LOS ANGELES - Supermarket chain Whole Foods Market Inc. dupes customers into buying its Greek yogurt products by vastly understating on the product labels how much sugar the yogurt contains, in violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL), according to a consumer class action complaint filed Aug. 26 in federal court (Chas Jackson, et al. v. Whole Foods Market, Inc., No. 14-6705, C.D. Calif.).
LOS ANGELES - The makers of the hangover prevention beverage NOHO cheated a former business partner out of more than $5 million in company shares, compensation and commissions by unlawfully canceling the partner's interest in the company, in violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL), according to a complaint filed Aug. 25 in federal court (Todd Blatt, et al. v. NOHO, Inc., et al., No. 14-6666, C.D. Calif.).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A federal judge on Aug. 21 denied a bid by The Coca-Cola Co. to dismiss consumer class action claims that the company violated California's unfair competition law (UCL) by not listing phosphoric acid as an artificial flavor or chemical preservative on product labels. The judge then warned the consumers not to use the case as a vehicle to seek a large attorney fee award through settlement (George Engurasoff, et al. v. The Coca-Cola Company, et al., No. 13-3990, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116936).
SAN FRANCISCO - One company out of two that filed delinquent opt-out notices in a settlement between direct purchasers of cathode ray tube (CRT) products and two manufacturers was successful in convincing a California federal judge on Aug. 20 to find that its negligence was excusable (In Re: Cathode Ray Tube [CRT] Antitrust Litigation, No. 03-5944; Sharp Electronics Corp., et al. v. Hitachi, Ltd., et al., No. 13-1173, Dell Inc., et al. v. Hitachi, Ltd., et al., No. 13-2171, N.D. Calif.).
PITTSBURGH - The filed-rate doctrine precludes the antitrust claims of individual and some small-group purchasers of health insurance against insurer Highmark Inc. and health care provider University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), but the filed-rate doctrine may not be applicable to claims of small-group purchasers that asserted a measure of damages based on unregulated rates, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Aug. 21 in granting in part the purchasers' motion for leave to file a third amended complaint (Royal Mile Company, Inc., et al. v. UPMC, et al. No. 2:10-cv-01609, W.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116224).
SAN FRANCISCO - National cleaning products company Hillyard Inc. will pay $750,000 to settle class claims that it violated California labor laws and unfair competition law (UCL) by failing to reimburse sales representatives for work-related expenses in a deal that received preliminary approval from a federal magistrate judge on Aug. 22 on the third try (Lawrence Daniel Christensen, et al. v. Hillyard, Inc., No. 13-4389, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117499).
SAN DIEGO - Antitrust conspiracy claims related to the process through which service providers may compete for government contracts through the federal AbilityOne Program were dismissed by a federal judge in California on Aug. 20 (Bona Fide Conglomerate, Inc. v. SourceAmerica, No. 14cv0751, S.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116200).
SAN FRANCISCO - An indirect purchaser of plasma-derivative protein therapies is not barred under California's antitrust statute from recovering as damages any overcharges it incurred in purchasing the protein therapies from nonconspirators, even if the purchaser would have paid a lower price in the absence of the conspiracy to restrict the supply of such products, a federal judge in California ruled Aug. 20 (County of San Mateo v. CSL Limited, et al., No. 10-cv-05686, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116342).
LOS ANGELES - Blue Cross of California misrepresented which providers its plans covered while transferring subscribers into limited-access Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) "skinny networks" consisting of the cheapest medical services providers in an effort to save money, an Aug. 19 class action alleges (Jonathan Brown, et al. v. Blue Cross of California, dba Anthem Blue Cross and DOES 1 through 100 inclusive, No. BC554949, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
NEW YORK - Orange County, Calif., District Attorney Tony Rackauckas asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on Aug. 19 for limited relief from the automatic stay in the General Motors Corp. bankruptcy proceedings to allow him to seek remand of his California suit against the automaker to state court (In re: Chapter 11 Motors Liquidation Co., et al., f/k/a General Motors Corp., et al., No. 09-50026, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).
LAS VEGAS - A software support services firm exceeded the scope of its developer license agreement with Oracle USA Inc. by downloading multiple copies of Oracle's database software when it was only licensed to download a single copy for application purposes, a Nevada federal judge ruled Aug. 13, granting Oracle's motion for partial summary judgment on copyright infringement (Oracle USA Inc., et al. v. Rimini Street Inc., et al., No. 2:10-cv-00106, D. Nev.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112591).
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on Aug. 14 reconsidered her earlier decision and agreed with Abbott Laboratories Inc. and AbbVie Inc. that state law claims by three third-party payers (TPPs) related to the off-label marketing of the epilepsy drug Depakote should be dismissed with prejudice (Sidney Hillman Health Center of Rochester, et al. v. Abbott Laboratories, et al., No. 13-5865, N.D. Ill., E. Div.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112634).
