Pastor Law Office has sued Equity Residential Management LLC for violations of the Massachusetts security deposit law with respect to deductions taken from tenants’ security deposits and the required written materials provided to tenants in connection with those deductions. In particular, the complaint alleges that Equity unlawfully took deductions from security deposits for cleaning charges and failed to follow required procedures for the written statement itemizing and explaining the deductions. The case is brought on behalf of former Equity tenants in Massachusetts who had deductions taken from their security deposits.
Pastor Law Office has brought litigation against various companies, including Trilegiant Corporation, a company that markets and sells allegedly worthless memberships in “discount clubs” and subscription services with monthly membership fees, to unsuspecting consumers who place orders with on-line retailers. After the order is placed, using aggressive and deceptive sales tactics, the membership fee will appear on the customer’s credit card statement in an inconspicuous manner, such that it is often not noticed by the customer for long periods of time.
Pastor Law Office has brought suit against Target, as a result of the massive data breach involving customers’ credit card information in November and December of 2013. The suit alleges that Target maintained inadequate security leading to the data breach and failed to timely notify its affected customers of the breach.
Lenfest v. Verizon Enterprise Solutions LLC is a case asserting claims against Verizon for minimum monthly charges it imposes on its landline telephone customers for long distance service, charges which are not disclosed to or agreed to by the customers in advance. This practice by Verizon is alleged to violate the Massachusetts consumer protection law, and the case is brought on behalf of a class of Massachusetts customers who have been assessed the minimum monthly charges.
Pastor Law Office has brought cases against several retailers, including J. Crew, Urban Outfitters, Kiehl’s, MAC, Fresh and Patagonia, claiming that the retailers collected personal identification information, including ZIP Codes, from consumer who made credit card purchases at their Massachusetts retail stores, in violation of Massachusetts law. These cases are brought on behalf of classes of consumers whose personal identification information was collected in connection with credit card transactions at these Massachusetts retail stores.
Pastor Law Office has brought cases challenging the collection of amenity fees, application fees and other fees from residential tenants by Massachusetts landlords, where these fees are alleged to be in violation of Massachusetts law. These cases seek the refund to current and former tenants of the unlawfully collected fees, with interest. In Kinsella/Cohen v. Seaport Apartments LLC, claims were made on behalf of a class of current and former tenants for refund of unlawfully collected amenity fees and pet fees. The case has been settled, with a settlement fund sufficient to refund all of the amenity fees paid by class members, plus a portion of the pet fees paid by the class. Pastor Law Office also brought suit against Equity Residential Management LLC, lessor of more than 6,000 Massachusetts rental units, for refund of unlawfully collected amenity or move-in fees, application fees and pet fees, on behalf of a class of current and former Massachusetts tenants.
Reebok EasyTone Litigation involves allegations that Reebok made false and deceptive claims in its labeling and advertising for its EasyTone “toning” shoes and apparel, including claims that the shoes and apparel would increase muscle tone, strength and/or activation. A settlement creating a $25 million fund from which payments to consumers who purchased the products can be made, as well as permanent injunctive relief prohibiting Reebok from making certain unsubstantiated claims about its EasyTone product was reached.
Online DVD Antitrust Litigation is an antitrust action against Netflix and Wal-Mart on behalf of Netflix subscribers, alleging antitrust misconduct in connection with an alleged agreement between Netflix and Wal-Mart to divide the markets for online DVD rentals and sales in the United States. A settlement has been reached with Wal-Mart, which has been granted preliminary approval by the Court. The Wal-Mart settlement provides for a settlement fund in the sum of $27 million, from which the claims of class members can be satisfied. The settlement provides for gift cards (or in the alternative, cash payments in the same amounts, at class members’ election) to be issued to class members. The Wal-Mart settlement is a partial settlement, and the case against Netflix continues.
This Litigation involved allegations of false advertising by Dannon in connection with its advertising claims for its Activia and DanActive yogurt products. Dannon claimed that the Activia products helped to regulate the digestive system and improved digestive health and that these advertising claims were supported by clinical studies. Dannon claimed that its DanActive (drinkable yogurt) products were scientifically proven to help strengthen the immune system and used the work “IMMUNITY” in its product labeling. The case was settled for a settlement fund of $45 million, from which cash reimbursements for product purchases were made to class members. The settlement also provided for injunctive relief that required Dannon to make certain changes to its product labeling and advertising.
