities litigation, and have recovered hundreds of millions of
dollars for aggrieved shareholders. Attorney advertising. Prior
results do not guarantee similar outcomes.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON: 5th Talcum Powder Trial Begins in Missouri
Amanda Bronstad, writing for The National Law Journal, reports
that on the heels of a game-changing defense verdict last month,
Johnson & Johnson came out swinging on April 11 in the fifth trial
over the safety of its talcum powder, with the company's lead
defense attorney telling a Missouri jury to prepare for a

"This is going to be a fight, and it's going to be a fight because
it's a serious thing being accused of a product that causes
ovarian cancer," Orlando Richmond --
orlando.richmond@butlersnow.com -- of Butler Snow's Jackson,
Mississippi, office told the jury in opening statements, which
were made available on Courtroom View Network.  He criticized the
"unfounded" and "unfair" allegations that had been "carefully
crafted" in a case made of "bubble gum and tape."

A former U.S. Marine Corps judge advocate, Richmond is backed up
by some formidable legal muscle.

Butler Snow serves as Johnson & Johnson's national coordinating
counsel, along with Shook, Hardy & Bacon.  The firms are working
in this trial with Covington & Burling partners Phyllis Jones and
Paul Schmidt.  The Washington, D.C.-based Covington team has won
three trials in products liability cases over antidepressant
Cymbalta and are leads in defending mass tort litigation over
blood thinner Pradaxa and acne drug Accutane.

In his opening statement, plaintiffs attorney Allen Smith of The
Smith Law Firm stuck to the same refrain as in prior trials:
Johnson & Johnson and co-defendant Imerys Talc America Inc. failed
to tell the public about a known scientific link between talcum
powder use and ovarian cancer despite 30 years of studies and
evidence hidden in its own internal documents.

"This case is about corporate profit and maintaining a corporate
image over human life," said Mr. Smith, who is lead in the
Missouri talc cases with Ted Meadows of Beasley, Allen, Crow,
Methvin, Portis & Miles in Montgomery, Alabama.  "That's what this
case is about. And your verdict could prevent potentially hundreds
of thousands of women from contracting one of the most deadly
forms of cancer."

That story has resonated with other Missouri juries, who last year
came out with verdicts of $55 million, $70 million and $72

The talc litigation now consists of nearly two dozen cases in
Missouri state court, where more than 1,000 claims are pending.
Another 200 individual suits are currently pending in a federal
multidistrict litigation proceeding in New Jersey, and about 350
lawsuits have been filed in state courts in California, New Jersey
and Delaware.

Plaintiffs lawyers rely on at least nine epidemiological studies
since 1982 that have found an increased risk of ovarian cancer
after prolonged use of talcum powder.  They also cite the
International Agency for Research on Cancer's classification in
2006 of talcum powder, which in its natural state contains
asbestos, as a possible carcinogen.

Johnson & Johnson has relied on the conclusions of several
regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, the National Cancer Institute and the Centers of
Disease Control and Prevention, as well as other studies, that
found no link.  Although cosmetic talc has contained asbestos,
which is a known carcinogen, most consumer products since the
1970s have used talcum powder that is asbestos-free.

Imerys, which supplies talc to Johnson & Johnson, is represented
by national trial counsel Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani and
products liability litigator Jane Bockus -- jbockus@dykema.com --
a partner at Dykema Gossett in San Antonio.

Lois Slemp, 61, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 after
four decades of using Johnson & Johnson's baby powder and Shower
to Shower products.  Referencing what could be a powerful piece of
evidence, Mr. Smith said that asbestos -- not just talcum powder -
- was found in Slemp's ovarian tissue.

In court, Mr. Richmond attacked the asbestos claim, calling it
another example of "bubble gum and tape" being used to craft the

Borrowing a play from the defense team in last month's trial, Mr.
Richmond took command of the daunting reams of scientific research
on both sides that have dominated the talcum powder trials.  Bart
Williams and Manuel Cachan of Proskauer Rose in Los Angeles, who
gave Johnson & Johnson its first win in the talcum powder
litigation, told a jury in the same courtroom that the plaintiffs'
studies merely showed a correlation between talc and ovarian
cancer, not a causal relationship.  Messr.s Williams and Cachan
aren't involved in this month's trial.

Mr. Richmond, who grew up on a farm in Mississippi, gave the
science his own spin, using roosters as an example.  The sound of
roosters crowing has always been associated with sunrise, he said,
but one doesn't cause the other.  "Does a rooster's crow cause the
sunrise? Of course not."  Nor does the sun cause the rooster to
crow, he said.

KANE COUNTY, IL: Clerk Faces Class Action Over Unlawful Fees
Harry Hitzeman, writing for Daily Herald, reports that a Gilberts
man is seeking class-action status in his lawsuit against Kane
County Circuit Court Clerk Thomas Hartwell, arguing the clerk's
office violated the law by charging filing fees on non-final
orders in litigation.

"The state only allows fees for final orders," said Jeffrey
Berman, an attorney representing Raul Tejeda in the case.  "This
(lawsuit) is about the clerk charging fees he's not allowed to
under state law."

Mr. Hartwell said on April 14 he had been served with the lawsuit,
but declined to comment.

In the lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Kane County,
Mr. Tejeda argues he was charged a $75 fee by Hartwell's office to
modify an order in a foreclosure case.

Under the state's Clerk of Courts Act, the lawsuit argues, filing
fees may be imposed and collected for petitions to vacate or
modify final judgments and orders.  The fees, the suit maintains,
cannot be charged with ongoing, or interlocutory, orders in
litigation and Mr. Hartwell's office has done just that.

"As a result, the Clerk of Court has been charging and collecting
unlawful fees.  Plaintiff and class members would be denied the
ability to file their motions or petitions if they did not pay
this fee.  Plaintiff and class members were forced into an
unlawful fee in order to present their legal arguments to the
court," reads part of the suit.  "Plaintiff's motion is only one
example of a time in which a party, including Plaintiff, paid a
fee to file a motion or petition to reconsider, vacate, or modify
an interlocutory judgment or order."

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and asks a judge to order
the return of fees.

Mr. Berman declined to comment on whether he has an estimate of
the amount of fees that had been charged.

The lawsuit states that from 2011 to 2015, an average 107,000
pieces of litigation per year were filed in Kane County and the
number of affected people could be in the thousands.

County Treasurer David Rickert also is named as a defendant.  He
is not accused of wrongdoing, but of accepting the money collected
by Hartwell's office.

The case is due in court June 20.

LION BIOTECHNOLOGIES: Faces Shareholder Suit Over Stock Promotion
Melissa Daniels at Law360 reports Lion Biotechnologies was hit
with a putative class action bringing securities fraud allegations
in California federal court on April 14 after it settled with the
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to end allegations it was
part of a stock promotion scheme involving commissioned news
The suit filed by investor Leonard Desilvio claims Lion and former
key officers failed to disclose the firm was commissioning
articles about the company across Internet publications and
emails. As a result, market prices for Lion securities were
artificially inflated, according to the complaint, as the true
value of the company was disguised.

The complaint also names former CEO Manish Singh, who settled with
the SEC for nearly USD3 million over allegations that he was
responsible for putting out hundreds of misleading articles
designed to tout public companies and pump up their stocks -- not
just with Lion, but through his own firm, Lavos LLC.

"Had plaintiff and the other members of the class been aware that
the market price of Lion securities had been artificially and
falsely inflated by the company's and the individual defendants'
misleading statements and by the material adverse information
which the company's and the individual defendants did not
disclose, they would not have purchased Lion securities at the
artificially inflated prices that they did, or at all," the
complaint states.

The proposed class includes anyone who traded Lion shares between
Nov. 14, 2013 and April 10.

A spokesperson for Lion told Law360 on April 14 the company has
agreed to pay a USD100,000 civil fine to the SEC "without
accepting or contesting the claims of the investigation."

The SEC actions targeted several promotional and communications
firms, including Singh's Lavos, Lidingo Holdings LLC, CSIR Group
LLC, The DreamTeam Group LLC and Dunedin Inc., as well as each
firm's owner.

The firms were hired by public companies, some of which were also
charged, to generate publicity for their stocks, the SEC said. The
promotion firms in turn hired writers to draft articles about the
companies, which the writers or the firms themselves then posted
on investment websites such as SeekingAlpha.com, Bezinga.com and
WallStCheatSheet.com, according to the agency.

The SEC said that while Singh was CEO of Lion and another firm
called ImmunoCellular Therapeutics Ltd., he commissioned Lidingo
to publish purportedly independent research touting the companies'

Desilvio's investor suit claims that multiple SEC filings
submitted by Lion, including 10-Qs and 10-Ks, made misleading
statements. The filings did not describe that Lion was involved in
the paid promotion scheme, or that Singh "engaged a notorious
stock promotion firm" to pay writers to publish and promote
articles about Lion, the investor complaint says.

"Singh actively participated in Lidingo's promotional work for
Lion and understood that Lidingo was using writers who would not
disclose that Lion was indirectly compensating them for their
publications," according to the complaint, and "as a result,
defendants' public statements were materially false and misleading
at all relevant times."

The suit additionally names former CFO Michael Handelman, who
worked for Lion from February 2011 to June 2015, and former
President and CEO Elma Hawkins, who took over from Singh as
president from August 2014 and as CEO from January 2015 until June
of last year.

Representatives for Desilvio, Singh and Lion didn't immediately
respond to requests for comment on March 14. Contact information
for the other individual defendants wasn't immediately available.

The plaintiffs are represented by Laurence M. Rosen --
lrosen@rosenlegal.com -- of The Rosen Law Firm.

Counsel information for Lion Biotechnologies and the individual
defendants wasn't immediately available.

The case is Desilvio v. Lion Biotechnologies Inc. et al., case
number 3:17-cv-02086, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of California.

LONG BEACH, CA: Settles Class Action Suit for ADA Improvements
Harry Saltzgaver at Gazettes reports Long Beach will spend more
than USD125 million over the next three decades to make sidewalks
and crosswalks accessible to people with disabilities.

The commitment was part of a settlement agreement in a class
action lawsuit brought by Disability Rights Advocates and
Disability Rights Legal Center represented by Goldstein, Borgen,
Dardarian & Ho. The agreement was tentatively approved Monday,
April 10, by Superior Court Judge Dale Fischer.

Ben Rockwell, an activist in Long Beach and a named plaintiff in
the case, said, "In addition to its benefits for people with
disabilities, this settlement will make our city friendlier and
safer for all people -- including parents with strollers,
travelers with luggage, the elderly, and anyone else who travels
along its sidewalks and pedestrian paths."

Long Beach has been spending about USD3 million a year on sidewalk
repairs, including ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)
improvements. More work is done as part of the complete streets
program, where curbs, sidewalks and gutters are repaired when
street repairs are scheduled, according to Craig Beck, director of
Public Works.

Those improvements haven't occurred quickly enough for the
disabled community, though.

Under the agreement, the city must build up to 4,500 curb ramps
where there are none now in the next five years, and retrofit up
to 16,000 more ramps that are damaged and not in compliance with
standards. Another USD125 million has been committed to repair
inaccessible sidewalks and crosswalks over the next 30 years.
Finally, the city agreed to allocate about USD5 million over the
next 10 year to fund repairs in the Access Request Program, where
the city responds to specific requests.

Before the replacement program begins in earnest, Public Works has
to conduct a citywide assessment or inventory, Beck said. That
will pinpoint where work needs to be done. Priorities will be
coordinated through the city's ADA/Title VI coordinator with input
from the Citizens Advisory Committee on Disabilities.

Beck estimated that the sidewalk repair budget could jump to as
much as USD8 million a year, although the scope won't be known
until the assessment is complete.

LUMOS NETWORKS: "Schwartz" Suit Opposes EQT Merger Deal
Jacob Schwartz, Individually And On Behalf Of All Others Similarly
Situated, Plaintiff, v. Lumos Networks Corp., Robert E. Guth,
Timothy G. Biltz, Michael K. Robinson, Shawn F. O'Donnell, Jerry
E. Vaughn, William M. Pruellage, Lawrence J. Askowitz, Peter D.
Aquino and Michael T. Sicoli, Defendants, Case No. 1:17-cv-00415
(D. Del., April 11, 2017) seeks to enjoin Defendants and all
persons acting in concert with them from proceeding with the
shareholder vote on the proposed merger or consummating the merger
of Lumos with EQT Infrastructure; rescinding, to the extent
already implemented, the said merger; rescissory damages, damages,
costs of this action, including reasonable allowance for
attorneys' and experts' fees; and such other and further relief
under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

EQT will acquire all of the outstanding common stock of Lumos for
$18.00 in cash per share, representing an enterprise value of
approximately $950 million. The merger proxy statement allegedly
fails to provide shareholders independent analyses or conducted
the disclosed analyses by Wells Fargo; a summary of that fairness
opinion; and terms of certain confidentiality agreements entered
into during the sale process. The intrinsic value of the Lumos'
common stock is materially in excess of the amount offered for
those securities in the merger given the Company's recent
financial performance and prospects for future growth and

Lumos is a fiber-based service provider covering Virginia, West
Virginia and areas of Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio and Maryland.

Plaintiff owns common stock of Lumos.[BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

      Nadeem Faruqi, Esq.
      James M. Wilson, Jr., Esq.
      685 Third Ave., 26th Fl.
      New York, NY 10017
      Telephone: (212) 983-9330
      Email: nfaruqi@faruqilaw.com

             - and -

      Michael Van Gorder, Esq.
      20 Montchanin Road, Suite 145
      Wilmington, DE 19807
      Tel: (302) 482-3182
      Email: mvangorder@faruqilaw.com

             - and -

      Juan E. Monteverde, Esq.
      The Empire State Building
      350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor
      New York, NY 10118
      Telephone: (212) 971-1341
      Email: jmonteverde@monteverdelaw.com

MARLBORO LIGHTS: Settlement Checks Have Been Shipped Out
John Lynch at Arkansas Online reports the checks are in the mail
to the 20,521 Marlboro Lights smokers who are splitting USD18
million paid to settle a lawsuit, an April 14 court order states.
Just more than 13,000 claimants are being paid 10 cents to 25
cents for every pack of Marlboro Lights or Ultra-Lights they
reported purchasing in Arkansas from when the cigarettes were
introduced in 1971 through 2010, when federal regulators forced
manufacturers to drop the light description.

Another 7,486 claimants who submitted faulty applications will
receive USD100 each as part of the payment plan approved by
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox last month.

The money is from a USD45 million settlement by cigarette maker
Philip Morris USA to end a 2003 class-action lawsuit filed in
Little Rock. The suit claimed Arkansas consumers were deliberately
misled into thinking the Lights brands were safer than traditional

The manufacturer, a subsidiary of Altria Group, denied wrongdoing.
The company had successfully fended off all but one such lawsuit
across the country before settling the Arkansas suit, which was
the last one the company had to resolve.

The Arkansas case marks the only time Philip Morris has paid a

Federal regulators barred all cigarette manufacturers in 2010 from
describing their products as "light," and the brands have been
renamed Marlboro Silver and Marlboro Gold.

In an order on April 14, Fox states that the payment checks have
been sent out.

The order approves a USD7.5 million payment to the 11 law firms
whose attorneys shepherded the litigation through the courts over
13 years -- first among them, the Thrash Law Firm of Little Rock.
The judge has also approved an additional USD57,500 for the
lawyers' expenses. The attorneys already have received USD11.9
million in legal fees and expenses.

In April 14's order, Fox ordered payments of USD26,342 to attorney
Allison Allred and USD37,000 to accountant Angie Hopkins, who are
administering the claim process for the court. They've already
received USD73,520 for their work.

The application process began in September with a nationwide
advertising campaign designed to alert potential plaintiffs to the
existence of the settlement and how they could claim a share.
Of the 26,001 applications received over the three-month claim
submission period, 13,035 were deemed valid and complete by the
court and will divide the bulk of the award money, USD17.3
million, which averages out to about USD1,325 per claim.

There were 7,486 flawed applications submitted, and each of those
claimants will be paid USD100.

By comparison, the only successful litigation against the tobacco
company, which is on appeal, won USD25 plus interest, about USD77
total, for each of that case's nearly 200,000 plaintiffs.
Of those flawed claims, about 99 percent of the applicants either
claimed to have been purchasing cigarettes illegally while
underage or reported purchasing more than five packs per day for
sustained periods.

According to information provided by the court, about 13 percent
of the underage claimants reported that they had been buying
cigarettes at least since the age of 12.

One applicant reported being born in 2015 and purchasing
cigarettes for 40 years. Four other applicants similarly reported
being born in 2015 but claimed to have been buying cigarettes for
39 years.

MBR MANAGEMENT: "Tourville" Seeks Unpaid Wages and Damages
Jesse Tourville, for himself and all others similarly situated,
Plaintiffs, v. MBR Management Corporation, Defendant, Case No.
3:17-cv-00373, (S.D. Ill., April 11, 2017), seeks all required
wages, compensatory and liquidated damages, reasonable attorneys'
fees and reimbursement of all costs and expenses incurred in
litigating this action, equitable, injunctive relief and any
further relief as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act of
1938, the Illinois Minimum Wage Law and the Illinois Wage Payment
and Collection Act.

MBR is a Domino's Pizza franchisee who operates 80 Dominos
restaurants throughout Illinois and Missouri. Plaintiff worked as
a delivery driver at Defendant's Domino's store at 427
Edwardsville Road, Troy, Illinois. Defendant allegedly failed to
fully reimburse its drivers for the full amount of their driving
expenses, thus rendering the drivers' total compensation far below
the minimum. [BN]

Plaintiff is represented by:

     Jeremiah Frei-Pearson, Esq.
     Todd S. Garber, Esq.
     Chantal Khalil, Esq.
     445 Hamilton Avenue, Suite 605
     White Plains, NY 10601
     Telephone: (914) 298-3281
     Facsimile: (914) 824-1561

            - and -

     C. Ryan Morgan,
     20 North Orange Avenue, 14th Floor
     P.O. Box 4979
     Orlando, FL 32802-4979
     Telephone: (407) 420-1414
     Facsimile: (407) 245-3401

MERCK & CO: Kahn Swick's $10.6MM Fee Request in Vioxx Suit Moved
Charles Toutant, writing for New Jersey Law Journal, reports that
a Louisiana law firm's seeking $10.6 million in legal fees from
class action firm Milberg for securities litigation against Merck
& Co. painkiller Vioxx was moved to the District of New Jersey on
March 24.

