Welcome to L E O N A R D  L A W  O F F I C E  P C ’s consumer protection law blog. The mistreatment of consumers is one of the most interesting subjects in the law, and in the news.  Deception and misconduct in the marketplace has a long and colorful history. From the rattlesnake oil rheumatism cures peddled by immoral salesmen in the 1800’s, to modern day issues such as robocalls, hidden fees, data breaches, products aimed at weight loss and anti-aging — unfair business practices affect every aspect of American life. We are all consumers.

Snake Oil

Snake oil

If you want to talk about a consumer protection issue, such as false advertising, unfair fees, bad products, data breaches etc., you are welcome to contact us.


KT Tape





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Junk Fax, Junk Text, and Junk Call Cases

TCPA Cases

Leonard Law Office, PC is representing clients who have been subjected to unwanted calls on their cell phones placed by autodialling equipment in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).  Unwanted text messages and faxes from business also usually violate the TCPA.

Homer Simpson's Autodialer
Homer Simpson’s Autodialer

Surprising, but True – Big Companies Violate the TCPA

Like Homer Simpson, some companies are stupid. Like Homer, it is as though they don’t know enough to stay out of trouble.  However, it’s usually not funny when U.S. corporations break the law. Whenever a business uses autodialling equipment to contact consumers’ cell phones and they do not not have express written persmission to do so, it is unlawful. The same goes for text messages, and faxes.  Companies such as Jiffy Lube, Walmart, Target, and Burger King have been hit with class actions for alleged violations of the TCPA. Continue reading

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Reliv Supplements – Junk Science and Junk Products?

Reliv is a multilevel marketing company that sells nutritional supplements.

The company claims to have an edge over competitors due to their products’ ability to play a role in “epigenetics.” Reliv products contain a soy based ingredient that they claim is the key ingredient behind these special health benefits: “the soy peptide lunasin is the first dietary ingredient identified to affect gene expression and promote optimal health at the epigenetic level.”

On the company website, they pose the question –

“What’s epigenetics?

Their answer:

“Think of it this way: who you are is written in both pen and pencil. Things written in pen you can’t change. That’s DNA. But things written in pencil you can. That’s epigenetics.”

That explanation does not really clear up the question. Websters has a definition for epigenics: “the study of heritable changes in gene function that do not involve changes in DNA sequence.” There is a Wikipedia page devoted to epigenetics.

The Reliv website has video called “How Lunasin Works” and “Lunasin and Nutriotional Epigenics.”

It starts with a discussion by Dr. Alfredo Galvex, Nutritional Genomics, UC Davis, of the the human genome. He says “the genome is the blueprint of life,” and using a computer analogy, the genome is liked to “hardware,” and the “software is the epigenome.”

Then, he makes the following claims about lunasin:

“Lunasin is the first dietary ingredient identified to affect gene expression through an epigenetic mechanism of action. Now Lunasin can come in – it can actually bind to the histones and when it does that it allows the cellular machinery to recognize that it needs to turn on that gene. It has been shown to have numerous health benefits and that included immune response, some anti oxidant effects, inflammation, and general cellular health. Lunarich maximizes the amount of the bio active lunasin found in Reliv products. You can’t control the DNA you have but you can control the genes through lifestyle choices.”

Does this video contain a scientifically reasoned explanation for the product claims?

One Reliv product of particular interest is “ReversAge,” which is supposedly “Anti-Aging Nutrition.”

Product claims:

“Now you can get better with age. With three proprietary complexes that address aging at every level, ReversAge delivers the most complete array of youth-promoting ingredients available anywhere — at a fraction of the cost of alternative anti-aging treatments.”

Is this false advertising, or does ReversAge actually “address aging at every level?”

Reliv’s headquarters are at 136 Chesterfield Ind. Blvd., Chesterfield, MO 63005. It was founded by Robert L. and Sandy Montgomery.

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Under Investigation: Behr Paint & Primer In One

Some consumers have questioned the efficacy of “all in one” primer/paint products.

Traditionally, primer is used on bare wood, sheetrock, metal, or plaster before finish paint is applied.

Behr Paint & Primer In One claims to fulfill both roles.

If the primer layer in a painting project fails,  it is necessary to start all over again – after the unpleasant task of scraping off all the paint that did not adhere properly. No one likes to waste labor and material costs.

When an atttempted shortcut fails, the saying “do it right, or do it again” comes to mind.


Does Behr Paint & Primer In One actually work?

Have you used this product and found that it failed to live up to the claims it makes? If so, you are encouraged to contact this office.



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Under Investigation: Chipotle Food Poisoning Cases

Chipotle has been in the headlines for allegedly sickening as many as 100 people in Boston (and others around the country). Boylston St. Boston MA Sep. 2015

If you were affected, you are encouraged to contact this office.


Chipotle boasts that it sells high quality food “wihout antibiotics or added hormones,” and “non-GMO” ingredients.

Consumers should not have to specify  “no salmonella” or “hold the E-coli” when placing a burrito order.

Food poisoning is the last thing a person expects when visiting a state-inspected and licensed food establishment.

Related Stories

E. coli? The Chipotle cult scoffs: ‘We’re totally willing to throw up a little.’



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Peabody Market forced to pay its employees unpaid wages

“BOSTON – A Peabody convenience store and its owner have been cited more than $43,000 for failing to properly pay an employee in violation of the state’s wage and hour laws and for failing to keep accurate payroll records, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

Ad Market Inc., d/b/a Peabody Market, and its president, Azhar Ali, have been cited more than $32,000 in restitution for failure to pay minimum wage and failure to pay proper overtime to an employee. They were also cited $6,400 in penalties, along with an additional $5,000 penalty for failure to keep accurate payroll records.

“This business repeatedly took advantage of an employee by failing to pay him the hard-earned money he was owed in exchange for providing temporary living accommodations in a broken walk-in cooler,” AG Healey said. “Our office will continue to fight on behalf of our most vulnerable workers to make sure that they do not fall victim to unfair and exploitative employment practices.”

In May 2014, the AG’s Office began its investigation of Peabody Market, following a complaint from a former employee. The office determined that, from August 2012 to March 2014, the complainant worked as a clerk handling various duties at the store. In place of the legally required minimum wage, the market provided temporary accommodations for the employee to reside inside a broken walk-in cooler at the store for the majority of time he worked there.

The investigation revealed that he frequently worked in excess of 100 hours a week, but was only sporadically compensated for this work. The AG’s investigation found that Peabody Market also failed to keep true and accurate payroll records.

This case serves as an example of the office’s focus on providing economic security to the residents of Massachusetts, particularly vulnerable workers. The AG’s Office enforces the laws regulating the payment of wages, including prevailing wage, minimum wage and overtime laws.”

Source: Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Press Release (November 5, 2015)

Most employment situations in which there are wage and hour violations do not involve such extreme facts, such as 100 hour work weeks, and living in a broken walk-in cooler instead of receiving pay. However, this is an excellent example of a “wage theft” case that the Attorney General’s Office chose to prosecute.

It is important to note that a) Massachusetts law permits a “private right of action” for wage theft, meaning that you are free to use your own lawyer to recover money an employer has stolen from you in the form of unpaid wages, and b) the Attorney General’s Office does not have sufficient resources to pursue every single complaint it receives about unpaid wages. See our page about wage theft cases here.

Some key points about Massachusetts worker’s rights, from the AG’s website are:

Massachusetts Wage Act
You must be paid for every hour you work, even if you quit or are fired. This applies to hours worked, tips, vacation pay, holiday pay and commissions. If you voluntarily leave your job, you must be paid in full on the next regular pay day. If you are laid off or fired, you must be paid in full on the day your employment ends.

Meal Breaks
If you work at least six hours a day, you are entitled to a 30 minute break. During your break you must be relieved of all duties and allowed to leave the premises. If you voluntarily elect to give up your meal break, you must be paid for the time worked.

You may be paid $3.00 an hour if you regularly receive tips of more than $20.00 per month, and only if those tips, when added to the $3.00 per hour, equal at least $9.00 per hour. Your tips are yours to keep. No employer, manager or boss may request or accept any part of your tips.

Minimum Wage
Massachusetts’ minimum wage is $9.00 per hour.