TRENTON, N.J. - Direct purchasers of ductile iron pipe fittings (DIPF) have adequately pleaded facts suggesting that sellers of DIPF engaged in a price-fixing conspiracy, a federal judge in New Jersey ruled Aug. 13 in denying the sellers' motions to dismiss (In re Ductile Iron Pipe Fittings [DIPF] Direct Purchaser Antitrust Litigation, No. 12-711, D. N.J.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111988).
ATLANTA - A Florida hospital is an indirect purchaser and lacks standing to recover damages on claims that Astellas US LLC is forcing health care providers to buy its adenosine drug at a 450 percent markup compared to competitors' versions of the same drug by unlawfully tying the implied license to perform its patented cardiac test to the purchase of its unpatented drug for use during that test, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Aug. 15 in ruling that the hospital would not be an adequate representative for a damages class (Lakeland Regional Medical Center, Inc. v. Astellas US, LLC, et al., No. 13-12709, 11th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 15669).
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Aug. 12 ruled that a surgeon whose staff and clinical privileges were revoked failed to allege antitrust injury because she maintained such privileges at other hospitals but that the surgeon could continue with her hostile work environment claims (Yelena Levitin, et al. v. Northwest Community Hospital, et al., No. 13-5553, N.D. Ill.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110830).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Absent any economic injury, a California woman cannot pursue class claims under the state's unfair competition law (UCL) alleging that Google Inc. unlawfully discloses users' personal information to third-party developers of mobile applications when users purchase apps in the Google Play store using Google Wallet, a federal judge held Aug. 12 (Alice Svenson v. Google Inc. and Google Payment Corporation, No. 13-04080, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111810).
SAN FRANCISCO - Two California residents on Aug. 8 filed class action claims in a federal court alleging that Hyundai Motor Co. violated federal and state laws, including the unfair competition law (UCL), by intentionally concealing a hazardous stalling defect in Santa Fe vehicles and by making false and misleading statements in a recent voluntary "Service Campaign" intended to address the defect (Julia Reniger and Greg Battaglia v. Hyundai Motor America and Hyundai Motor Company, No. 14-03612, N.D. Calif.).
SAN DIEGO - Another class action lawsuit alleging that a food company violates California's unfair competition law (UCL) by misbranding sugar in its products as "evaporated cane juice" must await a final ruling by the Food and Drug Administration on the common name for sweeteners derived from sugar cane syrup after a federal judge dismissed the action on Aug. 11 based on the primary jurisdiction doctrine (Nadine Saubers, et al. v. Kashi Company, No. 13-899, S.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110954).
NEW YORK - Consolidated putative antitrust class actions related to live-game video offerings against Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Hockey League (NHL) and their member clubs and against multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) Comcast and DirecTV and their affiliated regional sports networks (RSNs) that televise the games will continue, a federal judge in New York ruled Aug. 8 in denying the defendants' motions for summary judgment (Thomas Laumann, et al. v. National Hockey League, et al., No. 12-cv-1817; Marc Lerner, et al. v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, et al., No. 12-cv-3704, S.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109951).
OAKLAND, Calif. - Some class action allegations against eBay Inc. and PayPal Inc. under California's unfair competition law (UCL) fail because they are based on contract terms that users agree to, but allegations based on unfair exercise of discretion by eBay and arbitrary monetary holds by PayPal state claims sufficiently enough to survive a motion to dismiss, a federal judge held Aug. 11 (Maggie Campbell v. eBay, Inc., and PayPal, Inc., No. 13-2632, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110806).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Google Inc. did not fully comply with a discovery order by producing only information it believed was relevant to a particular category of data, a California federal magistrate judge ruled Aug. 8, granting in part a motion for sanctions by the lead plaintiff in a putative class action alleging fraud in the Internet giant's AdWords program (Rick Woods, et al. v. Google Inc., No. 5:11-cv-01263, N.D. Calif.).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - Two companies' cross-claims under California's unfair competition law (UCL) that a rival company used illegal noncompete agreements with its employees to unlawfully compete with its competitors are not barred by the state's law banning strategic lawsuits against public participation (anti-SLAPP statute) because the claims are based on the rival's business practices and not its litigation conduct, a state appellate panel held Aug. 8 in affirming a trial court's ruling (Pathology, Inc. v. Aviir, Inc., et al., No. G048824, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 3; 2014 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5621).
BOSTON - The Massachusetts federal judge overseeing multidistrict litigation involving the antidepressant drug brands Celexa and Lexapro on Aug. 8 granted summary judgment to the manufacturer of Celexa on a California man's claims that the company violated that state's unfair competition law (UCL) by misrepresenting that the drug was safe and effective for minor children (In re: Celexa and Lexapro marketing and sales practices litigation, MDL No. 09-2067; [Scott A. Wilcox v. Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Forest Laboratories, Inc., No. 10-10154, D. Mass.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109667]).
OAKLAND, Calif. - The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules barring student athletes from receiving a share of the revenue that the NCAA and its member schools earn from the sale of licenses to use the student athletes' names, images and likenesses in video games, live game telecasts and other footage violate federal antitrust law, a federal judge in California ruled Aug. 8 (Edward O'Bannon, et al. v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, et al., No. C 09-3329, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110036).