Milberg, formerly known as Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, is
accused in the suit of underpaying law firm Kahn, Swick & Foti of
Madisonville, Louisiana, which received $400,000 for its work on
the Vioxx securities case.

Kahn Swick claims in the suit that its fees from the Vioxx
securities case were reduced by strategic measures undertaken by
Milberg as the firm and two of its principals were indicted in
2006 on charges of paying kickbacks to class action plaintiffs.
Milberg principals Steven Schulman and David Bershad were each
sentenced to six months in prison in that case.

The Vioxx securities suit, filed in 2003, sought to recover
damages on behalf of shareholders for allegedly false statements
the company made about Vioxx, a pain medication that was withdrawn
from the market amid reports it caused heart problems.

In June 2016, U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler gave final
approval to a settlement that included $830 million for class
members and another $232 million in attorney fees and expenses.
The criminal indictment prompted challenges to Milberg's status as
co-lead counsel in the Vioxx securities case, Kahn Swick said in
its complaint.  Milberg retained Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein,
Brody & Agnello of Roseland as local counsel, and consented to the
appointment of two New York firms, Bernstein Litowitz Berger &
Grossman and Brower Piven, as co-lead counsel. As a result, Kahn
Swick saw its role in the case reduced.

Kahn Swick filed its fee suit in state court in the Parish of
Orleans, Louisiana, before it was removed to federal court in the
Eastern District of Louisiana and then to the District of New
Jersey.  Milberg asserted in court papers that New Jersey is a
suitable venue because a substantial portion of the events behind
the claim occurred in that district.  Furthermore, an analysis of
factors weighed in favor of transferring the case to New Jersey
for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and in the
interest of justice, the firm said.

The suit brings a petition for damages and seeks declaratory
judgment and a preliminary and permanent injunction against
Milberg.  Besides Milberg, the suit names Mark Whitehead III and
the Whitehead Law Firm of Lafayette, Louisiana, as defendants.
Whitehead and Milberg were co-liaison counsel in the Vioxx case in
Louisiana state court. Milberg claimed in its removal motion that
Whitehead and his firm are fraudulently joined defendants because
there is no reasonable basis to think the plaintiff will prevail
against them. Therefore, their citizenship must be ignored for
removal purposes, Milberg claimed.

Milberg first approached Kahn Swick in 2003 and asked the firm to
serve as its local counsel in Louisiana for Merck securities
litigation, the suit claims.  The two firms entered into an oral
agreement giving Kahn Swick 10 percent of Milberg's proceeds from
the litigation, plus Kahn Swick's lodestar for its own work as
liaison counsel.  The terms were placed in writing in 2005,
according to Kahn Swick.

The Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation transferred the
Merck securities case to New Jersey for pretrial proceedings
before U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler.  After the settlement
was reached, Special Master Layn Phillips was appointed to oversee
the division of attorney fees. Ultimately, Milberg was awarded $25

Lewis Kahn of Kahn Swick said in a statement about the fee
dispute, "We are pleased to be back in New Jersey, where we sought
to have this contract dispute resolved initially through the
court-ordered Special Master process, and look forward to moving
forward to the merits of the case.  We believe our firm fulfilled
our obligations under our written joint venture with Milberg and,
notwithstanding Milberg's indictment and subsequent diminished
role in the Merck litigation, believe that Milberg must honor this

Milberg, formerly known as a high-flying securities class action
firm, was hurt badly by the 2008 financial crisis.  The firm
notified the state of New York in late 2016 of its plans to lay
off 32 employees by late December, according to a document filed
with the state Department of Labor in September 2016.

Richard Stanley of Stanley, Flanagan & Reuter in New Orleans,
representing Milberg, did not return a call about the case.

MISSION BEACH: Employees File Suit Over Payroll Practices
Dominic Fracassa, writing for San Francisco Chronicle, reports
that Dylan Germick hoped things had turned a corner at Mission
Beach Cafe, the restaurant where he's worked as a server for
almost a decade.

For years, Mr. Germick and his colleagues at the popular San
Francisco dining spot had been frustrated over their paychecks.
Some checks came in a few days late, he said; sometimes it would
be weeks -- stretches of time when he would have to live off his
tips.  And it wasn't unusual for the checks to bounce.

"We would send group texts, 'I just went to the bank -- don't try
it,'" Mr. Germick said.

He and his colleagues were heartened in August when Bill Clarke,
Mission Beach's manager, announced he had hired a company to
handle payroll.

The sense of relief that things were now in the hands of a
professional proved short-lived.  In a matter of months, workers
received letters from the payroll company saying it was no longer
working with Mr. Clarke, who declined to comment for this article.
The letter also included a packet of information that spelled out
all the rights the workers had under California and San Francisco
labor laws.

Seeing just how badly Mission Beach Cafe was falling short spurred
Mr. Germick into action.  He and his colleagues contacted
attorneys at a nonprofit who, for months, demanded that the
restaurant shore up its payroll practices.  With little to show
for their efforts, nine workers sued Mission Beach last month,
charging that they were being deprived of "the most basic labor
protections under state and local law," according to their

In recent months, a cluster of similar lawsuits has been filed by
cooks, servers, dishwashers and other workers at Bay Area
restaurants, charging that their employers withheld wages and
tips, compelled them to work off the clock, or made them skip
mandated meal and rest breaks, among other labor code violations.

In September, Bay Area restaurant chain Burma Superstar was sued
by about 100 workers charging the restaurant with unfair wage
practices -- charges that the restaurant's management denies.  In
December, a former prep cook at Gordo Taqueria sued the
restaurant, alleging that it withheld overtime pay and tips. In
March, Tacolicious paid $900,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit
brought by two line cooks who say they were denied meal and rest
breaks and had their wages improperly withheld.

In the daily crush of meal service, complying with the state and
city's thicket of regulations isn't always top priority,
restaurant workers and managers agree.

"The mentality in restaurants has moved forward a bit. But that
old-school, grinding kind of mind set hasn't gone yet," said
Teague Moriarty, a co-founder of Sons and Daughters, a Michelin-
starred restaurant in San Francisco.  "There's 100 years of
kitchen culture of just working and working."

Gwyneth Borden, the executive director of the Golden Gate
Restaurant Association, said labor lawsuits have become an acute
concern for the organization's members in recent months.

The state's labor laws "were created for office and factory
workers with regimented schedules for how busy they are at a
particular time of day," Ms. Borden said.

Compounding the problem, many smaller restaurants can't afford a
dedicated human resources or payroll department -- a reality that
can ensnare even the most well-intentioned managers.

"It's part of running the business, but it takes such a tremendous
amount of attention in order to comply that it's been difficult
for people to comply 100 percent of the time," said Alden Parker,
an attorney at the law firm Fisher & Phillips in Sacramento who
represents restaurants in labor disputes.

A growing consciousness of their rights has played a significant
role in galvanizing restaurant workers to take employers to court,
according to attorneys and state labor officials.

"There is just more and more awareness about wage theft," said
Carole Vigne, an attorney at Legal Aid at Work, a nonprofit
representing workers in the Mission Beach, Burma Superstar and
Gordo Taqueria cases.

"I'm also seeing a greater sense of solidarity for other workers.
It's a risk going to court; it's a big investment.  And I think
that's been a noticeable change," she said.

Rather than incur the risks and expenses of going to court, many
workers choose to file individual wage and hour complaints at the
Labor Commission.  The state's labor commissioner, Julie Su, has
also played a major role in raising awareness about state law in
recent years.

In 2014, Ms. Su launched a statewide multilingual campaign called
"Wage Theft Is a Crime" to tell workers how to seek redress for
violations.  Ms. Su also reined in what she described as "random
sweep" workplace investigations in favor of a more targeted
approach that relies on reports from workers.

That year, in what was regarded as one of the biggest settlements
of its kind, around 280 workers at the Yank Sing dim sum
restaurant in San Francisco settled unpaid-wage claims against
their employer for $4 million.

"We shifted the focus to wage theft, looking for whether workers
are being paid what they're owed.  And if you focus on wages, you
get workers to come forward.  They see a tangible result from our
investigations," Ms. Su said.  The number of wage claims filed at
the Labor Commission by restaurant workers has spiked in the wake
of Su's campaign.  In 2012, shortly after she took office, there
were 2,530 wage cases filed by restaurant workers statewide. In
each subsequent year through 2016, that number has been "hovering
around 4,000 cases per year," Su said.

After what they say were years of endemic payroll problems, for
Mr. Germick and his colleagues at Mission Beach Cafe, a deepening
understanding of their rights led to their fight for fair pay.

"In our situation, the more things continued to worsen, the more
we became interested in what the laws were," Mr. Germick said. "We
have friends in the industry.  We all talk, and everyone, for the
most part, has something going on a little bit."

"I think San Francisco in general has a culture and a history of
people standing up for what's right. It seems like San Francisco
is a place where you can find help," he said.

Facts about wage theft

Wage theft occurs any time an employer doesn't pay a worker
according to the law.

According to the state's director of industrial relations, that
can mean: paying less than minimum wage, not paying workers
overtime, not allowing workers to take meal and rest breaks, or
taking workers' tips.

Immigration status is irrelevant to labor law in California.

For instructions on filing a wage claim:

MONTANA UNIVERSITY: Settles Class Action Over Insurance Policy
Keila Szpaller, writing for Missoulian, reports that the Montana
University System will make payments to employees owed medical
insurance claims -- ones it previously denied -- as part of a
class action settlement.

Lawyer Hillary Carls, who represents the class, said people are
submitting claims anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to
$120,000 that earlier had gone unpaid because the university
system's insurance policy had an exclusion that violated state

"We're talking about a population of employees who had been
injured in some way, and we're just trying to get them the
compensation they're due under Montana law," Ms. Carls said.

The Montana University System has since revised its policy, a
condition of the settlement.

A process is underway to identify others who worked for the
university system from Oct. 5, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2016, and may be
owed money as a result of the settlement, said Ms. Carls, of
Angel, Coil and Bartlett, a Bozeman firm.

She said the Montana University System used to have an exclusion
in its health insurance policy that essentially said it would not
pay benefits if other insurance was available.  The exclusion is
no longer in place.

Montana University System spokesman Kevin McRae said some 45,000
letters were mailed to people who may have had a claim in the
designated period.

He also said the university system funds its own health insurance
plan.  It keeps a "multi-million (dollar) reserve" and he said the
university system is satisfied that it has adequate funds to pay
all claims that are approved as a result of the case.

Last year, the system revised the health insurance policy in
question, Mr. McRae said.

According to the original complaint, Whitney Erin Gendron, then an
employee of Montana State University, was "negligently rear-
ended," and she was injured as a result.

The other party's automobile insurance "tendered the policy
limits," and Ms. Gendron's auto insurance paid out an additional
amount because the other motorist was under-insured, said the
court document.

But Ms. Gendron was still out $24,923 at the time in medical
costs, the complaint said.  She had health insurance through the
Montana University System and its administrator, Allegiance
Benefit Plan Management.

"When Gendron has repeatedly demanded payment under Montana's
'made whole' laws, the defendants have asserted that they need not
pay medical costs under a 'coordination of benefits' exclusion
that the defendants had inserted into the plan language," the
complaint said.

In fact, the defendants generally refused to provide health
insurance benefits when medical expenses could be paid through a
third party, such as another insurance company, according to the

But it said Ms. Gendron was not "made whole," as Montana law
requires, and the systematic and programmatic violations by the
university system "are subject to resolution through a class
action lawsuit."

Last month, Gallatin County District Court certified the class and
outlined terms of the settlement.

"With respect to claims submitted by Class Members, MUS shall pay
100 percent of the amount of medical expenses paid by an Other
Source(s) without regard to deductibles, preferred provider rates,
discounts, or co-payments," said the order, which also requires
the university system to pay 10 percent interest.

The order also said the three lawyers appointed to represent the
class will be paid reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.

A hearing is scheduled on Dec. 5, according to the order.  In the
meantime, Ms. Carls said she wants to hear from people who may be
owed money; she can be reached at hillary@angelcoilbartlett.com.

She also said Montana law is unique in the protections it provides
people owed compensation through insurance.

"I think the 'made whole' doctrine is one of the best pieces of
Montana's insurance law that we have and really distinguishes us
from other states," Ms. Carls said.

NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION: Plaintiff Seeks Mediator in ADA Case
Marc Hershberg, writing for Forbes, reports that despite making
significant progress, efforts to settle the disability lawsuit
filed against Hamilton have hit a bump in the road.

In January 2017, Mark Lasser filed a class-action lawsuit against
the Broadway show and its landlord, the Nederlander Organization,
for failing to provide full and equal access to all theatergoers.
The popular musical did not offer live audio description services,
which inform blind guests about what is happening in scenes
without dialogue, and scenes with significant visual effects.

The blind plaintiff claimed that the absence of the amenity
violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits
Broadway theaters and other public places of accommodation from
discriminating against individuals with disabilities.  Blind and
visually impaired theatergoers could not appreciate the show
without using the audio description service, resulting in a "live
musical experience that is not equal to that afforded to other

Last November, the U.S. Attorney General signed a rule requiring
all movie theaters to soon offer audio description services when
showing digital films, alert the public about the feature and
ensure that staff is available to assist patrons with the
equipment. "Given the similarities of the movie venue and the live
theater venue," the plaintiff argued that "live theaters must also
be required to provide live audio description to the blind."

In an effort to make the Broadway theater as accessible as movie
theaters, the plaintiff asked the Hamilton producers and their
landlord to provide live narration through 25 audio description
headsets during one performance each week.  The total cost of the
system would be about $25,000 with monthly maintenance fees,
estimated an audio description specialist in an interview with

However, few Broadway producers have made the investment.  Only
four long-running shows, including The Lion King and Wicked,
offered audio description services at the time of the lawsuit. "It
only makes sense to spend the money on accommodations once it's
clear a show is successful enough to run for a while," suggested
one drama critic.

The producers of Hamilton, which generated almost $3 million in
box office revenues, are now willing to open their wallets.

According to the attorney representing the plaintiff, "[t]he
parties have agreed to the major terms of a settlement, including
injunctive relief and monetary damages."  Audio description
services will be now be provided at the musical.

The plaintiff still wants the show to add information to its
website describing the headsets, train its box office staff to
ensure that all blind customers can obtain information about the
headsets, and use "qualified readers" for its live audio
description service.  But, the Hamilton team refuses to add the
terms to the settlement, arguing that it has remediated all of the

The plaintiff has asked the court to bring in a mediator.  The
judge is expected to make a ruling on the request soon.

NH MEDICAL: Judge Puts Brakes on $50MM Insurance Payouts
Kevin Landrigan, writing for New Hampshire Union Leader, reports
that Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara
recently put the brakes on releasing $50 million in surpluses from
the New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting
Association to 6,200 policyholders -- even though all parties to
this case were on board.

That's because nothing about this state-run group supplying
malpractice insurance to doctors, hospitals and other health care
providers for the past 40 years has been done quickly or without

In 2009, at the height of peak earnings and its position in the
marketplace, the JUA's surplus attracted the attention of former
Gov. John Lynch.

Lynch proposed using $110 million of it to balance the state
budget in the midst of the recession.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court, in a 3-2 decision, blocked the
move in January 2010, ruling it violated the contractual rights of
the policyholders.

"The Act constituted results in an impairment of contract in
violation of the Constitution and is, therefore, unenforceable,"
wrote Justice Carol Ann Conboy.

Chief Justice Linda Dalianis dissented; she judged it to be an
undeserved "windfall" for doctors and hospitals.

Scott O'Connell of the Nixon and Peabody firm in Manchester has
represented the policyholders struggling with the state for nearly
a decade.

"It seems like a large chunk of my adult life has been spent on
this case," Mr. O'Connell observed.  "We're approaching the finish
line, but it's certainly been a long journey. People tend to
forget how close we came to the state getting its hands on this

A labor of love

Traditional insurance companies have to return surplus profits
every year either to shareholders or to customers, but the 1975
Insurance Department creating the New Hampshire Medical
Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association (JUA) contained no such

"So the surpluses just grew and grew, year after year, decade
after decade," Mr. O'Connell said.

The high court decision led to a lower court process which
ultimately sent back that $110 million to policyholders in 2012.

Dr. Georgia Tuttle, a Lebanon dermatologist, was the lead
plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state and led the effort to
find the policyholders to make sure they got those court-ordered

"Usually if you get 80 percent of money returned in a big class
action like this, you're doing well," Mr. O'Connell said.  "Thanks
to Georgia, our return rate was 98.5 percent.  It was all her
sleuthing that found these folks or heirs decades later to make
sure they were paid."

Dr. Tuttle said with the help of others, she spent more than three
years searching for these medical professionals or their
descendants, who were spread out over seven different countries.

"I guess it was a labor of love.  I wanted to make sure they get
that money back.  The grateful reactions I have received from so
many people, it's been the most satisfying experience of my entire
life," said Tuttle, who recently stepped down as Lebanon's mayor.

Going private

Fast-forward five years and many legislative and regulatory moves
later, the JUA is liquidating and making the transition to a
competitive, private market.

Once again, there were a few hiccups along the way.

The Legislature had two commissions look at whether the insurance
market was robust enough to break up the state insurer.

As recently as November 2014, the second commission said it was
too soon to know.