Enfamil LIPIL Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation involved allegations that Mead Johnson falsely and deceptively advertised its Enfamil LIPIL infant formula products by representing that these products were unique and superior in that they were the only infant formula products to be supplemented with certain specific ingredients and the only ones to have the ability to enhance infants’ visual and mental development. These claims were alleged to be false because other infant formulas, some costing substantially less, had and have the same specified ingredients and possessed the same ability to enhance infants’ mental and visual development. The case has been settled, with the settlement providing for a minimum fund of $8 million, and a maximum fund of $12 million in cash and/or product, from which consumer claims can be paid. The settlement allows class members to elect to receive either cash or product. In the course of this litigation, a significant decision was obtained from the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts upholding the plaintiff’s claims under the Massachusetts consumer protection statute.
Cell Phone Early Termination Fee Cases is a coordinated litigation involving claims against the major wireless telephone carriers, some of which have subsequently merged (AT&T, Cingular, Sprint, Nextel, Verizon and T-Mobile). The cases are divided by carrier and against each carrier (with certain exceptions), there are two types of cases: cases challenging the early contract termination fees as unlawful penalties and cases alleging that the locking of the phones is an unfair and deceptive practice. Most of the cases have settled. The early termination fee case against Sprint was tried (twice). After the second trial, the court granted in part Sprint’s motion for a new trial, and that order is now on appeal subject to cross-appeals by both parties. After the first Sprint trial, the Court ruled that Sprint’s early contract termination fees constitute unlawful penalties under California law, and that ruling is unaffected by the new trial ruling and the appeals.
Molfetas v. Stainsafe, Inc. et al. (AAA arbitration) was a brought as a AAA class arbitration to the company’s (Stainsafe’s) arbitration provision, on behalf of a class of persons who purchased furniture warranties from Stainsafe. The statement of claim (the arbitration equivalent of a complaint) alleged that the warranties were either worthless (or worth less than the amounts paid for them by class members) at the time of purchase, due to undisclosed coverage limitations and exclusions. The arbitrator, after extensive briefing and a three day evidentiary hearing, certified the nationwide class (under Florida law) consisting of all persons who purchased the warranties, based on the claims of worthlessness or diminution in value of the warranties at the time of purchase, and the certification award was confirmed by the Florida Circuit Court.
Checking Account Overdraft Litigation is a collection of consolidated and coordinated actions against various banks, alleging unfair and deceptive practices in connection with the banks’ charging of overdraft fees to customers on debit card transactions. The complaints allege that the banks manipulate and alter customers’ transaction records in order to increase the occurrence of overdrafts and thereby maximize the overdraft fees charged, including unfairly and deceptively, in all cases, re-sequencing customers’ debit card transactions from highest to lowest.
Payment Protection Litigation is a collection of cases in various courts around the country (with no consolidated or coordinated proceedings) against several credit card issuers, alleging unfair and deceptive practices in connection with the issuers’ payment protection programs (programs purportedly designed to relieve the cardholder from making the minimum monthly payments on the card in the event of job loss, disability or other circumstances). The complaints allege unfair and deceptive conduct in the enrollment of customers in the payment protection programs, including involuntary enrollment or “slamming,” enrolling consumers who are ineligible for benefits at the time of enrollment, failing to adequately disclose the exclusions from and limitations on coverage and other practices.
Hardy v. Sears Roebuck & Co. alleged unfair and deceptive practices by Sears in connection with the sale of home improvement services by Sears through its authorized contractors. The case resulted in a nationwide class settlement which provided warranty repairs to consumers who purchased home improvement services from Sears and its authorized contractors.