By law, employers are required to pay time-and-a-half if you work over 40 hours a week. For example, if you usually earn $9.00 per hour, you would be paid $13.50 per hour for each hour worked beyond 40 hours.

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Active Case: KT Tape False Advertising Class Action

Some consumers have questions about KT Tape. 

  • Does KT Tape work?
  • “Does KT Tape relieve pain?”
  • “Does Kt Tape enhance athletic performance?”

The KT Tape Class Action Lawsuit

On October 30, 2015, in the District of Massachusetts, with Pastor Law Office and SFMS, we initiated a false advertising class action lawsuit concerning KT Tape. If you purchased KT Tape and are dissatisfied with the results, we want to hear from you immediately. You may be entitled to financial compensation. 

KT Tape

KT Tape

The defendants in the KT Tape false advertising class action complaint are KT Health Holdings, Inc. d/b/a KT Health, Inc., KT Holdings, LLC and KT Health, LLC (formerly Lumos, Inc.), (collectively, “KT Health”).  KT Health, LLC is owned by Palladin Consumer Retail Partners, LLC.

The lawsuit alleges:

KT Health has made a concerted and orchestrated effort to prey on consumers’ eternal hope that products exist that can quickly and effortlessly alleviate their pain.

KT Health has deceptively represented that by simply applying strips of bright, stretchy fabric with an adhesive backing onto the skin above an injured area, consumers can obtain relief from pain, recover faster, and receive treatment from a myriad of common injuries such as achilles tendonitis, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, rib pain, runner’s knee, and shin splints.

KT Health’s calculated product placement on the bodies of Olympic athletes and famous sports stars has, remarkably, given life to a new product called “kinesiology tape” or kinesio tape.”

The product being sold by KT Health is nothing but a scientific-sounding, made- up word: “Kinesio Tape” or “KT Tape” for short.  KT Health manufactures and sells several products under the name of KT Tape:  KT Tape (also referred to as KT Tape Cotton or KT Original), KT Tape Pro, KT Tape ProX Patches, KT Tape Clinical, and KT Tape Limited Editions.[1]  These products are referred to collectively herein as “KT Tape” or “KT Tape Product(s).”

KT Tape is not wound around portions of the body (as is the case with traditional athletic tape), but instead is pre-stretched and then stuck onto the skin above the injury.

The concept for KT Tape is not even an original one: a Japanese chiropractor named Kenzo Kase came up with the idea in the 1970s.  The idea was as lacking in substance or merit then as it is now.  KT Health’s creative and aggressive marketing efforts are the only reason that KT Health has been able to sell so much of this product at premium prices.

Traditional or standard athletic tape, which is commonly used to provide support and compression, (i.e wrapping around a football player’s sprained ankle) has a recognized place in sports medicine, but KT Tape does not.

In contrast to its common white cotton fabric tape counterpart (traditional athletic tape), KT Tape has a colorful sheen, and is the opposite of regular athletic tape, as KT Tape is supposed to lift the skin (as opposed to compressing it).

There is some suggestion that purchasers could benefit from a placebo effect when using KT Tape; “Some experts have suggested there may be a placebo effect in using the tape, with athletes believing it will be helpful,” [but] “[n]o clinically important results were found to support the tape’s use for pain relief.”[2] KT Health does not disclose to consumers that if there are any health benefits to be obtained from KT Tape, they are limited to the placebo effect.

Through misleading statements in its labeling, advertising, and marketing of its so-called “Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape” or “KT Tape,” KT Health has promoted the myth that its products work to treat a variety of sports-related injuries.

KT Health profits handsomely by making misleading claims that the KT Tape Products have unique pain and injury-negating effects when applied to human skin.

The KT Tape Products’ packaging makes the following representations, among others:

  • “For Pain Relief and Support” (emphasis added) (KT Tape and Tape Pro)
  • “For Common Injuries”: carpal tunnel, hamstring strain, wrist pain, runner’s knee, neck strain, calf strain, shoulder pain, achilles tendonitis, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, golfer’s elbow, shin splints, rib pain, ankle sprain, gluteus sprain, and quad sprain (emphasis added) (KT Tape and KT Tape Pro)
  • “For Targeted Pain Relief” (emphasis added) (KT Tape Pro X Patches)
  • “For Targeted—Muscle—Pain Relief” (emphasis added) (KT Tape Pro X Patches)
  • “For Fast, Easy Pain Relief” from “Muscle Pains, Overuse Injuries, Tendonitis … and More.” (emphasis added) (KT Tape Pro X Patches)

Every package of KT Tape contains the above claims and representations such that every consumer who purchases a KT Tape Product is exposed to these claims and representations.

In addition, the website, www.kttape.com, contains the following false representations[3] concerning the KT Tape Products:

  • “KT TAPE is an elastic sports and fitness tape designed for muscle, ligament and tendon pain relief and support.” (emphasis added) (all KT Tape Products)
  • KT Tape “can be used for hundreds of common injuries such as lower back pain, knee pain, shin splints, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow, just to name a few.” (emphasis added) (all KT Tape Products)
  • KT Tape “provides 24 hour [pain] relief per application for days at a time through sweat, strain and humidity” (emphasis added) (all KT Tape Products)
  • KT Tape “provides targeted pain relief and will stay in place through multiple workouts for up to 3 days, through daily showers, humidity, cold, even in the pool.” (emphasis added) (KT Tape)
  • KT Tape Pro “is just what the trainer ordered. It will keep you pain free and supported exactly where you need it.” (emphasis added)
  • “KT TAPE PRO X provides targeted relief for muscle pain, overuse injuries, and tendon-related pain and injuries.” (emphasis added)

Every package of KT Tape and KT Tape Pro plainly represents that KT Tape treats 16 specific injuries:


















Every package of KT Tape Pro X Patches adds tendonitis to the list of specific injuries it will treat, and includes additional catch-all or general pain relief claims:






Videos on KT Health’s website[4] and YouTube Channel[5] instruct users on how to apply KT Tape to supposedly gain relief from a long list of painful ailments.[6]

Unfonsumers, the pain relief and injury treatment claims made by KT Health are false, deceptive, and misleading.  KT Tape Products are not the panacea they are claimed to be.

As a result, KT Health’s marketing and advertising campaign is the same as that of the quintessential snake-oil salesman – KT Health dupes consumers with false and misleading promises of results it knows it cannot deliver, and does so with one goal in mind – selling larger volumes of KT Tape Products to consumers and reaping enormous profits.

The premise that there are any health benefits to be derived by tensioning or adjusting the skin through the application of stretchable sports tape, known as “kinesiology tape” or kinesio tape” (such as increasing blood flow) is not supported by scientific evidence, and is not accepted by the medical community.

To the contrary, there are numerous recently published, peer-reviewed, scholarly articles revealing the ineffective and useless nature of kinesiology tape.  The conclusions of these studies unmask the deception utilized by KT Health to market KT Tape:

  • Conclusion: “This review provides the most updated evidence on the effectiveness of the Kinesio Taping for musculoskeletal conditions. The current evidence does not support the use of this intervention in these clinical populations.”[7]
  • Conclusion: “The application of Kinesio Taping, with the aim of stimulating the lymphatic system, is ineffective in decreasing acute swelling after an ankle sprain in athletes.”[8]
  • Conclusion: “Kinesio Taping applied with stretch to generate convolutions in the skin was no more effective than simple application of the tape without tension for the outcomes measured. These results challenge the proposed mechanism of action of this therapy.”[9]
  • Conclusion: “There was no substantial evidence to support the use of KT for improvements in other musculoskeletal outcomes (pain, ankle proprioception or muscle activity).”[10]

Pseudoscience, deceptive and misleading claims of purported health benefits, and celebrity athlete endorsements–instead of valid research and innovation and actual ability to treat injuries and provide pain relief– are responsible for the massive sales of KT Tape.

Despite the falsity of Defendants’ claims and assertions, when KT Health introduced KT Tape in the United States sports market in 2008, it launched a massive advertising and marketing campaign prominently featuring “Targeted Pain Relief” as a benefit of KT Tape, while associating the product with images of the world’s most elite athletes:

1. KT1

Defendants’ nationwide multimedia advertising campaign has been extensive and comprehensive.  KT Health has spent millions of dollars on, among other things, print and television advertisements[11] intended to convey these deceptive messages to consumers throughout the United States, including Plaintiff and the other Class members.  KT Health’s advertising campaign for KT Tape is continuing through the present.