"Until there is a finding that medical malpractice insurance is
not readily available in the voluntary market, and there is a
public interest that supports state action to make this coverage
available, further legislative action is premature," that
commission concluded.

That same month, Deputy Insurance Commissioner Alex Feldvebel
wrote it wasn't time for the state to fully exit the market.

"I find that while some indicators of competitors have been
improving in recent years, there continues to be substantial
evidence in support of the conclusion that the medical malpractice
insurance market for physicians, surgeons and hospitals is not a
competitive market," Mr. Feldvebel said.

Time to act

But Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny told lawmakers they had
to act on something in 2015 because the rule creating the JUA was
to expire on Jan. 1, 2017.

Mr. Sevigny's agency ultimately agreed there would be sufficient
carriers to offer this insurance and it came to support the JUA's

Many medical joint underwriting associations in other states have
similarly dissolved, but most with much smaller surpluses per
capita than this one had.

"This one was truly remarkable in that way.  It was really well-
run, had great claims history, was invested prudently and was of a
pretty decent size so it spread the risk," Mr. O'Connell said.

He credits the Legislature and then-Gov. Maggie Hassan's
administration with crafting a 2015 law that set in motion an
orderly and peaceful breakup.

"We had a good working relationship with the commissioner, the
attorney general, the governor's office," O'Connell said. "We
wanted to cover every contingency and not re-experience any of the
problems from the past, The work that went into that legislation
really removed a lot of the potential problems."

Mr. Sevigny is now the court-appointed receiver of this winding
down of the JUA and due to that quasi-judicial role, he declined
comment for this story.

$86 million surplus

The process resulted in awarding JUA's insurance business last
July to a private company, the Medical Protective Co. (MedPro)
which was given $23.8 million from the surplus to cover these

Mr. Sevigny and his expert, Special Deputy Commissioner Peter
Bengelsdorf, concluded the JUA still had $86 million in surplus.

In February he asked Judge McNamara to release $50 million to
policyholders, leaving the balance for now to deal with tax,
operating costs and any unresolved issues.

Mr. Bengelsdorf said these technical issues could keep the JUA in
receivership for "another two years."

Judge McNamara signaled in an April 2 ruling that he wanted to
ensure there were no dissenters to what had been such a
contentious process -- likely putting off the release of the $50
million to this fall.

Current Attorney General Gordon MacDonald was, with Mr. O'Connell,
one of three Nixon Peabody lawyers who fought and beat the state
over the JUA surplus; Kevin Fitzgerald served as lead counsel.

Mr. MacDonald, confirmed as attorney general earlier this month,
said that in this and five other matters involving state
government, that he would disqualify himself and turn over control
to Deputy AG Ann Rice.

Dr. Tuttle said she looks forward to final distributions of the
JUA surplus.

"The longer this goes on, the harder it will be to find these
folks. I consider them the greatest generation," Ms. Tuttle said.

NEW MEXICO: PED Faces Class Action Over Sick Leave Penalty
Rick Nathanson, writing for Albuquerque Journal, reports that
whether called sick leave or personal leave, the lawsuit claims,
it is private property that is created by the provisions of a
teacher's contract and the policies of the respective school

And under the New Mexico Constitution, "Private property shall not
be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation."

That is the crux of a class-action lawsuit filed by Logan
Municipal Schools teacher Angela Medrow over the state's policy of
penalizing teachers in their evaluations if they take more than
six days of sick time over the course of the school year -- even
if their contracts allow for more.  Named as defendants are the
New Mexico Public Education Department and PED Secretary Hanna

The suit was filed March 30 in the 1st Judicial District Court in
Santa Fe by attorney Warren F. Frost, representing Medrow and the
other class-action plaintiffs.

"As with every other employee in the state, whether public or
private, sick leave and personal leave days are part of their
compensation and benefits," Mr. Frost told the Journal on
April 14.  In this situation, "it is the government trying to take
these benefits and property away. It's no different than if the
government wanted to put a road through private property.  The
government would have to pay, or provide compensation to the
property owner."

Ms. Skandera issued a statement on April 14, saying only: "We
received the lawsuit.  It's being reviewed."

In 2012, PED adopted new regulations evaluating teacher
effectiveness using a five-tiered system.  Teachers identified as
minimally effective or ineffective were to be placed on a growth
plan after which they could be terminated unless sufficient
improvement was demonstrated.  Teacher absenteeism was among
factors considered in the evaluation as part of a teacher's
overall effectiveness.

Last August, Ms. Skandera issued a memorandum to all districts and
charter schools informing them that teachers who missed three days
of school or less would not have those absences counted as a
negative in their evaluations; and teachers missing four or more
days would have all their missed days -- including the first three
-- scored against them in their evaluations.

Earlier this month, Ms. Skandera and Gov. Susana Martinez
announced that teachers will be able to take six sick days, rather
than three, before it impacts the attendance portion of their

But six days is still less than the maximum provided for under
policies of the Logan Municipal Schools, for which plaintiff
Medrow began working during the 2004-2005 school year.

According to the district's sick leave policy, a teacher can earn
one day of sick leave per month of employment.

"Teacher contracts are nine months, therefore a teacher can earn
nine days of sick leave annually," the lawsuit says.  "A teacher
may accumulate a maximum of 90 days of sick leave, at which point
no more sick leave can be earned until the teacher's use of sick
leave causes the total to be reduced below 90."

In addition, the school district provides teachers four days of
personal leave that can be used at the discretion of the teacher.

"Under Logan's policy, two days of personal leave are provided
with no reduction in pay, and two days of leave result in the
reduction of pay in the amount of the cost of a substitute to fill
in for the teacher," the lawsuit says.

Personal leave cannot be accumulated and is available for use only
during the year for which it is granted.

In addition to asking the court to certify the lawsuit's class-
action status, Mr. Frost is asking for an injunction to prevent
PED from considering teacher sick leave as part of a teacher's

It's not clear who might be part of the class-action suit, but
during the 2014-2015 school year, Frost noted in the lawsuit, PED
identified 21,800 teachers in the state who were subject to the
evaluation system.

The lawsuit also asks for damages for all members of the class
"for the value of their earned leave that they were deprived of."

Mr. Frost told the Journal he was using a March 9 House executive
message from the governor as the starting point for damages.

In that message addressed to the state House of Representatives,
Martinez said she was proud that during the 2015-2016 school year
alone, the state and school districts saved $3.6 million by
reducing the number of teacher absences, which required the use of
fewer substitute teachers.

"If the state claims to have saved more than $3 million then it
stands to reason that the teachers are out that $3 million and
that's our starting point for damages," Mr. Frost said.

Charles Bowyer, executive director of the National Education
Association New Mexico, declined to comment specifically on the
lawsuit brought by Medrow.

"But our position remains that the sick leave penalty has no place
in a fair evaluation system aimed at improving student success,"
he said.  "Teachers must be allowed all contractual compensation
without penalty."

Further, he said, PED's rule undermines the authority of local
school boards to determine contract language for their teachers.

"Teachers serve in one of the most stressful jobs, and it's made
harder by the administrative sick leave penalty that does not
improve student success," said NEA-NM President Betty Patterson, a
special education teacher.

"It remains wrong to devalue teaching done when an educator is
healthy, simply because like other human beings, they or their own
children may be sick from time to time."

NISSAN: Faces Class Action Over Defective Sentra Transmission
David A. Wood, writing for CarComplaints.com, reports that
Nissan Sentra Transmission Lawsuit Alleges CVTs Are Defective
April 16, 2017 -- A Nissan Sentra transmission lawsuit filed in
New Jersey alleges the CVT (continuously variable transmission) in
the 2014 Sentra is prone to shaking, jerking, sudden downshifts
and other problems.

Filed by a New Jersey garbage collection company, the lawsuit
alleges Nissan Sentra transmissions have caused owners problems
for years and 2007-2010 Sentras have already been subject to a
customer service warranty program.

Nissan started the Sentra warranty extension campaign after owners
kept complaining about transmission problems.  However, the 2014
Sentra wasn't included in the program.

The lawsuit alleges Nissan knew the transmissions have defects,
yet the automaker continued to market the CVTs as superior to
other transmissions.

The company that filed the proposed class-action lawsuit, Pinto of
Montville Inc., claims the Sentra transmission was replaced four
times due to constant shaking and jerking.

Although the proposed class-action lawsuit seeks to represent 2014
Nissan Sentra owners in New Jersey alone, owners across the
country have complained about their own CVT problems.

"This CVT is garbage.  First road trip and got stuck in stop and
go traffic.  Car stopped, give it gas . . .  wait for it . . .
WHAM! engaged. Felt like getting rear ended. Happened for the
first 1000 so miles of ownership in stop and go traffic. Mentioned
it to dealership, said it was "normal" and "they all do that".
Talked to other Sentra owners and they too have the same problem.
Told it's "normal".  Took it to Dealer. Could not duplicate.
Unable to determine repair.  Said if it got worse they would
replace the transmission when the mileage was closer to 36k.
Traded car in for 2015 Altima." -- 2014 Nissan Sentra owner /
Cajon, California

"This car has a really poor CVT response . . . . When you take off
in the light or stop sign, the response is really slow and you
have to keep your foot on the gas to get power to take off or get
velocity." -- 2014 Nissan Sentra owner / Raleigh, North Carolina

One owner advised consumers to completely avoid the 2014 Sentra
because of repeated CVT problems.

"On 12/27, I noticed my car started to violently jerk and vibrate
and made horrible sounds.  The RPMs were going from 1-8 and
flopping all over the place.  The next day I started it up and
began driving it, it started FREAKING OUT AGAIN so I drove it to a
nearby auto shop.  Once they checked out the engine, he saw it was
a CVT and had it towed the dealer for repair.  Fortunately I
purchased an extended warranty when I purchased the car, because
the factory warranty ran out at 60K miles.  I know the price of
these cars seems worth it but DO NOT BUY ONE, because Nissan is
aware of these issues and still have not recalled the vehicle." --
2014 Nissan Sentra owner / Gardena, California

The plaintiff claims Nissan has concealed the defective
transmissions while never ordering a recall, even after years of
owner complaints.  In addition, the automaker allegedly falsely
advertised the transmissions as having fewer moving part to reduce
friction and heat which makes the transmissions last longer.

The Nissan Sentra transmission lawsuit was filed in the Morris
County New Jersey Superior Court -- Pinto of Montville Inc. v.
Nissan North America, Inc.

The plaintiff is represented by Carroll McNulty & Kull LLC.

Nissan has faced previous lawsuits concerning various transmission
troubles, including a lawsuit that Nissan agreed to settle over
Nissan Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60 continuously variable

Separately, a different kind of transmission problem caused the
North Carolina Consumers Council to ask the government to
investigate 2005-2010 Nissan Frontier, Pathfinder and Xterra
vehicles about transmission failures.

The petition to investigate was filed in 2012, and four years
later the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
officially declined to open an investigation.

ODWALLA INC: Asks Court to Dismiss Delivery Driver's Suit
Dorothy Atkins at Law360 reports Odwalla Inc. urged a California
judge on April 13 to toss a putative class action alleging the
juice and smoothie maker failed to provide its California delivery
drivers with meal and rest breaks, arguing the driver who filed
suit knew he was expected to take breaks but didn't so he could
finish work early and go to the gym.

Odwalla attorney Lena K. Sims of Littler Mendelson PC argued the
record is "replete" with evidence that Odwalla has a companywide
policy requiring drivers to take meal and rest breaks. Lead
plaintiff Ken Kennedy had been trained in the policy and knew he
was expected to take breaks in between delivering Odwalla drinks,
Sims said. But he chose to skip those breaks in order to leave
work early for personal reasons, and then reported to his
supervisors that he had taken the breaks, Sims argued.

"Mr. Kennedy knew about all of [the policies], but he didn't want
to take his breaks, so he falsified his records," she said.

Sims' comments came during a hearing in San Jose on Odwalla's
motion for summary judgment, which sought to end a putative class
action Kennedy launched in January 2016. The suit alleges Odwalla
shorted drivers, formally titled "route service representatives,"
by pressuring them to work through their breaks in violation of
state labor statutes and the Private Attorneys General Act. It
also alleges Odwalla failed to produce Kennedy's personnel records
when he requested them.

Odwalla sought to end the suit, arguing its rest break policies
are comprehensive and Kennedy doesn't have standing to bring PAGA
claims on behalf of other drivers. Kennedy was ultimately
terminated for using a company vehicle to go to the gym, according
to court documents.

The Half Moon Bay-based company also argued Odwalla didn't produce
Kennedy's employment records because Kennedy had mailed his
request to Odwalla's corporate office, which is run by its parent
company Coca-Cola Corp. in Atlanta, without addressing it to a
specific person. As a result, the letter went into a "sea of
documents," and Odwalla's human resources didn't receive it
immediately, Sim said.

But Kennedy's attorney Vladimir J. Kozina of Mayall Hurley PC
pushed back, arguing that Odwalla required Kennedy and other
drivers to routinely falsify their records. Evidence shows Kennedy
also only went to the gym a few times, and even on the days he
didn't, he missed his breaks in order to complete his assigned
deliveries, Kozina said.

Also, Kennedy's experience couldn't simply be a product of him
wanting to leave early to go to the gym, Kozina argued, because
his experience was corroborated by other drivers who said they
also haven't been able to take breaks due to the short delivery
windows, which had "imminently expiring time frame[s]." Kennedy
only went to the gym a "couple of times," and that in itself can't
"explain away" the fact that other drivers regularly skipped
breaks, Kozina said.

Kozina noted that Kennedy's supervisor even rode with him twice
when he didn't take breaks, so management was "obviously" aware of
the pressure Kennedy faced, but did nothing.

Kozina argued that Odwalla also pressured the drivers to miss
their breaks by adopting pay structures in which 75 percent of
their pay was based on commissions, while the rest was hourly pay.

"In essence, they're sales representatives on top of delivery
drivers," Kozina said.

Odwalla changed its pay structure after Kennedy filed the suit,
Kozina said. But before the change, the company posted the sales
numbers of the drivers so other drivers could see how their
performance compared and to encourage competition. In effect,
those policies drove Odwalla drivers to work through their breaks
in order to make their delivery windows, Kozina said. The only
reason Kennedy didn't report he was missing his breaks was because
he didn't want to get into trouble, he said.

"There was pressure, although it wasn't explicit in the sense that
they were saying they had to work through meal and rest breaks,"
Kozina said.

In a tentative ruling posted on April 12, Santa Clara Superior
Court Judge William J. Elfving mostly sided with Odwalla, saying
he was inclined to toss all of Kennedy's claims except those
alleging Odwalla failed to turn over Kennedy's personnel
documents. After oral arguments on April 13, Judge Elfving said he
would take the matter under submission.

Ken Kennedy was represented by Vladimir J. Kozina --
vjkozinaj@mayallaw.com -- of Mayall Hurley PC.

Odwalla was represented by Lena K. Sims -- lsims@littler.com --
of Littler Mendelson PC.

The case is Ken Kennedy v. Odwalla Inc., case number 16CV290202,
in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa

OILFIELD INSTRUMENTATION: "Ross" Suit to Recover Overtime Pay
Casey Ross, individually and for others similarly situated, v.
Oilfield Instrumentation, USA, Inc., Case No. 5:17-cv-00312, (W.D.
Tex., April 11, 2017), seeks to recover overtime compensation,
liquidated damages, attorney's fees, litigation costs, costs of
court, and pre-judgment and post-judgment interest under the
provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

Oilfield Instrumentation provides drilling instrumentation
equipment and related service to the oil and gas industry.
Plaintiff worked for the Defendant as a service technician, tasked
to set up and service its drilling instrumentation equipment and
oilfield instrumentation.[BN]

Plaintiff is represented by:

      Richard J. Burch, Esq.
      David I. Moulton, Esq.
      8 Greenway Plaza, Suite 1500
      Houston, TX 77046
      Telephone: (713) 877-8788
      Telecopier: (713) 877-8065
      Email: rburch@brucknerburch.com

ON TRAC: Faces "Price" Lawsuit Alleging Violation of FLSA
DANIEL TIMOTHY PRICE, on behalf of himself and all other similarly
situated employees v. ON TRAC, INC. OF TENNESSEE, Case No. 6:17-
cv-00519 (W.D. La., April 11, 2017), alleges, among others, the
Defendants failure to record/pay all hours worked and intentional
misclassification of employment Status in violation of the Fair
Labor Standards Act.

Defendant is a supplier of technical/installation services to
consumers providing cable and internet.  Plaintiff was employed by
Defendant from on or about November 2015 to August 2016, as a
fiber optic technician. [BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

     Kenneth D. St. Pe, Esq.
     311 West University Avenue, Suite A
     Lafayette, LA 70506
     Phone: (337) 534-4043

PANTAGES THEATRE: Faces Suit Over Misleading Representations
Dewbbie Sklar at My News La reports an irate fan has sued the
Pantages Theatre because he alleges a USD600 ticket package was --
he was falsely led to believe -- supposed to get him to the head
of the line to see the Broadway mega-hit "Hamilton" when it came
to Hollywood

Sanjay Bansal's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed on April
14, is a proposed class-action complaint alleging fraud, negligent
misrepresenttion, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

He seeks unspecified damages as well as a court order that he and
others who bought the "flex package" be allowed to buy "Hamilton"
tickets ahead of those who did not buy it.

The alleged misleading representations by the Pantages management
"only serves the profit-maximizing interest of the defendants,"
the suit states.

A Pantages representative did not return a call for comment.

"Hamilton," the winner of 11 Tony Awards, is one of the most
successful musicals in Broadway history and about 350,000 people
have attended the shows in New York City, the suit states.
"Tickets for `Hamilton' were one of the most sought-after events
and the secondary market for such tickets netted sellers very
large markups," the suit states.

In announcing the play would be staged at the Pantages, management
used an aggressive campaign and said only people with season
packages could be guaranteed seats to the shows, the suit states.
One of the alternative options offered was the "flex package," the
suit states, and Bansal called last July asking if buying it would
give him priority in purchasing  tickets to "Hamilton," according
to the lawsuit.

