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Settlement Reached Over Bridgeton Landfill

The operator of the Bridgeton Landfill in St. Louis will pay nearly $7 million to settle a class action lawsuit. The class action lawsuit was filed on “behalf of hundreds of homeowners living nearby who claimed that noxious odors and an underground fire lowered property values and harmed their quality of life.”

The damages “are based on property values and proximity to the landfill.” According to the deal residents of more than 400 homes are entitled to “$26,250 for single family homes in the Spanish Village subdivision, $15, 375 in the Terrisan Reste mobile home community and about $3,900 in the Carrollton Village condominiums.” 

The settlement is separate from another class action lawsuit pending alleging that “radioactive contamination from the landfill has been detected off site.” 


Kraft Recalls Thousands of Pounds in Oscar Mayer Wieners due to Packaging Error

On Sunday, April 21, 2014, Kraft Foods Group Inc. of Columbia, MO recalled about 96,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners after a consumer notified the company of a packaging error on Friday.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said that Oscar Mayer’s “Classic Cheese Dogs” were contained in the packaging for “Classic Wieners.”  This, in turn means that the product labels were incorrect and did not reflect the ingredients associated with the pasteurized cheese contained in the wieners.  

The recalled products were produced on March 2-3, 2014, and bear the number “Est. 537H” inside the USDA mark of inspection. 
The Food Safety and Inspection Service have not received reports of adverse reactions.  People with concerns about a reaction are being asked to contact a healthcare provider.


Arizona Community College Facing Possible Class Action Suit Over Date Breach

A community college district located in Tempe, Arizona is facing a possible class action lawsuit over a data breach. The suit alleges that Maricopa County Community College District failed to prevent a data breach that occurred in April 2013. According to the suit the district waited seven months before notifying individuals of the breach.

In January 2011 the FBI had notified the college of another breach that had occurred. However the lawsuit claims administrators did nothing at the time to address the 2011 breach resulting in the second breach that occurred in April 2013. 

The lawsuit is seeking class action status for more than 2.5 million individual including current and former students. 


Lawsuit Against the Federal Government for Alleged Lengthy Immigrant Detentions

A class-action lawsuit was filed against the federal government on Thursday, April 17, 2014 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups alleging the government is violating their own rules of providing a speedy hearing to immigrants seeking protection in the United States.  

According to the lawsuit, thousands of immigrants seeking protection have spent months, and occasionally more than a year, in detention waiting for the government to determine whether they have a “reasonable fear” of persecution if deported.  

Although the government regulations say that claimants must receive a “reasonable fear determination” within 10 days, the lawsuit says that the government data shows an average wait time to be about 111 days.  


Proposed California Bill Aims to Make Retailers Liable for Data Breach Incidents

Following a string of high-profile data breaches and new data suggesting that approximately 21.3 million customer accounts have been exposed by data breach incidents over the past two years, the California legislature has introduced legislation aimed at making retailers responsible for certain costs in connection with data breach incidents.  If passed in its current form, Assembly Bill 1710, titled the Consumer Data Breach Protection Act, would have a substantial impact on retailers operating in California. 
Among the major changes proposed in the bill:

  • Stricter Notification Requirements
  • Retailer Liability for Costs Associated with Data Breach Incidents
  • Mandatory Provision of Credit Monitoring Services
  • Prohibitions Against Storing Payment-Related Data
  • Authorization of Civil Penalties



General Mills Abandons Mandatory Arbitration after Consumer Outcry

General Mills Inc., maker of Cheerios and other grocery staples, has reversed a recent change to its online legal policy after an outcry by consumers. The policy had been quietly updated last week to include terms under which any dispute with the company would have to be decided through arbitration.

Critics and legal experts said the new terms could cost consumers their right to sue in court if they merely "liked" General Mills' social media pages, downloaded coupons from its website or entered any company-sponsored contests. This decision set off consumer outcry on social media, eventually leading to the abrupt reversal Saturday.

In a blog post, the company apologized for and sought to assure consumers that interaction with the company online or in other ways would not preclude them from filing a lawsuit should a dispute arise. General Mills recently posted a revised set of legal terms on their websites.

