Employee Incentive Compensation Plan Class Action
The Miller Law Firm obtained a $14.4 million settlement on behalf of a nationwide class of employees of a medical software company who claimed their incentive-based bonuses were unfairly reduced in 1998. The employees alleged that their employer breached its incentive compensation plan by unilaterally and retroactively instituting a 30 percent across-the-board reduction of their 1998 bonuses. The defendant argued that the bonuses were discretionary and that the company’s senior management had the right to reduce the employee bonuses at any time. After the Court certified the case as a class action, The Miller Law Firm successfully obtained a partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on their breach of contract claim. The court’s ruling was a major victory for the plaintiffs because the only issues left for trial were an assessment of the amount of damages and a determination of whether any of the employees forfeited their rights by signing release forms. The settlement reflected the return of 100 percent of the money the employees claimed were wrongfully deducted from their bonuses. Members reside in more than 40 states, including Delaware, New Jersey and New York.
Cellular Phone Charges Class Action
Our client filed a class action lawsuit arising out of a charge billed by a leading cellular provider to all of its Michigan customers – 8.2 cents per call for every call made from a cellular phone to a land-based phone. The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that, prior to 1996, land-line carriers including Ameritech charged this fee to cellular providers, who then passed the charge on to their customers. After 1996, the land-line carriers ceased charging this charge, but the defendant continued to assess the charge to its customers. After four years of intense litigation in which the case was twice removed and remanded to and from federal court, the Wayne County Circuit Court approved the parties’ settlement valued between $30.9 million – $40.3 million. Additionally, the defendant agreed to cease the 8.2 cent charge
Annuities Class Action
Our client asserted claims on behalf of a class of persons that the defendant insurance company misled primarily older individuals into purchasing annuities with discriminatorily low benefits. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant sold products known as “bonus annuities” that come with a “bonus” – a higher interest rate during the first year of the annuity. However, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant allowed its agents to offer different sized bonuses to different purchasers of identical annuities and that the defendant guaranteed the agents that the smaller the “bonus” accepted by the purchaser, the larger the commission the defendant would pay the agent. The case was settled for $9.7 million on behalf of a national class of approximately 28,000 purchasers of the allegedly discriminatory annuities.
Deceptive Advertising of Dietary Supplement
Our firm was retained to represent purchasers of the dietary supplement, Metabolife 356, which contained an ephedra based substance. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants deceptive label bottles of the product by claiming that the product was “tested for safety.” The plaintiff alleged that the product can cause adverse health risk and that the labeling violated the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. The court certified a class of Michigan plaintiffs, and our firm subsequently settled the class on behalf of a national class purchasers of the product in a settlement valued at over $8.5 million and mandating changes in advertising and labeling on millions of bottles of the dietary supplement.
Insurance Telemarketing Class Action
Our client asserted claims on behalf of a class of Michigan consumers alleging that they were induced to purchase accidental death insurance through a false and deceptive telemarketing program. Our client alleged that the defendants purchased the names, phone numbers and bank account numbers of the class members from class members’ banks. The defendants then made telephone solicitations to class members, holding themselves out to be calling on behalf of the class member’s bank. Our client alleged that during the phone calls, the defendants made false and deceptive claims about the insurance and the nature of the transaction. For example, our client alleged that the defendants misled class members by leading them to believe the insurance was “free” and that it was traditional life insurance – not accidental death insurance, which our client contended has a very limited value. After class members agreed to purchase the insurance, premiums were withdrawn directly from class members’ bank accounts by electronic transfers, without giving class members adequate written disclosures or written consent. As part of the settlement, the defendants agreed to refund class members up to five months of premiums they paid for the insurance and other monetary benefits, and to provide disclosures of the nature of the insurance to those policy holders who continue to own the insurance
Discriminatory Breach of Contract Class Action
Our client asserted claims on behalf of members of a prominent golf club for violating the terms of promissory notes issued to members of the golf club, from approximately 1988-92. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged the defendant failed to pay interest to holders of the promissory notes in the form of a credit against their dues as stated in the notes. Additionally, the plaintiff sought to stop the defendant from issuing federal 1099 tax forms for interest allegedly paid by the golf club, when interest had not been paid. Pursuant to the settlement, the defendant agreed to convert the promissory notes to refundable, non-interest bearing initiation fees, thereby eliminating the tax burden to club members, which resulted in an estimated tax savings – discounted to present value – worth $3.1 million. Finally, the defendant agreed to provide other substantial benefits to present and former members, such as discounted green fees.