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Consumer Fraud Archives

Supreme Court Holds that State Claims Can Stand In Natural Gas Price-Fixing Case

The Supreme Court has reaffirmed a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that state antitrust law claims in a price-fixing case are not preempted by the Federal Natural Gas Act ("NGA"). In the case before the Supreme Court, Oneok, Inc., et al v. Learjet, Inc., et al, 2015 WL 1780926 (U.S. Apr. 21, 2015), Learjet and other purchasers of natural gas alleged that Oneok and other wholesale sellers had engaged in price fixing during the 2000-2002 energy crisis. Specifically, the buyers alleged that the sellers "reported false information to the natural-gas indices on which [buyers'] natural-gas contracts were based. The indices affected not only retail natural-gas prices, but also wholesale natural-gas prices."1

Supreme Court to Review DirecTV Arbitration Clause

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to DirecTV in DirecTV v. Imburgia, No. 14-462, 2015 WL 1280237 (U.S. Mar. 23, 2015), a case regarding arbitration clauses in customers' contracts. The plaintiffs allege that DirecTV did not disclose early termination fees to customers when entering into the contract.1 DirecTV has an arbitration clause in the contract, mandating, according to DirecTV, that consumer disputes be settled by a private arbitrator rather than in a court of law. Plaintiffs brought an action against DirecTV as a class action, and a California appellate court ruled to allow the class action suit to proceed, a decision that DirecTV appealed to the Supreme Court.2

Target Close to Settling Consumer Class Action Over Data Breach

In December 2014, Judge Magnuson, of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, issued a ruling allowing most of a class of plaintiffs' statutory and common law claims to stand in light of Defendant Target's Motion to Dismiss ("Motion")(2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167802). After that ruling, Target and plaintiffs did not take long to work out a settlement. On March 19, 2015, Judge Magnuson gave preliminary approval to a settlement that would require Target to pay $10 million to a class of approximately110 million people, in addition to attorneys' fees and other related settlement fees.1

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Study Critical of Arbitration Clauses

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB"), in a study mandated by a provision in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, investigated the effects of arbitration clauses on consumers and financial companies. Arbitration clauses have been a point of contention for consumer advocate groups because they reduce consumers' legal rights and ability to seek redress.1

Philadelphia Woman Files Class-Action Lawsuit Against Angie's List

Consumers know that one of the great things about the Internet is being able to research products and services before you buy them. Often an important part of that process is looking at what other consumers have said after making the purchase. Ratings and opinions can vary widely, but it is still possible to get a reasonably clear idea of a product based on how consumers' descriptions of it fit or don't fit with your specific needs.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to Review Credit Card Industry

As mandated by the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act ("CARD"), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB" or the "Bureau") will be performing a review of the credit card industry this year. The CARD Act of 2009, passed after the Great Recession to improve consumers' experiences with the credit card industry, requires the CFPB to do such a review of the industry once every two years. To begin the process of assembling the 2015 report, the CFPB has reached out to credit card customers of various companies to accumulate data for its report. The Bureau is focusing its research on the terms of credit card agreements, fees, costs to the companies, and the efficacy of the disclosure of said fees and costs.1

Hidden 'resort fees' the target of class-action lawsuit

In 2012 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) notified 22 hotel companies that their websites "may violate the law by providing a deceptively low estimate of what consumers can expect to pay for their hotel rooms." The notification relates to undisclosed "resort fees," which were not being disclosed to consumers when their rooms were booked online.

Customers File Class-Action Suit Against Anthem Over Data Breach

News stories about large-scale hacking operations are becoming so numerous that the term "data breach" is now a regular part of the American lexicon. In the past couple years, retailers like Target and Home Depot have allowed hackers to obtain credit card numbers and other sensitive data from millions of customers.

Stage may be set for gov't victory in S&P consumer fraud case

Whether it might come in the next few days or next few months isn't clear, but according to unnamed sources cited by The New York Times it's looking like a major consumer fraud case against bond rating giant Standard & Poor's may be in the offing.