"During this phone call, plaintiff was clearly told by defendants
that if he purchased a flex package, he would be entitled to
priority access to purchase tickets at a date prior to the sale to
the general public," the suit states.

Bansal was told full-season ticket holders would have the chance
to buy additional tickets to "Hamilton" and that flex package
holders would be next in line to obtain them, the suit states.
Season packages require the purchase of tickets to all 14 shows
scheduled for this season at an estimated price in excess of
USD1,000. The flex package includes tickets to six selected shows
at prices ranging from USD302.50 to USD588.

After buying the flex package for USD583, Bansal called the
theater multiple times to find out when he could buy tickets to
the musical, the suit states.

In March, Bansal received an email from the Pantages stating that
the general public sales for the shows would begin April 30, the
suit states.

On March 14, the theater tweeted that priority access to
"Hamilton" was only offered to full-season package holders, the
suit states.

"Defendants have now adopted the position that flex package
holders would only be the first to know about any pre-sale or on-
sale dates for `Hamilton' and not actually entitled to participate
in any pre-sale purchases," a position that is "contrary to what
was represented and advertised before," the suit states.

"Hamilton" is slated to play at the Pantages from Aug. 11 to Dec.

PIOLA PROPERTY: "Jorge" Sues Over Overbilled, Unfinished Work
The Plaintiff in the case captioned Lawrence Jorge, Individually
and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, v.
Piola Property Management LLC and Christian Mantuano, Defendants,
Case No. 603127/2017 (N.Y. Sup., April 11, 2017) is the owner of a
real property located at 1 Henry Street, Bethpage New York 11714.
Jorge contracted Piola for the construction of a one family home
on said premises for $400,000.00. While Plaintiff had made certain
changes as the work progressed, the amount billed by Piola far
exceeded the reasonable cost of any such changes, in excess of
$43,069. Plaintiff had also furnished and installed some of the
work at his own expense, and Piola consistently refused to give
him full and fair credit for the materials he had furnished and
the work which was done at his sole cost and expense.

This suit seeks recovery of the amount required to complete the
contract job together with all related and consequential expenses,
cost of alternate lodging for Plaintiff and his family, continuing
interest on the construction loan, difficulty and additional
expense in securing another contractor, final accounting for all
trust assets, directing the forthwith return of all trust assets,
reasonable attorney's fees for breach and diversion of trust
assets, exemplary and punitive damages, reasonable attorney's fees
and the costs and disbursements of this action for breach of
contract and for violation of the New York Lien Law. [BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

      William Cafaro, Esq.
      108 West 39th Street, Suite 602
      New York, NY 10018
      Tel: (212) 583-7400

PLAINS ALL: Faces Suit Over Highland Oil Spill
David Hutton at Madison Record reports an Illinois trio has filed
a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court against a Plains All
American Pipeline for a 2015 oil spill that contaminated land near
HIghalnd Ill.

Kevin Nodine, Cheryl Morr and David Medlock filed the lawsuit on
Feb. 15 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of
Illinois through The Driscoll Firm in St. Louis.

The lawsuit alleges violation of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990,
trespass, negligence, negligence per se, public nuisance,
continuing public nuisance and a permanent injunction.

According to the lawsuit, a pipeline fitting burst at one of the
defendant's pump stations near Highland, causing oil to
contaminate the surrounding area.

The suit alleges that the oil contamination caused real and
lasting effect on Highland residents' properties and environment.
The impacted area includes 380 residential parcels and 120
agricultural parcels.

While the company made a public apology for the oil spill, they
have not compensated the community affected by the oil
contamination, the suit states. As a result, the class action
seeks to provide relief for the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit also names John Doe 1 through 10 as defendants, they
are corporations or partnerships, the names and addresses of which
are currently unknown.

Highland has a population of 9,860 and is situated next to Silver
Lake, a 574-acre body of water that provides the community with
its drinking water. Highland also supplies water to the villages
of Grantfork, Pierron, and St. Jacob from the lake.

The lawsuit notes that on July 10, 2015, a pipeline fitting
ruptured or otherwise failed at All American Pipeline's Pocahontas
Pump Station, near the border of Bond and Madison Counties.
The incident caused more than 4,000 gallons of crude oil to spill
into the surrounding waterways in and near Highland, including the
creek adjacent to Medlock's property, over which he has exclusive

The spill also made its way to the lake. It was detected by a
resident who reported the spill to an emergency hotline, the suit

The lawsuit states that the pipeline's leak detection system at
the Pocahontas Pump Station was defective and failed to set off
any alarms when more than 4,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into
the containment dike, a backup storage container.
According to the suit, the company was aware that erosion had
caused leakage between a drain pipe and a catchment berm of the
containment dike. The company allegedly failed to make any
immediate repairs.

According to court records, the Pocahontas Pump Station is located
in a rural agricultural area about 2.5 miles from the town of
Pocahontas and six miles from the Capwood Pipeline that runs from
All American's Patoka Station to Wood River, Ill.

Near the Pocahontas pump station is a 12-mile stretch of drainage
ditches that allow rainwater to flow into Little Silver Creek and
then into Silver Lake.

On the day of the oil spill, rainwater was flowing into the
drainage ditches. As a result, the spilled oil flowed from the
impaired containment dike at the station into the drainage ditches
and toward the creek and, ultimately, Silver Lake.

When All American became aware that crude oil was leaking from the
pump station, crews tried twice to close the main pipeline valve
located upstream of Pocahontas, but were unsuccessful.
Crews then applied the main pipeline valve farther upstream at
Kaskaskia in an effort to stop crude oil from flowing into Silver

According to the lawsuit, crude oil was seen about 8 miles away
and downstream from the pump station and in the northern portion
of Silver Lake.

Emergency personnel and government regulators responded to the
scene to assist with containment and cleanup.
The spill closed Silver Lake for recreational use for nearly two

In the wake of the spill, the U.S. Department of Transportation
Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) shut
down the Pocahontas pipeline, finding that without repairs,
continued operation of facility would be hazardous to life,
property and the environment.

On July 14, 2015, the PHMSA issued a Corrective Action Order
requiring the defendants to take certain corrective actions to
protect the public, property and the environment in connection
with the oil spill.

An independent third-party investigation was conducted by Kiefner
and Associates Inc., which found that the spill was the result of
the separation of the tubing connection; the loss of containment;
and the failures to close the main line valve.

The lawsuit also notes that the spill wasn't the first for Plains
All American.

On May 19, 2015, a corroded pipeline ruptured, spilling
approximately 101,000 gallons of crude oil along the Gaviota coast
in Santa Barbara, Calif.  Nearly 21,000 gallons made its way
through a storm culvert out into the Pacific Ocean.

The lawsuit alleges that the spill has had a detrimental impact on
the environment, wildlife and properties in the surrounding area.
The release of thousands of gallons of crude oil into Silver Lake
caused harm to plant and animal communities, soil and groundwater,
surface water and sediments, land use, and property values.

The spill also has impacted the ecosystem, soil and groundwater.
Surface water and sediments also are adversely impacted.

The appraisal industry found that residential properties in or
near an area affected by an oil spill experienced a reduction in
property values in excess of 10 percent.

The plaintiffs seek an order requiring Plains All American
Pipeline to restore the properties and waterways effected by the
spill. It also seeks damages, fees and court costs, punitive
damages and individual relief.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois case
number 3:17-cv-163

PUBLIC EDUCATION: Faces Suit Over Sick Day Policy
Cynthia Miller at Sta. Fe New Mexican reports a teacher with a
dozen years of experience in Eastern New Mexico's Logan Municipal
Schools has filed a lawsuit accusing the state Public Education
Department of stripping teachers' private property by preventing
them from using earned sick days.

The complaint centers on a controversial part of the state's
teacher evaluation system that penalizes educators for taking sick
leave after they reach a certain number of absences. Under this
policy, attorney Warren Frost said, public school districts are
giving teachers a benefit, "and you have another arm of the state
government taking it away from them. It doesn't make any sense."

The lawsuit claims the policy also violates the New Mexico

Frost is seeking class-action status for the suit, filed March 30
in state District Court in Santa Fe on behalf of Angela Medrow,
who says her performance score for the current school year will be
jeopardized by absences she has to take the last week of school
for a surgery.

If a judge agrees to the class action, Frost said, "we would be
representing all of the teachers in the state."

Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera, who is named as a
defendant, issued a brief statement through a spokeswoman: "We
received the lawsuit. It's being reviewed."

The Governor's Office referred questions to the education

The suit was filed a couple of days before Gov. Susana Martinez
announced an unexpected policy change that increases the number of
sick days a teacher can take -- to six days instead of three --
before being docked on a performance evaluation.

During an April 2 announcement in Albuquerque, Martinez called it
a compromise that was recommended by a panel of New Mexico
teachers. But leaders of two statewide teachers unions criticized
what Charles Bowyer, executive director of the National Education
Association of New Mexico, called a "small improvement to a
seriously flawed concept."

An effort to amend the teacher sick leave policy gained wide
bipartisan support in both chambers of the Legislature during the
recent 60-day legislative session. The legislation would have
allowed teachers to take up to 10 days of sick leave without
seeing any effect on their evaluation. Martinez vetoed the
measure. The governor said she was concerned such a change would
lead to more teacher absences, adding to the cost of using
substitute teachers.

Republican Sen. Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho led a successful effort
to override the Republican governor's veto in the Senate, but an
override attempt failed in the House. State Rep. Dennis Roch, a
Republican who serves as superintendent of the Logan district
where Medrow teaches, initially voted in favor of the bill but
then voted against the veto override.

Frost said Martinez's revised sick leave policy won't affect
Medrow's lawsuit. The teacher isn't arguing that the state is
allowing too few sick days without penalty or that the penalty is
unfair. Rather, her complaint says the policy is illegal --
unconstitutionally depriving teachers of a contractual benefit
without compensating them for the loss.

Bowyer, the union leader, agrees that teachers are entitled to use
their sick leave without penalty. "It's not a gift," he said in an
interview on April 14. "It's an insurance policy."
The teacher evaluation system has remained a sore spot for
teachers unions since Martinez implemented it by executive order
in 2012. Two union lawsuits challenging the system are pending in
state District Court in Santa Fe. NEA-New Mexico filed one of the
complaints in 2014, claiming the system unlawfully takes control
over evaluating and supervising teachers from away local school

New Mexico's chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, the
Albuquerque Teachers Federation and other plaintiffs contend in a
suit filed in 2014 that the evaluations could put teachers at risk
of being punished or even fired.
The cases are expected to be heard in separate courtrooms in

QUEBEC: Court Allows Suit Over School Fees to Go Ahead
Montreal Gazette reports Quebec school boards that hoped to see
the failure of a class action over school supply fees suffered a
setback in the Quebec Court of Appeal.

The class action was taken by the mother of a family in the
Saguenay region, unhappy with supply fees she was paying for her
children to attend public school.

In a ruling in December, Daisye Marcil obtained the right to
initiate a class action against some 60 school boards in Quebec.
Those school boards then asked to appeal the ruling. They said the
authorizing judge had committed errors of law, alleging in
particular that the group of those who could be compensated would
be too large.

The Quebec Court of Appeal refused their request on April 13.
Justice Jean-Franáois Emond ruled that the school boards did
not demonstrate manifest or unreasonable error.

Marcil wants the fees paid by the parents of 900,000 Quebec
students returned plus CAD100 per member as punitive damages.

Marcil's children were students Ecole Notre-Dame-du-Sourire, part
of the Jonquiere School Board. She paid, for one school year,
CAD41 for educational trips, a grammar book, photocopy fees, a
recorder and a protractor. The list varies greatly between schools
and for some includes USB keys, calculators and tennis balls.

She criticized the school boards for allowing schools to bill all
these supplies to parents, despite their children attending
tuition-free public school.

The claimed fees are since the 2008-2009 school year for some
school boards and more recently for the others.

The mother of two children estimates that the school boards are
contravening the Loi sur l'instruction publique, which stipulates
school must be free at the primary and secondary level.

The class action will go ahead, but it may be several years before
any verdict is rendered.

RASH CURTIS: Faces "Richardson" Lawsuit Under TCPA, FDCPA
Kourtney Richardson, on behalf of herself and others similarly
situated, Plaintiff, vs. Rash Curtis & Associates,
Defendant, Case No. 4:17-cv-02047-KAW (N.D. Cal., April 12, 2017),
alleges that Defendant routinely violates the Telephone Consumer
Protection Act (TCPA) by placing non-emergency telephone calls to
consumers' cellular telephone numbers by using an automatic
telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice,
without the prior express consent of the consumers, in that
Defendant routinely dials wrong or reassigned telephone numbers
that do not belong to the intended recipients of the calls.
Defendant also routinely violates the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act by engaging in conduct the natural consequence of
which is to harass, oppress, or abuse consumers in connection with
the collection of debts, in that it continues to call consumers
for the purpose of debt collection even after being informed that
it is calling the wrong person.

Defendant is a debt collection company based in Vacaville,
California. [BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

     Todd M. Friedman, Esq.
     21550 Oxnard St., Suite 780
     Woodland Hills, CA 91367
     Phone: 877-206-4741
     Fax: 866-633-0228
     E-mail: tfriedman@toddflaw.com

        - and -

     Michael L. Greenwald, Esq.
     5550 Glades Road, Suite 500
     Boca Raton, FL 33431
     Phone: (561) 826-5477
     Fax: (561) 961-5684
     E-mail: mgreenwald@gdrlawfirm.com

SANTA ROSA: Cheated Fire Fighters on Overtime Pay, Suit Claims
Kevin Mccallum at The Press Democrat reports Santa Rosa
firefighters are suing the city in federal court, claiming they've
been systematically cheated out of overtime for years.

The city's 118 unionized firefighters say the city is improperly
calculating their overtime pay, and they now want to recoup their
losses for the past three years, plus interest, costs and
attorney's fees. The suit could cost taxpayers hundreds of
thousands of dollars based on rough calculations.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on
March 27. The two sides began mediation and have another session
scheduled for May 9.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the law under which the
firefighters are suing, allows employees to recover lost wages
going back three years.

The case could widen, though, as the complaint suggests the city
has similarly underpaid police officers and asks the court to
allow them to join the case, which is known as a collective action
suit, similar to a class action.

Tim Aboudara, local president of the firefighters' union, and
Rhonda McKinnon, the city's human resources director, both
declined to comment on April 14, citing the confidentiality
agreement in place during mediation efforts.

The Fire Department spends about USD20 million a year on salaries,
while the Police Department spends about USD30 million. Most
firefighters make well over USD100,000 annually, including tens of
thousands of dollars in overtime and other special pay.

Firefighters' salaries have increased more than 30 percent over
the past decade, but their contributions to retirement costs have
also increased, according to city records.

Detailed information about the overtime calculations was not
immediately available on April 14, with most City Hall offices

Mastagni Holstedt, the Sacramento law firm representing the 118
firefighters -- all members of the International Association of
Firefighters, Local 1401 -- specializes in employment law and
claims to have recovered millions of dollars for California

The suit claims that the city has long miscalculated what
constitutes "regular pay" for firefighters. That figure is
important because it is what influences rates for other types of
pay, particularly overtime. For example, if a firefighter's
regular pay is USD50 an hour, his or her overtime rate would be
USD75 per hour. But if the regular pay should have been based on a
USD60 rate, the overtime rate would rise to USD90 an hour.

The suit claims that the city failed to take into account two
types of earnings many firefighters receive when calculating
regular pay.

These include "holiday in lieu pay," which is meant to compensate
firefighters for the fact that many have to work holidays. That
pay is received every year in early December and amounts to 168
hours of pay. A firefighter who makes USD50 an hour, for example,
would be paid USD8,400 in holiday pay.

The other pay at issue is the 24 hours of "sick leave incentive
pay" that goes to firefighters who use less than 56 hours of sick
time each year.

The city has been paying the firefighters those two types of pay,
but they've been excluding them from the calculation of regular
pay, according to the suit. This has led to overtime being
systematically underpaid, as well as other payments that are based
on regular pay, the suit claims.

This includes the payout of "compensatory time off," which is time
off that can be taken instead of overtime pay. Employees can
accumulate such time off and cash it out when they retire.
The suit claims the city's actions were "willful" and have
continued since firefighters originally raised the issue.

The City Council is expected to have another closed-door briefing
on the case on April 18.

SCHOOL BOARD OF MIAMI-DADE: "Pineda" Suit Alleges FLSA Violation
ORLANDO PINEDA, and all others similarly situated under 29 U.S.C
206(B), Plaintiff, v. The School Board of Miami-Dade County,
Defendant, Case No. 1:17-cv-21378-KMW (S.D. Fla., April 12, 2017),
alleges that Defendant willfully and intentionally failed/refused
to pay to Plaintiff the required overtime rate of time and one
half, as required by the FLSA.

