Legal Newsline: Lawsuit against TGI Friday’s over potato skins likely lawyer-driven, legal reform group says

Lawsuit against TGI Friday’s over potato skins likely lawyer-driven, legal reform group says

By John Suayan | Apr 12, 2019

A prolific class action lawyer has sued TGI Fridays over its potato skins, alleging she was deceived by the packaging. 

Attorneys C.K. Lee and Anne Seelig with the law firm Lee Litigation Group PLLC, of New York, filed the 23-page original petition on behalf of Solange Troncoso and all other persons similarly situated against TGI Friday’s Inc. on March 27 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

According to the lawsuit, Troncoso, a Bronx County resident, purchased a bag of TGI Fridays Sour Cream & Onion Potato Skins chips from a convenience store in the Bronx for $1.99. She claims that the snack “does not contain any actual potato skins” despite what was on its label, the complaint states.

Adam Morey with the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York told Legal Newsline he “is not sure about the merits of the claim,” but suits similar to Troncoso’s “are driven by the lawyer and not by the plaintiff.”

“New York is actually the No. 2 jurisdiction in food marketing claims,” said Morey, who added that he was not surprised the litigation was initiated in New York.

Morey described Lee’s firm as a “prolific” filer of class actions in New York and around the country.

Read the full article here!

Finger Lakes Times: Wineries face ADA website woes

WRITE ON: Wineries face ADA website woes

Apr 12, 2019

Spring in the Finger Lakes usually prompts lengthy conversations among winery owners about weather, prospects for the growing season and when tourists will start packing tasting rooms.

But this spring many of those same owners added a potentially costly and worrisome coffee-klatch topic: A blizzard of nuisance lawsuits filed because their winery websites are allegedly not compliant with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

A few of the wineries have reportedly settled the cases for sums of between $10,000 to $15,000 to avoid the costs of lengthy litigation.

On the advice of legal counsel, most of the targeted winery owners are declining to say much publicly.

But examination of the lawyers’ tactics filing these ADA-related lawsuits makes it seem more like ambulance chasing than an attempt to fight for justice for the disabled.

Read the full article here!

New York Post: Corey Johnson targets Scaffold Law in plan to fix MTA

Council Speaker Corey Johnson has targeted a sacred cow in his plan to reform the MTA: New York’s much-maligned Scaffold Law, which critics say boosts insurance costs for transit projects and on other construction in New York State by hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Scaffold Law assigns 100 percent liability on owners and contractors for workplace injuries — without considering whether the worker is at all to blame.

New York is the only state with such a one-sided law, which Johnson says drives up costs to cover negligence suits, according to the Johnson plan.

Read more here.

WHAM 13: ADA lawsuits targeting Finger Lakes wineries/others under scrutiny

WHAM) – New lawsuits filed in federal court last week target two Finger Lakes wineries, accusing them of having websites that are not accessible to people who are blind or visually-impaired. 13 WHAM News first reported last fall on the rash of lawsuits being filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Now the lawsuits, and law firms behind them, are under the microscope.

“These lawsuits are clearly driven by lawyers and not by the plaintiffs,” said Adam Morey of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York.

Justin Young is legally blind. He sues voice-over software to surf the web. “Any text on the screen, that’s what will say,” when he demonstrated it for 13 WHAM News in October.

Since then, dozens of wineries and hundreds of small businesses have been sued under the ADA for having websites incompatible with screen-reading software. There’s just one problem.

“There’s a regulatory gap. There’s no clear law on where the ADA applies to websites,” said Morey. Disability groups and some members of congress have long called on the US Department of Justice to issue ADA guidelines for the internet. So far that hasn’t happened.

Watch the full segment here.

Andreatta: Steuben County woman wants Ricola to cough up $5 million

There is a tidal wave of class-action food labeling litigation flooding federal courts right now, led by lawyers looking to cash in on subjective interpretations of marketing terms like “natural” and “healthy.”

A U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform study found 425 active cases between 2015 and 2016 compared to just 19 in 2008. A fifth were in New York, which, according to the group, bears the highest annual cost of tort litigation of any state at $6,066 per household.

“We’re not saying this particular case should or shouldn’t be brought,” said the group’s spokesman, Bryan Quigley. “But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking this is a consumer-driven case to help people, and the lawyers are there to bring justice.

“This is lawyer-driven litigation for the purposes of a settlement that often enriches the plaintiffs’ firm and gives the broad class pennies or coupons.”

Some recent headline grabbers include:

A Buffalo woman who led a class-action against the manufacturer of Canada Dry Ginger Ale because the soda didn’t contain real ginger.