Sebago, Inc., et al. v. Beazer East, Inc. was a suit on behalf of owners of commercial buildings with corrosive phenolic foam roof insulation, alleging, among other thing, failure to disclose known defects in the insulation products. The case resulted in a significant decision upholding RICO claims against the manufacturers. See Sebago, Inc. v. Beazer East, Inc., 18 F. Supp. 2d 70 (D.Mass. 1998). The case also resulted in court-approved nationwide class settlements with the two manufacturers of the phenolic foam insulation, worth a combined estimated value in excess of $100 million.
Coleman, et al. v. GAF Building Materials Corporation involved claims on behalf of a nationwide class of persons who owned properties with defective roofing shingles, alleging,failure to disclose known defects in the shingles, and resulting in a settlement with benefits estimated at more than $50 million.
Kelley v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc. was a case alleging that CVS’ use of its customers’ confidential prescription information in a marketing program consisting of prescription refill reminders and “switch” letters promoting different medications violated the Massachusetts consumer protection act. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the court ruled that CVS’ conduct of using customer information, which it obtained for the sole purpose of filling prescriptions, for its own financial gain without the consent of the pharmacy customer constituted an unfair and deceptive practice under the Massachusetts consumer protection act. The court awarded the plaintiff statutory damages under the consumer protection act.
Sony Gaming Networks and Customer Data Security Breach Litigation involves allegations of misconduct on the part of various Sony entities in connection with a data breach in which the confidential personal and financial account information of millions of users of Sony’s online gaming network was compromised, resulting in a serious risk of credit card theft and identity fraud and causing affected individuals to incur financial expenses associated with credit monitoring, replacement of compromised credit card numbers, and other measures to protect against fraud. The complaints allege, among other things, that Sony failed to protect the users’ personal and financial information and failed to promptly and properly notify users of the compromise of their personal information following the data breach.
Digital Music Antitrust Litigation is an antitrust action on behalf of purchasers of online digital music against the major music labels for allegedly fixing the prices and restricting the output of digitally downloadable online music and agreeing to restrict the terms under which online music would be sold. The complaint alleges violation of federal antitrust laws and state antitrust and consumer protection statutes, and is brought on behalf of a nationwide class and for the state law claims, on behalf of residents of 21 states. The district court granted defendants’ motions to dismiss all of the claims, and on appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed that decision.
OSB Antitrust Litigation is an antitrust case on behalf of indirect purchasers of OSB, a plywood alternative used in home and building construction, primarily framing and decking. The suit named as defendants five manufacturers of OSB, and alleged a conspiracy to fix prices for the product. The indirect purchaser case resulted in monetary settlements with each of the defendant manufacturers.
Carbon Fibers Antitrust Litigation is an antitrust suit alleging a price-fixing conspiracy by the manufacturers of carbon fiber. After extensive litigation, settlements totaling in excess of $2.7 million were reached on behalf of a class of Massachusetts end-users of carbon fiber products (in other words, products made from carbon fibers, such as tennis racquets, fishing rods and other consumer products).
Microsoft Massachusetts Consumer Protection Litigation was a group of consolidated cases alleging antitrust misconduct by Microsoft in connection with certain versions of its Windows operating system. The case resulted in a court-approved settlement valued at $34 million.
MSG Indirect Purchaser litigagtion was a price fixing antitrust action against the manufacturers of monosodium glutamate (MSG), brought by indirect purchasers. The case resulted in class settlements totaling $8.2 million.
Ciardi v. F. Hoffman-LaRoche, Ltd., et al., Civil Action No. 99-03244 (Middlesex Superior Court, Mass.), created new law in Massachusetts, conferring standing upon indirect purchasers for claims arising from price-fixing or other anti-competitive conduct. Settlement funds valued at over $22.5 million were obtained and distributed to over 300 charitable organizations providing food and nutrition programs in Massachusetts.
Boos v. Abbott Laboratories, No. 95-10091 (D.Mass.), was the first case in which indirect purchasers in Massachusetts ever recovered damages arising from a price-fixing conspiracy. The case was settled for $2.5 million.
High Fructose Corn Syrup Antitrust Litigation was a direct purchaser antitrust suit alleging a price fixing conspiracy on the part of manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup. That case, after five years of litigation, resulted in settlements totaling approximately $500 million.
