Total Customer Services Illegal Debt Collection Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that Total Customer Services violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) by leaving voice messages on consumers’ answering machines that failed to properly identify that Total Customer Services was a debt collector attempting to collect on a debt.

The FDCPA is designed to prohibit unfair debt collection practices.  The FDCPA has “per se” violations, which means that such a violation is automatically a violation of the FDCPA.  To prohibit harassment and abuses by debt collectors, the FDCPA, at 15 U.S.C. § 1692d, provides that a debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt and names a non-exhaustive list of certain per se violations of harassing and abusive collection conduct. 15 U.S.C. § 1692d(l)-(6). Among the per se violations prohibited by that section are the placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller's identity. 15 U.S.C. § 1692d(6).

This lawsuit alleges that Total Customer Services violated the FDCPA by among other acts:

  • Leaving messages for consumers, which fail to provide meaningful disclosure of Defendant's identity;
  • Leaving messages for consumers, which fail to disclose that the call is from a debt collector; and
  • Leaving messages for consumers, which fail to disclose the purpose or nature of the communication (i.e. an attempt to collect a debt).

Benny Burritos Delivery Workers Unpaid Overtime Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that the owners of up to seven Benny Burritos and Blockhead Burritos restaurants in New York City failed to pay overtime to its delivery workers and also required those workers to perform off the clock work.  The lawsuit alleges a plethora of additional employment law violations as well but this write up deals only with this primary set of allegations.

In downtown New York, most restaurants offer delivery service, usually performed by employees riding bikes.  Those employees typically receive an hourly wage below minimum wage plus tips.

Defendants own and operate a chain of Mexican restaurants in New York City, each of which appear to do business under the names Blockhead Burrito or Benny’s Burritos.  Each of the plaintiffs work as delivery workers of one or more of those restaurants.

The lawsuit alleges that each delivery worker must perform a variety of non-tipped and non-delivery work while employed at either Benny’s Burritos or Blockhead Burritos.  This work included stocking the restaurant; typical janitorial work such as taking out the garbage, mopping and sweeping the restaurants, and cleaning the windows; food preparation; transporting items between the various restaurants; and receiving store deliveries.

So there is the rub:  If a delivery worker is getting a below minimum wage hourly salary because that worker is getting tips, then an employer can not maintain that same pay structure if the tipped worker is performing other non tipped work.

The complaint also alleges off the clock work, failure to maintain accurate records, paying employees two separate paychecks to avoid paying overtime and failure to offer meal breaks.

Cornerstone Lending Unpaid Overtime Loan Officers Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that Cornerstone Home Lending violated federal employment laws by not paying loan officers time and a half for overtime.

Cornerstone claims that it is “a national home lender” which “has more than 1,000 full-time employees” and “[o]ver 100 branch offices throughout the United States.”   Cornerstone offers mortgages and loan products to individual consumers in at least 36 states and claims that it “ranks #30 nationally [in] annual loan volume among all home lenders” and “ranks #10 nationally among independent mortgage companies.”

Plaintiff Christina Bingham currently resides in Peoria, Arizona. She was a loan officer at Cornerstone from approximately October 2014 until March 2015 at a Scottsdale, Arizona branch office. 

She was compensated by getting a weekly “draw” against commissions, which practically meant she was a commission employee.  She alleges that she was discouraged from inputting more than 40 hours a week into Cornerstone’s timekeeping system and she further alleges that at times her employer would enter in only 40 hours of work for her when in fact she worked substantially more than 40 hours.

The plaintiff goes on the allege that her schedule fluctuated from day-today.  Her regular schedule had her working Mondays through Fridays, generally from 8:30 am until 8:00 pm. Additionally, she worked at least five (5) to six (6) weekend days every month, generally working from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Plaintiff also performed additional hours of work each week using her mobile device to send and receive business-related emails, texts, and/or phone calls. As such, during this time period, Plaintiff’s regular schedule had her working an average of 60-65 hours per week.

Loan Officers are not “exempt” under federal wage and hour laws and therefore must be compensated time and a half for all hours worked each week over 40.  She alleges that she was not and that there are many similar situated current and former loan officers who were similarly underpaid.

C.TECH Illegal Debt Collections Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that debt collector C.TECH sent debt collection letters demanding payment of an amount larger than the actual amount owed, and to the extent the additional amount was collection fees or interest, C.TECH failed to itemize those added charges.

This is yet another class action challenging the practices of the debt collection industry.

