SAN JOSE, Calif. - A federal judge in California on May 16 granted final approval to $20 million in partial class action settlements with Intuit Inc., Lucasfilm Ltd. and Pixar of an antitrust suit accusing high-tech companies of conspiring to fix and suppress employee compensation and to restrict employee mobility by entering into agreements not to compete for one another's employees (In Re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, No. 11-2509, N.D. Calif.).
SAN DIEGO - A doctor cannot pursue claims under the California Labor Code and unfair competition law (UCL) against his former employer, the U.S. Veterans Health Administration (VA), because the claims are barred by sovereign immunity, a federal judge held May 9 (Walter M. Shaw v. Veterans Health Administration, et al., No. 12-2369, S.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64598).
SAN FRANCISCO - Members of a San Francisco family are defrauding taxpayers by operating a string of fleabag motels in violation of their contracts with the city to provide "clean, safe, habitable conditions" for tenants in publicly funded transitional housing, the city attorney alleges in a lawsuit filed in state court on May 12 under California's unfair competition law (UCL) (City and County of San Francisco and People of the State of California v. Balvantsinh "Bill" Thakor, et al., No. 539230, Calif. Super., San Francisco Co.).
OAKLAND, Calif. - An arbitrator must decide whether a consumer's California unfair competition law (UCL) class claims alleging deceptive lending practices should be arbitrated, based on the broad language of the loan agreement in question, a federal judge held May 7 (Paula Bernal v. Southwestern & Pacific Specialty Finance, Inc., d/b/a Check 'N Go, No. 12-05797, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63338).
LOS ANGELES - Specialty grocery store chain operator Trader Joe's Co. deceived consumers into buying the company's private-label brand of sunflower seeds by not including the "dangerously high sodium content" of the seeds and shells in the product's nutrition facts, a California resident alleges in a state unfair competition law (UCL) class action complaint filed May 6 in state court (Nicolle Disimone v. Trader Joe's Company, No. BC544924, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge on May 5 stayed California unfair competition law (UCL) class claims challenging use of the term "evaporated cane juice" on food labels pending the issuance of final guidance by the Food and Drug Administration on whether the agency considers evaporated cane juice to be the common or usual name of the ingredient (Robert E. Figy v. Lifeway Foods, Inc., No. 13-04828, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62700).
NEW YORK - American Express Co. and American Express Travel Related Services Co. Inc. (collectively, Amex) are not entitled to summary judgment on claims by the United States and 17 states that their rules preventing merchants from steering customers toward the use of another credit card violate federal antitrust law, a federal judge in New York ruled May 7 in denying Amex's motion for summary judgment (United States of America, et al. v. American Express Co., et al., No. 10-cv-4496, E.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63169).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California man cannot pursue wrongful foreclosure claims against a mortgage company under California's unfair competition law (UCL) and the Fair Debt Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) because the claims have already been litigated in a state court and lack merit, a federal judge held May 5 (Robert H. O'Connor v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC, No. 13-05874, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62067).
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge on May 5 denied summary judgment to The Hershey Co. on a consumer's class claim that Hershey's use of the term antioxidant on its product labels violates the California unfair competition law (UCL) and other laws after finding that the consumer alleges that he read and relied on the antioxidant labels when buying Hershey products (Leon Khasin v. The Hershey Company, No. 12-1862, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62070).
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on May 2 preliminarily approved a $190 million antitrust class settlement of allegations that Pfizer Inc. and a predecessor kept generic Neurontin off the market, causing commercial direct buyers to pay more for the brand-name drug (In Re: Neurontin Antitrust Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1479, No. 02-1390, Louisiana Wholesale Drug Company, Inc., et al., Nos. 02-1830 and 02-2731, D. N.J.).
SAN DIEGO - Two Kellogg Co. subsidiaries will pay California purchasers of their snacks and cereals 50 cents for each product purchased to settle class claims under the state's unfair competition law (UCL) and other statutes that the companies misleadingly marketed their products as "all natural" when they actually contained synthetic or artificial ingredients, according to motions seeking preliminary approval of two settlements totaling $5.32 million filed May 2 in federal court (Skye Astiana, et al., v. Kashi Company, No. 11-1967, Chanee Thurston, et al., v. Bear Naked, Inc., No. 11-2890, S.D. Calif.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A woman lacks standing to pursue a claim that a pharmacy company violated California's unfair competition law (UCL) by giving her the wrong prescription drug because she failed to show that she suffered an economic injury due to the improperly filled prescription, a state appellate court held April 30 in affirming dismissal of the woman's claims (Shirley Thompson v. Walgreen Co., No. A136797, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 8; 2014 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3104).