As a result of KT Health’s false claims about the benefits of KT Tape, consumers, including Plaintiff and other Class members, have paid a premium price for a product that does not perform as claimed and advertised.

Defendants have been able to charge, and Plaintiff and the other members of the proposed Class have paid, a price premium for KT Tape over traditional athletic tape.  KT Health has used deceptive claims regarding the purported benefits of KT tape to charge a premium approximately ten times the price of traditional athletic tape, and has achieved massive sales of KT Tape as a result.

KT Health’s false, deceptive and misleading representations about the pain-relieving and injury-treating properties of KT Tape were and are material; there would be no reason for a consumer to purchase a KT Tape Product and pay a premium price for it (over and above the price of traditional athletic tape) if not for the claims and representations about KT Tape’s ability to relieve pain and treat a variety of injuries.

Facts Relating to KT Health’s False, Deceptive, and

Misleading Advertising and Marketing

KT Health designs, manufactures, markets, distributes, and sells KT Tape.

KT Health began selling KT Tape in the United States in 2008.

KT Health has claimed consistently that its KT Tape Products relieve pain and treat a variety of injuries (as described in greater detail above and below).

For example, in August of 2012, KT Health LLC Chief Executive Officer, John MacKay, boasted in a press release concerning KT Health LLC’s sponsorship of a famous triathlete: “Triathletes test the boundaries of human endurance.  KT Tape enables them to go the distance, both in and out of the water, without being sidelined by injuries and pain.”[12]

KT Health’s marketing department has continuously promoted the falsehood that KT Tape differs from, and is superior to traditional athletic tape, by claiming that it is used to “treat and prevent hundreds of common injuries.”[13]

KT Health repeats its misrepresentations about KT Tape (that it relieves pain and is a panacea for common musculo-skeletal ailments) on its website, located at http://www.KT Tape.com which is available to the general public. Below are reproductions of images and representations found on the KT Health website:


KT Tape is an elastic sports and fitness tape designed for muscle, ligament and tendon pain relief and support. (Emphasis added.)


Whether you’re training for your first marathon, getting ready for your next game, reaching a personal fitness goal, or just trying to get through the day, you already know that nothing slows you down faster than pain and injury. KT TAPE is lightweight, comfortable to wear, and can be used for hundreds of common injuries such as lower back pain, knee pain, shin splints, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow, just to name a few. (Emphasis added).

KT TAPE not only looks good, but it also provides 24 hour relief per application for days at a time through sweat, strain and humidity, and can even be worn in water thanks to our specially designed adhesive. (Emphasis added.)


KT TAPE is applied along muscles, ligaments, and tendons (soft tissue) to provide a lightweight, external support that helps you remain active while recovering from injuries. KT Tape creates neuromuscular feedback (called proprioception) that inhibits (relaxes) or facilitates stronger firing of muscles and tendons. This feedback creates support elements without the bulk and restriction commonly associated with wraps and heavy bracing. KT Tape gives you confidence to perform your best.[14]


KT Tape Pro

KT Tape Pro


Need support that will endure your toughest workout? KT TAPE PRO is just what the trainer ordered. It will keep you pain free and supported exactly where you need it. (Emphasis added.)  KT TAPE PRO will stay in place through multiple demanding workouts for up to seven days. KT TAPE PRO will stick with you in the harshest conditions including daily showers, humidity, cold, even in the pool.

KT TAPE PRO is performance engineered to work in the harshest environments. It’s the world’s only 100% synthetic kinesiology tape, re-engineered with stronger adhesive, to outlast anything you can throw at it.

Each box comes with 20 precut strips of 100% synthetic tape. One hard plastic carrying case with twist on lids to keep your tape in good shape in your gym bag or purse. One Quick Start Guide with step-by-step instructions on the most common injuries and one KT sticker.[15]


KT Tape

KT Tape


Need support that will endure multiple lighter workouts? Then original KT TAPE is for you. It provides targeted pain relief and will stay in place through multiple workouts for up to 3 days, through daily showers, humidity, cold, even in the pool. (Emphasis added.)

Each box comes with 20 precut strips of tape on a roll and a quick start guide with step-by-step instructions for the most common injuries.[16]


4. KT Tape Prox X



Convenient and easy to apply

Use in place of KT TAPE half strips

Use with 10-inch strips or alone for pain relief (Emphasis added.)

KT TAPE PRO X™ is a kinesiology patch specially designed to provide targeted relief for muscle pain, overuse injuries, and tendon-related pain and injuries. KT TAPE PRO X patches were developed for the on-the-go, active consumer who appreciates a healthy lifestyle and doesn’t want to be slowed down by pain or complex taping applications. KT TAPE PRO X will stay in place through multiple demanding workouts for up to 3-5 days (Emphasis added.)

Each box comes with 15 precut X patches. One hard plastic carrying case will help keep your patches in good shape in your gym bag or purse. One Quick Start Guide with step-by-step instructions on the most common injuries is included as well.[17]

KT Health publishes videos on its website that purport to show how KT tape is utilized to treat musculo-skeletal problems and conditions, such as Osgood-Schlatter disease and Illiotibial Band Syndrome (“ITBS”).  Alongside such videos, KT Health makes injury treatment claims such as “KT Tape application for ITBS at the knee is very helpful in relieving much of the associated pain by relieving pressure over the bony prominence (sore spot) and in turn increases circulation. Functional support is provided to the musculature as well.  These functions help relieve pain and promote the healing process.”[18]

KT Health sells KT Tape Products to United States consumers through a variety of different channels, including through independent retailers (such as CVS, Rite-Aid, Target, Amazon, Foot Locker and Walmart), and through KT Health’s website, www.KTTape.com.

KT Health’s untrue, deceptive and misleading labeling, advertising, marketing and promotion of KT Tape has continued throughout the Class Period, and is continuing as of the present date.

As purchasers of KT Tape who were aggrieved by KT Health’s untrue and misleading advertising (in that Plaintiff and the other Class members purchased a product that did not conform to the claims and representations made about it by KT Health, including claims about “pain relief,” “increased muscle activation” and other claims and representations), Plaintiff is entitled to and brings this class action to seek all available remedies…


[1] KT Tape Clinical is simply a differently packaged version of KT Tape or KT Tape Pro, available pre-cut or uncut, allowing for larger volume purchases, primarily for trainers and physical therapists.  The KT Tape Limited Editions differ from the other KT Tape Products only cosmetically, in pattern and color, but are otherwise the same as the other KT Tape Products, and subject to the same claims and representations.

[2] Kinesio Tape for Athletes: A Big Help, or Hype? http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/kinesio-tape-athletes-help-hype, last accessed October 22, 2015.

[3] http://www.kttape.com/store/kttape.html#tabDesc, last accessed on October 19, 2015.

[4] http://www.kttape.com/instructions/, last accessed on October 19, 2015.

[5] https://www.youtube.com/user/LumosInc, last accessed on October 19, 2015.

[6] “LEGS: IT Band Hip, Calf, Shin Splints, Posterior Shin Splints, Quad, Hamstrings, Groin, Hip Flexor, Gluteus, Knees, Outer Knee, Inner Knee, Full Knee Support, Osgood Schlatter, Back of Knee; ANKLES/FEET: Achilles Tendonitis, Ankle Stability, Plantar Fasciitis, Peroneal Tendonitis, Ball of Foot, Heel, Bunion, Turf Toe; TRUNK/BACK: SI Joint, Low Back, Middle Back, Ribs, Spine, Abdominals; NECK/SHOULDERS: Neck & Shoulder, General Shoulder, Rotator Cuff, AC Joint, Shoulder Stability; ARMS/HANDS: Wrist, General Elbow, Golfer’s Elbow, Tennis Elbow, Finger Jam, Thumb, Bicep, Tricep.”

[7] Current  evidence  does  not  support  the  use  of  Kinesio  Taping  in clinical  practice:  a  systematic  review, Journal  of  Physiotherapy  60  (2014)  31–39, last accessed on October 19, 2015 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1836955314000095.