American Superconductor Corporation Derivative litigation is a consolidated action on behalf of American Superconductor, involving allegations that the defendant officers and directors (current and former) issued false and misleading statements and failed to disclose material facts about the company’s contractual relationship with its primary customer, representing approximately 80% of the company’s total revenues. Pastor Law Office was designated as co-lead counsel for the federal plaintiffs in the litigation. A settlement was reached which provided for substantial corporate governance improvements and enhancements.
Polymedica Derivative Litigation was an action on behalf of Polymedica Corporation, alleging that the director and officer defendants breached their fiduciary duties to the corporation. The Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss based on the sufficiency of the demand futility allegations. Defendants appealed that decision, and the case was settled while the appeal was pending.
Paracelsus Derivative litigation was a shareholder derivative action arising out of the merger of a publicly held hospital company with and into a firm in the same industry that had been privately held. After defeating motions to dismiss on various grounds, conducting discovery, and engaging in mediations, Plaintiffs recovered over $18 million in benefits on behalf of the successor company from various insiders of both companies involved.
MassBank Merger litigation was an action on behalf of shareholders of MassBank Corporation in connection with a proposed acquisition of MassBank by Eastern Bank Corporation. The complaint alleged, among other things, that the defendants failed to disclose adequate information to shareholders in the proxy materials to allow them to make an informed decision on the transaction and that the proposed transaction failed to maximize shareholder value. A settlement was reached providing for the inclusion of additional disclosures in a supplemental proxy statement.
Groen v. Polymedica Corporation was a case brought on behalf of Polymedica shareholders in connection with a proposed acquisition of Polymedica by Medco Health Solutions. The complaints alleged that the proposed transaction did not maximize shareholder value and unfairly favored the company’s management and that the proxy statement for the transaction contained numerous misrepresentations and omissions of material fact. A settlement was reached which provided for substantial additional and supplemental disclosures in a supplemental proxy statement.
Bright Horizons Merger litigation was a collection of actions brought on behalf of Bright Horizons shareholders in connection with the proposed acquisition of Bright Horizons’ publicly owned shares by Bain Capital Partners. The complaints alleged, among other things, that the proposed transaction deprived Bright Horizons shareholders of maximum value, involved an unfair process and was accompanied by inadequate disclosures to the shareholders. A settlement was reached which provided for the dissemination of supplemental proxy materials to shareholders containing additional and supplemental disclosures.
Nichols v. Keane was a case brought on behalf of the stockholders of Keane, Inc. in connection with a proposed merger between Keane and Caritor, Inc. The complaint alleged that the merger was unfair and inadequately priced, that the disclosure documents for the merger failed to provide sufficient information to Keane shareholders, and that the defendants improperly backdated Keane stock option grants. A settlement was reached that provided for a supplemental proxy statement containing additional disclosures and the creation of a settlement fund into which would be transferred any disgorgement amounts paid by any of the defendants to Keane (in connection with any investigation into the mispricing of options).
Magidson v. HeartWare, Inc. is a case brought on behalf of holders of certain series of preferred corporate stock against corporate officers and directors and others, claiming breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract and alleging, among other things, that the defendants took actions to squeeze out certain classes of preferred shareholders and to deprive them of certain liquidation rights. The case resulted in a cash settlement.
Tremont Securities Law, State Law and Insurance Litigation is a collection of coordinated and consolidated class actions brought on behalf of classes of investors in a number of Madoff feeder funds, i.e., funds whose assets were invested, in whole or in part, with Bernard Madoff or Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. The complaints alleged, among other things, that the defendants (including Mass Mutual, Oppenheimer and Tremont) fraudulently misrepresented, among other things (in offering memoranda for the funds and other documents) that they would and did conduct due diligence in connection with investing the funds’ assets with Madoff, that the funds’ assets would be invested as represented and that the reported financial results of the funds reflected the funds’ actual performance. The litigation has been settled against all but two of the defendants, and that settlement has been approved by the Court. The settlement provides for a cash settlement fund of $100 million, plus other monetary and non-monetary relief, some of which is contingent on future events.
