Parker Waichman files Dial Complete class-action lawsuit over false claims

Dial Corp. faces a recently filed class-action lawsuit over false claims it makes about its Dial Complete line of antibacterial hand soap products.

According to a release from the law firm of Parker Waichman LLP, a class-action lawsuit it has filed seeks to represent consumers in 10 different states who’ve purchased Dial Complete products because of the claims made about the products, including their ability to kill “99.99 percent of all bacteria” and its power to “reduce disease” by half. Dial Corp. claims its Dial Complete products are more effective than just washing hands with regular bar soap and warm water.

The lawsuit seeks to represent consumers in the following states: Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. In August 2011, all Dial Complete lawsuits were consolidated for Multidistrict Litigation in the court of Steven J. McAuliffe by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. Those seeking to join Parker Waichman’s class-action lawsuit will be represented by firm partner Jordan L. Chaikin.

The lawsuit filed by Parker Waichman LLP in U.S. District Court, District of New Hampshire, asserts these claims are false and can not be backed by independent scientific evidence. The law firm claims the company’s own flawed testing is the only source which backs the claims made prominently on all product packaging and cited numerous times in advertisements and Web sites for the products. The company believes its triclosan-based formula is responsible for killing bacteria but the lawsuit counters the formula is actually dangerous and helps spread more dangerous bacteria by building resistance to common strains. The complaint cites a Food and Drug Administration statement from 2010 specifically about its lack of evidence on these claims.

Illinois nursing home accused of failing to prevent abuse among residents

A recently filed Illinois lawsuit claims one nursing home in the state is not preventing its residents from abusing other residents.

According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, the family of one 47-year-old resident of Hillcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Cook County, Ill., has continually not prevented this abuse from happening. The family of the man, in its lawsuit, claims he was burned by another resident in September 2011. The staff at Hillcrest failed to report this and other incidents of intra-resident abuse to the stat’s Dept. of Public Health, the lawsuit alleges.

The father of the man represented in the lawsuit claims another resident at Hillcrest was responsible for abusing at least two dozen other residents in separate incidents. The father filed this claim with the state’s agency.

In the lawsuit, the abusive resident causing harm to the plaintiff has “exposed himself, sexually assaulted male and female residents, urinated on another, and used narcotics on the premises,” according to the report. If any fellow resident would threaten to report this behavior, the named defendant always threatened he’d “come back with a gun” the next time he saw anyone.

The lawsuit says the defendant in question should not have been allowed near fellow residents until his behavior changed and that Hillcrest should have done more to prevent abuse among residents at the nursing home. This resident, in particular, was moved to Hillcrest after having been labeled with severe psychological problems and a track record of abusing residents at the old nursing home where he had been living.

FTC settles illegal trade-in ads charges with five car dealerships

Five car dealerships across the country have settled illegal marketing charges with the Federal Trade Commission over a specific claim they made.

According to an FTC release, the dealerships at the center of its investigation were offering to pay off whatever money a prospective customer’s trade-in vehicle – no matter what they owed – if they agreed to purchase a vehicle with their business. The dealerships were identified as: 1) Billion Auto, Inc., in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; 2) Frank Myers AutoMaxx, LLC, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; 3) Key Hyundai of Manchester, LLC and Hyundai of Milford LLC, in Vernon and Milford, Connecticut, respectively, and which advertise jointly; 4) and Ramey Motors, Inc., in Princeton, West Virginia.

To cover this claim, dealerships participating in the scheme would either take the amount still owed on the would-be trade-in vehicle and roll it into a customer’s new loan with the new dealership. In other cases, one of the named dealers would require an out-of-pocket payment to cover the owed value on the trade-in vehicle.

The FTC declared ads from these dealerships to be deceptive. The terms of the settlement bar these companies from making similar claims in the future. In addition, the dealerships must disclose more information about the terms of the loans they are offering to consumers. Additionally, they must keep printed records of advertisements they run in print and other media for 20 years.

Mario Batali settles $5.25M lawsuit over unpaid tips, skimming tips

Celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich have settled a lawsuit with “front-of-the-house” employees who alleged the acclaimed restaurateurs were skimming tips to pad their profits.

Batali appears daily on TV’s “The Chew” daytime show and has been a mainstay of instructional food television for more than a decade. He owns several successful restaurants, including a venture with Bastianich, whose mother Lidia began that family’s ascension in the food and restaurant industry. He’s also appeared in several food-related TV series.

According to USA Today, Batali and Bastianich have agreed to pay $5.25 million in unpaid tips to 1,100 former and current bartenders, food servers, table captains, maitre D’s, and busboys who worked at Batali’s restaurants since 2004. Continue reading Mario Batali settles $5.25M lawsuit over unpaid tips, skimming tips

Payday lender attempted to get consumers to appear before South Dakota tribal court

A payday lender is being accused by the Federal Trade Commission of trying to deceptively “manipulate” the legal system to intimidate debt-burdened consumers who allegedly owed the company money.

