According to a recently unsealed whistleblower lawsuit, two health care providers in Indiana put the health of mothers and newborns at risk in a Medicaid fraud scheme that placed the care of low-income, pregnant mothers in the hands of lower-cost midwives rather than doctors. The suit alleges that the health care providers -- IU Health and HealthNet Inc. -- then falsely billed Medicaid for doctor-provided services.
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.
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.
Consumer fraud takes many forms, but one of the most egregious kinds of consumer fraud involves targeting elderly individuals who may be particularly vulnerable to illegal sales tactics.
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.
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.
The app-based transportation network Uber continues to face legal troubles, as three lawsuits have been brought in the last month on behalf of Uber passengers. The San Francisco-based company is also facing a class action lawsuit in which a class of drivers says the company failed to pay them as employees. Jillian Boyce, of Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, discussed the drivers' lawsuit in a previous post.
In October we discussed a New Jersey bill that, if passed into law, would reduce penalties for some companies that commit technical violations of the state's Consumer Fraud Act. One aspect of the bill, which you can read more about in our previous post, allows companies to avoid having to pay plaintiffs' legal fees and other costs if the violation in question did not result in loss to the consumer.
New Jersey's Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee recently approved a bill meant to reduce penalties for companies that are found by a court to have committed only a technical violation of the state Consumer Fraud Act. Currently, an individual who wins a consumer fraud lawsuit against a New Jersey company is entitled to compensation for the costs of litigation, including attorney fees, even if no damages were suffered by the plaintiff.
When an investor or consumer decides to sue a business, the case may have merits as a class action, but not every case does. After the lawsuit has been filed, the court will consider the case and determine whether it meets the requirements of a class action. If the issues common to members of the class outweigh the issues specific to each member, then a class action can be certified as such.