[8] Kinesio Taping does not decrease swelling in acute, lateral ankle sprain of athletes: a randomised trial, Journal of Physiotherapy 61 (2015) 28–33), last accessed on October 19, 2015 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1836955314001489.

[9] Kinesio Taping to generate skin convolutions is not better than sham taping for people with chronic non-specific low back pain: a randomised trial, Journal of Physiotherapy 60 (2014) 90–96, last accessed on October 19, 2015 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1836955314000368.

[10] Kinesio Taping in Treatment and Prevention of Sports Injuries A Meta-Analysis of the Evidence for its Effectiveness, Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) [Sports Med] 2012 Feb 1; Vol. 42 (2), pp. 153-64.

[11] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxfKWyufp14, last accessed October 19, 2015.

[12] http://fortyninegroup.com/tag/kt-tape/ last accessed on October 19, 2015.

[13] Id.

[14] http://www.kttape.com/what-is-kt-tape/, last accessed on October 30, 2015.

[15] http://www.kttape.com/store/#tabDesc, last accessed on October 30, 2015.

[16] http://www.kttape.com/store/kttape.html#tabDesc, last accessed on October 30, 2015.

[17] http://www.kttape.com/store/pro-x/kt-tape-pro-x.html#tabDesc, last accessed on October 22, 2015.

[18] http://www.kttape.com/instructions/outer-knee/#pnlReadMoreAfter, last accessed on October 19, 2015.

Information about KT Tape

Reed M. Quinn is the “inventor” of a proces for making KT Tape: US8216415 – KT Tape Patent. The US patent number is US 8216415 B2.

US Patent documents claim that “Kinesiology tape consists of a strip of elastic and non elastic fibers, usually covered in cotton, which is placed on human skin. Kinesiology tape is useful in therapy to reduce soreness in overused and injured muscles and in rehabilitation to accelerate recovery. The tape can have a lifting effect on the skin Which can reduce swelling and inflammation by improving circulation and reduce pain by taking pressure off pain receptors.”

Background information about the history of this company is posted on Reed Quinn’s Linkedin page:

Video of KT Tape Packaging

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Discussion: The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act

The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act  (IL ST CH 740 § 14/1 et. seq.) is here.

Illinois’ biometrics statute says in part:

(a) A private entity in possession of biometric identifiers or biometric information must develop a written policy, made available to the public, establishing a retention schedule and guidelines for permanently destroying biometric identifiers and biometric information when the initial purpose for collecting or obtaining such identifiers or information has been satisfied or within 3 years of the individual’s last interaction with the private entity, whichever occurs first. Absent a valid warrant or subpoena issued by a court of competent jurisdiction, a private entity in possession of biometric identifiers or biometric information must comply with its established retention schedule and destruction guidelines.
(b) No private entity may collect, capture, purchase, receive through trade, or otherwise obtain a person’s or a customer’s biometric identifier or biometric information, unless it first:
(1) informs the subject or the subject’s legally authorized representative in writing that a biometric identifier or biometric information is being collected or stored;
(2) informs the subject or the subject’s legally authorized representative in writing of the specific purpose and length of term for which a biometric identifier or biometric information is being collected, stored, and used; and
(3) receives a written release executed by the subject of the biometric identifier or biometric information or the subject’s legally authorized representative.
(c) No private entity in possession of a biometric identifier or biometric information may sell, lease, trade, or otherwise profit from a person’s or a customer’s biometric identifier or biometric information.
(d) No private entity in possession of a biometric identifier or biometric information may disclose, redisclose, or otherwise disseminate a person’s or a customer’s biometric identifier or biometric information unless:
(1) the subject of the biometric identifier or biometric information or the subject’s legally authorized representative consents to the disclosure or redisclosure;
(2) the disclosure or redisclosure completes a financial transaction requested or authorized by the subject of the biometric identifier or the biometric information or the subject’s legally authorized representative…

Which other states have Biometric Privacy Laws?

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Numerous Lawsuits Filed Against “Upscale” Halfway House to Recover Unpaid Wages

In October, 2015, this office filed several Massachusetts Wage Act cases on behalf of former employees of Hopewell Recovery Services, LLC.

Defendants in these lawsuits have included John Coughlin, a/k/a John W. Coughlin III, and his father, Steven Coughlin, Hopewell Recovery Services, LLC, and Beacon Addiction Advocacy Group, LLC.

These former employees of Hopewell are seeking recovery of unpaid wages.

Background Information About Hopewell Recovery Services

Self-described “philanthropist” John W. Coughlin III is the co-founder of Hopewell. On September 20, 2015, John W. Coughlin III was placed on the Office of Inspector General’s exclusion list due to his April 14, 2015 medicaid kickback conviction.


PDFCommonwealth of Massachusetts v. John W. Coughlin III – Indictment – Medicaid Kickback – G.L. ch. §118E Criminal Case Number# SUCR2011-11003

Commonwealth’s Exhibits:


Guilty Verdict:

Verdict Slip

Verdict Slip – “Guilty of Offenses as Charged”


No Jail Time

“Two (2) years – suspended for Two (2) years.”

As of 11/12/15, the websites for both of Coughlin’s recovery-related businesses were down.

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Have you received junk faxes from Corporate Travel Specials?

Small business owners have been complaining about unwanted junk faxes from Corporate Travel Specials (such as this junk fax) containing the following text:

To: All Employees
From: H.R. Department

For a limited time only we are offering to all employees access to our company vacation packages at the wholesale rate (you save $3000 per couple). Agents averaging 15 years of travel industry experience are ready to offer you the trip of a lifetime for a discounted price. Please review the vacation details: Cancun, Hawaii, Jamaica, Bahamas, Cabo, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, or Costa Rica

Duration: 5 days & 4 nights w/all meals included for only $99 per personDates: You choose your dates. Packages are open dated and valid for 18 MONTHS FIVE STAR RESORT GUARANTEED
•Corporate Meal Plan – All meals and drinks including 5 Star Dining & Premium Alcohol
•Children stay and eat for free
•Unlimited activities: Snorkeling, Kayaking, Wind Surfing all non-motorized water sports
**First 500 callers receive 60% off Airfare**
For Booking and Reservations CALL:
Reservation/Promo Code: TRIP99
To be removed please call 855-613-4031


Google results for (844)-859-2102 lead to a website for Corporate Travel Specials.

Who is behind “Corporate Travel Specials”?

There are various complaints about similar junk faxes here.

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How to Claim Settlement Funds from the Equity Residential “Move-in Fee” Class Action Lawsuit

The Equity Residential Move-in Fee Class Action has settled.  Now is the time to file a claim form. Only class members who submit timely claim forms will receive money.  The settlement website is here.

Class members who submit claim forms on time will receive:

  • 100% of any application fees, move-in fees and/or up-front pet fees that they paid, with 10% interest from February 23, 2012 through July 10, 2015 (for move-in fees) and from August 24, 2012 through July 10, 2015 (for application fees and up-front pet fees);

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Will Poland Spring stop selling water in plastic containers?

Seal of the waters of Nantucket, MA

Seal of the waters of Nantucket, MA

Sign the Petition

I’ve started the petition “Tell Nestlé to stop selling water in plastic bottles.” Please take a few seconds to sign here  Continue reading

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The OPM Cyber Breach: the most dangerous data breach in U.S. history?

Original Post

Have you completed form “SF-86” or “Questionnaire for National Security Positions” to apply for a job with the U.S. Government since 2000? Are you related to, or lived with someone who has applied for a position requiring a U.S. government Secret or Top Secret security clearance?  If so, it is highly likely that you were impacted by the Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”) cyber-breach.

Millions of current, former, and prospective employees, and contractors of the U.S. government were affected, whether they realize it or not.  In addition, millions of their family members, spouses, contacts, and roommates who never even applied for a security clearance position with the U.S. government, had their personal information and records compromised as well.

All individuals who went through a background investigation by OPM in 2000 or afterwards (which occurs through the submission of forms SF 86, SF 85, or SF 85P) are highly likely to have been impacted by the OPM cyber breach (or breaches). The total number of people affected is estimated to top 20 million.

