All posts by Amanda Pickens

Recent Filings – May Digest

View Amanda Pickens’ Complete Bio at robinsonbradshaw.comNot every class action court filing in North and South Carolina becomes a full-length post on our blog. Here is a recap of May’s filings:

Kasprzyk, et al. v. Hilton Grand Vacations Company, LLC, et al., No. 4:17-cv-01393 (D.S.C. May 26, 2017) (purported collective and class action brought under FLSA alleging defendants deducted wages, straight time and overtime pay from commissions earned.)

Berg, et al. v. Span-America Medical Systems, Inc., et al., No. 6:17-cv-01399 (D.S.C. May 26, 2017) (putative class action alleging defendants, who entered into an agreement and plan of merger in early May 2017, filed a solicitation statement that contained false and misleading information and omitted material information thereby violating federal securities laws.)

Giles, et al. v. BNC Bancorp, et al., No. 1:17-cv-00482 (M.D.N.C. May 25, 2017) (putative class action on behalf of shareholders of defendant BNC Bancorp, a publicly traded bank holding company, and its officers and directors, asserting securities violations for failing to disclose material information through incomplete and misleading proxy statements in advance of a proposed merger with Pinnacle Financial Partners, Inc.)

Pill, et al. v. Span-America Medical Systems, Inc., No. 6:17-cv-01375 (D.S.C. May 25, 2017) (putative class action alleging defendants Span-America Medical Systems and Savaris (SC), Inc., who manufacture various products for the medical market, entered into a flawed sales process in early May 2017 which favored Salvaria at the expense of Span’s shareholders, thereby alleging violation of federal and state securities laws.)

Porter, et al. v. Span-America Medical Systems, Inc., No. 6:17-cv-01357 (D.S.C. May 25, 2017) (putative class action alleging defendants entered into an agreement/plan of merger in early May 2017 which is materially deficient regarding financial projections and potential conflicts of interest regarding various managers and directors in violation of federal and state securities laws.)

Gagliastre, et al. v. Capt. George’s Seafood Restaurants, LP, et al., No. 4:17-cv-01308 (D.S.C. May 19, 2017) (putative class action and collective action alleging defendants, who own seafood buffet restaurants, misappropriated tips, required servers to work off the clock and otherwise failed to pay overtime compensation to employees under FLSA and state wage and hour laws.)

Salvo, et al. v. NightCap Inc. Food & Spirits, et al., No. 2:17-cv-01266 (D.S.C. May 17, 2017) (putative class action and collective action brought by servers, bartenders and other “tipped workers” alleging defendants failed to pay compensation due under FLSA and state wage and hour laws seeking to recover minimum wages, unlawful deductions and other wages due to employees.)

Christian, et al. v. TOWERCOMM, LLC, No. 5:17-cv-00223 (E.D.N.C. May 9, 2017) (putative class action and collective action brought by employees of defendant who were tower technicians performing maintenance, repair and installation and allege they were not paid overtime compensation that was due under FLSA and state wage and hour laws.)

Walton v. Maury Cobb & Associates, LLC, et al., No. 5:17-cv-00209 (E.D.N.C. May 2, 2017) (putative class action brought under federal consumer protection laws on behalf of consumers residing in North Carolina alleging defendants sent collection letters with original creditor information which was false and/or misleading.)

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Follow Up – Dish Network Denied New Trial and Slapped with Trebled Damages of $61 Million

View Amanda Pickens’ Complete Bio at robinsonbradshaw.com Today we provide you with an update on a previous blog post addressing Dish Network’s plea for a new trial after a jury awarded damages of $20.5 Million in a telemarketing class action lawsuit. After a five-day trial in January, a jury awarded damages by assigning $400.00 to each of the 51,119 distinct phone calls made in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (the “TCPA”).

Although Dish hoped for a new trial, Judge Eagles issued a text order denying Dish’s Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and Motion for a New Trial on May 16, 2017.

After the jury verdict, both parties submitted written closing arguments to the Court on whether Dish willfully violated the TCPA. Dish argued the Plaintiffs should not be entitled to treble damages because Dish complied with TCPA, had a business interest in preventing unwanted telemarketing calls, believed Satellite Systems Network (“SSN,” Dish’s terminated marketing retailer) complied with the TCPA, instructed SSN to scrub its call list against the National Do-Not-Call Registry and not to call the named plaintiff, received almost no complaints during the class period, and had no actual knowledge that SSN was not adhering to the applicable telemarketing laws during the class period.

In an order issued yesterday, Judge Eagles rejected Dish’s arguments and awarded treble damages, stating Dish “did nothing to monitor, much less enforce” SSN’s compliance with telemarketing laws, and it “repeatedly looked the other way” when it learned of SSN’s noncompliance.

