"The foundations of justice are that no one shall suffer wrong." - Cicero

Volkswagen emission scandal: What’s up for the consumers?

Posted on Friday, November 20th, 2015 at 2:36 pm    


This year could be the roughest for Volkswagen. Last August, it announced it is recalling 420,000 of its units after learning about a faulty steering wheel assembly that may cause the front airbags not deploy during a crash. This airbag-related recall seems to be completely unrelated to Takata’s airbag recall, which involves several other car makers.

But last September, the German auto giant has entered into what has dubbed to be the car maker’s most disastrous scandal yet. The U.S. Environment and Protection Agency said Volkswagen intentionally installed software designed to circumvent clean air regulations by detecting if the car is being tested for emission. The scandal sent waves of dismay and distrust that it lost nearly $2 billion in this year’s third quarter.

Volkswagen is also preparing to face consumers’ ire over the emission scandal. In fact, the company announced that it will provide two cash cards to those affected by the issue – the first one, worth $500, can be used anywhere, while the second one, worth between $500 and $750, can be spent at any Volkswagen dealership.

This move hopes to pacify the anger of many car buyers who believe that they have purchased a diesel car that’s both efficient and eco-friendly. To date, more and more people are suing the company, asking for compensation because of a decreased resale value.

Defects in car keyless ignition systems prompt class action suit

Posted on Friday, October 2nd, 2015 at 3:52 pm    

With the advancements in automotive technology that is available today, drivers can now start their cars with the use of keyless ignition systems. Instead of using traditional keys, a driver can easily start their vehicle with a single press of a button. This mechanism works as long as the driver has the special electronic key fob on their person, since the ignition system is ideally designed to start only when it detects the fob within a given radius. Unfortunately, this state-of-the art design isn’t always foolproof. As a matter of fact, several car makers are currently facing a class action lawsuit because of this very issue.

Keyless Ignition

As reported by CNN Money, a class action lawsuit has been filed against the country’s top automakers for dangerous defects in keyless ignition systems. The lawsuit alleges that the defective keyless ignition systems allow cars to continue running even after the key fob is no longer within the specified vicinity required by the system. This led to cars continuing to run even while parked, causing carbon monoxide to build-up inside enclosed garages and seep inside people’s homes.

The lawsuit cites 13 fatalities caused by such incidents, including one that involves a Toyota Prius hybrid. Aside from Toyota, the other car makers named in the suit include General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, and Honda.

How Volkswagen Avoided EPA Emission Regulations

Posted on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015 at 5:52 pm    

In 2009, tougher vehicle emissions regulations were instituted to protect the environment from the vast amounts of nitrogen oxide that cars were emitting all over the globe. These regulations came at the detriment of automobile manufacturers that produced diesel vehicles, which emit higher rates of nitrogen oxide due to the diesel fuel burned. Volkswagen was one of the first automobile manufactures to release a diesel vehicle that met the new, strict regulations.

Unlike most diesel vehicles that input an additional tank of urea-based solution used to decrease nitrogen oxide emissions, Volkswagen insisted the 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine on its smaller models did not require a rea injection system. They offered little explanation to this; however the vehicles were emitting satisfactory emission levels.

On September 18, it was discovered that Volkswagen has installed a software algorithm in its smaller diesel vehicles that could recognize when a car was being tested for emission levels. When the software suspected the test was occurring, the car would reduce emissions for the purpose of passing the test.

Volkswagen released almost 11 million TDI diesel cars that contained the “defeat device.” According to website of The Driscoll Firm, the device would deceptively show emission levels that met EPA’s legal limits instead of the true emissions that, in reality, exceeded regulations 10 to 40 times over. The car company has not released an official recall of its products to repair the software.

The cars affected include 2009 to 2015 TDI Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, Beetle, and Audi A3s as well as the 2014 to 2015 Passat. These vehicles are powered by 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engines which were theorized to be small enough to not require the AdBlue solution other diesel engines utilized to meet more stringent emissions regulations. The EPA is investigating the case further to establish the scope of consequences from this event.

Airline Faces Lawsuit for Insufficient Protection of a Minor

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 at 3:11 pm    

American AirlinesAn underage girl (between the ages of 12-16) was reportedly touched inappropriately touched during a flight with American Airlines. The suspected perpetrator, Muhammad Asif Chaudry (37), has denied these allegations and was prompted not to comment by his legal team. He was released after paying a bail of $100,000.

In the lawsuit, it is stated in the girl’s claim that Chaudry attempted to touch her genitals. During the flight, when Chaudry left for the restroom, the girl called the attention of a flight attendant and was promptly transferred to the first available first-class seat.