The personal details of individuals applying for jobs requiring a security clearance are some of the most valuable intelligence an enemy could obtain. Current CIA, FBI, and NSA (to name only a few agencies) employees, as well as many armed forces personnel, have been vetted through form SF-86 and the Office of Personnel Management.

The Office of Personnel Management’s repeated failures to uphold its duty to safeguard secret data, may have serious consequences on the national security of the United States for many years to come.


Related Press Accounts:


OPM is a federal agency headquartered in Washington, D.C.  It performs vital functions in the process of screening and hiring federal employees and contractors. Either directly, or through private contractors, OPM gathers and stores vast amounts of sensitive data about candidates and their families.

Because nearly everyone who applies for employment with the federal government receives some form of vetting through OPM, it “stores more Personally Identifiable Information” (“PII”) and other sensitive records than almost any other Federal agency.”[1]

Consequently, millions of persons, ranging from mail carriers, to submarine component technicians, spies, secret service agents, and certain United States Marines – have been screened by OPM.

The PII that OPM collects and has collected is stored on networked computer systems, which are by their nature, subject to unauthorized access, or a “data breach.”

In 2014, there were so many data breaches that it was dubbed the “year of the breach,” with four out of ten major U.S. companies holding credit card data suffering a network intrusion and data breach of some kind.[2]  The threats facing any digital custodian of sensitive data could not have been more obvious, with major retailers such as Target and The Home Depot in headlines suffering record breaking data breaches affecting tens of millions of Americans.[3]

PII about United States government employees and contractors, including names, addresses, social security numbers, and close relatives, would be of great intelligence value to a foreign government, or to “cyber criminals” aiming to commit financial crimes or identity theft. An obvious target, all OPM data should have been well secured against intrusion from any enemy.

Although charged with safeguarding some of the most important data possessed by the U.S. government, OPM failed to fulfill that duty.

After learning of data breaches affecting its networks, OPM issued two public disclosures.  The most recent disclosure, updated June 23, 2015 suggested the astonishing extent of the damage:

“Through the course of the ongoing investigation into the cyber intrusion that compromised personnel records of current and former Federal employees announced on June 4, OPM has recently discovered that additional systems were compromised. These systems included those that contain information related to the background investigations of current, former, and prospective Federal government employees, as well as other individuals for whom a Federal background investigation was conducted.[4] The full extent of the breach centers around the wholesale loss of Department of Defense Standard Form 86, or “SF-86” a “127 page document [that] asks government employees to disclose information about family members, friends and past employment as well as details on alcohol and drug use, mental illness, credit ratings, bankruptcies, arrest records and court actions.”[5]

According to the Navy Times:

“Some military officials believe the recent hack targeting the civilian-run OPM seized information from tens of thousands of Standard Form 86s, which are required for all service members and civilians seeking a security clearance. That includes service members of all ranks, officers and enlisted, in a wide range of job specialties and assignments.  ‘They got everyone’s SF-86,’ one Pentagon official familiar with the investigation told Military Times.”[6]

As a result of the OPM breaches over twenty million individuals were affected. OPM has publicly disclosed:

“OPM and the interagency incident response team have concluded with high confidence that sensitive information, including the Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of 21.5 million individuals, was stolen from the background investigation databases.  This includes 19.7 million individuals that applied for a background investigation, and 1.8 million non-applicants, primarily spouses or co-habitants of applicants. Some records also include findings from interviews conducted by background investigators and approximately 1.1 million include fingerprints. Usernames and passwords that background investigation applicants used to fill out their background investigation forms were also stolen.”[7]

OPM failed to live up to its duty to protect highly sensitive PII, even though it knew or should have known about profound vulnerabilities in its data security practices as early as 2007.



[1] Actions to Strengthen Cybersecurity and Protect Critical IT Systems, OPM, June 2015, last accessed on September 7, 2015 from https://www.opm.gov/news/latest-news/announcements/cybersecurity-report/.

[2] If 2014 Was The Year Of The Data Breach, Brace For More, Forbes, January 2, 2015.  Last accessed September 7, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2015/01/02/if-2014-was-the-year-of-the-data-breach-brace-for-more/.

[3] Home Depot’s Record-Breaking Credit Card Breach Could Have Been Much Worse, The Motley Fool, September 20, 2014. Last accessed September 7, 2015 from http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/09/20/home-depots-record-breaking-credit-card-breach-cou.aspx.

[4] Information about OPM Cybersecurity Incidents – Latest News, OPM, last accessed on September 7, 2015 from https://www.opm.gov/news/latest-news/announcements/.

[5] Military clearance OPM data breach ‘absolute calamity.’ Navy Time, June 18, 2015, last accessed September 8, 2015 from http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/2015/06/17/sf-86-security-clearance-breach-troops-affected-opm/28866125/.

[6] Id.

[7] Information about OPM Cybersecurity Incidents – What Happened, OPM, last accessed on September 7, 2015 from https://www.opm.gov/cybersecurity#FAQs.


Related Filings: 

Related Cases:

MDL No. 2664

  • Michael Hanagan v. United States Office of Personnel Management et al (CAC/2:15-cv-06045)
  • National Treasury Employees Union, et al v. Archuleta (CAN/3:15-cv-03144)
  • McGarry v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management et al (CO/1:15-cv-01705)
  • American Federation Of Government Employees et al v. United States Office of Personnel Management et al (DC/1:15-cv-01015)
  • Krippendorf v. United States Of America, Office Of Personnel Management et al (DC/1:15-cv-01321)
  • Cox v. United States Office of Personnel Management et al (GAN/1:15-cv-02986)
  • Hobbs v. United States Office of Personnel Management et al (ID/2:15-cv-00302)
  • Woo v. United States Office of Personnel Management et al (KS/6:15-cv-01220)
  • Sims v. United States of America, Office of Personnel Management, et al (Mass/1:15-cv-13426-DJC)



10/2/2015 — Activity in Case MDL No. 2664 IN RE: U.S. Office of Personnel Management Data Security Breach Litigation Conditional Transfer Order Finalized

United States

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation

Notice of Electronic Filing

The following transaction was entered on 10/27/2015 at 8:07 AM EDT and filed on 10/27/2015

Case Name: IN RE: U.S. Office of Personnel Management Data Security Breach Litigation
Case Number: MDL No. 2664
Document Number: 64

Docket Text:
CONDITIONAL TRANSFER ORDER FINALIZED (CTO-1) – 6 action(s) re: pldg. (16 in CAC/2:15-cv-06045, 20 in CO/1:15-cv-01705, 10 in GAN/1:15-cv-02986, 20 in ID/2:15-cv-00302, 1 in MA/1:15-cv-13426, [61] in MDL No. 2664, 5 in VAE/1:15-cv-01202) Inasmuch as no objection is pending at this time, the stay is lifted.

Signed by Clerk of the Panel Jeffery N. Luthi on 10/27/2015.

Associated Cases: MDL No. 2664, CAC/2:15-cv-06045, CO/1:15-cv-01705, GAN/1:15-cv-02986, ID/2:15-cv-00302, MA/1:15-cv-13426, VAE/1:15-cv-01202 (TB)

Case Name: Hobbs v. United States Office of Personnel Management et al
Case Number: ID/2:15-cv-00302
Document Number: 22

Docket Text:
CONDITIONAL TRANSFER ORDER FINALIZED (CTO-1) – 6 action(s) re: pldg. (16 in CAC/2:15-cv-06045, 20 in CO/1:15-cv-01705, 10 in GAN/1:15-cv-02986, 20 in ID/2:15-cv-00302, 1 in MA/1:15-cv-13426, [61] in MDL No. 2664, 5 in VAE/1:15-cv-01202) Inasmuch as no objection is pending at this time, the stay is lifted.

Signed by Clerk of the Panel Jeffery N. Luthi on 10/27/2015.

Associated Cases: MDL No. 2664, CAC/2:15-cv-06045, CO/1:15-cv-01705, GAN/1:15-cv-02986, ID/2:15-cv-00302, MA/1:15-cv-13426, VAE/1:15-cv-01202 (TB)

Case Name: McGarry v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management et al
Case Number: CO/1:15-cv-01705
Document Number: 22

Docket Text:
CONDITIONAL TRANSFER ORDER FINALIZED (CTO-1) – 6 action(s) re: pldg. (16 in CAC/2:15-cv-06045, 20 in CO/1:15-cv-01705, 10 in GAN/1:15-cv-02986, 20 in ID/2:15-cv-00302, 1 in MA/1:15-cv-13426, [61] in MDL No. 2664, 5 in VAE/1:15-cv-01202) Inasmuch as no objection is pending at this time, the stay is lifted.