Specifically, Judge Eagles found that Dish’s contracts with SSN gave it “virtually unlimited rights” to monitor and control SSN’s telemarketing efforts. And, although Dish was committed to monitoring SSN’s compliance on paper, in reality, it ignored SSN’s violations of telemarketing laws. When SSN received a customer complaint, it would send the complaint to Dish and wait for instruction. Dish disclaimed responsibility for any customer complaint and shifted blame to SSN, while making no effort to determine whether SSN was actually complying with the TCPA. According to the opinion, Dish also ignored several customer complaints about SSN between 2004 and 2010, and it was aware of three lawsuits against the telemarketer resulting in injunctive relief and monetary damages. Despite having actual knowledge of customer complaints and lawsuits, Dish continued its relationship with SSN, allowing SSN to market and sell Dish’s products. Dish did not restrict SSN’s authority to act on its behalf, and it never conducted an investigation to determine if SSN had solved its compliance problems.

The Court held Dish responsible for any willful or knowing violations of the TCPA by SSN because the jury found (and the Court agreed) that SSN was acting within the scope of its authority from Dish. The Court further held that even if Dish were not responsible for SSN’s violations, the result would be the same, because Dish willfully violated the TCPA. According to the opinion, Dish knew SSN had committed many TCPA violations, but it did nothing. Dish received numerous customer complaints about SSN, and it knew of three lawsuits alleging violations of the TCPA. Dish knew SSN was not scrubbing its call list against the Do-Not-Call Registry, yet Dish made no effort to monitor SSN’s compliance with telemarketing laws. Ultimately, the Court held Dish “simply did not care whether SSN complied with the law or not.”

Judge Eagles concluded treble damages were appropriate in this case to deter Dish from future violations and to give appropriate weight to the scope of the TCPA violations. The Court trebled the jury’s award of $400.00 per call to $1,200 per call, totaling approximately $61 Million in damages.

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Recent Filings – April Digest

View Amanda Pickens’ Complete Bio at robinsonbradshaw.comNot every class action court filing in North and South Carolina becomes a full-length post on our blog. Here is a recap of April’s filings:

Sanda, et al. v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc., et al., No. 6:17-cv-00988 (D.S.C. April 17, 2017) (putative class action brought under federal and various state consumer protection laws alleging defendants manufactured defective home washing machines that caused damage during normal usage and additionally had a flawed recall of this product.)

Krebs, et al. v. Charlotte School of Law, LLC, et al., (originally filed in M.D.N.C. on December 22, 2016 – Case No. 1:16-cv-1437 and transferred to W.D.N.C. on April 10, 2017 – Case No. 3:17-cv-190) (putative class action brought by law students alleging the school misrepresented its compliance with ABA requirements and seeking refund/reimbursement of tuition and loan discharge.)

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Recent Filings – March Digest

View Amanda Pickens’ Complete Bio at robinsonbradshaw.comNot every class action court filing in North and South Carolina becomes a full-length post on our blog. Here is a recap of March’s filings:

Angeles-Gomez, et al. v. Rick Wolf Landscape, LLC, et al., No. 2:17-cv-00009 (E.D.N.C. March 31, 2017) (putative collective and class action brought under FLSA and state wage and hour laws by current and/or former employees of the defendant landscaping and lawn care business and its managing members for alleged unpaid overtime compensation).

Isaman, et al. v. Housekeeping Services of Hilton Head, LLC, et al., No. 9:17-cv-00800 (D.S.C. March 26, 2017) (putative class action and purported collective action brought under FLSA and state wage and hour laws alleging Housekeeping Services of Hilton Head, the low country’s largest cleaning service, failed to pay hourly wages due including overtime compensation).

Oldfield Community Association, et al. v. TI Oldfield Development, LLC, et al., No. 9:17-cv-00794 (D.S.C. March 24, 2017) (purported class action removed from South Carolina state court to federal court brought by a non-profit corporation formed for the benefit of homeowners and lot owners of Oldfield, a Beaufort County community, alleging defendant board and director members misappropriated funds, breached fiduciary duties, etc. and requesting a preliminary injunction).

Beasley, et al. v. Bojangles Restaurants, Inc., et al., No. 1:17-cv-00255 (M.D.N.C. March 21, 2017) (purported class action and collective action brought under FLSA by employees alleging defendants misclassified them and failed to pay overtime compensation).

Blue Ridge Podiatry Assocs., P.A. v. Annexmed Billing Servs. Inc., et al., No. 1:17-cv-00078 (W.D.N.C. March 20, 2017) (putative class action brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act alleging the defendants sent unsolicited fax advertisements to plaintiff and the proposed class in June 2016 without prior express consent).

Sandviks v. PhD Fitness, LLC, No. 1:17-cv-00744 (D.S.C. March 17, 2017) (products liability class action lawsuit alleging defendant, a manufacturer of sports-oriented dietary supplement products, has marketed their products in a systematically misleading manner and these misrepresentations regarding ingredients and proper dosing have injured plaintiffs).

Bobiak, et al. v. The Morgan Group, Inc., No. 3:17-cv-00142 (W.D.N.C. March 17, 2017) (putative collective and class action brought by employees of The Morgan Group, a high-end multifamily development, construction and property management company, for recovery of unpaid wages and unpaid overtime/bonus compensation under FLSA and state wage and hour laws).