The School Board is/was a political subdivision of the state of
Florida.  Plaintiff worked as a custodian for the School Board for
approximately five years. [BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

     Monica Espino, Esq.
     2250 SW 3rd Avenue, 4th Floor
     Miami, FL 33129
     Phone: (305) 704-3172
     Fax: (305) 722-7378
     E-mail: me@espino-law.com

SCOTTS MIRACLE-GRO: Faces "Oziablo" Lawsuit Under FLSA, NJWHL
DANIEL OZIABLO, on behalf of himself and similarly situated
employees, Plaintiff, v. THE SCOTTS MIRACLE-GRO COMPANY and
TRUGREEN LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, Defendant, Case No. 2:17-cv-02548-
JMV-JBC (D.N.J., April 12, 2017), claims that when Plaintiff and
other Lawn Service Employees have worked over 40 hours per week,
Defendants have paid them overtime premium compensation. However,
in calculating the amount of overtime premium compensation owed,
Defendants, as a matter of policy, have not included commissions
or non-discretionary bonuses in determining the "regular rate" or
the "regular hourly wage." This failure has resulted in Plaintiff
and other Lawn Service Employees receiving less overtime premium
compensation than is legally required under the Fair Labor
Standards Act and the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company operated the "Scotts LawnService"
business, which provided residential and commercial lawn, tree,
and shrub care services throughout the United States.  Plaintiff
is employed as a Lawn Service Employee. [BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

     Peter Winebrake, Esq.
     R. Andrew Santillo, Esq.
     Mark J. Gottesfeld, Esq.
     715 Twining Road, Suite 211
     Dresher, PA 19025
     Phone: (215) 884-2491

        - and -

     Robert R. Debes, jr.
     11 Greenway Plaza, Suite 1515
     Houston, TX 77046
     Tel: (713) 621-2277
     E-mail: bdebes@eeoc.net

SPRINT CORP: "Scott" Seeks Work-Relate Benefits, Reimbursements
Tashian R. Scott, on his own behalf and on behalf of all those
similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. Sprint Corporation,
Sprint/United Management Corporation, Legion Inc., Latitude Group,
Credico (USA), LLC and Alon Brener, an individual, Defendants,
Case No. RG17856280 (Cal. Super., April 11, 2017), seeks to
recover wages and penalties for the Defendants' failure to pay the
minimum wage and overtime, failure to properly maintain and
provide accurate itemized wage statements, failure to provide
required notifications regarding employees' pay, failure to
provide meal periods and paid rest periods, failure to maintain
proper piece-rate records, failure to properly reimburse for
travel expenses, unlawful deductions from wages, and failure to
pay all wages due upon termination of employment in violation of
the California Labor Law and applicable Industrial Welfare
Commission Wage Orders.

Scott worked for the Sprint Group as a sales representative
through Legion, Latitude and Credco, labor contractor agencies.
Sprint usually requires Plaintiff to travel, thus incurring
vehicle expenses. He claims to be paid a flat rate per job
regardless of the time need to complete such. [BN]

The Plaintiff is represented by:

      David A. Rosenfeld, Esq.
      Caren P. Sencer, Esq.
      David W.M. Fujimoto, Esq.
      1001 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 200
      Alameda, CA 94501
      Telephone: (510) 337-1001
      Fax: (510) 337-1023
      E-Mail: drosenfeld@unioncounsel.net

ST. CLAIR, AL: Systemic Prison Problems Persists Amidst Changes
The Washington Post reports solitary confinement in a tiny, often
sweltering, cell is something that most prison inmates try to
avoid at all costs. Not so at Alabama's notorious St. Clair
Correctional Facility. So dangerous are the conditions there that
prisoners actually prefer the segregation units to the general
population, where they daily run the risk of being violently
assaulted, raped and even murdered. What's most appalling about
the nightmarish conditions is that those in authority don't seem
to see any urgency in bringing about improvement and have instead
tolerated the culture of violence.

The problems at the facility, one of six maximum-security prisons
in Alabama, were recently highlighted by the New York Times. "In
recent years, even by the standards of one of the nation's most
dysfunctional prison systems, St. Clair stood out for its
violence," wrote Campbell Robertson, detailing rampant violence
and sexual abuse by both inmates and prison staff. "Like Devil's
Island," was how one current inmate described the facility. Knives
were ubiquitous and corrections officers absented themselves from
cell blocks for long periods as calls for help from vulnerable
inmates went unheeded.

The article cited overcrowding, understaffing and shoddy
facilities, but most of the blame was placed on poor prison
leadership, which has ignored and even encouraged the abuses. It
is a conclusion that matches an investigation by the Montgomery-
based Equal Justice Initiative, which in 2014 filed a class action
federal lawsuit on behalf of inmates at St. Clair after its
efforts to get the state to do something about the dangerous
conditions were ignored. The final straw for the group was the
September 2014 murder of Timothy Duncan, the sixth homicide in
three years.

Since the lawsuit was filed, there have been some fixes, including
a security upgrade that replaced the broken locks on cell doors
and a reduction in the inmate population. State corrections
officials report a downward trend in the number of inmate-on-
inmate and inmate-on-staff assaults. But more must be done to
address the serious, systemic problems that persist. The Equal
Justice lawsuit is in court-ordered mediation, a comprehensive
plan to transform the state prison system is before the state
legislature and the U.S. Justice Department has launched a broad
overall review of the prison system.

Let's hope these responses lead to productive steps in improving
prisoner protection and programs. If not, the reflections of Mr.
Robertson on his visit to St. Clair are bound to be borne out:
"You know that terrible violence has happened here and will almost
certainly happen again."

SYNGENTA: GMO Corn Suit Advancing in Federal Court
Ray Scherer at News Press Now reports that several lawsuits on
genetically modified corn that include area farmers are advancing
in the federal court system.

Attorneys representing Northwest Missouri and other farmers are
claiming their clients deserve compensation from the losses they
incurred due to the market activities of Swiss-based Syngenta, a
global agrochemical company.

Several law firms have banded together on the suit, which claims
that a certain variety of genetically modified corn was introduced
onto the market, knowing that the action would result in lower
prices through a cross-contamination of the world crop. GMOs are
engineered to help create large crops or foster better protection
against insects.

The allegations stem from the introduction by Syngenta of the
genetically modified organism trait Agrisure Viptera (MIR 162) in

Call & Gentry Law Group of Jefferson City, Missouri, dispatched
two lawyers to the region a year ago to secure more plaintiffs.
That firm has joined with lead counsel Watts Guerra of San

Watts Guerra is notifying the plaintiff farmers that a jury trial
in the case has been set for a Minneapolis court on April 24.
Lawyers said the trial is the first in the matter and will serve
as a bellwether. Legally, a bellwether is a case that the court
and the parties have selected to test their arguments -- with the
goal of moving the overall litigation towards resolution.

A Minnesota judge has ruled that the plaintiffs will be able to
pursue punitive damages based on Syngenta's conduct. The trial is
expected to last three or four weeks, with a verdict possible by

A second trial in the case is set to begin Monday, June 5, in a
Kansas City, Kansas, federal court. That case is expected to take
a month, and will represent more class-action claims. A third
trial is scheduled to start Monday, Aug. 14, in Minneapolis and
only involves claims made by Minnesota farmers.

Efforts also are underway to reach out-of-court settlements in the
cases, although lawyers said negotiations have been complicated by
the pending sale of Syngenta to another agrochemical company,
ChemChina. Lawyers further allege that Syngenta realized that it
may be difficult to obtain approval of the GMO from China.

At last count, there were almost 50,000 individuals from Missouri
and other Corn Belt states involved in the suits. Farmers are
being guaranteed 60 percent of the recovery, according to Call &
Gentry. Estimates show profits that reached into billions of
dollars were erased over 1´ years because of the controversy.

TAKATA CORP: Bankruptcy Looms After Settling Class Action
Business Times reports that potential rescuers of Japan's Takata
Corp have extended talks, already in their 14th month, for a deal
to take over the air bag maker at the heart of the auto industry's
biggest safety recall, people briefed on the process said.

Car-parts maker Key Safety Systems Inc (KSS) and Bain Capital LLC
are the preferred bidder for Takata, whose faulty air bags have
been blamed for at least 16 deaths worldwide.

Discussions that include the steering committee tapped by the air
bag maker to oversee the search for a financial sponsor, automaker
clients, suitors and bankers are now likely to run on until at
least end-May, three people told Reuters.

The parties have already moved beyond an informal, self-imposed
end-March deadline to thrash out a deal.

Recent talks, described by two participants as "chaotic", have
focused on issues such as an indemnity agreement to cover
reimbursement costs for air bag recalls, estimated to be as high
as USD10 billion.

KSS, a US-based maker of air bags, seatbelts and steering wheels,
and Bain, a US private equity fund, are still conducting due
diligence, one of those close to the matter said.

Another said KSS -- which was bought last year by China's Ningbo
Joyson Electronic Corp -- and Bain plan to offer around JPY200
billion  (SGD2.56 billion) for Takata.

A spokesman for Takata and the steering committee declined to
comment. A spokeswoman for KSS also declined to comment.
Automakers including Honda Motor Co, which have been footing the
bill for recalls dating back to 2008, want Takata restructured
through a transparent court-ordered process such as bankruptcy,
which would wipe out the firm's shareholder value, four automaker
sources have told Reuters.

"There's no other option," said one automaker executive. "A
privately arranged restructuring would require them to repay
billions. They can't afford that." But Takata, the world's second-
biggest air bag maker, is holding out for a "private
restructuring" that would preserve some of the founding Takada
family's 60 per cent stake.

The clock is ticking for Takata, whose stock has cratered 90 per
cent since the recall crisis began escalating in early 2014.
US federal Judge George Steeh in February cited the potential for
Takata to collapse if it couldn't find a buyer.

Takata pleaded guilty in Steeh's District Court to a felony charge
as part of a USUSD1 billion settlement with automakers and victims
of its inflators, which can explode with excessive force, blasting
shrapnel into passenger areas.

The company, which began as a textiles firm and became an early
maker of seatbelts, is also trying to settle legal liabilities in
the United States, where it faces a class-action lawsuit, and
other countries where its air bag inflators have exploded.
Takata has denied speculation it would have to seek some form of
bankruptcy protection from creditors in the United States or

The company has not been allowed to simply disappear as the auto
industry needs it to keep producing the millions of inflators
needed to replace recalled air bags -- though some automakers have
switched to rival suppliers.

Also, the government in Tokyo is keen to preserve a major Japanese
maker of air bags in a global industry dominated by just three

UBER: San Diego Judge Advances False Advertising Claims
Matt Reynolds at Courthouse News reports a San Diego taxicab
company's class action lawsuit alleging that Uber made false and
exaggerated claims about passenger safety and driver background
checks has survived the ride-hailing service's attempt to throw it
out of court.

Delux Cab, an operator of seven taxicabs in San Diego, sued Uber
in December 2016 in the Southern District of California, accusing
the company of touting "industry-leading" background screening and
strict safety standards while making disparaging remarks about
competing taxicab owners and drivers.

Delux Cab says Uber exaggerated the thoroughness of its background
screening, including claims the checks encompass the past seven
years for applicants and include checks at the county, state and
federal levels. Such procedures are not "industry-leading" as Uber
claims, according to Delux.

In fact, San Diego and most other cities require taxicab companies
to run drivers' fingerprints through the U.S. Department of
Justice's and FBI's databases, according to the lawsuit. As a
result, the taxicab company says, Uber's background checks have an
error rate of 43 percent compared to a one percent error rate for
taxicab companies that run applicants' fingerprints during
background screening.

Uber asked U.S. District Judge Cathy Bencivengo to throw out the
lawsuit, which alleged a single count of false advertising under
the Lanham Act.  But on April 13, Bencivengo ruled that the
taxicab company had done enough to advance its case.

A "reasonable consumer might conclude that Uber's claims that its
rides are safest, its standards are strictest, and its background
check procedures are more rigorous than competitors' are based in
objectively measurable fact, and might reasonably rely upon them
in deciding whether or not to use Uber," Bencivengo wrote in her
15-page order.

Bencivengo found the taxicab company had clearly alleged that
Uber's statements about its superior safety and background checks
caused lost revenue, a drop in profits and a dent to its

"As a direct result, customers were induced to choose Uber's
products and services over plaintiff's and the taxi industry's
products and services," the judge continued.

Bencivengo agreed with Uber on one point, finding that official
statements made to the media in connection with news reports on
flaws in ride-hailing services' background checks are protected
under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"Because the challenged statements are 'inextricably intertwined'
with the reporters' coverage of a matter of public concern, i.e.
whether Uber is safe for riders, they cannot constitute commercial
speech actionable under the Lanham Act," Bencivengo wrote in her
15-page order.

The San Diego court relied heavily on an earlier ruling, L.A. Taxi
Cooperative v. Uber Technologies Inc., in a San Francisco court
that dealt with similar claims. U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar
presided over that case.

However, the parties voluntarily dismissed that lawsuit this week.
Uber is valued at USD70 billion and offers its services in more
than 70 countries. Despite its success, the Silicon Valley startup
has been at the center of multiple controversies surrounding its
business practices. Current and former employees have revealed an
aggressive workplace culture, including allegations of drivers
cheated out of their full fees, discrimination and sexual

Since its inception in 2009, the company has grown into an
industry leader even as it has faced a wave of lawsuits from
cities, governments, drivers, passengers and competitors. Last
year, CNN Money reported more than 70 pending lawsuits against
Uber over employee benefits, accessibility, price fixing, safety
and safe-riding fees.

Uber agreed to pay USD25 million in April 2016 to settle a lawsuit
filed in San Francisco and Los Angeles over its claims about
background checks.  Some have voiced concern that criminals can
sign up to drive for the company because it does not require
fingerprint checks.

Judge Bencivengo denied Uber's motion to strike the taxicab
companies' class allegations and denied Uber's request for a
hearing in the judge's courtroom, ordering the company to file an
answer to the complaint by May 5.

Uber declined a request for comment on the case's most recent

VIRGINIA: Plaintiffs Seek Reversal of DMV Class Action Dismissal
Dean Seal, writing for Daily Progress, reports that plaintiffs in
a recently dismissed class-action lawsuit against the commissioner
of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles are asking a federal
judge to reverse his decision to drop the case.

On behalf of the four indigent plaintiffs, including a man from
Charlottesville, attorneys from the Legal Aid Justice Center said
in an April 10 filing that Judge Norman K. Moon's March 13 written
opinion was based on "mistakes of facts and law" that affected his
decision to dismiss the case.

The original complaint, filed in July against Richard D. Holcomb
in his capacity as DMV commissioner, sought to dismantle the
agency's practice of automatically suspending the driver's
licenses of convicted individuals who have not paid their court
fines and fees.  The statute is unconstitutional, they argued, in
that it "paradoxically" hinders an individual's ability to pay off
outstanding court fees by limiting their ability to find and keep
a job.

"In other words, because [the plaintiff] cannot pay the fees, his
license is suspended, but because his license is suspended, he
cannot pay the fees," Judge Moon summarized in his March 13

While Judge Moon conceded that the case might have merit, he said
he did not have the jurisdictional authority to consider it.  Just
as the DMV contended in its motion to toss the case, Judge Moon
wrote that because the state courts are the issuers of the
suspension orders and the DMV merely executes them, the plaintiffs
would need to file their claim in the state's appellate courts
"and, ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court."

"Here, because the state courts, not the commissioner, suspended
the licenses, the complained-of injury is not fairly traceable to
the commissioner and cannot be fixed by a court order against
him," Judge Moon wrote.

While attorneys for the plaintiffs expressed disappointment in the
ruling, their April 10 filing alleges that Judge Moon based his
opinion on a few factual mistakes.

First, the filing alleges that the court was mistaken in asserting
that court costs and fines are due "immediately" at the time of
conviction; they are instead due up to 30 days after sentencing,
which is frequently done at a hearing held sometime after an
individual is convicted.

Secondly, Judge Moon stated in his opinion that the suspension is
"unequivocally and unambiguously ordered by the court;" in their
latest motion, counsel for the plaintiffs assert that, per
Virginia law, courts only provide defendants with acknowledgement
forms about suspensions for non-payments and orders "regarding
payment arrangements, not suspension."  Case law shows that these
forms cannot be seen as a "self-executing suspension," they argue,
and thus it is up to the DMV to actually execute the suspension.

Lastly, counsel for the plaintiffs contend that the court was
incorrect in stating that court clerks send a record of license
suspensions to the DMV and that "the suspension is a legal reality
that preexists any involvement whatsoever from the commissioner."

While court clerks maintain computer records of individuals'
non-payments, which are sent to the DMV, "there is no independent
record of a license suspension except that which is maintained by
the DMV" -- a fact confirmed by Llezelle Dugger, clerk of
Charlottesville Circuit Court, the April 10 filing reads.

"No clerk or judge enters an order of license suspension for
failure to pay court costs or fines," it continues.  "When DMV
receives a transmission from [the financial management system]
that an account is in default, DMV suspends the account holder's
license, not the clerk or judge."

With that in mind, the filing asserts that license suspension is
in fact an administrative action, rather than a judicial order,
thus refuting Moon and the DMV's stance that the suit should
instead be filed against the state's courts.

"When you want to challenge an unconstitutional statute, you sue
the state official responsible for executing it," said
Angela Ciolfi, an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center, in a
news release. "That's what the plaintiffs did."

The latest filing asks Moon to amend his decision, reinstate the
case and deny the DMV's motion to dismiss. The lawsuit ultimately
seeks to end the automatic suspension policy and reinstate the
licenses of the hundreds of thousands of Virginians who already
have lost them because of it.

"Nearly 1 million Virginia drivers currently have at least one
suspension on their license for failure to pay, including
approximately 650,000 people whose licenses are suspended solely
for not paying court costs and fines," Ms. Ciolfi wrote in the
release.  "These long-suffering Virginia drivers will continue to
endure a never-ending cycle of debt and incarceration, so long as
the law forces them to choose between driving illegally and
forsaking the needs of their families."

WELLS FARGO: Law Dep't Criticized Over Fake Accounts Scandal
C. Ryan Barber, writing for The National Law Journal, reports that
in May 2015, two weeks after Los Angeles sued Wells Fargo & Co.
over alleged fraudulent sales practices in the city, the bank's
risk committee summoned top executives for a presentation on the
brewing scandal.

After an opening presentation by James Strother, the bank's
general counsel at the time, Carrie Tolstedt, then the head of
community banking, reported that the bank had fired 230 employees
following an investigation that began in southern California and
expanded across "the retail banking footprint" in 2013 and 2014.
That number -- 230 -- blindsided the risk committee, but it was
just a fraction of the firings that have stemmed from the bank's
sales practices.  Still, it marked the first time board members
had heard of large-scale firings, according to a report by law
firm Shearman & Sterling, which the Wells Fargo board hired to
conduct an independent investigation into the scandal.

