A settlement was recently approved against California based Munger Bros. who owns Washington state berry farm, Sarbanand Farms in Sumas, WA. Under the $3.75 million settlement, nearly 500 foreign farmworkers will receive at least $4,656 while 65 will receive an additional $10,384 in back wages and other fees. Munger denies any wrongdoing.

The lawsuit stems from the termination of farmworkers who walked out in protest in 2017 after a colleague was taken by ambulance and later died at a hospital of natural causes unrelated to work. The termination of the initial approximate 65 workers led to further protests by workers. The claimants alleged they were illegally fired and those who remained claimed a hostile work environment. Munger Bros. is based in California.

This blog is intended to provide information to the general public and to practitioners about developments that may impact Oregon class actions.

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Bank of America, which purchased Countrywide Financial Corp., will pay $250 million to settle a class action lawsuit alleging that Countrywide participated in a fraudulent real estate appraisal scheme. If approved, the settlement will end a nearly seven-year-old case that revolves around allegations that Countrywide, which Bank of America bought in 2008, and an affiliated appraisal vendor, schemed in the years leading up to the financial crisis to generate bogus, inflated appraisals in order to close as many home loans as possible.

The settlement provides that the estimated 2.4 million class members will not have to file claims forms to receive a cut of the $250 million common fund. The proposed settlement class is defined as U.S. residents who applied for a mortgage loan at the now-defunct Countrywide and whose properties were appraised by affiliated vendor LandSafe Inc. from 2003 through 2008.

The amount paid to each borrower will represent at least 22% of the appraisal fee taken by the defendants when assessing the mortgage applications, according to the filing.

The cases are Waldrup v. Countrywide Financial Corp. et al., case number 2:13-cv-08833, and Williams et al. v. Countrywide Financial Corp. et al., case number 2:16-cv-04166, both in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

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Class Members in an ERISA class action against MFS Investment Management secured a $6.9 million settlement with who claimed the company mismanaged their retirement savings. The Plaintiffs in the Class Action alleged that MFS breached its fiduciary duties and engaged in prohibited transactions.

According to the settlement proposal, the $6.9 million amount represents about 30% of the damages the workers could recover if they were to prove liability and maximum damages on all of their claims. The result is impressive both for dollar amount per class member (about $2,291) and the percentage of the plan’s assets (about .72%) it represents.

The pact also requires MSF to make the qualified default investment alternative for the plan a non-proprietary fund for at least three years following the settlement, and the company will also have to retain an unaffiliated third-party investment consultant to evaluate the plan’s lineup every year over the same period.

The proposed class has roughly 3,000 members based on information that was provided by MFS.

The case is Velazquez v. Massachusetts Financial Services Company et al., case number 1:17-cv-11249, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

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A class action filed by Louisiana homeowners against Chinese companies over allegedly defective drywall have reached a $248 million settlement to resolve the dispute. The class of homeowners and Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd., which formerly conducted business as Shandong Taihe Dongxin Co. Ltd. and Taian Taishan Plasterboard Co. Ltd., told the court they have reached a deal that will see the claims resolved against the drywall maker as well as other defendants, including Beijing New Building Materials Public Ltd. Co. and affiliated entities.

The settlement calls for a $24.8 million payment within 30 days of the court’s approval, to be followed by a $148 million payment within 60 days and a final $74 million installment no more than 120 days after the initial OK.

The drywall at issue entered the U.S. in the early- and mid-2000s during a shortage of building materials caused by a housing boom and reconstruction following Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Residents of the Gulf Coast and East Coast, where most of the drywall ended up, began to experience foul smells, corroded metal objects and broken appliances and electrical devices. Many also reported feeling sick and blamed it on the drywall.

The case is In re Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, case number 2:09-md-02047, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

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On Monday, Oregon federal district court judge Michael Simon preliminarily approved a $32 million settlement that would resolve multidistrict litigation against Premera Blue Cross over the health insurer’s 2015 data breach that affected an estimated 11 million customers and employees. In a 58-page order, Judge Michael H. Simon said the proposed settlement is fair, considering that the proposed class members have “several strong arguments” regarding Premera’s allegedly inadequate data security measures. The judge also noted there were multiple internal and external audits conducted that identified vulnerabilities in its system before the hack, but the company failed to address them and the breach went on for months without being detected.