According to a report at Statesboro.biz, the FTC accuses Payday Financial LLC of trying to force its former customers who’ve failed to pay on outstanding debts to appear before a tribal court in South Dakota to answer for their debt. The company allegedly intended to get the tribal court in the state to rule in its favor against consumers it alleged had not paid back outstanding debts on payday loans they had taken from the company.

The tribal courts, the FTC asserts, have no jurisdiction in these matters and Payday Financial is trying to take advantage of another so-called benefit to operating in the state, which has eased lending rules that make South Dakota a haven for payday lending firms to establish their headquarters. In many other states, high-risk interest rates on loans have been capped, but not in South Dakota. Payday lenders take advantage of exorbitantly high interest rates and offer them to consumers who need money before they get paid again.

If a consumer accepting the terms of a payday loan can not pay back the money they borrowed, plus interest and a fee, they’ll be subjected to a new interest rate until the loan is satisfied. In some cases, the interest rate on an unpaid loan can be in the hundreds of percents.

Payday Financial filed bogus lawsuits against those consumers in Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Court in an attempt to get them to pay back the outstanding loan money. The lender would attempt to get a judgement from the court to garnish consumers’ wages until the debts had been satisfied. The court though, only has jurisdiction over people in its tribe, those that live on its reservation, or elsewhere in South Dakota.

R. Allen Stanford Convicted in Ponzi Scheme

On Tuesday, R. Allen Stanford was convicted of the largest Ponzi scheme since the Bernie Madoff scandal. Stanford, a Texas tycoon, ran a $7 billion investment fraud scheme and was found guilty on 13 criminal charges, including fraud, conspiracy, and obstructing an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Stanford was arrested in 2009 after defrauding 30,000 investors in more than 100 countries.

Stanford used his own bank – Stanford International Bank, which he set up on the island of Antigua, where he put his investors’ money. Stanford then used the bank as his personal ATM. Investors’ money went toward paying for Stanford’s every whim. At one point, he was worth an estimated $2.2 billion and surrounded himself with luxury homes, top quality clothes and yachts, and purchased real estate for friends and family. Continue reading R. Allen Stanford Convicted in Ponzi Scheme

Lawsuit Filed Over Kardashian Quick-Trim Claims

The infamous Kardashian sisters are being sued customers who claim the weight-loss product they endorse didn’t work for them. The class-action suit was filed in the Southern District of New York. It accuses the Kardashians of making “unsubstantiated, false and misleading claims” in ads, interviews and tweets about the efficacy of QuickTrim. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the primary ingredient in QuickTrim is caffeine.

The four plaintiffs, based in New York, California, and Florida, say the Kardashians and the makers of QuickTrim made bogus claims about the product, including that it “curbs cravings,” “promotes weight loss,” and “burns calories. The FDA backs up those accusations, saying, “The FDA has in fact determined that ‘there are inadequate data to establish the general recognition of the safety and effectiveness’ of caffeine for the specified use of weight control,” according to the lawsuit. Continue reading Lawsuit Filed Over Kardashian Quick-Trim Claims

Senator Pushes FTC on Gas Price Probe

Democratic New York Senator Charles Schumer is pressuring the Federal Trade Commission to complete its investigation into whether oil producers and refiners have engaged in price fixing.

“Those higher gasoline prices are having a significant negative economic impact on American consumers and on the American economy,” Schumer and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said in a letter Thursday to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “The commission’s investigation into whether refiners are actually manipulating the market to keep prices artificially high is critical—as is timely issuance of the results of such investigation.”

Schumer believes oil producers and refiners are deliberately and artificially keeping gas prices high, even as demand declines. Data released last summer by the Energy Information Administration showed oil refiners were producing at just 81 percent of their capacity – that’s 900,000 less barrels produced per day than in 2010.

The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association has criticized the FTC’s investigation, saying previous investigations have already proven oil refiners are not to blame for the high prices. When the FTC first began its probe, it said it would look into oil refiners, producers, transporters, marketers and traders, including whether any of those entities provided “false or misleading information” to a federal agency.

Reports of fraud on the rise; ID theft still most common

Reports of fraud – specifically, identity theft – continue to rise in the U.S., according to reports filed with federal agencies and law enforcement authorities in 2011.

According to a Reuters report on a Federal Trade Commission study released this week, more than 1.8 million complaints of fraud were logged with law enforcement and consumer protection agencies in 2011. This is up from 1.4 million in 2010 and double the number filed in 2006.

Chief among the complaints of fraud were incidents of identity theft, which continues to rise along with the overall rates of fraud. However, this increased rate of fraud may not be indicative of an actual rise in fraud but a rise in the number of groups monitoring consumer fraud and reporting it to federal agencies. These numbers were derived from the Consumer Sentinel Network, a national database established by the FTC. Continue reading Reports of fraud on the rise; ID theft still most common