LOS ANGELES - Although it is too late for a homeowner to pursue a California unfair competition law (UCL) claim against a bank based on loan origination for a refinancing deal, the homeowner still may be able to adequately allege a violation of the UCL based on a dual tracking theory of the bank's foreclosure practices, a state appellate court held April 30 in reversing and remanding the trial court's grant of judgment on the pleadings to the bank (Anatoli Kouzine v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., et al., No. B249022, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 8; 2014 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3122).
SAN DIEGO - A California federal judge on April 28 granted final approval to a $5.3 million settlement to be paid by a footwear company to provide monetary relief to consumers who purchased the footwear that allegedly provided health benefits including improved posture, increased muscle activation and toning and reduced joint strain (Charlice Arnold, et al. v. FitFlop USA, LLC, No. 11-973, S.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58800).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California's tax code provides the sole remedy for consumers who believe that a retailer improperly charged tax reimbursements, the California Supreme Court held May 1 in a 4-3 opinion rejecting state unfair competition law (UCL) claims (Kimberly Loeffler, et al. v. Target Corp., No. S173972, Calif. Sup.).
NEW YORK - A consumer who alleges that an online members-only shopping website falsely advertised the fabric used to make baby blankets must arbitrate his individual claims, a New York federal judge ruled April 24, dismissing the man's class complaint (Adam Starke, et al. v. Gilt Groupe, Inc., No. 13-5497, S.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58006).
NEW YORK - The federal judge in New York overseeing class and states' parens patriae actions that allege that Apple conspired with publishers to fix prices of electronic books on April 24 denied Apple's motion to stay a joint damages trial pending Apple's submission and appellate review of a petition for interlocutory appeal of the class certification order (In re: Electronic Books Antitrust Litigation, 11-MD-2293, S.D. N.Y. [State of Texas, et al. v. Penguin Group (USA) Inc., et al., No. 12 Civ. 3394, S.D. N.Y.]; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57473).
CHICAGO - The United States moved for leave to file an amicus brief on April 24 in support of Motorola Mobility Inc.'s petition for rehearing en banc of a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that Motorola's claims that suppliers of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels engaged in a global price-fixing conspiracy based on overseas purchases by Motorola's foreign affiliates do not fall under the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act's (FTAIA) domestic injury exception and were properly dismissed (Motorola Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics Corp., et al., No. 14-8003, 7th Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA - A federal appeals court panel on April 25 affirmed dismissal of a California Avandia consumer refund case, agreeing with the multidistrict litigation court that the plaintiff had failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted (In Re: Avandia Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, No. 13-3463, 3rd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 7770).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia presiding over the antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) against U.S. Airways Group Inc. opposing its proposed merger with American Airlines Inc. on April 25 ruled that the merger was "in the public interest" (United States of America v. U.S. Airways Group Inc., et al., No. 13-1236, D. D.C.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on April 28 declined to review a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that Novell Inc. failed to present evidence sufficient for a jury to find that Microsoft Corp. unlawfully used its dominant position in the personal computing operating-systems market to monopolize the word-processing and spreadsheet applications markets when it withdrew access to its namespace extensions (Novell, Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation, No. 13-1042, U.S. Sup.).
TRENTON, N.J. - A pharmaceutical manufacturer that alleged that its competitor violated federal and state antitrust laws by using market-share discounting practices and exclusionary contracts with hospitals filed a notice of appeal on April 23 to the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal of the trial court's order granting summary judgment against it (Eisai Inc. v. Sanofi-Aventis U.S., LLC, et al., No. 08-4168, D. N.J.).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Apple Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc. on April 24 told a federal judge in California that they have reached an agreement to settle an antitrust suit brought by their employees accusing the high-tech companies of conspiring to fix and suppress employee compensation and to restrict employee mobility by entering into agreements not to compete for one another's employees (In Re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, No. 11-2509, N.D. Calif.).
SAN DIEGO - A California federal judge on April 22 sent a class suit alleging that millions of dollars of homeopathic eardrops were sold based on false advertising and marketing back to state court, finding that the defendants failed to show that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million (Sharon Manier, et al. v. Medtech Products, Inc., et al., No. 14-209, S.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55963).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A homebuilder's claim under California's unfair competition law (UCL) that he was fraudulently induced into signing a promissory note so the lenders could later foreclose on his property fails based on res judicata because the dispute over the promissory note was already decided by a Texas state court, a federal judge held April 21 (Kenneth W. Guice v. James L. Emerson, et al., No. 13-2250, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55870).