Consumer Fraud

In the United States consumer-based economy, working families who purchase products and services must receive truthful information so they can make meaningful choices about how to spend their hard-earned money. When financial institutions, insurance industry participants, and other corporations deceive or take advantage of unequal bargaining power, class action suits provide, in many instances, the only realistic means for an individual to right a corporate wrong.

Robbins Geller attorneys represent consumers around the country in a variety of important and unprecedented complex class actions. The Firm’s attorneys have taken a leading role in many of the largest federal and state consumer fraud, environmental, human rights and public health cases throughout the United States. Robbins Geller is also actively involved in many cases relating to banks in the financial services industry, pursuing claims on behalf of individuals victimized by abusive telemarketing practices, abusive mortgage lending practices, market timing violations in the sale of variable annuities, and deceptive consumer credit lending practices in violation of the Truth-In-Lending Act.

Below are a few representative samples of the Firm’s robust, nationwide consumer practice. 

Bank Overdraft Fees Litigation. The banking industry charges consumers exorbitant amounts for “overdraft” of their checking accounts, even if the customer did not authorize a charge beyond the available balance and even if they would not have overdrawn the account if the transactions were ordered chronologically as they occurred – that is, banks reorder transactions to maximize such fees. Americans reportedly spent more money on bank overdraft fees than on vegetables last year. Robbins Geller has brought lawsuits against major banks to stop this practice and recover these false fees. These cases have recovered over $500 million thus far from a dozen banks and the Firm continues to investigate other banks engaging in this practice.

Chase Bank Home Equity Line of Credit Litigation. In October 2008, after receiving $25 billion in TARP funding to encourage lending institutions to provide businesses and consumers with access to credit, Chase Bank began unilaterally suspending its customers’ home equity lines of credit. Plaintiffs charge that Chase Bank did so using an unreliable computer model that did not reliably estimate the actual value of its customers’ homes in breach of the borrowers’ contracts. The Firm has brought a lawsuit to secure damages on behalf of borrowers whose credit lines were improperly suspended. In early 2013, the court approved a settlement that restored billions of dollars of credit to tens of thousands of borrowers, while requiring Chase to make cash payments to former customers. The total value of this settlement is projected between $3 and $4 billion.

Visa and MasterCard Fees. After years of litigation and a six-month trial, Robbins Geller attorneys won one of the largest consumer-protection verdicts ever awarded in the United States. The Firm’s attorneys represented California consumers in an action against Visa and MasterCard for intentionally imposing and concealing a fee from cardholders. The court ordered Visa and MasterCard to return $800 million in cardholder losses, which represented 100% of the amount illegally taken, plus 2% interest. In addition, the court ordered full disclosure of the hidden fee.

West Telemarketing Case. Robbins Geller attorneys secured a $39 million settlement for class members caught up in a telemarketing scheme where consumers were charged for an unwanted membership program after purchasing Tae-Bo exercise videos. Under the settlement, consumers were entitled to claim between one and one-half to three times the amount of all fees they unknowingly paid.

Dannon Activia®. Robbins Geller attorneys secured the largest ever settlement for a false advertising case involving a food product. The case alleged that Dannon’s advertising for its Activia® and DanActive® branded products and their benefits from “probiotic” bacteria were overstated. As part of the nationwide settlement, Dannon agreed to modify its advertising and establish a fund of up to $45 million to compensate consumers for their purchases of Activia® and DanActive®.

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Mattel Lead Paint Toys. In 2006-2007, toy manufacturing giant, Mattel and its subsidiary Fisher-Price, announced the recall of over 14 million toys made in China due to hazardous lead and dangerous magnets. Robbins Geller attorneys filed lawsuits on behalf of millions of parents and other consumers who purchased or received toys for children that were marketed as safe but were later recalled because they were dangerous. The Firm’s attorneys reached a landmark settlement for millions of dollars in refunds and lead testing reimbursements, as well as important testing requirements to ensure that Mattel’s toys are safe for consumers in the future.

Tenet Healthcare Cases. Robbins Geller attorneys were co-lead counsel in a class action alleging a fraudulent scheme of corporate misconduct, resulting in the overcharging of uninsured patients by the Tenet chain of hospitals. The Firm’s attorneys represented uninsured patients of Tenet hospitals nationwide who were overcharged by Tenet’s admittedly “aggressive pricing strategy,” which resulted in price gouging of the uninsured. The case was settled with Tenet changing its practices and making refunds to patients.

Pet Food Products Liability Litigation. Robbins Geller served as co-lead counsel in this massive, 100+ case products liability MDL in the District of New Jersey concerning the death and injury to thousands of the nation’s cat and dogs due to tainted pet food. The case settled for $24 million.

Sony Gaming Networks & Consumer Data Security Breach Litigation. The Firm served as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee to obtain a precedential opinion denying-in-part Sony’s motion to dismiss claims involving the breach of Sony’s gaming network, leading to pending $15 million settlement.

Trump University. Robbins Geller is currently serving as co-lead counsel in this class action alleging Donald J. Trump and his so-called “Trump University” bilked consumers to the tune of nearly $40,000 each by promising, but failing to deliver, Trump and his real estate secrets at an elite “university.” Judge Curiel of the Southern District of California has certified a class of California, Florida and New York “students,” including subclasses of senior citizens in California and Florida ensnared in the fraud. Robbins Geller has moved to certify a nationwide class for Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), and awaits a ruling from the court.

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