The report, released on April 10, was commissioned by Wells Fargo
last year after the bank agreed to pay $185 million to settle
accusations that employees opened as many as 2.1 million
potentially unauthorized accounts by transferring funds without
customers' consent from existing accounts.  Since that September
2016 settlement, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has resigned, and Ms.
Tolstedt and Mr. Strother -- the two presenters at that May 2015
meeting -- have both retired.  Former Cravath, Swaine & Moore
partner C. Allen Parker was named in March as the new general
counsel, and Mr. Strother is staying on for several months to help
with the transition.

Mr. Strother declined to comment on the report.  In a prepared
statement, Wells Fargo president and CEO Tim Sloan said, "We
accept the board's findings as a critical part of our journey to
rebuild trust."  Sloan said the board's "findings provide another
important opportunity to learn from our mistakes and take action
to improve the way we operate, serve customers, and lead our team

The report's account of that May 2015 meeting spoke to a larger
issue highlighted by Shearman & Sterling: Mr. Strother's legal
department failed to appreciate the gravity of situation facing
Wells Fargo as alarm bells were sounding.

As late as the September 2016 settlement with the Los Angeles city
attorney, along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and
the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, "there continued to be
a lack of recognition within the law department (as in other parts
of Wells Fargo) about the significance of the number of sales
integrity terminations, and the potential reputational
consequences associated with that number," the report stated.

"The law department's focus was principally on quantifiable
monetary costs -- damages, fines, penalties, restitution," the
report said.  "Confident those costs would be relatively modest,
the law department did not appreciate that sales integrity issues
reflected a systemic breakdown in Wells Fargo's culture and values
and an ongoing failure to correct the widespread breaches of trust
in the misuse of customers' personal data and financial

Mr. Strother is only named three times in the 113-page report --
but his legal department is faulted throughout.  According to the
report, sales practices were highlighted to the board in 2014 as a
"noteworthy risk."  But the information and advice with that "did
not highlight or identify the potential consequences of the
misconduct that were distinctly legal in nature," the report
states, listing "a cascade of civil litigation, regulatory action
from a host of federal and state agencies and the resulting
serious harm to Wells Fargo's reputation" as examples.

In 2013, Wells Fargo's internal investigations group and a team
created in response to allegations of inappropriate sales
practices launched a probe into the Los Angeles regional bank,
according to Shearman & Sterling's report.  The investigation
sought to follow-up on internal reports that identified unusual
funding activity with accounts, along with changes in the phone
numbers associated with those accounts.

"Although some line-level employment lawyers provided advice and
guidance in the course of the investigation, its significance was
not escalated, and senior employment attorneys only learned
details of the investigation after the media began to inquire
about the terminations," the report said.

By early October 2013, leaders in the law department grew
concerned by the "lack of escalation by the line-level attorneys."
Mr. Strother was briefed at end of the month, but his department
"did not further escalate the existence or details of the
investigation to the board or any board committees at that time,"
according to the report.

Federal regulators are still investigating the fake-account
scandal at Wells Fargo, generating significant work for many
firms. Wells Fargo said in a securities filing in November that it
had set aside at least $1.7 billion to confront a litigation wave.

Wells Fargo said it would pay $110 million to resolve a dozen
class actions rooted in the sham accounts scandal.
Copyright National Law Journal.

WELLS FARGO: Allen Parker Named New GC Amid Fake Accounts Scandal
C. Ryan Barber, writing for Corporate Counsel, reports that C.
Allen Parker, a Cravath, Swaine & Moore partner in New York who
has long represented big banks on corporate matters, was named on
March 6 the next top lawyer for Wells Fargo & Co.

Mr. Parker will succeed James Strother, the bank's general counsel
since 2003, who had planned to retire at the end of 2016 but
stayed on to guide Wells Fargo through its sham account scandal.

In September, the bank agreed to pay $185 million to resolve
claims that thousands of employees opened as many as 2 million
accounts without customers' permission in a widespread scheme
driven by sales goals and potential bonuses.  Wells Fargo in
November said it had set aside at least $1.7 billion to face a
wave of litigation associated with the fake account scandal.

The announcement of Mr. Parker's hiring comes a week after the
bank cut compensation for eight top executives, including
Strother, to "reinforce accountability."  Mr. Strother will stay
at Wells Fargo for the next several months to help with the
transition, the bank said.

Mr. Parker was set to start March 27 in San Francisco, where Wells
Fargo is based.

"Allen is well known throughout the legal and financial services
industries not only for advising some of the world's largest
companies on their most complex legal matters, but also for his
strong character, integrity, and high ethical standards," Wells
Fargo chief executive Tim Sloan said in a prepared statement. "His
background and corporate experience make him the ideal leader for
this role as his efforts will be instrumental in helping our
company continue to rebuild trust, make things right with
customers, and build a better Wells Fargo."

Mr. Sloan, who was among the eight executives denied a 2016 bonus
and other compensation, described Mr. Strother as an
"extraordinary leader and strategic adviser."

"He has developed and led an excellent legal team, been a long-
time advocate for team member engagement, diversity and inclusion,
and mentoring, and exemplifies our values in all that he does.
His impact will be felt for many years to come," Sloan said.

Mr. Parker, the presiding partner at Cravath from January 2013 to
last December, comes to Wells Fargo having represented JPMorgan
Chase, Citigroup and DreamWorks Studios, among other clients.

"Blue chips don't get any more blue than Allen Parker," the late
James Lee Jr., then vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase, told The New
York Times in June 2012.  "He has helped me tremendously as we
built our investment banking business over the years."

A Cravath lawyer since 1984, Parker became a Cravath partner six
years later.  He was chosen as the firm's presiding partner in
2012, succeeding Evan Chesler.  From 2007 until last December,
Parker was chairman of the firm's diversity committee.

Cravath in July elected Faiza Saeed as the firm's new presiding
partner.  Ms. Saeed, a mergers and acquisitions partner, is the
first woman to lead Cravath.

"Over the last 25 years, Allen has been one of the most respected
banking lawyers in the United States, a highly valued and admired
partner in our firm, and a mentor to countless young people," Ms.
Saeed said in a statement.  "We are so pleased that Allen will now
be joining our client of many years, Wells Fargo, and we look
forward to continuing our relationship with him in this new

It remains unclear exactly when the CFPB will finalize the
arbitration rule and face the risk of a congressional override.

WILDCAT INVESTMENTS: Faces "Mende" Lawsuit Under Ohio Wage Act
JACKSON MENDE, on behalf of himself and all others similarly
situated, Plaintiff, against WILDCAT INVESTMENTS, LLC; WILDCAT
CINCINNATI, LLC, Defendants, Case No. 2:17-cv-00286-MHW-KAJ (S.D.
Ohio, April 12, 2017), seeks to recover alleged unpaid overtime
compensation under the Ohio Minimum Wage Act, for Plaintiff and
other current and former Assistant Store Managers, who worked more
than 40 hours in any workweek at any Jimmy John's store owned by
Defendants in the state of Ohio.

Plaintiff worked for Defendants as an Assistant Store Manager.
Wildcat Investments, LLC is a franchise development company
specializing in innovative, family-friendly restaurant concepts.

The Plaintiff is represented by:

     Drew Legando, Esq.
     1360 West 9th Street, Suite 200
     Cleveland, OH 44113
     Phone: (216) 522-9000
     Fax: (216) 522-9007
     E-mail:  drew@lgmlegal.com

        - and -

     Seth R. Lesser,
     Two International Drive, Suite 350
     Rye Brook, NY 10573
     Phone: (914) 934-9200
     Fax: (914) 934-9220
     E-mail:  seth@klafterolsen.com

        - and -

     Justin M. Swartz, Esq.
     3 Park Avenue, 29th Floor
     New York, NY 10016
     Phone: (212) 245-1000
     Fax: (212) 977-4005
     E-mail: jms@outtengolden.com

VOLKSWAGEN AG: Judge Tosses Hagens Berman's $28.5MM Fee Request
Amanda Bronstad, writing for The Recorder, reports that
"Simply not appropriate."  That's what U.S. District Judge Charles
Breyer had to say on April 12 about the $28.5 million fee request
from plaintiffs firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro for the work it
led on the diesel emissions settlement between Volkswagen AG and
its franchise dealers.  Judge Breyer slashed the request by nearly
90 percent, awarding just under $3 million in attorney fees.

Volkswagen, which paid $1.2 billion to settle the case, had
protested the fee demand.  In particular, the automaker accused
managing partner Steve Berman of double counting billable hours
that advanced both the dealer case and a separate diesel emissions
case on behalf of consumers.  Judge Breyer, who presided over both
cases in the Northern District of California, agreed.

"Dealer class counsel did not expend significant additional time
procuring the settlement, nor did it undertake significant
additional risk, given Volkswagen's incentive to settle quickly,"
the judge wrote in the April 12 order.

Mr. Berman did not respond to a request for comment, and a
Volkswagen spokesman declined to comment.

After Mr. Berman sought fees in the dealer case, Volkswagen
claimed that nearly half of his $3.5 million lodestar estimate --
the amount of hours attorneys spent working on the case multiplied
by their hourly billing rates -- had already been counted in the
$14.7 billion consumer settlement.  In that case, Volkswagen had
agreed not to contest $175 million in fees and expenses sought by
22 firms on the plaintiffs' steering committee, one of which was
Hagens Berman.

In essence, Volkswagen argued, Mr. Berman had already been paid
for his work on the VW matters.

Mr. Berman had insisted that none of that mattered since his fee
request was based not on hours worked but on a percentage of the
fund, which turned out to be about 2 percent based on estimates
that the fund could surpass $1.3 billion.

Judge Breyer disagreed, citing the "unique circumstances leading
to the settlement of this case."  He said much of the settlement's
"groundwork" had been laid in the consumer case, and Volkswagen
had an incentive to settle the dealer case quickly in order to fix
its cars. Mr. Berman had insisted that none of that mattered since
his fee request was based not on hours worked but on a percentage
of the fund, which turned out to be about 2 percent based on
estimates that the fund could surpass $1.3 billion.

"These factors illuminate why a percentage method of calculating
attorneys' fees would overcompensate dealer class counsel for its
work," he wrote.  Given the settlement's large value, "even a
modest percentage of the settlement would generate an outsized
award of attorneys' fees."

After cutting the overlapping work, or "hybrid time," from Mr.
Berman's lodestar amount, Judge Breyer sliced another $560,000 in
"reserve time" requested for future settlement work.

That left a revised lodestar of less than $1.5 million. Based on
that amount, Berman's fee request would require a multiplier of
19, which is "simply not appropriate here," Judge Breyer wrote.
Instead, he doubled the lodestar, noting the swift settlement of
the case and the risks that class counsel took.

In the end, Hagens Berman ended up with an award of $2.3 million
in fees, though Judge Breyer noted the firm also reaped $3.4
million from the consumer settlement.  Bass Sox Mercer in
Tallahassee, Florida, which worked with Hagens Berman on the
dealer case, was awarded $622,000.

* Banks & Credit Card Companies Really Hate Class-Action Lawsuits
Michale Hiltzik at Los Angeles Times reports that sometime in the
next few weeks, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is
expected to impose stringent limits on the ability of banks and
credit card companies to avoid consumer lawsuits.

The financial services industry has been screaming bloody murder
about the CFPB's plan. You can expect the Republican majorities in
Congress, and President Trump, to see things their way and block
the proposed rule. You can also expect consumer advocates not to
roll over quietly.

"We're all preparing for a big fight," says Amanda Werner, who has
been keeping an eye on the CFPB rule making for the consumer
groups Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform.
The issue revolves around a CFPB rule proposed last May aimed at
limiting mandatory arbitration clauses in financial services
account agreements.

It's a fairly unfortunate time for consumer civil justice rights.
-- Amanda Werner, consumer advocate

We've reported on the consequences of forced arbitration for the
Wells Fargo fake-account scandal. Unlike lawsuits, arbitrations
largely unfold in secret. Because the bank was able to force
aggrieved customers to take their cases to arbitration rather than
court, it not only had a procedural advantage over those customers
but kept its misdeeds out of the news. That may have forestalled
for years the discovery that employees had been opening bogus
accounts in customers' names to meet their sales quotas.

The CFPB rule doesn't outlaw all forced arbitration clauses, only
those that also bar class-action lawsuits and class-action
arbitrations. These are common provisions in the arbitration
clauses imposed on customers by big banks, including Wells Fargo.

And the distinction is important. According to a landmark study of
consumer arbitration the CFPB issued in March 2015, its
investigators couldn't be sure that customers did any better or
worse in arbitrations against their banks and credit card issues
than they did in court -- when they arbitrated or sued as

There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that the
arbitration record typically doesn't reveal who won the case or
how much a customer may have won. The other is that arbitration,
like litigation, is so burdensome that individuals seldom bother
with it; the CFPB found only about 400 individual arbitrations per
year from 2010 through 2012 filed by consumers against banks,
credit card companies or lenders.

But the consuming public did much better when it acted as a class.
Over the same three-year period, the bureau examined 419 class-
action lawsuits that resulted in settlements covering 160 million
customers. The total settlements amounted to about USD2.7 billion,
mostly in cash.

Obviously that doesn't amount to much per claimant -- only USD16
to USD32 each on average, the bureau estimates. But what's more
important is that the settlements were a bigger hit to the banking
defendants and often includes agreements to change their behavior
so the abuses that were the targets of the lawsuits wouldn't
happen again.

Those behavior changes, the bureau says could be at least as
important for consumers as monetary payoffs, or more so, because
they can reach more customers and often are permanent.
So it's no wonder that the banking industry has moved heaven and
earth to head off the rule, while consumer groups have moved to
advance it. In all, a staggering 120,000 comments were received by
the CFPB before the comment period on the proposed rule was closed
last August. That in itself has delayed issuance of the rule.

And that hasn't been the end of the jawboning. On Nov. 1, as C.
Ryan Barber of the National Law Journal recently reported,
representatives of credit card issuers Barclays Bank, Discover and
American Express met with CFPB staffers to "supplement" their
earlier formal comments. Their goal was to get the bureau to allow
financial institutions to continue to block class actions
targeting abuses that were already under scrutiny by regulators.

According to a memo of the meeting, the CFPB was suspicious that a
company facing a costly class action might report itself to
regulators as a ploy to block the lawsuits. Whether the companies
succeeded in carving out this exception won't be known until the
CFPB issues its rule.

In the meantime, however, the banking industry's friends on
Capitol Hill already are waging war against consumer class
actions. In partisan terms, at least, they have the upper hand.
"It's a fairly unfortunate time for consumer civil justice
rights," says Werner.

The attack on class-action rights is following three tracks. One
is direct: a bill passed by the Republican-controlled House in
March (with no Democratic votes) that places so many roadblocks in
the way of class-action lawsuits that they're effectively banned.
According to an analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union and
other civil justice groups, the measure -- cynically entitled the
"Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act" -- would hobble consumer
lawsuits, anti-discrimination cases and civil rights protections
by adding years of delay and imposing "a new and impossible hurdle
for class certification" in court.

The second track is a measure aimed at overturning much of the
Dodd-Frank act, the post-recession law that imposed new
regulations on the financial services industry and created the
CFPB. Here the main instrument is the "Financial Choice Act,"
introduced by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb
Hensarling (R-Texas). The bill would revoke the authority of the
CFPB and the Securities and Exchange Commission to ban forced
arbitration in the industries under the jurisdiction. Since it
would be subject to a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, the
measure's fate is doubtful.

Then there's the Congressional Review Act, which gives the House
and Senate the authority to overturn an agency regulation by
resolution within 60 days of its enactment. Supporters of the CFPB
ban on arbitration fully expect that rule to become a target of
the act. It's especially dangerous because a regulation overturned
this way can never be restored except with new statutory
authorization. President Trump has signaled that he'd be amenable
to accepting the Congressional nullification. After all, just two
weeks after taking office, he signed an executive order aimed at
rolling back of a raft of financial services regulations.

That places the CFPB and its director, Richard Cordray, in a
ticklish situation. Cordray appears determined to issue the rule
before his term ends in mid-2018. But he must know he'll be poking
a stick in the tiger's cage, provoking the Republicans to nullify
the rule, perhaps permanently. When his bureau actually will act
and what the rule will look like isn't known for sure. What is
known, however, is that allowing banks and lenders to block their
customers' path to the courthouse is the definition of being

* Bull's-Eye on Gender Pay Gap; Laws, Lawsuits Proliferating
Joyce E. Cutler at BNA reports companies that haven't yet started
to address pay disparity between their male and female employees
may want to start.

Pay equity has become a central focus for many city councils,
state legislatures, class-action litigators and shareholder

Cities and states like New York City and San Francisco and
Massachusetts and California are adopting laws that address pay
disparity and prohibit companies from discussing applicants'
salary history pay equality. At the same time, class-action
litigators and shareholder activists are pushing for equity in the
courtroom and in shareholder resolutions. A recent McKinsey Global
Institute report found USD12 trillion could be added to global GDP
by 2025 by advancing women's equality.

How companies compensate workers "is likely the number one area"
where the plaintiffs' bar and governmental enforcement litigators
are bringing class actions, Gerald Maatman, a partner with
Seyfarth Shaw LLP, told Bloomberg BNA in an April 10 email. "The
increasing media focus on pay equity is apt to fuel even more
attention" to this type of workplace litigation.
In the San Francisco Bay Area in particular, pay equity has been
in the news as Alphabet Inc.'s Google and other tech companies
defend pay policies for women employees.

The regional director of the Labor Department's Office of Federal
Contract Compliance Programs recently testified in a San Francisco
courtroom that the agency found "systemic compensation disparities
against women, pretty much across the entire workforce" at Google.
The tech company denied the allegations. The DOL is now in court
seeking data on Google's pay decisions, including bonus pay, stock
options and salary history.

