Ohio Lawsuits Seeks to Force Life Insurance Co. to Use SSA Database to Pay Death Benefits

Two Ohio life insurance companies must answer to an 85-year-old woman who claims they failed to regularly compare the list of policies they have sold against the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. Rita Koenig is requesting her case be granted class action status because while she is still alive, actuarial tables predict her mortality rate at 91 percent, and other policyholders her age have died and had beneficiaries that were owed money.

Koenig accuses Western & Southern and Columbus Life of breaching their contracts an undisclosed number of policyholders by failing to pay their beneficiaries. Koenig’s complaint is seeking an injunction ordering the companies to scan the Death File annually for policyholders with mortality probabilities of 70 percent or higher to make sure the companies don’t fail to pay beneficiaries.
Koenig wants her case moved to state court, but the insurance companies argue that it should remain in federal court. Continue reading Ohio Lawsuits Seeks to Force Life Insurance Co. to Use SSA Database to Pay Death Benefits

Reebok Settles Toning Shoe Charges

Reebok will have to pay up to the Federal Trade Commission, to the tune of $25 million, for falsely advertising that its “toning” shoes could significantly strengthen the muscles in the legs, thighs, and buttocks. Reebok is also barred from making those claims in the future without scientific evidence as part of the agreement.

The so-called “toning” shoes are made with a rounded, unstable sole, and shoemakers say the design forces wearers to use more muscle to maintain balance. Consumers flocked to stores to buy the shoes, making it a $1.1 billion market in only a few years. Continue reading Reebok Settles Toning Shoe Charges

New York Launches Life Insurance Probe

Some of the nation’s leading life insurers have been subpoenaed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Schneiderman is trying to determine whether the firms adequately ensured payouts on the policies of deceased customers, based on three years of inquiry.

The attorney general wants to make sure that insurers have taken necessary steps to identify deceased policyholders, and made adequate payments to beneficiaries. Insurance companies can track the deaths of insured people through the U.S. Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. At least nine of those companies are accused of selectively reviewing the database to gather information only when the company might save money, and not to identify beneficiaries who might be owed unclaimed death benefits. Continue reading New York Launches Life Insurance Probe

Lawsuits say accounting firm missed “red flags” over mortgage fraud in Florida

Two lawsuits have been filed against the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche LLP for failing to detect fraud at a defunct Florida-based mortgage company.

According to a CBS News report, the lawsuits were filed by a bankruptcy trustee representing creditors of Taylor Bean & Whitaker attempting to reclaim money from the now-closed mortgage company. Another plaintiff, Ocala Funding LLC, which purchased “hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of mortgages from Taylor Bean.” Taylor Bean shut down two years ago but “massive” fraud at the company dates back to at least 2002.
Continue reading Lawsuits say accounting firm missed “red flags” over mortgage fraud in Florida

News Corp. could face lawsuit in the U.S. over phone hacking scandal

A lawyer in the U.K. has decided to pursue a lawsuit against News Corp. in the U.S. over its involvement in a phone hacking scandal that forced the media company to shut a long-running tabloid newspaper in England and open itself to lawsuits and criminal investigations from many angles.

According to a CNN report, a lawyer in the U.K. said his lawsuit in the U.S. against News Corp. attempts to hold anyone within the corporate structure accountable for the decisions that allowed reporters at at least one media outlet owned by the company to hack the phone records and voice mails of murder victims, particularly those who had been killed in terrorist attacks. Continue reading News Corp. could face lawsuit in the U.S. over phone hacking scandal

Nevada seeks more charges against Bank of America, Countrywide Mortgage related to foreclosure fraud

Nevada’s Attorney General has asked a judge to allow her to amend a lawsuit against Bank of America and its subsidiary Countrywide Mortgage to add more charges related to the mortgage and foreclosure debacle crippling the state.

According to a report at ConsumerAffairs.com, Nevada was one state hardest hit by the mortgage and foreclosure flap which has removed thousands of people from their homes and resulted in a widespread collapses of financial institutions and local economies. The report indicates the amended charges against the companies are related to “mortgage origination and servicing.”

AG Catherine Cortez Masto has already filed a foreclosure fraud case against Bank of America and Countrywide Mortgage claiming the lenders altered mortgage documents and lied through foreclosure proceedings. In new charges, Masto alleges Countrywide Mortgage broke several laws when dealing with its mortgage customers, including failing to provide loan modifications, failing to decide on modifications in a timely manner and starting foreclosure proceedings against Nevada consumers who had recently asked for loan modifications but hadn’t heard of a decision from the lender. Continue reading Nevada seeks more charges against Bank of America, Countrywide Mortgage related to foreclosure fraud

South Dakota-based payday lenders agree to halt wage garnishments

A group of payday lenders operating in South Dakota have agreed to halt wage garnishments on delinquent accounts until they resolve ongoing legal matters with federal regulators.

According to a report at Consumerist.com citing a CourthouseNews.com post, the 17 payday lenders involved in the decision are operated through nine corporations under one executive in charge. The lenders will stop garnishing wages if the customer agreed to a contract with one of the companies which used “tricky” language regarding garnishments.

Regulators have sued PayDay Financial alleging they are “creating a constant cycle of debt” for consumers by getting them to agree to electronic funds transfers when they eventually received their pay checks. The agreement which borrowers signed revoked a person’s right to appeal a wage garnishment decision or to establish a payment plan on their debt. Continue reading South Dakota-based payday lenders agree to halt wage garnishments

News Corp Shareholders File Lawsuit Alleging Board Knew of Hacking

News Corp was aware that its U.S. subsidiaries were illegally hacking competitors’ computers ten years ago, according to new court papers filed by company shareholders on Tuesday.

In a lawsuit filed by shareholders, the News Corp board was also well aware of improper conduct at two of its U.S. subsidiaries, News America Marketing and NDS Group. The lawsuit also claims that the company’s board “has not lifted a finger” to engage in any oversight of Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch, even after being warned that News Corp’s business practices were illegal. Continue reading News Corp Shareholders File Lawsuit Alleging Board Knew of Hacking

Accenture settles false claims charges with Justice Dept.

Accenture LLP, a technology firm, has reached a $64 million settlement with the Dept. of Justice on charges the company took kickbacks and further abused the federal contract system to gain more business.

According to an AP report, the Justice Dept. joined a whistleblower lawsuit filed by Norman Rille and Neal Roberts in 2007 which accused Accenture of “rigging bids, taking kickbacks and inflating prices the government paid for computers and services.” Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems have previously settled similar charges.

In the kickback scheme, Accenture would recommend certain hardware and software components for portions of the federal government’s information technology needs. The company would collect money each time the government would make purchases based on its recommendations. This undermines the federal bidding process which aims to get the government the best price for products and services that meet a specific need. Continue reading Accenture settles false claims charges with Justice Dept.

Former sales rep says Groupon.com failed to pay for overtime work, commissions

A former employee at the deals Web site Groupon.com has filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, accusing it of failing to pay for overtime work.

According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, Rainita Dailey, a former inside-sales representative for Groupon.com says the company failed to pay her and her colleagues full overtime pay during the first three years the company existed. And when the company eventually did attempt to make those payments earlier this year, they short-changed those employees.

The lawsuit alleges Groupon.com should have paid its 1,000 inside-sales representatives full overtime pay plus commissions on each of their sales. Instead, the company shorted the sales people on their commission wages. Continue reading Former sales rep says Groupon.com failed to pay for overtime work, commissions