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Class Certification Granted in Class Action against Payday America

On Wednesday, April 26, Hennepin County District Court Judge Daniel H. Mabley issued an order granting Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel represents a class of Minnesota consumers who took out payday loans from Payday America, Inc. between October 2, 2013 and December 31, 2016. The named plaintiff and class representative, Randy Holte, filed this lawsuit in 2015 challenging several of Payday America’s practices: (1) charging fees on payday loans in excess of the maximum rates allowed for closed-end loans, (2) failing to properly disclose the annual percentage rate, and (3) engaging in prohibited debt collection practices.

The Court’s order granting class certification is available here.

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel attorneys, Vildan Teske and Marisa Katz, have been appointed Class Counsel in this litigation. Marisa Katz, who briefed and argued the motion, noted, “Today’s certification order is a critical next step in our ongoing effort to stop the predatory business practice in which this defendant lends money to Minnesota’s most cash-strapped and vulnerable consumers.”

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel looks forward to its continued role in advocating for consumer lender compliance under the law and marketplace fairness.

If you have questions about the Holte v. Payday America, Inc. litigation, or believe that your consumer rights have been violated, contact us today for a confidential consultation.

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel Brings Class Action Employment Lawsuit against City of Minneapolis

On January 6, 2017, Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel initiated Stewart, et al. v. The City of Minneapolis, a class action employment lawsuit. The suit is brought in Minnesota District Court, Fourth District–Hennepin County.

Laurence Stewart, the named plaintiff, is a former employee of Minneapolis in its Public Works Department. Stewart seeks classwide relief for himself and all other similar employees. The Complaint alleges that the City’s return to work policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) because it fails to provide reasonable accommodation for disabled workers.

Mr. Stewart is represented by Brian Rochel, Marisa Katz and Douglas Micko, of Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel, PLLP. Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel is a class action and employment law firm with decades of experience around the country.

For more information, or if you have been terminated by the City of Minneapolis and have questions about this lawsuit, contact Brian Rochel here or via email at rochel@tkkrlaw.com.

A full press release and copy of the Complaint that has been served are available here:

Press Release

Stewart v. Minneapolis Complaint

New CFPB Rule Prohibiting Forced Arbitration Places Consumer Protection Ahead of Corporate Profits

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a new rule proposing the prohibition of mandatory arbitration clauses that deny groups of consumers their day in court. In the last several years, many contracts for consumer financial products and services – from bank accounts to credit cards to cellular phone contracts – have included mandatory arbitration clauses. These clauses affect hundreds of millions of consumer contracts and typically state that the company can require that disputes with consumers be resolved by privately appointed individuals (arbitrators). Where these clauses exist, companies are able to block lawsuits from proceeding in court. These clauses also almost always bar consumers from bringing class action claims through the arbitration process. As a result, no matter how many consumers are injured by the same unlawful conduct, they must proceed to resolve their claims individually against the company, often before arbitrators that rule in favor of the company 99% of the time.

In 2015, the CFPB released a comprehensive study showing that very few consumers ever bring – or think about bringing – individual actions against their financial service providers either in court or in arbitration. The study found that class actions provide a more effective means for consumers to challenge problematic practices by these companies. According to the study, class actions succeed in bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in relief to millions of consumers each year and cause companies to alter their legally questionable conduct.  

The CFPB proposed rule issued today would ban companies from putting mandatory arbitration clauses in new contracts that prohibit class action lawsuits against them. The proposal would once again open up the legal system to consumers. Groups of consumers would have the opportunity to obtain relief from the legal system, and many companies would also be incentivized to comply with the law. Also, the CFPB would be able to monitor the individual arbitration process, providing insight into whether companies are abusing arbitration or whether the process itself is fair. 

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel attorneys have spent years both inside and outside the courthouse advocating for consumers’ ability to seek redress in courts nationwide when they are harmed by the unfair and deceptive practices of businesses. For instance, Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel partner Vildan Teske testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in December 2013, advocating for the elimination of mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer contracts. Today’s announcement from the CFPB is a huge step for expanding consumer access to justice in the marketplace.

Judge Rules in Favor of Employees in Background Check Class Action

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel, along with co-counsel Nichols Kaster, represents a group of employees and prospective employees who were provided illegal background check disclosures by iQor. The case, Shoots, et al. v. iQor, is filed in the District of Minnesota and alleges that iQor’s authorization and disclosure forms violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In a ruling today by Judge Susan Richard Nelson, the Court denied iQor’s motion to dismiss the suit and allowed the class plaintiffs’ claims to move forward. The complete decision is available here

Brian Rochel, partner at Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel, argued the case on behalf of the plaintiffs. Doug Micko, one of the lead attorneys in the suit, remarked, “Judge Nelson’s order is a win to employees and consumers nationwide. Her ruling reaffirms what the majority of courts have held, that including extra information in disclosure forms violates the FCRA and infringes on the rights of employees and prospective employees to know what they are giving up.” 

Background checks—also referred to as credit reports or consumer reports–have grown exponentially in recent years, especially in the employment context. Nearly half of all employers now require employees and job applicants to authorize background checks, and hundreds of new companies that provide background checks are popping up around the country. Meanwhile, many of these companies and employers do not follow the strict state and federal guidelines that govern background checks and consumer credit reports, including the FCRA. This has led to significant issues for millions of people across the US

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel is a fierce advocate for employees and consumers whose rights are violated during the background check process. The ruling in Shoots v. iQor is one more step in the process to even the playing field for employees in this growing area. 