The airline immediately contacted authorities – including the FBI – in order to investigate the claim at hand. Though Chaudry has denied the accusations, the girl has photographs on her phone of the man resting his leg across her lap. It has been stated that she could not move away from her position due to the fact that the seatbelt sign was on. She then details that she woke up to the inappropriate touch of the man by his hand and, later, his foot.
Minors travelling unaccompanied are charged an extra $150 for the promise that the attendants would care for them. The family has filed a lawsuit against the airlines for failing to provide the appropriate standard of care during the reported sexual assault against a minor.

Gay couple files lawsuit after marriage license denial

Posted on Friday, July 10th, 2015 at 10:15 am    

shutterstock_214381165Some of the biggest news of late has revolved around the legalization of gay marriage in all states in America. Despite this Supreme Court decision, a gay couple in Texas recently faced problems in their county while trying to receive a marriage license. After entering the Hood County Courthouse on Monday, Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton were denied a marriage license by the clerk. The two immediately filed a lawsuit against clerk, Katie Lang, who cited religious reasons for the denial of the marriage license.

A mere twelve hours after filing the lawsuit, the couple was granted their marriage license. Despite this, the couple has not withdrawn their lawsuit. The couple is still trying to obtain an agreement for Lang to immediately offer licenses to all gay couples, as Cato and Stapleton were not the first she denied. They are also looking to be compensated for attorney fees. This comes shortly after a lesbian couple in Texas was denied a marriage license in a county near Tyler.

Many are calling for further laws to protect couples against actions such as this. These laws would protect couples from clerks denying licenses based on religious beliefs. Cato and Stapleton state they wish they did not have to file the lawsuit, but felt it was necessary to be able to get married in their hometown. The lawsuit is still ongoing and may result in further protections for same sex couples.

The Lingering Effects of Monsanto PCBs are Evident in Latest Lawsuit

Posted on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 at 10:38 am    

Monsanto PCBsMore than three decades have passed since the United States Congress issued a ban against the manufacture and use of polychlorinated biphenyl compounds—commonly called PCBs—under the Toxic Substances Control Act. However, even after 30 years or so, plenty of communities continue to feel the lingering effects of these highly toxic chemicals. The ecological effects have been so troublesome that the city of San Diego, California has recently filed a lawsuit against the biggest manufacturer of PCBs during the time of its widespread use, agrochemical company Monsanto.

According to the San Diego Reader, the City of San Diego and the San Diego Unified Port District are suing Monsanto for its role in polluting its waters and surrounding bay area. The lawsuit, filed March 16, claims that Monsanto PCBs continue to contaminate the San Diego Bay and have caused significant effects on wildlife in the area. As noted in the lodged complaint, “PCB contamination in and around the Bay affects all San Diegans and visitors who enjoy the Bay, who reasonably would be disturbed by the presence of a hazardous, banned substance in the sediment, water, and wildlife.”

Before its ban in the late 1970s, PCBs were widely used as industrial coolants and became a vital ingredient in a variety of commercial products. During this time, the production of PCB substances was monopolized by Monsanto. Between 1929 and the federal 1979 ban, an estimated 1.5 billion tons of PCBs were manufactured by Monsanto. The San Diego lawsuit points to reports and documents dating as early as 1969 that indicate Monsanto had been well aware of the potential health and ecological risks posed by their chemical products. A separate news report by RT noted that one internal Monsanto memo showed that the company was well aware of the dangers of PCBs long before they stopped production, two years before the ban.

All in all, the City of San Diego is looking for Monsanto to cover the expenses of dredging the bay area to remove PCBs and paying any additional costs for the destruction of natural resources. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes PCBs as a probable human carcinogen. Aside from the risk of cancer, the pollutant has also been found to be potentially dangerous to the nervous, endocrine, reproductive, and immune systems of the human body.

Sources about the History of Monsanto PCBs

Other Good Places to Learn about Monsanto PCBs

Uber facing lawsuits against cab companies across the U.S.

Posted on Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 at 11:09 am    

shutterstock_168370127In the early morning of March 28, nineteen California taxi companies filed a lawsuit against the popular car-sharing service app Uber. This comes directly on the tail of similar lawsuits that have been filed by taxi firms and other for-hire drivers all over the United States, which includes a class action suit that’s currently pending in Florida. In all these cases, the plaintiffs emphasize that Uber is endangering the lives of their passengers through deceptive claims about the safety of their services.

The California lawsuit, in particular, cites ‘false and misleading advertising’ used by Uber Technologies for their UberX platforms. As the Los Angeles Times reported, the ads promote the new platform as “the safest rides on the road” and “safer than a taxi”. The plaintiffs, including cab companies from San Diego, Palm Springs, and San Francisco, claim such statements lead passengers to a false sense of security even when Uber drivers aren’t subjected to background checks and other safety regulations.

