Tag Archives | Lawsuits

Blackwater Sued For Allegedly Failing To Pay Benefits

BlackwaterReports Agence France-Presse via the Raw Story:

WASHINGTON — Four former employees of Blackwater, the scandal-plagued security firm now called Xe, have filed a $60 million class action lawsuit claiming the firm failed to pay health and pension benefits to its employees.

Their lawyer, Scott Bloch, said Wednesday that Xe improperly classified thousands of its employees as independent contractors, allowing the company to avoid “millions of dollars in taxes, withholding and payments of benefits.”

“Blackwater made hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers and hired thousands of former veterans of military service and police officers,” said Bloch in a statement.

“It is a grave injustice to them who were mistreated and left without any health insurance or other benefits for their families, and left to fend for themselves in paying into Social Security and Medicare,” he said.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court in Washington, and hopes to recover Social Security, unemployment insurance, health and other benefits for the four plaintiffs, all of whom were injured while working for Blackwater.

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Bank Of America Pays $410 Million To Settle Accusations Of Charging Illegal Overdraft Fees

2845694549_b181546fc7Can we charge Bank of America an overdraft fee?  The San Francisco Gate writes:

Bank of America has agreed to pay $410 million to settle a lawsuit in which the lender is accused of manipulating debit transactions to maximize overdraft fees. The agreement is believed to be the first financial settlement by a large bank in a case alleging deceptive overdraft practices. It may presage the outcome of related claims against 30 other lending institutions, including Wells Fargo, Citibank, Chase, Union Bank and U.S. Bank.

San Francisco’s Wells Fargo is embroiled in a separate lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco brought by California customers. That case started before the multistate legal action, but has not concluded because Wells has filed an appeal.

In August, U.S. District Judge William Alsup issued a scathing ruling ordering Wells Fargo to pay its California clients $203 million. He said the bank’s goal was to “maximize the number of overdrafts and squeeze as much as possible” out of customers.

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23,000 Defendants Sued In Biggest Illegal Downloading Case In History

stalloneMovie makers are suing thousands of individuals who downloaded and watched Sylvester Stallone’s latest film? Shouldn’t that read vice versa? Via Wired:

At least 23,000 file sharers soon will likely get notified they are being sued for downloading The Expendables in what has become the single largest illegal-BitTorrent-downloading case in U.S. history.

A federal judge in the case has agreed to allow the U.S. Copyright Group to subpoena internet service providers to find out the identity of everybody who had illegally downloaded the 2010 Sylvester Stallone flick — meaning the number of defendants is likely to dramatically increase as new purloiners are discovered.

All told, more than 140,000 BitTorrent downloaders are being targeted in dozens of lawsuits across the country, many of them for downloading B-rated movies and porn.

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U.S. Gov’t Sues Deutsche Bank For More Than $1 Billion

MortgageITBBC News reports:

The US Justice Department has sued Deutsche Bank for more than $1bn (£600m) for defrauding the government.

The complaint says Deutsche’s MortgageIT subsidiary lied in order to get Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insurance for its loans.

FHA rules say lenders must make sure the borrower will be able to repay the loan, but the Justice Department claims Deutsche did not do so.

A Deutsche spokesperson described the claims as “unreasonable and unfair”. “We intend to defend against the action vigorously,” she added.

The lawsuit is one of the first targeting mortgage lenders under the federal False Claims Act.

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Jury Awards $82,000 To Oregon Woman Arrested For Asking Police for a Business Card

Shei'Meka NewmannAimee Green writes in the Oregonian:

A Multnomah County jury awarded a 33-year-old woman $82,000 Thursday, saying they wanted to send Portland police a message: Hand over a business card the next time a citizen asks for one.

Several jurors who spoke to The Oregonian after the verdict in Multnomah County Circuit Court said police weren’t dealing with an urgent or dangerous situation on the evening of Feb. 13, 2009 — when Shei’Meka Newmann questioned what she thought was an unnecessarily rough arrest of a fellow MAX rider. It would have taken only a few seconds for an officer to hand Newmann a card, jurors said.

“I think that police need to be reminded that it’s part of their job to de-escalate and defuse situations,” said juror Chris Bolles. Instead, jurors say police overreacted to Newmann’s queries.

