MetLife Reaches Settleement with 30 States over Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits

MetLife will have to pay out $500 million to more than 30 states that said it didn’t issue life insurance benefits to some of its policyholders. As part of the settlement, the country’s largest life insurer will have to pay around $188 million of the $478 million this year, and pay the remainder over the next 17 years.

The company’s use of the Social Security Administration’s “Death Master” file was heavily investigated by state regulators. The
Death Master file is a database of subscribers who have died. Continue reading MetLife Reaches Settleement with 30 States over Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits

Publix grocery managers sue former employer over unpaid overtime

A group of four former Publix Super Markets managers and assistant managers have sued the store chain over unpaid overtime work.

According to a report from Atlanta Journal Constitution, the former employees filed a lawsuit against Publix this week in a Florida federal court. Their lawsuit seeks class-action status representing any former or current employee of the store chain who believes the company owes them money for hours they worked past the limit considered “full-time” employment.

The report indicates the plaintiffs include a former deli manager, two assistant deli managers and a bakery department manager. The claim they were hired as “non-exempt” employees at Publix, meaning they were paid on an hourly scale instead of a salary. Labor laws dictate that any work conducted over 40 hours in a week should be considered overtime.

The former employees say any overtime they performed was paid at “half-time” rates when they should have been paid the standard “time-and-a-half” rate. The four plaintiffs claim they worked at least 50 hours weekly and has sued for violations of the Federal Labor Standards Act and seeks damages for lost wages, attorney fees, and court costs.

Publix operates exclusively in the southern U.S., with stores in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Wage lawsuits on the rise during economic recession

As jobs become available at a premium and many Americans worry if their current job will last through the current economic downturn, employers are pushing their workers to doing more, for longer hours, and no more pay. This has led to a sharp increase in the amount of wage dispute and unpaid overtime lawsuits.

Normally grateful for any job, many employees have long “accepted” the “policies” of working overtime hours for no extra pay or being forced to doing work “off-the-clock” or from home as technology has allowed. According to a recent USA Today report, a lot of American workers have reached the end of their tether. Continue reading Wage lawsuits on the rise during economic recession

Ambac sues Bank of America for breach of contract on mortgage securities deal

Bank of America Corp. is facing a lawsuit from Ambac Assurance Corp., accusing the company of breach of contract in a mortgage-based securities deal with its firm Merrill Lynch.

The complaint, according to a Bloomberg report on the action, accuses Merrill Lynch and First Franklin Financial Corp. of acting “in concert” to “induce Ambac to issue an insurance policy covering payments due on securities issued in the transaction.” The lawsuit has been filed in a Manhattan courtroom. Ambac does not specify the damages it is seeking from Bank of America. Continue reading Ambac sues Bank of America for breach of contract on mortgage securities deal

FTC shutters Free Gas for Life promotion

The Federal Trade Commission has stopped a company from offering “Free Gas for Life” to consumers because the promotion is a complete fraud.

According to a report from Time magazine, Green Millionaire LLC is accused of duping consumers with that seemingly valuable promotion as a means of getting them to sign up for a magazine subscription. Consumers allegedly were tricked into accepting the “Green Millionaire Book” for “free” but weren’t aware they had signed-up for a gift-based service.

It wasn’t difficult for the company to get people to sign up to receive the “free” book. Green Millionaire used testimonials from purported customers and success stories from its campaign, all claiming they used Green Millionaire Book to teach them the secrets to receiving free electricity and gasoline for life. When people agreed to receive the book, they were unknowingly charged $29.95 for a two-month subscription for the company’s so-called services. They also had the chance to pay $89.95 for a full yearly subscription.

Instead, the company offered a “negative option” which requires a consumer to specifically cancel the service they’ve unknowingly signed up to receive. If they didn’t “opt-out” of the program, consumers would be sent and charged for gifts they likely didn’t want or expect.

As part of the enforcement action from the FTC, any individual associated with Green Millionaire is barred from making similar claims in the future. The company has been forced to pay back $2 million to consumers who were tricked by the program. No one has actually claimed for the record of avoiding energy bills altogether because of the information gleaned from the Green Millionaire Book.

Lawsuits allege Shop Vac misrepresents horsepower claims on vacuums

Two new class-action lawsuits – filed in federal courts in New Jersey and California – allege horsepower claims made on Shop Vac vacuums are far above what the machines actually deliver.

According to a NewsInferno.com report, tests measuring the incoming horse power, air flow, and air horse power were conducted on Shop Vac vacuums. Across the board, Shop Vac vacuums deliver 17 to 40 percent less horse power than advertised when they carried a full load. When it wasn’t carrying a load, the horse power actually dropped to 26 to 51 percent less than claims.

One lawsuit, filed by a Missouri man in a New Jersey federal court, claims his 5.75HP, 16-gallon Shop Vac produced far less power than advertised.