“Whether Premera breached its contractual promises, was negligent, or engaged in unfair practices under Washington’s [Consumer Protection Act] with respect to Premera’s provision of data security are relatively strong claims,” the order says.

If approved, the settlement would resolve at least 42 lawsuits that were filed after the Mountlake Terrace, Washington-based health insurance provider announced in March 2015 that it exposed its database to hackers when an employee opened a phishing email and installed a bogus software update that was actually malware.

The plaintiffs claim the data breach occurred even though the U.S. Office of Personnel Management had specifically told Premera to fix vulnerabilities in April 2014 and internal and external audits by Accuvant, Verizon Business and others identified several security deficiencies multiple times.

Under the proposed deal, claimants could receive up to $10,000 to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses they incurred due to the breach, including up to 20 hours of personal time spent addressing the problem at $20 per hour. Those who don’t have expenses would receive $50 and the California victims of the hack would receive an additional $50, while all class members would receive two-year credit monitoring and insurance. The company also agreed to invest at least $42 million into bolstering its information security practices over the next three years.

A hearing on the settlement’s final approval is set for March 2.

The customers and employees are represented by Kim D. Stephens, Christopher I. Brain and Jason T. Dennett of Tousley Brain Stephens PLLC, Keith S. Dubanevich and Yoona Park of Stoll Berne, Tina Wolfson of Ahdoot & Wolfson PC, James Pizzirusso of Hausfeld LLP, and Karen Hanson Riebel and Kate M. Baxter-Kauf of Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP.

The case is In re Premera Blue Cross Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, case number 3:15-md-2633, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.

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A number of class actions against the National Hockey League (“NHL”)  were consolidated in an MDL. It is called the NHL Concussion MDL. Continue reading “NHL Settles Concussion Class Action for $18.9 Million”

Transamerica Life Insurance Company has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of policyholders across the United States alleging that Transamerica improperly increased the monthly charges that the company withdrew from the accounts of policyholders who own certain “universal life” insurance policies. Continue reading “Transamerica Settles Policyholder Class Action for $195 Million”

State Farm has agreed to pay $250 million to settle a class action alleging it secretly worked to help elect an Illinois high court justice in order to overturn a billion-dollar judgment against State Farm. The class members are millions of State Farm policy holders. Continue reading “State Farm Pays $250 Million To Settle Class Action Alleging It Rigged a Judicial Election”

Last week, a California federal judge approved a $115 million settlement ends claims Anthem Inc. put 79 million consumers’ personal information at risk in a 2015 data breach. U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh ruled that the deal, which provides the class of data breach victims with two years of credit monitoring, coverage of out-of-pocket expenses stemming from the breach, and compensation for those who got their own credit monitoring — is “ fair, reasonable and adequate” and without valid objection. Continue reading “Judge Approves Settlement in Anthem Data Breach Case”

John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.) has entered into a preliminary settlement with certain owners of its universal and variable universal life insurance policies who have policies that contain a contractual promise that “Applied Monthly Rates will be based on [John Hancock’s] expectations of future mortality experience”—and nothing else. Continue reading “John Hancock Settles Insurance Class Action for $91 Million”

On May 29, 2018, a federal judge in New York granted preliminary approval of a $27 million class settlement between British Airways and a class of British Airways Executive Club members. The suit was filed in November 2012 with class certification granted in March 2017. Continue reading “British Airways Executive Club Members Settle Class Action for $27 Million”

On May 25, a federal court in Missouri approved a $21.5 million settlement between Monsanto and a class of consumers who alleged the agrochemical giant used misleading labeling on its Roundup weed killer. The complaint stated that Monsanto misled consumers about how much Roundup could be made from bottles of concentrate. The concentrate labels say the formula “makes up to” a certain amount of herbicide when mixed with water, but the instructions’ fine print says the formula should be mixed at much higher concentrations for best results. Continue reading “Monsanto Settles False Labeling Class Action for $21.5 Million”

A settlement of a class action against Facebook was preliminarily approved on February 26, 2018. The deal was reached to a securities fraud suit that had been certified as a class action.

Continue reading “Securities fraud class action against Facebook settled for $35 million”

Assistant Managers for Petco Animal Supplies Inc. have reached an $8 million settlement of a wage-and-hour class action alleging it failed to pay assistant store managers for overtime.

Continue reading “Petco settles assistant manager overtime class action”