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ACLU Sues South Carolina Jail That Bans All Written Materials Except The Bible

0413_Jail_full_600It’s a violation of freedom of religion, obviously. (Jewish and Muslim prisoners were blocked from receiving their holy books.) But beyond that, isn’t it a damaging and cruel form of punishment to prevent inmates from reading books, newspapers, magazines, letters, and other printed material of any kind for years upon years? The Christian Science Monitor reports on rehabilitation, South Carolina-style:

The US Justice Department is asking a federal judge in South Carolina to allow it to intervene in a lawsuit against a sheriff who allegedly forbids prisoners in his jail from receiving books, magazines, or printed materials other than copies of the King James version of the Bible.

Berkeley County Sheriff H. Wayne DeWitt denies that restrictions imposed at the county lockup in Moncks Corner, S.C., rise to the level of a constitutional violation or violate US law.

A Jewish prisoner seeking a Torah said he was told by jail officials that the prison only provides Bibles.

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Tesla Sues BBC Over Rigging Electric Car Test

Tesla/TopGearThe makers of a popular electric car sued the British Broadcasting Corporation for libel, alleging that they rigged the results in a recent test.

Tesla Motors says the broadcaster faked the car’s running out of power, with the show’s host then announcing “it’s just a shame that in the real world it doesn’t seem to work.”

Tesla also charges “malicious falsehood” for the reporter’s claim that somehow “while it was being charged its brakes had broken,” and for implying that after it overheated it became immobile. In addition, the BBC also reported the car traveled only 55 miles on a single charge instead of 200 (thus implying that Tesla lied about its mileage).

The text of their lawsuit is available as a PDF, while the BBC has issued a statement that they “stand by the programme and will be vigorously defending this claim.”… Read the rest

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Low-Budget Movie Companies Using BitTorrent Lawsuits As Business Strategy

Nude Nuns With Big GunsDavid Kravets writes in Wired:

On March 7, Camelot Distribution Group, an obscure film company in Los Angeles, unveiled its latest and potentially most profitable release: a federal lawsuit against BitTorrent users who allegedly downloaded the company’s 2010 B-movie revenge flick Nude Nuns With Big Guns between January and March of this year. The single lawsuit targets 5,865 downloaders, making it theoretically worth as much as $879,750,000 — more money than the U.S. box-office gross for Avatar.

At the moment, the targets of the litigation are unknown, even to Camelot. The mass lawsuit lists the internet IP addresses of the downloaders (.pdf), and asks a federal judge to order ISPs around the country to dig into their records for each customer’s name.

It’s the first step in a process that could lead to each defendant getting a personalized letter in the mail from Camelot’s attorneys suggesting they settle the case, lest they wind up named in a public lawsuit as having downloaded Nude Nuns With Big Guns.

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Virginia Man With 4th Amendment Written on Chest Sues Over Airport Arrest

4th AmendmentDavid Kravets writes on WIRED’s Threat Level:

A 21-year-old Virginia man who wrote an abbreviated version of the Fourth Amendment on his body and stripped to his shorts at an airport security screening area is demanding $250,000 in damages for being detained on a disorderly conduct charge.

Aaron Tobey claims in a civil rights lawsuit (PDF) that in December he was handcuffed and held for about 90 minutes by the Transportation Security Administration at the Richmond International Airport after he began removing his clothing to display on his chest a magic-marker protest of airport security measures.

“Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated,” his chest and gut read.

The University of Cincinnati student didn’t want to go through the advanced imaging technology X-ray machines that are cropping up at airports nationwide. Instead, when it was his turn to be screened, he was going to opt for an intrusive pat-down — and remove most of his clothing in the process.

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Guatemalans Sue U.S. Over Syphilis Experiments

Depression-era poster. Although penicillin was found to treat syphilis, many of the public who were experimented on did not receive treatment.

Depression-era STD education poster.

This seems like a classic tale in American history: Government finds a poverty-stricken community to perform experiments on, then years later the public realizes what happens and gets upset about. Well, it’s happened again. Via The American Lawyer:

A class action lawsuit on behalf of about 700 Guatemalans who were subjected to syphilis experiments by American doctors in the 1940s will be filed against the U.S. government in three days unless reparations of some kind are made to their families, plaintiffs attorneys said Tuesday.

The Obama administration apologized last October for U.S. government doctors infecting Guatemalans with the syphilis virus from 1946 to 1948 to study how the sexually transmitted disease is passed and whether penicillin treatment was effective.

The experiments came to light in 2009 through research by historian Susan Reverby, a professor of women and gender studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

Because of the apology, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Conrad & Scherer and Washington, D.C.-based Parker Wakeman Alonso notified Attorney General Eric Holder that he had until Friday to offer a way to settle claims before the 33-page lawsuit is filed in federal court.

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