Shop Vac vacuums are priced based on their size and power and the lawsuits filed aim to use “air horsepower” as a gauge of the vacuum’s ability to do work. The more horse power, the more suction a vacuum will generate.

California court rules employers needn’t “police” lunch break policies

California’s Supreme Court seemingly has ruled against millions of hourly-wage workers by saying employers are not required to mandate lunch breaks, as they’re required to provide in many instances by federal labor laws.

Instead, the state’s high court ruled this week, employees should self-police lunch break policies. It’s not the responsibility of an employer to mandate these breaks. The case in question was filed against the parent company of Chili’s restaurants by thousands of its employees who claimed the employer was abusing the labor law and not “allowing” employees to take their guaranteed half-hour break.

Most employees who work a scheduled shift typically eight hours’ long are entitled to a half-hour “lunch” break, 30 uninterrupted minutes away from the job and not recorded on a time clock.

As jobs become more exclusive and company budgets more slim, employers have become less inviting of these breaks. Many of the Chili’s employees included in the California lawsuit claimed breaks just weren’t offered or recommended to employees.

Though the Supreme Court ruled against the employees in this decision, it has allowed individual workers to file a lawsuit against the employer over missed breaks. Those employees can join a class-action lawsuit against the company. The Court is essentially ruling that it’s not upon the employer to mandate it but if an employee requests the break, it must abide by state and federal labor laws.

Insurance company ordered to pay $32.3M to Montana woman

An elderly Montana woman has won her lawsuit against the insurance company she claimed failed to pay her medical bills for several years despite her paying monthly premiums.

According to a report at HuffingtonPost.com via The Billings Gazette, 90-year-old Arlene Hull was awarded $32.3 million by a jury last week. Though a cap on punitive damages may only see her received just more than one-third of that, the decision is being hailed as a victory for those who’ve been slighted by their long-term care insurers.

The practice of recission cuts people from long-term-care insurance policies if they suddenly become seriously ill or develop a debilitating disease. New laws in the federal health care overhaul reportedly no longer allow insurance companies from practicing this but these specific plans are not considered “health plans.”

Hull and her husband purchased long-term care insurance from Ability Insurance in 1997. The plan allegedly covered major medical expenses they incurred during their later years and is designed to be a supplement coverage to federal Medicare funding. The Hulls paid their monthly premiums for years and Arlene was eventually admitted to an assisted-living facility in 2008 due to her being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

It was then that Ability refused to pay for her care and she began building more and more expenses due to her need for specialized care. Last year, Ability agreed to begin paying for Hull’s care but still would not pay for the costs she accrued during a two-year period. Her lawsuit sought the repayment of those costs plus punitive damages.

Groupon.com agrees to settlement deal on class-action lawsuit

The discount deals Web site Groupon.com has reached settlement terms in a class-action lawsuit alleging its expiration dates on coupons it offered were illegal.

The $8.2 million settlement proposed must still be approved by a judge but according to a Bloomberg report on the deal, Groupon.com customers “who bought Groupon vouchers before Dec. 1, 2011 can either redeem these past their expiration date or, if they are unable to do so, obtain a refund from the $8.5 million fund.”

Consumers in some states can only apply for refunds for vouchers sold after Aug. 22, 2010, according to the terms of the settlement. Groupon.com has also agreed to not sell up to 10 percent of its coupons or offers which expire less than 30 days after it sells them but that restriction is only in place for three years. Continue reading Groupon.com agrees to settlement deal on class-action lawsuit

Wells Fargo faces class-action over securities lending fraud

Wells Fargo & Co. must face a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of at least 100 “institutional investors” who claim the banking and finance giant misled them about the performance and risks involved with a securities lending program.

The lawsuits filed on behalf of more than 100 institutional investors claims Wells Fargo “knew or should have known that the investments it selected did not comport with investment mandates,” according to a Bloomberg report on the lawsuit which has been certified as a class-action by a federal judge in Minnesota. There were numerous lawsuits filed by individual institutional investors, each making similar allegations against Wells Fargo over the same issue. U.S. District Judge Donovan W. Frank certified the class against Wells Fargo last week.

The bank purported its securities lending program as a nearly fail-safe way for institutional investors to increase returns on their portfolios. While these investments were overall risky, Wells Fargo promoted them as “highly secure” and invested an inordinate amount of money got from these investors into the risky deals.

The class-action lawsuit is based on an initial lawsuit filed in 2010 by City of Farmington Hills Employees Retirement System. It accuses Wells Fargo of abandoning its “fiduciary duty” in relaying all relevant information to the managers of these institutional investor groups.

Further, Wells Fargo is accused of hiding performance data related to these investments, preventing any investor from making a sound decision on whether to back out of the program.

Wells Fargo plans to appeal the decision to certify the class against it but has already lost a verdict over the same investment scheme, in which it had to pay $30 million to four non-profit investment groups based in Minnesota. The bank has also appealed that decision with no final judgement determined, according to the report.