Here, the plaintiff owed $585.56 to Radiology Associates or Ridgewood.  Yet when the debt went to collections, C.TECH sent various written communications to the plaintiff demanding payment of $731.95.

The lawsuit alleges that by sending initial and/or subsequent collection letters to Plaintiff and others similarly situated that identified an amount owed that was greater than the actual balance due and/or an amount due that included a collection or other fee that was not separately itemized from the principal balance, C-TECH violated several provisions of
the FDCPA, including, but not limited:

  • 15 U.S.C. §1692e, by using a false, deceptive or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt;
  • 15 U.S.C. §1692e(2)(A), by falsely representing the character, amount, or legal status of any debt;
  • 15 U.S.C. §1692e(2)(B), by falsely representing any services rendered or compensation which may lawfully be received by a debt collector for the collection of a debt;
  • 15 U.S.C. §1692e(10) by using any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer;
  • 15 U.S.C. §1692f by using unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt;
  • 15 U.S.C. §1692f(1), by collecting or attempting to collect any amount not expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law; and
  • 15 U.S.C. §1692g and 15 U.S.C. §1692g(a)(1), by failing to accurately identify the amount of the debt allegedly owed.

Sunoco Rewards Card Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that Sunoco does not always pay the 5 cent per gallon discount it advertises to Sunoco Rewards Credit Card cardholders.

It is common practice for gas companies to offer reward programs to consumers who use the gas company’s credit card to purchase gas.  Sunoco offers a 5 cent per gallon discount to all consumers that first open a Sunoco Rewards Credit Card and then use that card to purchase gas at a Sunoco gas station.

The complaint goes to some length to chronicle Sunoco’s efforts to market the 5 cent per gallon discount, reciting the advertising and claims on Sunoco’s web site as well as photographs of Sunoco’s brochures.

The plaintiff in this case used the Sunoco Credit Card in January, 2015 and then again in April, 2015.  He noticed that he did not receive the 5 cent discount.  The lawsuit alleges that he contacted Sunoco and was even told he should get the discount, but Sunoco at no time ever gave him the discount.

Consequently, he brought this suit and seeks to represent a class of cardholders that did not get the promised 5 cent per gallon discount when using their Sunoco Rewards Credit Card at Sunoco gas stations.

Nutritional Brands Junk Fax Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that Nutritional Brands sent unsolicited faxes to various persons and business in violation of federal law.

The Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005, 47 USC § 227 prohibits a business from sending faxes to other businesses or persons without express consent from the receiving party.  The law places a $500 per fax fine on the sender.

It is about that clear.

In this case the plaintiff Scoma Chiropractic received a unsolicited fax from Nutritional Brands in May, 2015.  The complaint alleges that it was part of a broad marketing campaign and thousands of others also received unsolicited faxes.

Not much else to say.  Its that simple.

Baby Orajel Naturals Class Action Lawsuit

This class action alleges that Church & Dwight violates consumer protection laws in the marketing and design of Baby Orajel Naturals teething tablets, Baby Orajel Naturals teething gel and Baby Orajel Naturals nighttime teething gel.

Church & Dwight sell a brand of baby teething products under the label Baby Orajel Naturals.  These products include:
Baby Orajel Naturals teething tablets,
Baby Orajel Naturals teething gel, and 
Baby Orajel Naturals nighttime teething gel.

The complaint alleges that those supposedly “natural” products however contain many synthetic chemicals, including:

  • Calcarea Phosphorica is a white, amorphous, tasteless, odorless powder. It is extracted from bones by dissolving them in hydrochloric acid and precipitating with ammonium hydroxide.  
  • Sodium benzoate is produced by the neutralization of benzoic acid with sodium hydroxide, or by adding benzoic acid to a hot concentrated solution of sodium carbonate until effervescence ceases. The solution is then evaporated, cooled and allowed to crystalize or evaporate to dryness, and then granulated. It does not occur naturally.  Sodium benzoate has been shown to cause DNA damage and chromosomal aberrations.  When sodium benzoate combines with ascorbic acid (an ingredient common in many food products) the two substances can react to produce benzene, which is a highly toxic carcinogen. 
  • Potassium Sorbate is created by using potassium hydroxide (KOH) to neutralize sorbic acid Studies have shown Potassium Sorbate to have genotoxic effects on humans and other mammals.  It causes chromosomal aberrations in cells, which can trigger the development of cancer.
  • Magnesium Stearate is a white powder synthesized by the reaction of sodium stearate and magnesium sulfate. Magnesium stearate is used as a lubricant for pharmaceutical preparations and as an anti-sticking agent in medical devices. 
  • Glycerin is a factory-produced texturizer that is created by complex processing.  It is commonly used as a filler and thickening agent. It requires multiple processing steps in an industrial environment to create Glycerin. 
  • Hydroxyethylcellulose is a modified cellulose polymer. It is used as a gelling and thickening agent.
  • Sorbic Acid is a chemical preservative. It is produced commercially by condensing crotonaldehyde and ketene in the presence of boron trifluoride.