Indian Harbor Insurance Co. v. Kriewaldt, et al., No. 2:17-cv-00732 (D.S.C. March 17, 2017) (putative class and declaratory judgment action brought by Indian Harbor Insurance Co. seeking a determination from the federal court of its defense and coverage obligations based on two underlying South Carolina state court lawsuits, one a class action, which allege construction defects caused by the defendants in a Charleston townhome development).

Fuerte, et al. v. Convergys Corp., et al., No. 4:17-cv-00701 (D.S.C. March 14, 2017) (putative collective and class action brought under FLSA and state wage and hour laws by at-home customer representative employees of Convergys, a customer outsourcing company, who performed required “off the clock” and computer technical malfunction work but allege not to have been compensated for this time).

Mauer v. Argos Therapeutics, Inc., et al., No. 1:17-cv-00216 (M.D.N.C. March 14, 2017) (putative class action brought by shareholders of Argos, an immune-oncology company, alleging the company violated federal securities laws by making false statements in its securities filings).

Hegeman v. Babcock & Wilcox Enters., et al., No. 3:17-cv-00125 (W.D.N.C. March 13, 2017) (putative class action on behalf of shareholders of Babcock & Wilcox, a provider of energy and environmental technologies and services for power and industrial markets, asserting federal securities violations for the company providing alleged false and misleading statements and failing to provide material facts about the company).

Lawrence, et al. v. General Panel Corp., No. 2:17-cv-00600 (D.S.C. March 3, 2017) (putative class action removed from South Carolina state court and brought by homeowners alleging structures known as SIPS, manufactured by Defendant using sheets of oriented strand board, were defective and have caused damage to their homes and buildings).

Ollila, et al. v. Babcock & Wilcox Enters., Inc. et al.; No. 3:17-cv-00109 (W.D.N.C March 3, 2017) (putative class action brought by shareholders of Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises, Inc., a technology-based provider of power generation equipment, alleging violations of securities laws claiming the company’s officers and/or directors made false and misleading statements in press releases, analyst conference calls and SEC filings starting in 2015).

Speights, et al. v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina; No. 9:17-cv-594 (D.S.C. March 3, 2017) (putative class action removed from South Carolina state court brought by consumers alleging Blue Cross and Blue Shield denied requests to pay for healthcare that was approved and/or requested by physicians).

Jeffers, et al.v.Toyota Motor Corporation, et al., No. 4:17-cv-00577 (D.S.C. March 2, 2017) (purported class action brought under consumer protection laws alleging defendants manufactured defective dashboards in various car models and have not adequately handled a warranty program that was promised in previous litigation relating to the same issue).

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Dish Network Hopes for a New Trial of Telemarketing Class Action Lawsuit after $20.5 Million Jury Verdict

View Amanda Pickens’ Complete Bio at robinsonbradshaw.comDish Network has asked the Middle District of North Carolina for a new trial in its telemarketing class action lawsuit after a jury found Dish liable for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. After a five-day trial ending on January 19th, a jury awarded damages to the class of $20.5 million.

The lawsuit was filed in 2014 by lead plaintiff Thomas Krakauer alleging Satellite Systems Network, an authorized Dish dealer, called him multiple times between 2009 and 2011 despite being listed on the Do Not Call registry. In September 2015, Judge Catherine Eagles certified two classes, both consisting of persons on the Do Not Call registry who received telemarketing calls from Dish or Satellite System Network between 2010 and 2011.

After the United States Supreme Court decided Spokeo Inc. v. Robins, Dish filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to decertify the class. We highlighted the issues before the Spokeo Court in our previous blog post. In Spokeo, the United States Supreme Court vacated and remanded a decision allowing a consumer who suffered no concrete harm to sue Spokeo Inc. for procedural violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. But the Supreme Court left the opportunity open for plaintiffs in other cases to rely on procedural violations entailing a risk of “concrete injury” to establish standing. The Supreme Court found that the Ninth Circuit’s standing analysis was incomplete because it failed to consider both requirements of an injury-in-fact, that the injury be both concrete and particularized. The Ninth Circuit’s opinion concerned only the particularization of the injury-in-fact.

In August 2016, in a six-page opinion, Judge Eagles denied Dish’s motion to dismiss and to decertify the class based on Spokeo. Judge Eagles noted that although Spokeo “clarified the meaning of a concrete injury,” it did not fundamentally change the doctrine of standing. She found that now “a concrete injury ‘must exist,’ but it can be intangible.” Judge Eagles held that the telemarketing calls made in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act were more than bare procedural violations; the calls “form[ed] concrete injuries because unwanted telemarketing calls are a disruptive and annoying invasion of privacy.” Dish sought an interlocutory appeal of this decision, which was also denied.

Now, after a five-day trial and a $20.5 million jury verdict, Dish is hoping for a new trial. Dish claims, among other things, that the verdict violates Dish’s due process rights because Judge Eagles allowed the jury to impose aggregate damages, rather than allowing Dish to defend each individual claim of an improper phone call. The jury calculated damages by assigning $400.00 per call to the 51,119 distinct phones calls, totaling approximately $20.5 million. Plaintiffs’ response to Dish’s motion for a new trial is due March 28th. If Dish’s motion for a new trial is denied, Dish will likely appeal these issues to the Fourth Circuit. Stay tuned for further developments.

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