Coastal Cities Move Ahead

Cities on either U.S. coast are moving ahead with their own laws
as well.

The New York City Council on April 5 approved a measure barring
companies from asking job applicants about their pay history. In
Philadelphia, a similar wage-equity law is due to take effect May
23, although the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce sued April 6 to
block the law.

Out West, San Francisco employers would be banned from asking
applicants about their salary history and prohibited from
releasing former or current employees' salary information without
prior written consent under legislation introduced April 4. And
the Bay City could sue to enforce the pay equity requirement.
Women in San Francisco earn 84 cents on the dollar for what a man
earns, and the disparity is even greater for women of color,
Supervisor Mark Farrell said in introducing the legislation.
African American women in San Francisco earn 60 cents on the
dollar and Latino women, 55 cents.

The pay gap has narrowed at a half cent a year since the federal
Equal Pay Act of 1964 was passed. "If we keep the current rate of
closing the wage gap, we'll get there across our country in 2059.
That's 42 years away. For African American women it will be 108
years. For Hispanic women, 232 years. It's simply unacceptable,"
Farrell said.

Across San Francisco Bay, Berkeley, Calif., proposed April 4
giving preference to vendors who can demonstrate equal pay.
Shareholder Action

Some shareholders are pushing for action as well.

Arjuna Capital, a division of Marion, Mass.-based Baldwin Brothers
Inc., in a shareholder proposal asked Alphabet to prepare a report
by November on the company's policies and goals to reduce the
gender pay gap. The proposal is up for a June 7 vote at the annual
shareholder meeting.

"If Google thinks that its massive size and influence somehow
makes it invulnerable to shareholder pressure, it needs to think
again. Federal litigation, fines, and the risk of resulting civil
suits show why shareholders have every right to be concerned.
Investors long-term wealth is under threat when companies flout
the rules on how women are treated in the workplace," Natasha
Lamb, Arjuna Capital managing director, said in an April 10

Arjuna last year led a successful shareholder fight targeting eBay
Inc., Intel Corp., Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Expedia Inc.,
Microsoft Corp. and Adobe Inc. to upgrade standards and
transparency on gender pay disparity in the workplace.
This year Arjuna is targeting Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc.,
Bank of America N.A., JP Morgan Chase & Co., MasterCard Inc. and
American Express Co.

* CFPB Has Yet Finalize Arbitration Rule Amid Concerns
C. Ryan Barber, The National Law Journal, reports that on a
Tuesday in early November, representatives of American Express,
Barclays and Discover met with 10 members of the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau staff to discuss their concern about
the agency's proposed rule to restrict corporate efforts to block
class actions.

The pitch from the credit card companies called for carving out a
broad exception to a proposal that -- if finalized in its current
form -- would ban forced arbitration agreements that prevent
consumers from filing class actions.

According to a summary of the meeting, the companies pushed for an
exception for "certain matters where government intervention, a
company's self-identification to the CFPB, or corrective actions
have addressed alleged practices that are the subject of the class
action."  In other words, they wanted to be able to stave off any
class actions arising from conduct that had already caught the eye
of regulators.

In the view of at least one of the companies, "there was no need
for a class action if the subject of the class action is subject
to a public enforcement or supervisory action," according to the
meeting summary, which was posted online last month. (American
Express, Barclays and Discover declined to comment.)

The question hanging over the CFPB's arbitration rule -- a
proposal that drew tens of thousands of comments from consumer and
business advocates 00 is less now about the finer points of the
final rule than about whether the regulations will ever see the
light of day at all.

President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers are erasing a host
of Obama-era rules through the Congressional Review Act -- a
statutory tool that, before the Trump administration, had only
been used once in its 21-year history to roll back a regulation.
The law gives Congress a window of 60 legislative days 00 after an
agency has transmitted a new rule to Capitol Hill -- to enact a
disapproval resolution.

Since Trump's election, speculation has swirled about whether a
push to publicly roll out the arbitration rule would galvanize the
White House into taking the legally perilous step of firing the
CFPB's director, Richard Cordray, before his five-year term
expires in July 2018.  A case pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the D.C. Circuit confronts whether the president should have
the power to remove the director at will, not just for cause.

The arbitration rule presents a longer-term concern.  If the rule
is voided by the Congressional Review Act, the CFPB would be
prevented from enacting a "substantially similar" regulation
unless it is supported by a new statute.  Such a setback would
indefinitely handcuff the agency, stymieing its ability to limit
forced-arbitration agreements -- often found in the fine print of
consumer contracts -- that the bureau has described as "contract

"All the opponents of the rule need is a simple majority vote.
Clearly they have that, and the president would be expected to
sign it," said Buckley Sandler counsel Kathleen Ryan, a former
deputy assistant director in the CFPB's office of regulations.
"From the bureau's perspective, the real blow to the cause is,
once a rule is struck down that way, it can't be reintroduced in a
similar form ever unless there's new legislation."

Ms. Ryan added: "That's the rock and the hard place that they're
stuck between."

For the CFPB, the threat of a congressional override is not

In February, Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate proposed
bills to tear up the CFPB's prepaid card rule -- the first set of
sweeping federal regulations that target a fast-growing market
that caters to millions of consumers, including many who have
limited or no access to traditional bank accounts.

The CFPB finalized the rule in October and has proposed delaying
the effective date by six months -- from October 2017 to April
2018 -- citing industry concerns about complying in time.

Clash on Capitol Hill
Supporters of the CFPB's arbitration rule are already turning
their attention to Capitol Hill.

"We've shifted from talking to folks at the CFPB and are now
focusing on preserving what we can by not having the
[Congressional Review Act] challenge be successful," said
Amanda Werner, a campaign manager for Public Citizen and Americans
for Financial Reform.  "We're trying to talk to lawmakers and make
them realize this is something the American people are not going
to tolerate."

It remains unclear exactly when the CFPB will finalize the
arbitration rule and face the risk of a congressional override.
The CFPB was once expected to release the final rule in February
2017.  In its most recent rulemaking agenda, the CFPB said it was
still reviewing comments as it "considers development of a final
rule for spring 2017."  A CFPB spokesman said on April 13 he had
no update on the agency's timeline for finalizing the rule.

Diane Thompson, a top official in the CFPB's office of
regulations, said at a recent conference in New York City that it
was "too speculative" to estimate when the agency would finalize
the arbitration rule, according to a blog post by the law firm
Ballard Spahr.

Critics argue the CFPB's proposed ban on class-action waivers
would eliminate arbitration agreements, depriving consumers of a
less-expensive, expedited form of dispute resolution.

Along with American Express, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has
devoted significant resources toward rolling back the rule. In the
last three months of 2016, the chamber's Center for Capital
Markets Competitiveness and Institute for Legal Reform spent a
combined $170,000 on firms whose lobbying efforts included at
least some work on the CFPB's arbitration rule.

In a comment last year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged the
CFPB to "go back to the drawing board."

Tom Quaadman, executive vice president of the chamber's Center for
Capital Markets Competitiveness, said he's seen the CFPB's urgency
die down of late. Before the election, he said, the CFPB was
"trying to drive toward a final rule and trying to do that fairly

"I think they've been trying to, since Nov. 8, assess the
landscape and figure out whether or not it's within the realm of
possibility moving forward with a rule like that," Mr. Quaadman

On the other hand, consumer advocacy groups have not backed down.
The week Trump was sworn in, staff from Public Citizen, Americans
for Financial Reform and Public Justice urged the CFPB to finalize
the rule "as soon as possible," according to a readout of the Jan.
17 meeting.

Paul Bland, executive director of Public Justice, said in a recent
interview that the CFPB has "no good reason not to go forward with
the rule."

"As far as I'm concerned, they might as well do what's right," he

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top Democrat on
the Senate banking committee, has pledged to defend the
arbitration rule against any efforts to undo it.

"Consumers deserve the right to have their day in court when
they've been wronged, but many don't realize they've lost that
right through forced arbitration.  The CFPB's proposal to ban this
unjust and unfair practice is a major victory for consumers," he
told the NLJ in a prepared statement.  "I'll keep pushing the CFPB
to finalize the rule as soon as possible, and will fight against
efforts to weaken it."

* Class Actions Land in European Union
David Hechler at Metropolitan Corporate Counsel reports the legal
industry has gone global. You already knew that. The proof has
been abundant for some time. But if anyone had lingering doubts, a
report issued in late March should lay them to rest. It's called
The Growth of Collective Redress in the EU: A Survey of
Developments in 10 Member States.

Yes, class actions are coming to the European Union. Actually,
according to the report, they've already landed. And a sign of the
times, the author says, is that they're beginning to look like
their forebears in Canada, Australia and especially the United
States. In other words, he argues, the abuses that increasingly
mar them in those countries are starting to migrate to the EU.
That's one of the downsides of globalization, the report
implicitly argues.

What's also interesting is the organization that commissioned the
report. It's not based in Europe. In fact, it's the U.S. Chamber
of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).

On this side of the Atlantic, the ILR has been working to support
the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017, which in
early March passed in the House of Representatives and moved to
the Senate, where its prospects do not look good. A similar bill
died there two years ago.

Now the ILR is working both sides of the pond. The report spells
out why. It's a lot easier to lobby to prevent a mess than to fix
one after it lands with a splat. "The same systems of incentives
that have led to abuses of the civil justice system in other
countries are now arising in EU member states," ILR President Lisa
Rickard said in a March 21 press release accompanying the report.
"These collective redress lawsuit systems are developing without
the safeguards needed to protect the courts from being abused for
private gain by lawyers and litigation funders."

The European Commission's Initiative

The timing of this effort is in response to the European
Commission's own actions. In 2013, the EC released its
Recommendation on Collective Action in which it encouraged its
members to move swiftly to adopt legal reforms to facilitate
resolutions of this sort. It pressed member states to adopt a
framework by July 2016 and to report back on their progress this
coming July. The commission said it would then evaluate whether
further action was needed.

The ILR saw a chance to weigh in. It engaged Ken Daly, a Sidley
Austin partner in Brussels, who prepared the 74-page report (with
help from Jennifer Watts). Daly examines six key policy areas in
each of the 10 states (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France,
Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United
Kingdom). Cumulatively these 10 account for 79 percent of the EU
population and 82 percent of its gross domestic product. Daly
credited local counsel in each jurisdiction with helping gather

The policy areas are: [RW1]

Who may file a claim
Compensation of representatives and other third parties
Loser pays
Admissibility and certification standards
Jurisdictional overreach/forum shopping
The ILR's Conclusions

It's certainly worth a read, though most of the conclusions and
recommendations were predictable, given the well-known positions
of the ILR. You probably already know, for example, that the ILR
favors opt-in rather than opt-out class actions. The report might
have been more effective had it been less tendentious and provided
examples of class actions the authors deemed appropriate.
The report's greatest value may be in the details it provides
about "collective redress" in each state. Daly and company seek to
report not only on the frameworks and the laws on the books, but
also on the way the systems function on the ground.

A good example is the principle of "loser pays." This is one of
the EC's recommendations as a safeguard against what Daly calls
"risk-free have-a-go litigation." Loser pays does exist "to some
extent," the report notes, in all jurisdictions surveyed. But it
isn't the protection it's purported to be. First, it applies only
to court costs, not to the actual costs, including lawyer fees,
the report found. And in many places (such as Italy, Spain and
France), the court maintains discretion and often declines to
enforce this rule against plaintiffs.

Probably the strongest arguments are in the section on
compensation. As detailed in the report, there appears to be a
gaping hole in the rules for third-party litigation funding
(TPLF). And according to Daly, this is an area that's growing
rapidly. "TPLF has now become a prominent feature of the
litigation landscape in several member states, most notably in the
Netherlands and the UK," he writes. "In some cases funders appear
to have structural relationships with law firms."

He goes on: "Despite lawyers typically being prohibited from
operating on a contingency fee basis because of the risks to
consumers and victims, none of the jurisdictions surveyed has any
mandatory regulation of third-party funding arrangements, which
also operate on a contingency fee basis."

The lack of regulation makes it hard to know just how much third-
party funding there is. "Where funding exists in EU member
states," the report says, "it operates in the shadows, without
mandatory disclosure rules."

This is particularly problematic, the report argues, because
third-party funding can place lawyers in an ethical quagmire.
Quoting a legal commentator, Daly wrote: "Lawyers in this arena
need to acknowledge that, like it or not, they're working for two
masters. Acting for the claimant with disregard to the commercial
imperatives of the funder will result in ruination for all."

Some of the most prominent funders are hedge funds, the report
notes. "Hedge funds and similar entities may owe fiduciary or
other duties to their investors, but they owe no duties
whatsoever  to the claimants in the lawsuits in which they invest.
There is a clear risk of the interest of claimants being treated
as a consideration which is secondary to the profit of funders."
The EC was cognizant of the risk of abuse and recommended rules
that would impose duties on third-party funders. So far, the
report insists, to no effect: "There appear to be no examples of
any member state adopting any of these safeguards."

What About the Good Cases?

Near the end, the report includes a section called "Example
Cases." It includes several very large shareholder settlements,
like the case against RBS in the UK, the Fortis case in the
Netherlands, and the Volkswagen case, currently being litigated in
multiple jurisdictions. These are all intended to send a shudder
through the reader's spinal cord.

The author opines later in the chapter: "The Commission's starting
premise in discussing collective redress actions . . . was that
they have proven to be an effective tool, but on close inspection
of the cases cited, this does not appear to be the case." He goes
on to say: "The mere possibility of launching a form of collective
actions is entirely distinct from the question of whether a
collective action is an effective means to actually deliver
redress to claimants."

On the last point: fair enough. But the author didn't address the
merits of any of these cases, relying instead on the specter of
huge payouts to claimants and their lawyers (the legal fees in RBS
are predicted to reach 90 million euros, he wrote). And he never
introduced a case that satisfied his definition of one that was
properly brought and resolved.

Even when he describes a case that ended in a manner that would
seem to meet his standards, he never even acknowledges that. The
case was brought by tenants against a French landlord and was
dismissed by the judge on the merits. Still, he used it not as an
example of the system working but as another instance of public
announcements leading to plaintiffs' inflated claims.

The report also includes statements that many readers may agree
with but which tend to polarize the conversation. For example: "If
collective redress is used as a form of punishment, rather than as
genuine compensation for multiple harmed individuals, this would
detract from the purpose of collective action. Punishing
defendants who may or may not have violated the law, or seeking to
deter them from future misconduct, should remain the exclusive
responsibility of public authorities. At the same time, private
collective litigation should not be use as a vehicle to promote
social causes."

Was this argument really necessary? Isn't it possible to believe
that punitive damages sometimes serve a public purpose while also
believing that class actions are sometimes abused on both sides of
the Atlantic?

The Bottom Line

The end is more effective. "Recommendations to Prevent or Limit
Abuse" is succinct and recaps the previous material without being
unnecessarily repetitive. And the two-paragraph section labeled
"Conclusion" is followed by a four-page appendix that features a
chart summarizing the class-action frameworks in each country.
This alone would seem particularly useful to companies that do
business in the EU. Seven pages of endnotes are a testament to the
diligent research that went into the final product.

Though one may have caveats about the sometimes argumentative tone
of this document, its timing and depth are likely to raise
important questions for the EC to consider as it assesses the
progress of the system it has encouraged. And in this global
world, it didn't take a European organization to recognize that
these are issues that are likely to affect companies everywhere.

* India Lacks Specific Laws Relating to Automobile Recalls
Zakir Merchant, Esq., and Vivek Sriram, Esq., of Khaitan & Co, in
an article Auto, reports that considering that the Indian
automobile manufacturing sector is the primary focus of the Indian
government's "Make in India" campaign, an issue which largely
remained unaddressed was the lack of specific laws relating to
automobile recalls and product liability in India.

So far, auto manufacturers have been guided by the Voluntary Code
on Vehicle Recall (Code), formulated by the Society of Indian
Automobile Manufacturers.  However, since the Code has been
formulated by a society and adherence to the same is voluntary, it
has no legal binding effect in India.

It is very relevant to note that since the inception of the Code,
vehicle manufacturers in India have undertaken an unusually large
number of vehicle recalls in India, raising concerns regarding
manufacturing practices deployed in India.  At the same time, it
cannot be overlooked that there could potentially be large number
of auto manufacturers who could have chosen not to recall their
vehicles, in spite of there being sufficient evidence of
manufacturing defects in their vehicles.


The Lok Sabha has recently passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment)
Bill, 2016, which introduces a slew of amendments to the almost
three-decade old Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.  The central aim of the
legislation is to introduce safety measures to suit the present
environment.  The Bill will now have to be passed by the Rajya
Sabha, before being forwarded to the President for his assent.

As per the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) which reviewed
and proposed the amendments, one of the most important changes as
per the PSC has been the introduction of statutory provisions
providing auto recalls.

What is the frame work?

   -- The central government (Authority) will have the power to
order a manufacturer to recall vehicles of a particular model if
there is harm to the environment, passengers or road users;

   -- If the defect in that particular type of vehicle has been
reported to the Authority by a percentage of owners, by a testing
agency or if the information has come from any other source; and

   -- Auto manufacturers have the right to initiate auto recall
proceedings after informing the Authority of such recall.

What are the powers?

   -- The manufacturer or the Authorities could order a full
recall and once this is achieved it is mandatory for the
manufacturer to either: (i) fully reimburse; (ii) replace or (iii)
repair the vehicle.

   -- There is also a provision for imposition of fines by the
Authorities.  This would effectively be a game changer as there
has never been any provision permitting Authorities to impose
monetary penalties on automobile players in India when a fault is
discovered by a consumer and a recall is followed.

Are there any safe harbours for the industry?

   -- No fines would be levied, if a manufacturer notices a defect
and voluntarily informs the Authorities and initiates a recall.
However, such manufacturer would still be required to reimburse
the consumer or replace / repair the defective vehicle.