Signed by Clerk of the Panel Jeffery N. Luthi on 10/27/2015.

Associated Cases: MDL No. 2664, CAC/2:15-cv-06045, CO/1:15-cv-01705, GAN/1:15-cv-02986, ID/2:15-cv-00302, MA/1:15-cv-13426, VAE/1:15-cv-01202 (TB)

Case Name: Cox v. United States Office of Personnel Management et al
Case Number: GAN/1:15-cv-02986
Document Number: 12

Docket Text:
CONDITIONAL TRANSFER ORDER FINALIZED (CTO-1) – 6 action(s) re: pldg. (16 in CAC/2:15-cv-06045, 20 in CO/1:15-cv-01705, 10 in GAN/1:15-cv-02986, 20 in ID/2:15-cv-00302, 1 in MA/1:15-cv-13426, [61] in MDL No. 2664, 5 in VAE/1:15-cv-01202) Inasmuch as no objection is pending at this time, the stay is lifted.

Signed by Clerk of the Panel Jeffery N. Luthi on 10/27/2015.

Associated Cases: MDL No. 2664, CAC/2:15-cv-06045, CO/1:15-cv-01705, GAN/1:15-cv-02986, ID/2:15-cv-00302, MA/1:15-cv-13426, VAE/1:15-cv-01202 (TB)

Case Name: Oravis et al v. United States of America, Office of Personnel Management et al
Case Number: VAE/1:15-cv-01202
Document Number: 7

Docket Text:
CONDITIONAL TRANSFER ORDER FINALIZED (CTO-1) – 6 action(s) re: pldg. (16 in CAC/2:15-cv-06045, 20 in CO/1:15-cv-01705, 10 in GAN/1:15-cv-02986, 20 in ID/2:15-cv-00302, 1 in MA/1:15-cv-13426, [61] in MDL No. 2664, 5 in VAE/1:15-cv-01202) Inasmuch as no objection is pending at this time, the stay is lifted.

Signed by Clerk of the Panel Jeffery N. Luthi on 10/27/2015.

Associated Cases: MDL No. 2664, CAC/2:15-cv-06045, CO/1:15-cv-01705, GAN/1:15-cv-02986, ID/2:15-cv-00302, MA/1:15-cv-13426, VAE/1:15-cv-01202 (TB)

Case Number: MA/1:15-cv-13426
Document Number: 3

Docket Text:
CONDITIONAL TRANSFER ORDER FINALIZED (CTO-1) – 6 action(s) re: pldg. (16 in CAC/2:15-cv-06045, 20 in CO/1:15-cv-01705, 10 in GAN/1:15-cv-02986, 20 in ID/2:15-cv-00302, 1 in MA/1:15-cv-13426, [61] in MDL No. 2664, 5 in VAE/1:15-cv-01202) Inasmuch as no objection is pending at this time, the stay is lifted.

Signed by Clerk of the Panel Jeffery N. Luthi on 10/27/2015.

Associated Cases: MDL No. 2664, CAC/2:15-cv-06045, CO/1:15-cv-01705, GAN/1:15-cv-02986, ID/2:15-cv-00302, MA/1:15-cv-13426, VAE/1:15-cv-01202 (TB)

Case Name: Michael Hanagan v. United States Office of Personnel Management et al
Case Number: CAC/2:15-cv-06045
Document Number: 18

Docket Text:
CONDITIONAL TRANSFER ORDER FINALIZED (CTO-1) – 6 action(s) re: pldg. (16 in CAC/2:15-cv-06045, 20 in CO/1:15-cv-01705, 10 in GAN/1:15-cv-02986, 20 in ID/2:15-cv-00302, 1 in MA/1:15-cv-13426, [61] in MDL No. 2664, 5 in VAE/1:15-cv-01202) Inasmuch as no objection is pending at this time, the stay is lifted.

Signed by Clerk of the Panel Jeffery N. Luthi on 10/27/2015.

Associated Cases: MDL No. 2664, CAC/2:15-cv-06045, CO/1:15-cv-01705, GAN/1:15-cv-02986, ID/2:15-cv-00302, MA/1:15-cv-13426, VAE/1:15-cv-01202 (TB)


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Submitting a Target data breach claim

If You Shopped at Target from November 27 through December 18, 2013 or Received Notice That Your Personal Information Was Compromised, You Could Get Money from a Data Breach Settlement.

Visit the official Target Breach Settlement Website (www.targetbreachsettlement.com) to determine your eligibility to submit a claim. All claims must be submitted by July 31, 2015.

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FCC Strengthens Consumer Protections Against Unwanted Calls And Texts

June 18, 2015 – The Federal Communications Commission today adopted additional rules (Declaratory Ruling and Order FCC 15-72) to protect consumers against unwanted robocalls and spam texts.

Highlights for consumers:

  1. Green Light for ‘Do Not Disturb’ Technology – Service providers can offer robocall-blocking technologies to consumers and implement market-based solutions that consumers can use to stop unwanted robocalls.
  2. Empowering Consumers to Say ‘Stop’ – Consumers have the right to revoke their consent to receive robocalls and robotexts in any reasonable way at any time.
  3. Reassigned Numbers Aren’t Loopholes – If a phone number has been reassigned, companies must stop calling the number after one call.
  4. Third-Party Consent – A consumer whose name is in the contacts list of an acquaintance’s phone does not consent to receive robocalls from third-party applications downloaded by the acquaintance.
  5. Affirming the Law’s Definition of Autodialer – “Autodialer” is defined in the Act as any technology with the capacity to dial random or sequential numbers. This definition ensures that robocallers cannot skirt consumer consent requirements through changes in calling technology design or by calling from a list of numbers.
  6. Text Messages as Calls – The Commission reaffirmed that consumers are entitled to the same consent-based protections for texts as they are for voice calls to wireless numbers.
  7. Internet-to-Phone Text Messages – Equipment used to send Internet-to-phone text messages is an autodialer, so the caller must have consumer consent before calling.
  8. Very Limited and Specific Exemptions for Urgent Circumstances – Free calls or texts to alert consumers to possible fraud on their bank accounts or remind them of important medication refills, among other financial alerts or healthcare messages, are allowed without prior consent, but other types of financial or healthcare calls, such as marketing or debt collection calls, are not allowed under these limited and very specific exemptions. Also, consumers have the right to opt out from these permitted calls and texts at any time.

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Class action lawsuit alleges Purina Beneful sickened dogs

We are representing clients in a class action lawsuit alleging that certain Purina Beneful dry foods contain substances that are toxic to animals, resulting in serious illness and death of thousands of dogs.

Case Documents:

Malcolm v. Nestle Purina Petcare - Class Action Complaint

Malcolm v. Nestle Purina Petcare – Class Action Complaint

The Complaint claims:

Beneful contains Menandione, Propylene Glycol, and Mycotoxins:

“Beneful contains menadione, a controversial and harmful form of vitamin K, linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.”

“Beneful contains propylene glycol, which is added to the product to help preserve the moisture content. Propylene glycol, a key ingredient in newer automotive anti-freeze, is toxic and has been proven to cause a serious type of blood disease in animals called Heinz body anemia. Because of this, propylene glycol has been banned by the FDA for use in cat food.”

“The Association for Truth in Pet Food (“ATPF”) conducted testing of Beneful Original and found that it contained high risk levels of mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are a group of toxins produced by fungus that occurs in grains, a principal ingredient in Beneful. The ATPF’s testing also revealed that the Beneful brand tested, Beneful Original, has a Risk Equivalent Quality rating of 32, where anything over 20 indicates a High Risk…”

Beneful may have poisoned dogs

“…The illnesses and deaths experienced by dogs consuming Beneful… including Plaintiff’s dog, have been caused by the harmful and toxic ingredients in Beneful.”

