Consumer Fraud and Privacy
Robbins Geller attorneys represent consumers around the country in a variety of important and unprecedented complex class actions. 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.
The Firm’s attorneys have taken a leading role in many of the largest federal and state consumer fraud, privacy, 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.
Achievements of the Firm’s robust, nationwide consumer and privacy practice include:
National Prescription Opiate Litigation. Robbins Geller serves on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee to spearhead more than 2,900 federal lawsuits brought on behalf of governmental entities and other plaintiffs in the sprawling litigation concerning the nationwide prescription opioid epidemic. In reporting on the selection of the lawyers to lead the case, The National Law Journal reported that “[t]he team reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in mass torts.”
Apple Inc. Device Performance Litigation. Robbins Geller serves on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee to advance judicial interests of efficiency and protect the interests of the proposed class in the Apple litigation. The case alleges Apple misrepresented its iPhone devices and the nature of updates to its mobile operating system (iOS), which allegedly included code that significantly reduced the performance of older-model iPhones and forced users to incur expenses replacing these devices or their batteries.
In re EpiPen (Epinephrine Injection, USP) Marketing, Sales Practices and Antitrust Litigation. Robbins Geller served as co-lead class counsel in a case against Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer alleging anti-competitive behavior that allowed the price of ubiquitous, life-saving EpiPen auto-injector devices to rise over 600%, resulting in inflated prices for American families. Two settlements totaling $609 million were reached after five years of litigation and weeks prior to trial.
Cordova v. Greyhound Lines, Inc. Robbins Geller represented California bus passengers pro bono in a landmark consumer and civil rights case against Greyhound for subjecting them to discriminatory immigration raids. Robbins Geller achieved a watershed court ruling that a private company may be held liable under California law for allowing border patrol to harass and racially profile its customers. The case heralds that Greyhound passengers do not check their rights and dignity at the bus door and has had an immediate impact, not only in California but nationwide. Within weeks of Robbins Geller filing the case, Greyhound added “know your rights” information to passengers to its website and on posters in bus stations around the country, along with adopting other business reforms.
Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation. As part of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, Robbins Geller reached a series of settlements on behalf of purchasers, lessees, and dealers that total well over $17 billion, the largest settlement in history, concerning illegal “defeat devices” that Volkswagen installed on many of its diesel-engine vehicles. The device tricked regulators into believing the cars were complying with emissions standards, while the cars were actually emitting between 10 and 40 times the allowable limit for harmful pollutants.
Yahoo Data Breach Class Action. Robbins Geller helped secure final approval of a $117.5 million settlement in a class action lawsuit against Yahoo, Inc. arising out of Yahoo’s reckless disregard for the safety and security of its customers’ personal, private information. In September 2016, Yahoo revealed that personal information associated with at least 500 million user accounts, including names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords, and security questions and answers, was stolen from Yahoo’s user database in late 2014. The company made another announcement in December 2016 that personal information associated with more than one billion user accounts was extracted in August 2013. Ten months later, Yahoo announced that the breach in 2013 actually affected all three billion existing accounts. This was the largest data breach in history, and caused severe financial and emotional damage to Yahoo account holders. In 2017, Robbins Geller was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee charged with overseeing the litigation.
Trump University. After six and a half years of tireless litigation and on the eve of trial, Robbins Geller, serving as co-lead counsel, secured a historic recovery on behalf of Trump University students around the country. The settlement provides $25 million to approximately 7,000 consumers, including senior citizens who accessed retirement accounts and maxed out credit cards to enroll in Trump University. The extraordinary result means individual class members are eligible for upwards of $35,000 in restitution. The settlement resolves claims that President Donald J. Trump and Trump University violated federal and state laws by misleadingly marketing “Live Events” seminars and mentorships as teaching Trump’s “real-estate techniques” through his “hand-picked” “professors” at his so-called “university.” Robbins Geller represented the class on a pro bono basis.
In re Morning Song Bird Food Litigation. Robbins Geller obtained final approval of a settlement in a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act consumer class action against The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and its CEO James Hagedorn. The settlement of up to $85 million provides full refunds to consumers around the country and resolves claims that Scotts Miracle-Gro knowingly sold wild bird food treated with pesticides that are hazardous to birds. In approving the settlement, Judge Houston commended Robbins Gelller’s “skill and quality of work [as] extraordinary” and the case as “aggressively litigated.” The Robbins Geller team battled a series of dismissal motions before achieving class certification for the plaintiffs in March 2017, with the court finding that “Plaintiffs would not have purchased the bird food if they knew it was poison.” Defendants then appealed the class certification to the Ninth Circuit, which was denied, and then tried to have the claims from non-California class members thrown out, which was also denied.
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. 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.
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.
Sony Gaming Networks & Consumer Data Security Breach Litigation. The Firm served as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, helping to obtain a precedential opinion denying in part Sony’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims involving the breach of Sony’s gaming network, leading to a $15 million settlement.
Tobacco Litigation. Robbins Geller attorneys have led the fight against Big Tobacco since 1991. As an example, Robbins Geller attorneys filed the case that helped get rid of Joe Camel, representing various public and private plaintiffs, including the State of Arkansas, the general public in California, the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Birmingham, 14 counties in California, and the working men and women of this country in the Union Pension and Welfare Fund cases that have been filed in 40 states. In 1992, Robbins Geller attorneys filed the first case in the country that alleged a conspiracy by the Big Tobacco companies.
Garment Workers Sweatshop Litigation. Robbins Geller attorneys represented a class of 30,000 garment workers who alleged that they had worked under sweatshop conditions in garment factories in Saipan that produced clothing for top U.S. retailers such as The Gap, Target, and J.C. Penney. In the first action of its kind, Robbins Geller attorneys pursued claims against the factories and the retailers alleging violations of RICO, the Alien Tort Claims Act, and the Law of Nations based on the alleged systemic labor and human rights abuses occurring in Saipan. This case was a companion to two other actions, one which alleged overtime violations by the garment factories under the Fair Labor Standards Act and local labor law, and another which alleged violations of California’s Unfair Practices Law by the U.S. retailers. These actions resulted in a settlement of approximately $20 million that included a comprehensive monitoring program to address past violations by the factories and prevent future ones. The members of the litigation team were honored as Trial Lawyers of the Year by the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice in recognition of the team’s efforts at bringing about the precedent-setting settlement of the actions.