A class-action lawsuit out of Albany that claimed the American Heart Association’s logo on StarKist Tuna misrepresented the brand as healthier than other tunas.

A Manhattan woman who sued Tootsie Roll Industries on behalf of Junior Mints consumers, claiming half her box of Junior Mints was filled with air, despite the weight of the candy being listed on the package.  

The latter case was tossed by a judge who said, “The law simply does not provide the level of coddling the plaintiff seeks.”

No one wants to fall victim to false advertising, and there should be recourse for consumers who’ve been legitimately defrauded. Companies that engage in bogus marketing should get pinched, like tobacco companies.

But what reasonable consumer has been aggrieved by the claims in such cases or, in this case, the term “naturally soothing?”

None, says Adam Morey, of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York.

“When judges throw these cases out, they often do so on the grounds that a reasonable consumer would not find that to be injurious,” Morey said. “This looks like one of those cases.”

Click here to read the full column.

WHAM 13: Local business leaders rally against New York’s Scaffold Law

Rochester, N.Y. – Local business leaders are calling for New York to repeal a law they say raises the cost of construction projects.

Opponents of the Scaffold Law say insurance companies are forced to charge higher premiums for construction insurance because the law holds builders 100 percent responsible for gravity-related injuries at a work site.

Friday, local business leaders gathered to call on New York to repeal the law.

“It’s been around since 1885, and every other state has gotten rid of it because it’s costly and provides no benefit,” said Lawsuit Reform Alliance executive director Tom Stebbins. “We in New York cannot advance if we have a law that costs billions of dollars, only exists in New York and has no discernible benefit.”

Click here to watch the full segment.

NY Post: Nearly half of the world’s ‘most ridiculous’ lawsuits were filed in NY

The New York Post reports that…

Nearly half of the “most ridiculous” lawsuits in the world this year were filed in New York.

The Empire State has the dubious distinction of landing four of the top 10 spots in an annual list compiled by the US Chamber ­Institute for Legal Reform.

Brooklyn federal class-action suit against Kind Bars took the No. 2 spot. The snack-bar company was sued for putting what the plaintiff called “chemical-sounding terms like ascorbic acid” in its products, which is just another name for vitamin C, the institute says. The case is ­ongoing.

The No. 3 slot belongs to Biola Daniel, of Manhattan, who sued Tootsie Roll Industries, claiming her box of Junior Mints was half-filled with air — even though the amount of mints is listed on the package.

Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald tossed the candy case, saying that allowing the suit to proceed would “enshrine into law an embarrassing level of mathematical illiteracy.”

“The law simply does not provide the level of coddling plaintiffs seek,” she added.

Read the full story here.

Today’s Verdict with David Lesch

LRANY’s Thomas Stebbins joined David Lesch on Today’s Verdict to talk about lawsuit lending and the high cost of municipal liability in New York City

NY Post: Wall St. cashing in on NYC’s legal feeding frenzy

Wall Street hedge funds are cashing in on New York’s legal feeding frenzy by financing “mass tort litigation” over prescription drugs and medical devices in exchange for a piece of the action when the cases settle, the “Judicial Hellholes” report reveals.

The result is an “unfair playing field for defendants,” the report says.

Tom Stebbins of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York called the funding “the latest money-making innovation for the lawsuit industry.

“Our civil-justice system has been converted into a profit center,” Stebbins said.

“Financiers draw out cases to maximize return, not ensure fairness in the system.”

The situation led the New York City Bar Association to issue a formal ethics opinion in July, barring lawyers from cutting funding deals with non-lawyers.

That edict, intended “to protect the lawyer’s independence of judgment,” followed a New York Times report on a boom in litigation financing by hedge funds.

The Times article, published in June, cited analyst estimates that litigation funding was a burgeoning, $10 billion industry.

Read the full story here.

Daily News: Lawmakers and advocates gear up to reform costly construction law

The New York Daily News ran a story about the renewed push to reform New York’s costly construction liability law, the “Scaffold Law”:

Critics of a controversial state law that makes construction companies 100% liable for work-site injuries are pushing for an overhaul of the statute amid ramped-up talks on a massive new train tunnel project.

Those opposed to the so-called “Scaffold Law” — the only one of its kind in the country — say it could add up to $300 million to the cost of the Gateway project to bring a new tunnel underneath the Hudson River to better accommodate Amtrak and NJ Transit. President Trump and Gov. Cuomo met recently to discuss the fate of the project.

And they argue it’s already increased insurance costs.

Read the full story here.