If you believe your rights have been violated, or have questions about background checks, credit reports or consumer reports, contact us today.

Supreme Court OKs Use of Averages and Statistical Analyses to Assess Class-Wide Injury

The Supreme Court ruled today in Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, one of several major class action cases that are being decided in the Court’s current term. The issue in this case was whether differences among individual class members may be ignored and a class certified under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (or a collective action certified under the Fair Labor Standards Act), where liability and damages are determined with statistical techniques that presume all class members are identical to the average observed in a sample. A second issue facing the Court was whether a class action may be certified or maintained when the class contains hundreds of members who were not injured and have no legal right to any damages.

In a 6-2 win for class actions, Justice Kennedy, writing for the Court’s majority, held that “This case presents no occasion for adoption of broad and categorical rules governing the use of representative and statistical evidence in class actions.” The court did not, however, decide the second issue as to whether a class can be certified where not every member has suffered damages. It said, “That question is not yet fairly presented by this case.”

Overall, this is a great result for the long-term viability of class action litigation, since the majority of class action cases are made up of class members who have varying individual damages. Statistical samples taken to determine average damages incurred per class member are commonplace, particularly in cases where there are tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of class members. Today’s decision upholds the long-held notion in class action jurisprudence that class cases are maintainable, even when damages incurred by individual class members are not identical.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Consumers in Class Action Case

The Supreme Court ruled today in Campbell-Ewold Co. v Gomez, one of several major class action cases that will be decided during the Court’s current term. The issue in this case is whether a putative class action case becomes moot when the defendant offers complete relief to the named plaintiff, even if the plaintiff rejects that individual offer in order to protect the interests of the entire class of persons represented. In a 6-3 decision, Justice Ginsberg, writing for the Court’s majority, held that “[a]n unaccepted settlement offer or offer of judgment does not moot a plaintiff’s case, so the District Court retained jurisdiction to adjudicate Gomez’s complaint.” 

This is a great result for class representatives who, all too often, after filing class action lawsuits on behalf of others who were similarly subjected to unlawful business practices, face “bribes” by defendants in attempts to “pick off” the class representatives. These bribes come in the form of offering to pay the class representative much more than what his or her individual damages are worth as a way to kill off the class action lawsuit so that a company is not held liable to the many hundreds or thousands of people who were subjected to the same wrongful treatment.  

If you feel that you have been the victim of unfair business practices or have questions about consumer class action lawsuits, contact us today.

District Court Grants Class Certification, Denies Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss in Wage Theft Case

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel, co-counseling with Nichols Kaster, defeated a motion to dismiss and won a motion to conditionally certify a class of current and former iQor employees. The case, Shoots, et al. v. iQor, is a class action lawsuit on behalf of iQor workers nationwide.

Judge Susan Richard Nelson of the U.S. District of Minnesota held that the plaintiff class had pled several claims that they were denied wages they were due under federal and Minnesota laws. The class includes all current and former iQor contact center agents who used TimeQey for timekeeping purposes between October 19, 2012 and December 31, 2014.

Click here to see the court’s order in its entirety. If you have questions about this lawsuit or wage and employment law generally, or if you believe your rights may have been violated, please contact Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel today.

 

Vildan Teske, Doug Micko and Marisa Katz Present a CLE Update on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Term

On October 12, 2015, Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel partners Vildan Teske, Doug Micko and Marisa Katz presented a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 term.

The presentation included an overview of the major employment law-related cases decided in the last term and the implications of such decisions in everyday practice. The seminar also touched on the Court’s current term and key cases that will be decided in 2016 both in the employment and consumer class action areas. The presentation was made as part of Minnesota CLE’s Employment Law Webcast Series.

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel Appointed as Co-Lead Counsel Representing Class of Auto Loan Borrowers

On August 26, 2015, the Hon. Gary Oxenhandler, state court judge  in Columbia, Missouri, granted a motion to certify a class of Missouri borrowers with consumer claims against Cavalry Investments, LLC, and appointed Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel as Class Counsel.  Partners Vildan Teske and Marisa Katz are litigating this class action lawsuit along with the Missouri law firm of Angle Wilson Law LLC.

The class action lawsuit involves the sale of service contracts by certain auto dealers to consumers that require the consumers to use fluid additives before the protections of the contracts kick in.  The plaintiff class alleges that these contracts are insurance products that are being sold illegally, and that, as a result, the debt buyers that purchased these faulty loans are collecting on the loans illegally and taking advantage of consumers in violation of the law. 

$82 Million Jury Verdict against Debt Collection Firm

This week a jury in Kansas City, Missouri awarded a consumer $251,000 in damages and $82 million in punitive damages in a case against the national debt collection firm, Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC (“PRA”).   PRA pursued the plaintiff, a Kansas City woman, for a debt she repeatedly told them was not hers.  She was represented by the law firm of Slough, Connealy, Irwin & Madden, a firm with which Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel has co-counseled on several consumer class actions over the years.  The Kansas City Star has a story about the verdict here