These Purina Beneful dry foods may be dangerous:

This case concerns only the dry or kibble variety of foods sold under the Beneful name:

  • Beneful Healthy Growth for Puppies
  • Beneful Healthy Radiance
  • Beneful Healthy Smile
  • Beneful Healthy Weight
  • Beneful IncrediBites
  • Beneful Original
  • Beneful Healthy Fiesta
  • Beneful Playful Life

Information about Nestlé Purina PetCare Company

Nestlé Purina Petcare is a St. Louis, Missouri-based subsidiary of Nestlé. It produces and markets pet food, treats and litter. Some of its pet food brands include Purina Pro Plan, Purina Dog Chow, Friskies, Beneful and Purina ONE.

Customer service: 1 (800) 778-7462
CEO: W. Patrick Mcginnis
Founded: St. Louis, MO

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Under Investigation: Herbal Supplements

If you purchased any of the supplements listed below from GNC, Target, Walgreens, or Walmart, and you are interested in serving as a class representative, in a potential false advertising class action lawsuit, you are invited to contact us.


  • “Herbal Plus” brand Gingko Biloba
  • “Herbal Plus” brand St. John’s Wort
  • “Herbal Plus” brand Ginseng
  • “Herbal Plus” brand Echinacea
  • “Herbal Plus” brand Saw Palmetto

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Wage Theft in Massachusetts

If you have experienced any form of “wage theft” in Massachusetts, this office is interested in working for you to recover your unpaid wages.  Few situations are more unfair, harmful, or more deserving of aggressively seeking justice than wage theft.

There are a number of laws addressing wage theft in Massachusetts.  The first among these laws is the Massachusetts Wage Act, M.G. L. c. 149, § 148.  It is also known as the “The Prompt Payment of Wages Statute.” The Massachusetts Misclassification Law G.L. c. 149, § 148B, and the Fair Labor Standards Act (a federal law) are also significant tools to combat wage theft.

The Prompt Payment of Wages Statute establishes the basic principle that wages must be paid within certain time frames, depending on the type of employee.  Some employers stall their employees, and make them wait too long for money they have earned, or pay some, but not all wages.  Not paying employees promptly and in full is a form of “wage theft.”

The full text of the the Prompt Payment of Wages Statute is available here. The first 169 words of § 148 (there are 1268 in total) are below:

  • Every person having employees in his service shall pay weekly or bi-weekly each such employee the wages earned by him to within six days of the termination of the pay period during which the wages were earned if employed for five or six days in a calendar week, or to within seven days of the termination of the pay period during which the wages were earned if such employee is employed seven days in a calendar week, or in the case of an employee who has worked for a period of less than five days, hereinafter called a casual employee, shall, within seven days after the termination of such period, pay the wages earned by such casual employee during such period, but any employee leaving his employment shall be paid in full on the following regular pay day, and, in the absence of a regular pay day, on the following Saturday; and any employee discharged from such employment shall be paid in full on the day of his discharge…

(To be continued..)

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Massachusetts Tenants’ Rights to Warm Apartments under the State Sanitary Code

In Massachusetts, the State Sanitary Code (105 CMR 410) provides minimum standards of safety, cleanliness, and comfort for an apartment to be considered legally fit for human occupation.

The State Sanitary Code establishes the temperature that an apartment must be maintained during the “heating season” (September 15 – June 15):

410.201: Temperature Requirements

The owner shall provide heat in every habitable room and every room containing a toilet, shower, or bathtub to at least 68°F (20° C) between 7:00 A.M. and 11:00 P.M. and at least 64°F (17° C) between 11:01 P.M. and 6:59 A.M. every day other than during the period from June 15th to September 15th, both inclusive, in each year except and to the extent the occupant is required to provide the fuel under a written letting agreement. The temperature shall at no time exceed 78°F (25° C) during the heating season…

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Class Action Investigation: Junk Mail from Eddie Bauer

Some consumers have complained about junk mail they have received from Eddie Bauer.

You are invited to contact us about this investigation if (a) you made a credit/debit card purchase at a Massachusetts Eddie Bauer retail location within the past four years; (b) the teller asked you for your ZIP code; (c) you received junk mail from Eddie Bauer.

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Class Action Investigation: Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC

Information about Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC

Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC is a limited liability company, organized under the laws of Georgia, with its principal place of business at 16 McLeland Road, St. Cloud, Minnesota, 56303.

Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC, was the subject of a Federal Trade Commission enforcement action for alleged (a) violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq., and (b) unfair and deceptive business practices under the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C § 45(a).  See Federal Trade Commission v. Compucredit Corporation and Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC, Case 1:08-CV-BBM-RGV, N.D. Ga., 2008. (Order here)

Complaints about Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC

On Internet sites set up to collect complaints about business, there are many recent complaints about Jefferson Capital Systems’ debt collection activites, ie.

  • “I am 83 years old and received several collections for a credit card debt that, if it was even mine, would have to have been more than 20 years old.”[1]
  • “Jefferson Capital Systems, LLc (sic) said they were attempting to collect a debt for a Credit Card from back in 2006 that I never even applied for.”[2]
  • “They’re trying collect an eronious (sic) debt in the amount of $2,200.13 claiming it is an HSBC account. I don’t have, nor did I ever have and HSBC credit card, loan or bank account.  They’re now offering me to settle for $1,100.20.  I believe they make these collections up thinking someone is ignorant enough to pay them.  They should be investigated for fraud.”[3]

[1] http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Jefferson-Capital-Systems-LLC/St-Cloud-Minnesota-56303/Jefferson-Capital-Systems-LLC-I-am-83-years-old-and-have-received-a-collection-notice-fo-1089590, accessed 8/5/14.

[2] http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Jefferson-Capital-Systems-LLc/St-Cloud-Minnesota-56303/Jefferson-Capital-Systems-LLc-said-they-were-attempting-to-collect-a-debt-for-a-Credit-C-1005590, accessed 8/5/14.

[3] http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Convergent-Outsourcing-Inc/Renton-Washington-98057/Convergent-Outsourcing-Inc-Convergent-Jefferson-Capital-Systems-LLC-A-collection-from-1159647, accessed 8/6/14.

Have You Been Sued for a Credit Card Debt in Small Claims Court by Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC?

Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC is a debt buyer.  Debt buyers purchase old credit card debts (often for pennies on the dollar) and then sue consumers in small claims court.  Frequently, default judgments enter against people who have had no opportunity to defend themselves against small claims lawsuits filed against them.

This is a problem of national concern.  Small claims courts throughout the country are experiencing a glut of credit card lawsuits pursued by sophisticated debt buyers who reap great profits.  Many sue on questionable debts and use illegal tactics against America’s poorest and most vulnerable consumers.  In a recent New York Times Article, a judge with first-hand experience of the problem said that in 90% of cases, credit card debts cannot be proven.

To curb abuses by high volume professional debt collectors in Massachusetts Courts, the  Massachusetts Small Claims Rules were amended in 2009.  According to Small Claims Rule 1, the term “assigned debt” means “a claim or judgment where the right to collect the debt has been assigned by the creditor to another person or entity.” Each of the requirements of Rule 2(b) apply in a small claims cases regarding credit card debt purchased by a debt buyer, and must be followed in order to comply with Massachusetts Small Claims Rules.

The requirements of Rule 2(b):

“Additional Requirements for plaintiffs in trade or commerce or pursuing assigned debt.  Any plaintiff pursuing a claim incurred in the course of plaintiff’s trade or commerce, or pursuing a claim for assigned debt, shall file along with the Statement of Small Claim form the Verification of Defendant’s Address form, certifying that he or she has verified the defendant’s mailing address in the manner set forth therein. The form need not be served on the defendant.

Any such plaintiff shall include the following information in the description of claim in the Statement of Small Claim form when the claim is filed with the court:

(1) The name of the original creditor (if different from plaintiff’s);

(2) The last four digits of the account number assigned by the original creditor, if any; and

(3) The amount and date of the defendant’s last payment, if any.

If the plaintiff fails to comply with this section and the defendant does not appear at the scheduled trial, no default judgment shall be entered for the plaintiff and the claim shall be dismissed without prejudice.

