Personal-injury litigation has often been characterized as formalized battle.
Many people in California and elsewhere who regularly wear glasses have probably noticed the ubiquitous advertising by Visionworks regarding getting a second pair of eyeglasses free when you pay full price for the first pair. One woman in another state believes that the giant eyeglass retailer cheated her on the deal by first raising the price of the first pair inordinately so that the extra amount would cover costs on the "free" pair. When it comes to cases of consumer fraud, it's not a new gimmick: schemes offering buy one, get one free have been challenged in class action lawsuits throughout the country in the past.
The use of the term "all natural" appears widely on food labels on the super market shelves in California and nationwide. The term, however, is elusive to define and has been the center piece of numerous class action lawsuits for consumer fraud over the past several years. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration embarked on a process trying to define the term. It has to date received about 7,600 comments from consumers, companies and other interested entities.
There has been a steady body of class action litigation in California and other states against certain types of colleges and private schools that offer up arguably inferior programs and at the same time take in millions or billions in federal financial aid. A few nationwide educational chains may fall into this category. The problem recently for students trying to be compensated for losses incurred through the educational form of consumer fraud is that they find that they have signed agreements restricting them to a form of arbitration as their sole remedy.
A class action consumer case against Donald Trump and Trump University was filed in a federal court in California in 2010 by a disgruntled student. That action waits to get further direction forward even as a primary election battle comes to California, mixing politics unavoidably in the general aura of the stalled consumer litigation case. In another case that has been active recently, a state court judge in another state rejected the attorney general's request for a summary judgment on his consumer fraud complaint against Trump University.
Banks have a way of making their overdraft fees spiral out of control for certain unwary consumers who may be a bit too careless for their own good. Some customers of Wells Fargo decided to hold their bank to task for a policy of overdraft charges that they alleged to constitute consumer fraud and a violation of consumer protection statutes in California. They filed a class action case several years ago in a federal district court.
A consumer problem exists in California and elsewhere over a questionable practice of websites that automatically charge a customer's card for renewing a subscription to a service at the expiration of the membership period. It may be included somewhere in the fine print of the company's terms and conditions that a service will automatically renew at the end of the term and the credit card charged appropriately. Nonetheless, that is not transparent enough for most consumers, and the practice has fueled the initiation of consumer fraud class actions against many automatic renewal practices.
A dispute is emerging between merchants around the country and credit card companies that have implemented the new chip readers that are intended to cut down on identity fraud. The conflict is evidenced in California by a recent class action filed in federal court by three merchants against big credit card companies. The lawsuit generally raises issues of consumer fraud against defendant companies that include Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express and others.
Class-action lawsuits in California and other states can serve a very useful purpose with respect to protecting consumers. For example, in one recent case a plaintiff filed a class-action complaint against Dollar General, the well-known discount retailer, alleging consumer fraud in the marketing of a motor oil that it sells in its stores. The DG oil brand that Dollar General sells has a statement on the can that says it "lubricates and protects your engine."
Several class action claims against a giant food retailer were recently filed in federal district courts. The lawsuits are in the nature of consumer fraud claims alleging that national franchiser Dunkin' Donuts illegally taxed consumers on the purchase of coffee bean bags that were purchased to take home. State tax laws allegedly provide that such purchases cannot be taxed. It is unknown whether California stores would be involved in future claims, but the claims filed so far involve about a dozen different stores in other states.