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LRANY Video Series: Ridiculous Lawsuit of the Month October 2014 – Red Bull Wings Lawsuit Settled

This week, Phoebe Stonbely will discuss the recent settlement from Red Bull following a lawsuit claiming false advertising for the energy drinks slogan that “Red Bull gives you wings”.

This ridiculous lawsuit was settled by Red Bull to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation – for $13.5 MILLION DOLLARS

Now experts now predict that the high dollar settlement from Red Bull could start a tidal wave of more false advertising lawsuits looking for a similar big pay-day.

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Hutt, Hutt…..Text…Sue!

By: Michael Seinberg

Everyone knows that football fans can be, well, fanatic. Now a Buffalo Bills fan living in Florida has brought a fresh level of enthusiasm to the table in the form of a lawsuit. But the nature of the suit really makes you stop and wonder if either the plaintiff or his attorney might have taken one too many hits to the head.

Plaintiff Jerry Wojcik and his lawyers claim that on September 12, while visiting his favorite team’s website, he read an ad for receiving texts from the Bills. Being an avid fan, he opted in to receive “3-5 messages per week for a period of 12 months.” With me so far?

By the second week, things became a living nightmare for our fan. He received six text messages! That’s right, one over the limit. However, he took a breath and just figured it was a fluke. Then, a couple weeks later, he got seven texts. Oh no! His world rocked on its edges, and Wojcik knew there was only one solution. Order Buffalo wings and beer? Nope, file a lawsuit because his beloved Bills were in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

His lawyers quickly saw the dollar signs and realized that other fans, too, must have suffered grievous harm from the extra messages. The class action suit is seeking $500 per excessive call for negligent violations and up to $1,500 per call for willful violations. Now multiply that by each fan on the text message list, and don’t forget to give at least a third to the attorneys. I’d say the only thing excessive here is the greed of Wojcik and his lawyers. If the texts were such an issue, then why not just go back to the website and opt out?

People need to stop suing for every perceived issue that comes into their lives. The courts get clogged, we all pay, and nobody but the trial lawyers win. Of course, the fact that Wojcik chose to sue a team that’s 1,500 miles away says something about motive and guts.

Let’s face it, this guy is lucky he isn’t still living in Buffalo because if true fans got wind of this, he’d be coated in wing sauce and feathers and run out of town. Of course then he’d probably sue the makers of the wing sauce…

DHA Awards Yankees Liability Protections Under SAFETY Act

By: Scott Hobson

In June of this year, New York’s Yankee Stadium became the first professional sports facility to be certified under the Federal SAFETY (Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies) Act.

The SAFETY Act allows the Department of Homeland Security to certify providers of anti-terrorism technology and services which meet rigorous standards. Certified providers are granted liability protection from lawsuits arising from “acts of terrorism” as defined by the DHS. The purpose of the act is to promote national security by eliminating liability-related barriers to innovation.  Simply put, without protections from lawsuits, companies would likely be unwilling to develop new products and technologies because of the risk of being sued.

For a decade the SAFETY act has been used to encourage the development of countless homeland security improvements, including handheld explosive and chemical detectors, Anthrax vaccines, comprehensive security training programs, and emergency response coordination software. The certification of the Yankees continues a growing trend of extending liability protections to large venues which may potentially be the target of terrorist attacks – to date, the Super Bowl, NFL, and New York Stock exchange have all received certification as a result of aggressive security measures. SAFETY Act certification creates a powerful incentive for venues to go above and beyond typical security measures.

Ultimately, creating incentives for venues to enhance security will benefit us all. Keeping a country of over 300 million safe from threats is a monumental task, and it makes sense to harness the power of American enterprise to help achieve that critical goal.

Judges Tell Lawyers Their Fees Are Fruit Loops

A class action lawsuit brought against Kellogg, for false health claims about their Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal, recently came to a settlement for a total of $10.6 million.  After review by a panel of three judges this settlement was rejected.  The reason? The lawyer fees of $2,100 an hour, totaling $2 million were considered too high.  The settlement would give each consumer in the class action five bucks a box, limited to three boxes, while overfilling the pockets of the lawyers involved.

These judges put common sense and consumer rights in the forefront and that is a commendable action.

The LA Times reports: “A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the lawyers’ fees — $2,100 an hour— were too high, while those who bought Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats got a ‘paltry’ $5 a box for up to three boxes.

‘Not even the most highly sought after attorneys charge such rates to their clients,’ Judge Stephen S. Trott wrote for the unanimous panel.”