The lawsuit alleges that calling its products natural while knowingly adding the above chemicals violates state consumer protection laws.

Volvo Defective Satellite Receiver Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that Volvo has a software flaw in its satellite radio receiver such that the device continues to search for a satellite signal even when the car is not running.  This drains the car’s battery when the car is not running, which in turn prevents the car owner from starting their car.

All cars are equipped to receive a satellite signal.  This is used obviously for satellite radio and such services as OnStar.  

Volvo installs hardware in all its vehicles to receive a satellite signal.  This hardware is termed “rdar”.  The complaint alleges that there is a bug in the rdar’s software such that rdar continues to search for a signal even when the ignition is off – thereby draining the battery.  The lawsuit further alleges that Volvo knows all about this defect, which is easily fixed with a “software upgrade” to the rdar. Volvo has not disclosed this defect to its customers, however. 

Finally, the complaint also alleges that Volvo is effectively holding its customers hostage by refusing to install the “software upgrade” without a charge of hundreds of dollars to repair a defective device that is unnecessary for the car's safe operation and is, in many cases, simply unwanted.

This lawsuit alleges that Volvo’s conduct violates state consumer protection laws.

ESL Teachers Off Clock Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that  Zoni Language Centers required english as a second language teachers work off the clock preparing for classes and grading tests and homework assignments in violation of federal and state employment laws.  The complaint also alleges that the company failed to provide the most basic notice requirements and time keeping requirements under state law.

Each of the named plaintiffs are teachers at  Zoni Language Centers.  Each teach english as a second language.  Each assert that she had to work many hours each week off the clock preparing for classes or grading tests and homework assignments.  Each allege that she was not paid for this extra time.  Each allege that this work was critical to job performance.

This case may turn on the control asserted by  Zoni Language Centers over the work each plaintiff performed.  The complaint alleges as follows:

  • Plaintiffs are forced to follow strict teaching models; specifically, defendants require plaintiffs to follow defendants teaching methodologies by including speaking, listening, writing, and reading into every lesson plan;
  • Plaintiffs have to teach information from the books defendants require the students to purchase from the school;
  • Plaintiffs have to enforce the defendants’ own conduct rules such as no cell phones, no early departure from class and enforce the requirement that the books the students use have to be purchased from defendants;
  • Plaintiffs have to request time off a month in advance, and such requests may be approved or denied by a supervisor;
  • Defendants dock Plaintiffs pay for late arrival or early departures;
  • Plaintiffs have no power to remove students with behavior problems from their classes; they have to write reports of repeated offenses of rudeness, disruption, and rule breaking in order for a supervisor to decide whether a student will be removed from the class

Best Buy GroupMe Unpaid Overtime Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that Best Buy required that its retail employees attend regular “GroupMe” meetings off the clock but did not pay for their attendance during non shift hours.

Most Best Buy employees work a 40 hour work week.  All hours above that time are paid at time and a half.  

This lawsuit alleges that Best Buy required employees attend “GroupMe” work related discussions during non-shift hours within Best Buy’s “groups” on the “GroupMe” smart phone application.  Participation in these GroupMe discussions during non-shift hours was mandatory and often required other work to be performed such as follow-up phone calls, e-mails, and text messages, as well as responding within the GroupMe application itself. 

Current and former employees of Best Buy required to perform this uncompensated off-the clock work include, but are not limited to, people in the following positions: 

  • Operations Supervisor, 
  • Merchandising Manager, 
  • Geek Squad Manager, 
  • Geek Squad Supervisor, 
  • Mobile Manager, 
  • Mobile Lead, 
  • Front End Lead, 
  • Home Theater Supervisor, 
  • Home Theater Lead, 
  • Inventory Supervisor, 
  • Asset Protection Specialist, 
  • Lifestyles Supervisor, and 
  • Lifestyles Lead.