Michaels Stores’ Breach Involved 3 Million Customers

Nationwide arts and crafts chain Michaels Stores Inc. has revealed that two separate eight-month-long security breaches at its stores last year may have exposed as many as 3 million customer credit and debit cards.

The statements by Irving, Texas-based Michaels suggest that the two independent security firms it hired to investigate the break-ins initially found nothing.

The Michaels breach first came to light just weeks after retail giant Target Corp. said that cyber thieves planted malware on cash registers at its stores across the nation, stealing more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, 2013. That malware was designed to siphon card data when customers swiped their cards at the cash register.

Michaels estimates that approximately 400,000 cards were potentially impacted during this period. The Company has received a limited number of reports from the payment card brands and banks of fraudulent use of payment cards potentially connected to Michaels or Aaron Brothers.

Michaels says that while the Company has received limited reports of fraud, it is offering identity protection, credit monitoring and fraud assistance services through AllClear ID to affected Michaels and Aaron Brothers customers in the U.S. for 12 months at no cost to them. Details of the services and additional information related to the ongoing investigation are available on the Michaels and Aaron Brothers websites at www.michaels.com and www.aaronbrothers.com.

U.S. Supreme Court Gives California Police Power to Rely on Anonymous Tips

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that police officers have the authority to stop cars and question drivers based on anonymous 911 tips.

In a 5-4 decision, the court held that stops based on anonymous tips do not amount to an unreasonable search or seizure, even if the officer did not observe the vehicle speeding or swerving. “The decision affirms a ruling of the California courts.”

The case began in August 2008 when an anonymous call was made to 911 dispatch in Mendocino County reporting that a pickup truck had forced another vehicle off the road. Although the caller did not give out their personal information, a detailed description of the truck and the license plate number were reported.

Police responded to the dispatch and pulled over the truck that matched the description. Upon pulling over the truck, officers found 30 pounds of marijuana. The two men in the truck, Lorenzo Navarette and Jose Navarette, were arrested and later convicted of trafficking marijuana.  The men later appealed and argued that the stop and search violated their rights under the 4th Amendment.  

“In the past the court said that police officers could not rely on an anonymous tip to stop and search a pedestrian. The court worried that anonymous callers could unfairly target people for embarrassing searches.”  However, Tuesday’s ruling now allows officers to make stops based on anonymous tips that provide enough detail to give rise to a “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity. In this case, a vehicle forcing another vehicle off the road. 

Class Action Lawsuit Against TGI Friday’s for Labor Law Violations

A class action lawsuit was filed against TGI Friday’s, one of the nation’s most popular casual dining chains, on April 17th  in New York federal court for allegedly underpaying their tipped workers. 

According to the lawsuit, “Friday's requires tipped workers to arrive at work well before the start of customer service and to stay at work after the restaurant closes without receiving the minimum wages and overtime to which they are entitled…” 
The lawsuit also accuses restaurant management of "shaving hours" from employee time records and allowing them to work "off-the-clock" on non-tip producing side work. 

The lawsuit represents current and former servers, bussers, bartenders, hosts and other tipped workers at the chain.  It seeks to recover minimum wages, overtime compensation, misappropriated tips, unlawful deductions, and other wages from current and former Friday's workers.



Pom Wonderful Says Coca-Cola's Pomegranate Blueberry Juice Is Mislabeled

In a case that could strengthen truth-in-labeling laws, Supreme Court justices on Monday voiced deep skepticism about Coca-Cola's Pomegranate Blueberry juice that is 99.4% apple and grape juice, saying the name would probably fool most consumers, including themselves.

The high court is hearing an appeal from Stewart and Lynda Resnick of Los Angeles, makers of a rival pomegranate juice called Pom Wonderful, who complained that the name of the Coca-Cola product, sold under the Minute Maid brand, is false and misleading.

Pom Wonderful, which says its product contains 100% pomegranate juice, complained that Coca-Cola's Pomegranate Blueberry juice is mostly a blend of apple and grape juice, and contains only 0.3% pomegranate juice, 0.2% blueberry juice and 0.1% raspberry juice.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision on Pom's false-advertising suit against Coca-Cola by late June.

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