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Labeling Lawsuits Strike OJ

Lately, headlines have been flooded with lawsuits against food manufacturers, alleging false claims and misleading labels.  The most recent suit is targeting Tropicana for labeling their well-known orange juice as “natural.”  The lawsuit claims that the company adds chemically engineered “flavor packs” to its product to keep the taste consistent year round.

As America turns towards healthier foods, the food industry has responded by placing these labels on their products.  According to the FDA, most foods labeled “natural” are not subject to government controls, beyond the regulations and health codes which apply to all foods.  As long as a food labeled “natural” doesn’t contain added color, artificial flavor or synthetic substances, the agency doesn’t object.  Although these products are following the guidelines the government provides, the inflow of lawsuits has been so drastic that the Grocery Manufacturers Association has a special panel just to address the topic.

Lawsuits such as these only serve to fill the pockets of the plaintiffs’ attorneys while harming the very people the lawsuit is intended to protect – the consumer.  Instead of this avalanche of lawsuits attacking our food industry, consumers should look to the government agency responsible for establishing and enforcing standards and demand more clear regulations on labeling. Suing a company which is violating no law or regulation will not serve public interest. Those consumers who are concerned about what is in their food would be well served to spend a few seconds to flip a product around and read the nutrition facts and ingredient list.

 

Forbes: Restoring Sanity To the U.S. Tort System

An opinion editorial was recently featured in Forbes written by Cybex International’s President and COO, Arthur Hicks Jr.  This editorial titled: Restoring Sanity To the U.S. Tort Systemhighlights the major obstacles faced by companies in the U.S. to stay afloat with the extensive regulations and trial lawyers hungry to hit the “lawsuit lottery”.

An excerpt:

Much less discussed, however, are the billions of dollars of costs foisted on U.S. businesses by excessive – and in many cases, frivolous – litigation. Unless you’re a trial lawyer, most people know about the absurdity of our tort system. We’ve all seen the ads on TV for class action lawsuits, read about the woman who sued McDonald’s because her coffee was too hot. We’re also aware how medical malpractice lawsuits drive up healthcare costs for everyone.

And while we cringe at these examples of lawyers run amok, we rarely appreciate just how devastating their actions are to U.S. businesses. Simply put, frivolous lawsuits and excessive rewards are putting America’s economic recovery in danger.”

Hicks is no stranger to tort litigation, Cybex International recently settled a case with a Western New York woman for $19.5 million- down from a monumental $66 million, which would have been the largest settlement in western New York history.  In this case, the woman was using a piece of equipment incorrectly and sustained severe injuries.  The court ruled that this misuse was “foreseeable” and the liability fell on the manufacturer.

Arthur Hicks Jr. hits the nail on the head – frivolous litigation hurts consumers, taxpayers, and businesses and makes America less competitive in an increasingly global economy. Just how big is the impact? One recent study found that reforming New York’s civil justice system could create over 200,000 jobs. Who knew a little common sense could go so far?

The Sioux to Sue Beer Companies for $500 Million for Causing Alcoholism

CBS News reports the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota plans to sue 5 international beer manufacturers for $500 million.  This amount is to cover the cost of health care, social services, and child rehabilitation caused by chronic alcoholism on the reservation; to which they feel the manufacturers knowingly contributed.  The lawsuit also names four beer stores in a bordering town which sold 5 million cans of beer in 2010 despite only having 12 residents.

There is indeed a devastating problem in this American Indian tribes’ reservation – one in four babies are born with fetal alcohol syndrome, and the average life expectancy is between 45 and 52 (over 30 years shorter the North American average).  But blaming the consumption of alcoholic beverages, a voluntary act, on the manufacturer defies common sense. In fact, there has actually been a ban on alcohol in the reservation since 1832 which was lifted for just two months in 1970 prior to being restored.

If an outright ban on alcohol hasn’t curbed the rampant alcoholism, how can anyone believe that $500 million from the beer companies will fix the problem?  Personal responsibility must come into play here, and blaming the manufacturers treads a slippery slope. The production and sale of alcohol is highly regulated, and fully legal – what laws did the manufacturers break? The growing trend to place the blame on whoever has the deepest pockets in hopes of getting an easy settlement must be reversed.

Nutty lawsuit gets cracked

A California woman tried unsuccessfully to sue Nutella this year for false advertising.   She was shocked to find that the delicious hazelnut- chocolate spread wasn’t the healthiest breakfast food for her 4-year old.  The suit alleges that the commercials were misleading claiming that Nutella is part of a wholesome, balanced breakfast.

At the end of June, the ASA rejected this lawsuit, on the grounds that the commercial does not lead people to believe the product should be consumed  in excessive amounts.

Although the case was dismissed, this ridiculous lawsuit is indicative of a larger problem.

It’s time to bring back personal responsibility to our state and legal system!