Critical Analysis

   -- The legislation is a paradigm shift as it moves from a
voluntary code to a legally enforceable regime.

   -- The primary onus lies on the manufacturer of the vehicle
which could be a debatable proposition as various auto component
companies are involved in the assembly chain leading to

  -- There could be potential for misuse as Authorities could be
forced to investigate if they receive information from any sources
which is the remit of the legislation.  Frivolous complaints could
temporarily affect branding indirectly impacting revenues.

   -- Penalties / obligations imposed on vehicle manufacturers do
not appear to be exclusive remedies and there is a risk that a
buyer may seek additional compensation from vehicle manufacturers
under other Indian laws, such as contract and consumer protection
principles.  The industry could also see future class action suits
mimicking international trends.

   -- Auto components players and automobile manufacturers should
outline and limit their contractual liability(ies) clearly in the
manufacturing chain.  Specifically, at the stage when child
drawings for specifications are being discussed at the sampling or
drawing board stage.

* New York Merchants Obtain Favorable ruling in Surcharge Case
Tony Mauro, writing for The National Law Journal, reports that
in a temporary victory for New York merchants over credit card
companies, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on March 29 that a state
law preventing retailers from telling shoppers they are imposing a
"surcharge" on credit card purchases amounts to a speech
regulation that could be unconstitutional.

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., writing for a unanimous court,
said the New York law was not just a commercial regulation but a
speech regulation.  "What the law does regulate is how sellers may
communicate their prices," Justice Roberts wrote.  "In regulating
the communication of prices rather than prices themselves, [the
law] regulates speech."

But the high court remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Second Circuit with instructions to examine the law in
that light.  The Second Circuit ruling had upheld the state law
without addressing the First Amendment speech issue raised by
merchants.  Justice Roberts added, however, that the law was not
vague -- an assessment that will affect how the Second Circuit
ultimately rules on the First Amendment point.

The case Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman came to the court
as a test of whether New York can dictate what merchants say to
their customers about the different prices they charge for credit
card and cash payments.  Ten other states, including California,
Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts and Texas, have similar laws
that prohibit merchants from imposing surcharges to cover the
"swipe fee" they pay credit-card companies, laws which in some
cases have been interpreted to prevent merchants from using the
word "surcharge."

The credit-card industry has lobbied for such laws since the
1980s, fearing that describing the higher price as a "surcharge"
would discourage shoppers from using credit cards.  But merchants
have fought back, claiming that the laws keep them from making it
clear that credit card purchases are more costly than cash and cut
into their profits.

"Rather than increase prices across the board to absorb those
costs, the merchants want to pass the fees along only to their
customers who choose to use credit cards," Justice Roberts wrote.
"They also want to make clear that they are not the bad guys --
that the credit card companies, not the merchants, are responsible
for the higher prices."

Deepak Gupta of Gupta Wessler argued on behalf of a group of New
York challenging the law, while deputy New York solicitor general
Steven Wu defended it as a "pricing practice" without free speech

Though the outcome was unanimous, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, joined
by Justice Samuel Alito Jr., wrote in a concurrence that the
entire case should have been remanded, rather than ruling on only
one aspect.  "The court addresses only one part of one half of
petitioners' First Amendment challenge to the New York statute at
issue here," Justice Sotomayor wrote.  "This quarter-loaf outcome
is worse than none."

* Plaintiffs Bar Wants to See More Women in MDL Committees
Meredith Hobbs, writing for Daily Report, reports that women and
their male allies in the plaintiffs bar want to see more women in
charge of big, multiplaintiff cases.  In Atlanta, a group of
leading lawyers and judges from around the country convened to
figure out how to make it happen.

It's a conversation that big corporate defense firms have been
having for years: how women can overcome barriers and biases that
have kept men controlling most major matters.  Research presented
at the invitation-only conference in Atlanta, held by Duke Law's
Center for Judicial Studies, addresses the imbalances on the
plaintiffs side.

Women plaintiffs lawyers made up only 16.6 percent of the
attorneys appointed class counsel or to plaintiffs steering
committees in multidistrict litigations filed from 2011 to 2016, a
new study found.  However, in a sign of progress, the percentage
of women in lead MDL roles jumped to 27.7 percent in 2015 -- an 11
percentage point increase over the five-year average.

The stakes are high for MDL appointments, since the lawyers are
handling litigation that affects hundreds or even thousands of
underlying plaintiffs' cases.  A leadership role in an MDL means
prestige and, potentially, a big financial payoff.

"We needed data," said Dana Alvare, a Pennsylvania lawyer and
doctoral candidate in sociology at the conference and who authored
the MDL study, Vying for the Lead in the Boys' Club, for Temple
University Law School's Women in Legal Leadership Project.
"The enduring gender gap has not been going away, even though
women have been graduating from law schools in the same numbers as
men for 30 years," Ms. Alvare said.

About 50 seasoned plaintiffs and defense lawyers, in-house counsel
and federal judges attended the April 6 conference in Atlanta,
although quite a few more had to participate by phone after severe
wind and rain storms cancelled their flights into the city.

Lori Andrus of Andrus Anderson in San Francisco and Adam Moskowitz
of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton organized the conference for Duke

Ms. Alvare said it was key to be able to quantify the gender gap
for high-stakes plaintiffs litigation in order to combat it.  She
said is currently interviewing judges and lawyers in the
Philadelphia area with Judge Sandra Moss, now retired from the
city's First Judicial District Civil Trial Division, to come up
with answers.

"We want to get this on the radar screen of key judges," said John
Rabiej, the director of the Duke Law Center for Judicial Studies.
"If they make the appointments, then law firms and companies will

Ms. Alvare is continuing her docket analysis for 2016 and beyond
to see if the 2015 spike in female appointments was an anomaly or
a "real indicator of progress for female practitioners."

Mr. Rabiej said there are 300 currently active MDLs -- but a mere
20 or so of them make up 90 percent of total MDL plaintiffs
litigation -- encompassing 120,000 individual plaintiffs cases and
35 percent of all pending federal civil cases.

Judges have wide discretion in deciding whom to appoint to lead
roles in MDLs, using criteria such as ability, experience,
financial resources and ability to cooperate.  Surprisingly,
Ms. Alvare found that the judges' gender was not a factor in
whether they picked men or women.

Ms. Alvare analyzed 145 cases with 102 male judges and 43 female
judges making appointments -- and found that men were five times
more likely than women to be appointed to a lead counsel spot,
regardless of the gender of the judge.  The subject matter of the
cases didn't make much difference either, she said.

She used the case dockets to determine the gender of lead
plaintiffs counsel and members of the plaintiffs steering
committees, but her study did not consider race, which could not
be determined from docket listings.

While only half of the cases had women among the lead counsel,
fully 98 percent had men in those positions. Only three cases had
all-female lead counsel -- the very large Volkswagen diesel
emissions case, with Elizabeth Cabraser, a founder of San
Francisco plaintiffs powerhouse Lieff Cabraser Heimann &
Bernstein, as sole lead counsel, and two small cases where a
single female lead was the only leader at all.

The Volkswagen case, which is before U.S. District Judge Charles
Breyer of the Northern District of California, will settle for
$14.7 billion, pending a final fairness hearing in May.  It is the
largest consumer class action settlement against a car company in
U.S. history.

Judges tend to choose "repeat players," to lead MDLs, several
participants at the conference said, going with proven experience.
"Judges have a lot of discretion and a lot of them don't have much
experience with MDLs, so they want experienced lawyers," Mr.
Rabiej said.

Among the 50 most frequently appointed plaintiffs lawyers for MDLs
that she analyzed, only 11 were women, Ms. Alvare said.
Ms. Cabraser is one of those repeat players.  The Volkswagen
diesel emissions MDL is her 18th in a leadership role.

"Remember, this is not an honor and it's not a sinecure -- this is
a job," she said.  "Judges need leads with the talent and
resources to fund the litigation."

Another reason women might be less represented in MDL leadership
is because fewer apply for the roles.  For the high-stakes
Volkswagen case, Judge Breyer held an unusual open application
call, where every applicant could make a two-minute pitch in
person. Only 18 percent of about 155 applicants were women,
conference organizer Andrus said, and Judge Breyer assembled a
leadership team that was 27 percent female.

Ms. Cabraser said she thinks the 2015 spike to 27.7 percent for
women steering MDLs is going to accelerate.

"Womens' progress has been invisible for years and now, finally,
after years of supporting each other, we have the experience,
talent and resources," said Ms. Cabraser, who's been in practice
for 38 years.

She noted that four of the seven federal judges on the panel that
decides whether to create an MDL are women, including its chair,
Judge Sarah Vance of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern
District of Louisiana.

"I think there's going to be a juggernaut," she said, predicting
that the percent of women in MDL leadership would jump to 35
percent next year.  "We women are available now. We're on a roll."

unanimous panel found that the arbitration contract at issue was
unenforceable because it made it impossible for the plaintiff,
Sharon McGill, to pursue injunctive relief "in any forum."

* U.S. Supreme Court Addresses Issue of Restaurant 'Tip Pooling'
Marcia Coyle, writing for Texas Lawyer, reports that the dinner
plate arrives, and there in the center sits a sizzling
masterpiece: a perfectly seared, mouth-watering, dry-aged rib eye,
from Knife Dallas, a top-rated steakhouse in Texas.  You want to
reward the chef for this culinary feast.  A big tip at dinner's

Think again.

The chef and other back-of-the house workers in Texas restaurants
generally do not share in the tips that are pooled and distributed
among the servers, hosts and others in the front of the house.
Welcome to the world of tip credits and tip pooling and how Texas
restaurant employers became part of a somewhat wonky legal fight
that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

The central question in the fight challenges the authority of the
U.S. Labor Department to enact a rule that restricts tip pooling.
Restaurants, by and large, like tip-pooling because it allows them
to pay their workers less than minimum wage as long as there are
sufficient tips.

The resolution of the case could have implications for another
Texas-sized dispute 00 the multistate challenge to the Labor
Department's rule to extend mandatory overtime pay.  That case, in
which the Texas Restaurant Association supports the challengers,
is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Texas is a tip credit state.  Businesses can pay their employees a
lower amount hourly so long as their tips bring them up to minimum
wage.  But not every restaurant takes the tip credit, said Kenneth
Besserman, general counsel to the Texas Restaurant Association.
"Whether they're permitted to or not, some just don't," he said.

Some states enforce a universal minimum wage and others, like
Texas, have a minimum wage and a tipped minimum wage.  The tipped
minimum wage in Texas permits employers to pay tipped employees
$2.13 per hour as long as all or a portion of their tips make up
the difference between the tipped wage and the federal minimum
wage of $7.25 per hour.  The tipped minimum wage in Texas has not
changed in 26 years.

Tricky Tipping
In some instances, a tip-credit restaurant owner wants tips pooled
or shared among all of the employees.  Tip pooling must be
voluntary, and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act restricts tip
pooling to employees who "customarily and regularly" receive tips.
This group typically excludes cooks, chefs and dishwashers.

"Probably the biggest issue I see is not the tip credit's
existence but who is eligible to be part of the tip pool,"
Mr. Besserman said.  "In recent years, there's been a little bit
of blurring of the lines between servers and back of the house."

Mr. Besserman pointed to job descriptions such as expediters or
food-runners.  "While they may not be traditionally a server in
the classic sense, they're also not classically back-of-the-house
kitchen," he said.  "Are they eligible to partake in a tip pool?
It's never a black and white answer.  It's always somewhere in the
middle.  What are they actually doing?"

Answering that question wrong can be costly.

Last year, a federal district judge in Amarillo ordered Hayashi
Japanese Restaurant, owned by Lin's Restaurant Inc., to pay more
than $166,000 for running afoul of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The tip pool was distributed among all employees, including those
who weren't customarily tipped, and the employer required
employees to pay 5 percent of their total gross sales during each
shift to the tip pool and to pay for unpaid customer bills.

And back in 2009, a Houston federal jury awarded 55 employees of
the Chili's food chain $270,000 plus interest and attorney's fees
because they were required to allocate 1 percent of the total tip
pool to "food expediters."

Drew Hermann of Fort Worth's Hermann Law, who represents
employees, said the tip credit and tip pooling system are "fraught
with problems."

"I pretty much know if I get a call from someone working in a
restaurant, the chance they have a claim is somewhere around 80
percent," he said.  "With a regular employee, maybe 5 percent have
a claim.  There are so many restaurants that violate this. Waiters
and waitresses, more than any other group of employees, are
treated as dispensable."

Employers, Mr. Hermann continued, "can do whatever they want and a
lot of times, employees feel they can't speak out; they're afraid
they will lose their jobs. They feel they can't call a lawyer
because it's too expensive."

To the Courts
How did all of this become a Supreme Court issue? Last February,
the Ninth Circuit, in separate cases consolidated on appeal,
upheld the Labor Department rule that extended the tip-pooling
restrictions to all restaurants, including those that pay full
minimum wage to all employees.

The department justified the rule, saying, "When the employer uses
tips for its own purposes, whether to supplement wage payments to
nontipped employees or to otherwise offset its own business
expenses . . . it is in effect making a deduction from employees'
wages.  To this end, the department is not regulating the
employer's use of the tips; it is regulating the employer's
statutory wage payment obligation."

Wynn Las Vegas, one of the defendants in the cases in the Ninth
Circuit, was sued by casino dealers who claimed their required
participation in a tip pool violated the Labor Department's 2011
rule.  The casino employs about 500 table dealers who generally
are paid minimum wage.  Wynn does not take a tip credit. The
dealers charged that Wynn required them to give a portion of their
tips to casino supervisors who did not customarily receive tips
from customers.

In the Supreme Court, Wynn Las Vegas, represented by Eugene Scalia
of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, argued the Ninth Circuit erroneously
imposed restrictions that are not found in the Fair Labor
Standards Act (FLSA).

"The court of appeals reasoned that 'statutory silence' in the
FLSA regarding ownership of tips apart from tip credits 'leaves
room for agency discretion' to regulate as it sees fit," Mr.
Scalia wrote in high-court papers. It treated this silence, he
wrote, as empowering the Labor Department to create rights and
restrictions "where Congress did not."

The table dealers, represented in the high court by employment law
scholar Eric Schnapper of the University of Washington School of
Law, contend that about $17,000 a year was taken from each dealer.
By using dealers' tips, rather than its own funds to increase the
supervisors' income, Wynn saved more than $8 million a year, Mr.
Schnapper argued.  The net effect on dealers, they claim, were
wages less than minimum wage.

They urge the high court to deny review, arguing there is no
conflict among the circuits and, in fact, the Ninth Circuit is the
only circuit to have ruled on the rule's validity.

What's Fair?
The National Restaurant Association filed a related high court
petition in National Restaurant Association v. U.S. Department of

"There's a basic fairness notion here," said Paul DeCamp of
Jackson Lewis, counsel to the restaurant association.  "The
starting point for our case is employees already are earning cash
wages from their employers at or above minimum wage.  As long as
everybody's getting full minimum wage, employers and employees
ought to have a tip pool where kitchen workers and the kind of
people we find in the back of the house can share in some of the
fruits of their labor because their work helps to determine what
kind of tips people in the front of the house get."

The association makes a legal argument similar to Wynn's.  If
Congress had wanted to say "no tip pooling" for back-of-the-house
employees, it could have done that, Mr. DeCamp said.  But it did
not. Instead, Congress imposed restrictions only on employers who
take a tip credit.

"Does the Labor Department have the authority to step in and say,
'Nevertheless, we like those conditions as an abstract, free
standing matter, and we're going to apply them to restaurants
that do not take the tip credit?' Do they have authority to do
that?" Mr. DeCamp said. "We say no."

Fort Worth's Hermann said he sees unfairness to already underpaid
employees if the Supreme Court accepts the arguments of Wynn and
the National Restaurant Association.

The tip credit would be abandoned, he said.  Employers would pay
the $7.25 minimum wage, and they would use tips as they see fit,
he said.

"I represent a group at a very fine dining restaurant where total
wage is very small but total income with tips is significant," Mr.
Hermann said.  "If employers can just do $7.25 and take a large
portion of the tips, they could pay the entire wage with those
tips and earn a profit just off them.  That's exactly what would
happen. It wouldn't be right."

Mr. Besserman of the Texas Restaurant Association disputed that
assessment.  He said the issue is most important in states with no
tip credit -- including Washington, Nevada, Oregon and California.
"I don't think it would change much in Texas," he said.  "In
general, we support the National Restaurant Association and our
other fellow associations to the extent we can. This obviously is
very important to them."

But the broader issue with significant implications, he and
Mr. DeCamp said, is whether the Labor Department exceeded its
rulemaking authority.

"We're back to the issue of agency deference or agency authority
and how far it extends," Mr. Besserman said.  "It's the same issue
raising its head in the overtime lawsuit."
That question, Decamp said, is central to the wage-and-hour tip

"When can federal agencies impose standards when the statute says
nothing about the topic? It affects lots of agency rules," he
said. "That could really open a whole reconsideration of what it
means for a federal agency to have regulatory power."


S U B S C R I P T I O N  I N F O R M A T I O N

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by
Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania,
USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Washington, D.C., USA.  Marion
Alcestis A. Castillon, Ma. Cristina Canson, Noemi Irene A. Adala,
Joy A. Agravantefor, Valerie Udtuhan, Julie Anne L. Toledo,
Christopher G. Patalinghug, and Peter A. Chapman, Editors.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. ISSN 1525-2272.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
publication in any form (including e-mail forwarding, electronic
re-mailing and photocopying) is strictly prohibited without prior
written permission of the publishers.

Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to
be reliable, but is not guaranteed.

The CAR subscription rate is $775 for six months delivered via
e-mail. Additional e-mail subscriptions for members of the same
firm for the term of the initial subscription or balance thereof
are $25 each. For subscription information, contact
Peter A. Chapman at 215-945-7000 or Nina Novak at 202-362-8552.

                 * * *  End of Transmission  * * *