Transkaryotic Therapies Securities Litigation was a securities fraud case brought on behalf of a class of purchasers of company stock, alleging misrepresentations about correspondence from the FDA with respect to prospects for approval of one of the company’s key products. The case was settled for a cash fund of $50 million.
Wave Systems Corporation Securities Litigation was a securities fraud action on behalf of a class of purchasers of company stock, alleging misrepresentations and omissions concerning two purported license agreements with major corporations for the company’s digital security products. The case was settled for a cash fund of $1.75 million, against defendants who were in dire financial straits at the time of settlement.
Blech Securities Litigation involved market manipulation claims against the brokerage firm of D. Blech & Co., its principals, its clearing broker, and several other alleged participants in connection with an scheme to inflate the prices of various biotechnology securities. The case resulted in various settlements the details of which are confidential. This case resulted in several reported opinions, including two that have been frequently cited and referred to by commentators on the issue of clearing broker liability.
The Enstar Group, Securities Litigation was a securities fraud action on behalf of a class of purchasers of Enstar stock. Due to the bankruptcy (and consequent immunity from suit) of Enstar and of Enstar’s chairman who was the chief architect of the fraud, the case was litigated against secondary actors, including a major accounting firm, a major law firm and former outside directors of the company. The case resulted in settlements totaling $19 million, and subsequently, an additional $4.1 million was recovered for the class in collateral litigation against Michael Milken and related entities.
CPS Systems Securities Litigation was brought on behalf of purchasers of CPS Systems, Inc. stock in connection with its $8.74 million initial public offering and trading on the American Stock Exchange against CPS, its officers and directors, the underwriters for its IPO, and CPS’s independent auditors, alleging misstatements in the IPO Prospectus and subsequent press releases and SEC filings concerning CPS’s revenue recognition methods and reported revenues and earnings. After CPS restated its earnings and filed bankruptcy, the case resulted in a $3.44 million cash settlement on behalf of the class against the remaining defendants.
United Petroleum Securities Litigation was a case asserting claims for securities fraud and for breach of contract on behalf of a class of purchasers of United Petroleum Corporation stock, arising out of an alleged complex scheme to evade the requirements of Regulation S of the Securities Act of 1933 and to manipulate the market prices of United Petroleum stock. The case also involved litigation in the bankruptcy court (D. Del.), because of the necessity of objecting to the company’s bankruptcy plan, which objection was successful. The case resulted in a $4 million cash settlement, which constituted a substantial portion of the actual losses claimed by class members.
Oxford Tax Exempt Fund Securities Litigation was a case asserting federal securities and related common law claims arising out of a complex partnership restructuring transaction, resulting in a settlement valued in excess of $11 million.
There were a number of securities cases brought on behalf of investors in publicly and privately offered limited partnerships, including the following: Sullivan, et al. v. Shearson California Radisson Plaza Partners, Limited Partnership, , (brought on behalf of investors in a real estate limited partnership and resulting in a settlement valued in excess of $11 million); Hartley v. Stamford Towers Limited Partnership, (an action arising out of a real estate limited partnership offering and resulting in a settlement of $6.5 million); Alert Income Partners Securities Litigation, (a class action brought against promoters of a series of limited partnerships, their auditors and other parties, resulting in a settlement valued at $60 million); Hutson, v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, ( an action brought on behalf of limited partnership investors, involving mortgage revenue bonds issued by many state and local government agencies, secured by mortgage loans on 14 apartment projects and retirement communities, resulting in a settlement valued at $14 million)
There was also significant litigation challenging limited partnership roll-ups, restructurings, exchanges and mergers, including: Hallwood Energy Partners L.P. Securities Litigation, in which a $9.1 million settlement was obtained after five years of intensive litigation; Permian Partners, L.P. Securities Litigation, (an action challenging a merger of oil and gas limited partnership interests, resulting in a settlement valued at $6.1 million); Adam v. Berkshire Realty Corporation, (resulting in a settlement consisting of cash and warrants valued at $7.5 million); Laurence v. Brewer, ( an action challenging a tender offer by general partners for publicly traded master limited partnership, resulting in a settlement with establishment of dividend payments to limited partners).