The nineteen California cab companies also emphasize that Uber’s misleading ads have inadvertently created unfair competition. The plaintiffs claim that the deceptive UberX ads have caused financial and reputational harm to their services. As the lawsuit claims, Uber’s exaggerated safety claims “spurn plaintiff’s taxi cabs for UberX rides, resulting in lost revenue for plaintiffs.”

Should the lawsuit face trial, a jury will end up determining a specific amount to be awarded for the damages that the plaintiffs are seeking. Eve Behrend, spokesperson to Uber, responded to the lawsuit by saying that it was “frivolous” and “without merit”.

Same-Sex Marriage Question to be Finally Tackled by the Supreme Court

Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2015 at 8:22 am    

The U.S. Supreme Court has been historically elusive about taking a stand on the issue of same-sex marriage. It obliquely gave it a nod by refusing to review the ruling of the federal appeals courts to strike down same-sex marriage bans in 7 cases in 2014 but making no comment.

However, when the 6th Circuit upheld the ban in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee in November 2014, it created a split in the federal appeals level. This may have influenced the Supreme Court to finally weigh in on the issue. It agreed to review the federal appeals courts’ decisions on those self-same states in one hearing scheduled for April, consolidating the arguments of all four cases.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to settle the question once and for all if banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Legal representatives of the four states will be granted 2 ½ hours to argue their case. A ruling is expected sometime in June.

Same-sex marriage is legal and recognized in 36 states plus the District of Columbia, but the remaining states are steadfast in refusing to allow it and do not recognize the legal standing of same-sex couples married in other states. This has sparked a fierce debate about the denial of these states of the protections and rights provided in marriage to same-sex couples, such as those pertaining to property, succession, and custody. Advocates for same-sex marriage have continuously argued that banning same-sex marriage is a violation of the constitutional rights of lesbians and gays.

Same-sex marriage advocacy has gone quite a long way in a short time. It was only in 2013 that legality of same-sex marriage was conceded on the federal level as a result of the landmark case United States v. Windsor. The outcome predicted in mid-2015 will finally resolve the same-sex marriage constitutional issue.

Motion to Consolidate Xarelto

Posted on Thursday, December 11th, 2014 at 9:11 am    

pillsThe US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) is currently considering a motion by lawyers of 50 plaintiffs to consolidate their personal injury lawsuits filed in 15 federal courts against Bayer AG and Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. under one roof. The proposed multidistrict litigation (MDL) venue is Illinois under Judge David Hendron.

Bayer and Janssen has countered this motion by requesting the JPML to consolidate the cases in New Jersey under U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson, pointing out that it is where they have their US headquarters. The motions were heard in the federal district court in Charleston, SC last December 4, 2014 and a final decision is pending. The decision to consolidate the cases is a natural progression of litigation given that the cases levied against the defendants are practically identical. The beauty of an MDL is that while the cases are heard as a cohesive whole, each plaintiff retains control of the case as it applies to them.

Xarelto is a prescription blood thinner or anticoagulant that was first sold in the US in July 2011 designed to prevent stroke and manage blood-clot risk. The first complaints about it being too effective came not long after, where patients reported uncontrollable bleeding. Because Xarelto has no counteracting agent (unlike standard anticoagulant warfarin, for which Vitamin K is an effective antidote), uncontrollable bleeding can lead to dire consequences. In some rulings, Xarelto was deemed to be too dangerous to be sold in the first place.

Despite these dangers, Xarelto continues to be prescribed by physicians, a pattern that will most likely hold true presumably until such time as the drug is found to be too dangerous indeed to be used, or not.

Wing-less Plaintiffs Prevail in Preemptive Settlement

Posted on Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 3:01 pm    

icarusPopular energy drink is under fire for failing to live up to its slogan, which was “Red Bull gives you wings.”

Austria-based Red Bull GmbH which manufacture and market the energy drink Red Bull agreed to pay all U.S. claimants that purchased the drink from 2002 between $10-15 as compensation for alleged false advertising. It could be argued that the slogan was merely an exaggeration and not meant to be taken literally.

The idea that those who drink the product expected to actually develop wings may seem far-fetched. From a legal point of view, apparently, the claim had merit because the case was successfully certified for class action.

Whether the courts would continue to look favorably on the claimants’ stand will never be known though. Red Bull decided to agree to a $13 million settlement, half of which is slated for the estimated 1.4 million people who may make a claim rather than go through the litigation process although they continue to defend their position that notwithstanding the slogan their advertising was accurate and truthful.

After all, puffery is an accepted part of advertising, and in most cases the legal doctrine caveat emptor or “buyer beware” curtails the liability of companies for using flowery language to sell their products. In the case of Red Bull, however, the $13 million price tag to avoid legal wrangling was probably a smart move, considering that the product garnered billions of sales for its manufacturer over the years. Officially, drinking Red Bull does not give you wings.