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The “Low Fat” deception that is making America fat

(Updated Novemeber 8, 2014)

Please watch the documentary Fed Up, available on Netflix.  Description from Netflix: “Childhood obesity has become an ever-more serious medical issue in the United States. This eye-opening documentary examines the underlying causes behind the epidemic, including the marketing strategies of major U.S. food producers.” Official website of the movie Fed Up: http://fedupmovie.com/#/page/home.

Program Summary

The Problem:

Highly processed sugary foods are addictive and are making Americans fat and sick. Americans are consuming far more sugar than is healthy.  Source: World Health Organization TRS 916. The problem starts in childhood.

The Root Cause:

Processed and fast food giants are harming Americans intentionally sell us habit-forming and disease-causing foods through sophisticated and deceptive marketing.


  • Increased awareness of food industry tactics
  • Going to farmers’ markets instead of supermarkets. For example, Bostonian can buy real food at the Copley Square Farmer’s Market (footage of recent visit here).
  • Buying real food
  • Cooking at home
  • Stop buying processed foods!

*     *     *

Original post (June 16, 2012)

Foods that have labels saying they are “low fat” are usually high in sugar. Sugary foods makes people fatter than fatty foods — in other words, a person who eats bacon and whole milk but avoids sugar, is generally going to be thinner than the person who eats donuts and Coca-Cola. Most of the sugar in our foods today comes from high fructose corn sugar (HFCS).  “Endocrinologist Robert Lustig was one of the first to recognise the dangers of HFCS but his findings were discredited at the time. Meanwhile a US Congress report blamed fat, not sugar, for the disturbing rise in cardio-vascular disease and the food industry responded with ranges of ‘low fat’, ‘heart healthy’ products in which the fat was removed – but the substitute was yet more sugar.” Read the BBC Story “The Men Who Made Us Fat,” here.

There is entire industry aimed at making America thin – but unfortunately, it too is largely rooted in deception.

Below are some real ways to lose weight that should work for most healthy people (I am a lawyer, not a doctor – so please check with your doctor before making any changes to your to lifestyle or diet).

  • don’t waste money on “weight loss” pills, and fad diets
  • stop eating sugary foods and snacks
  • eat healthy food instead of junk food
  • exercise regularly (running, weight-training, or some kind of sport; aim for 30 minutes of exercise every day).
  • keep a food diary (reduces over-eating)
  • sleep 8 hours every night
  • reduce stress in your daily life



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Is Lincoln Property Company a Good Landlord?

Have you had issues as a tenant at one of Lincoln Property Company’s Massachusetts apartment buildings? If so, we would like to hear from you.

The properties that the Lincoln Property Company rents in Massachusetts are:

  • Edgewood Apartments (North Reading)
  • The Estates Apartments (Hull)
  • The Residences at Little River (Haverhill)
  • Jefferson at Bellingham Apartments (Bellingham)
  • Jefferson at Salem Station Apartments (Salem)
  • Villas at Old Concord Apartments (Billerica)

Lincoln Property Compan’s address is 2000 McKinney Avenue, Suite 100, Dallas Texas, 75201. Phone: (214) 740-3300 Fax: (214) 740-3441.

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New York Law Firm Sued for Alleged TCPA Violations (Text Message Spam)

Leonard Law Office, P.C. and Fogelman & Fogelman, LLC filed a class action lawsuit against Pullin Law Firm, P.C. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  The complaint alleges violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in connection with the law firm’s marketing activities.

Excerpts from the Complaint:

“In a misguided effort to offer legal services to financially vulnerable consumers, Defendant engaged in an invasive and unlawful form of marketing: the unauthorized transmission of advertisements in the form of “text message” calls to the cellular telephones of consumers throughout the country.”

“…on or about July 9, 2013, Plaintiff’s cell phone rang, indicating that an SMS message was being received from Defendant.

The body of such text message read:
Breaking News! Allan Pullin Esq: Fannie Mae agrees to 11.6 Billion Settlement. Call me to see how this effects YOUR home loan terms, My#: 800-867-2790

Allan Pullin, the individual identified in the above unauthorized text message, is an attorney currently registered as practicing law in New York at Defendant Pullin Law Firm, P.C. and, on information and belief, is Defendant’s sole owner and/or member.

Similar unsolicited text message calls, which did not contain any industry standard opt-out language and which were clearly impersonal in nature and designed for a mass audience, were made to Plaintiff and other putative class members by Defendant.

Defendant made these en masse unsolicited text message calls using an automatic telephone dialing system, also known as an “auto-dialer.””

Case Name:

Moskowitz v. Pullin Law Firm, P.C.
Case Number: 9:14-cv-06010

Court Documents:

1. Moskowitz v. Pullin Law Firm, P.C. – Class Action Complaint

Related Press:

Law Firm Sued Over Text Message Ads, Christine Simmons, New York Law Journal, October 20, 2014

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Is the Dolben Company a Good Landlord?

Have you had issues as a tenant at one of the Dolben Company’s Massachusetts apartment buildings?

The properties that the Dolben Company rents in Massachusetts are:

100 Memorial Drive
Fairlawn Apartments
Neponset Landing
Northgate Apartments
One North of Boston
The Groves at Milford
Kensington at Chelmsford
Longview at Georgetown
Woodview at Randolph
Cordis Mills
Schoolhouse at Lower Mills
Heritage at Bedford Springs
Richmond Vista at Wakefield
Stockbridge Court
Townhouse Apartments
Pine Brook Place
Metro at Wilmington Station
Saunders Crossing
Chestnut Park

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The Massachusetts Home Depot Data Breach Class Action

– Case Documents –

Leonard Law Office, PC is representing Massachusetts consumers in an active class action lawsuit against Home Depot. The complaint alleges:

  • A nationwide breach in Home Depot’s point-of-sale retail credit/debit card processing network and computer system and/or “cardholder data environment” compromised personal and financial data (the “Personal Information”) connected to about 56 million Home Depot customers’ credit and debit card accounts. The breach, which began in April 2014 and ended on or about September 8, 2014, was the second largest retail payment card data breach in U.S. history. Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement retailer.
  • As a result of the breach, millions of customers who shopped at a Home Depot “brick and mortar” store anywhere in the United States between April 1, 2014 and September 8, 2014 and paid by credit or debit card, had their personal and financial information breached. Many of these customers have already reported unauthorized charges to their accounts, and many more such unauthorized transactions are expected in the coming weeks and months.
  • Home Depot failed to live up to its duty to protect customers’ private financial information, although its own employees warned the company of known weaknesses in its cardholder data environment as early as 2008[1]
  • A massive breach of a retailer’s cardholder data environment and wide scale release of Personal Information, such as the one that affected Home Depot during some of the busiest home improvement shopping days of the year, would not have occurred absent the retailer’s failure to comply with these and dozens of other Data Security Standards.
  • Home Depot failed to exercise the care it owes to Plaintiffs and the other Class members – namely, safeguarding its cardholder data environment and securing their Personal Information.
  • News of the widespread data breach was first published by Brian Krebs, a data security expert.   Brian Krebs’ computer security blog is a “top source for investigative reporting on cybercrime and Internet security.”[1] On September 2, 2014 Krebs posted: “Multiple banks say they are seeing evidence that Home Depot stores may be the source of a massive new batch of stolen credit and debit cards that went on sale this morning in the cybercrime underground.”[2]
  • After Krebs broke the story, a flood of national mainstream media reports followed. By September 18, 2014, Home Depot’s data breach was fully exposed by all of the major news outlets.
  • The Wall Street Journal Reported:”…56 million cards may have been compromised in a five-month attack on its payment terminals, making the breach much bigger than the holiday attack at Target Corp.”[3]
  • Reuters Reported: “Wesley McGrew, an expert of retail breaches who is an assistant research professor at the department of  computer science at Mississippi State University, said that Home Depot is going to be expected to bear the costs related to fraud and payment card replacement…Criminals have frequently used software that evades detection, but retailers are expected to closely monitor their networks using tools that are designed to uncover signs of a crime in progress, McGrew said…It’s hard to feel sorry for them when there are things they could have done to improve the security of these transactions.”[4]
  • The Boston Globe Reported: “Home Depot might have also benefited in the timing in another way— the disclosure came in September, months after the spring season, which is the busiest time of year for home-improvement chains.[5]
  • Information encoded on the magnetic stripe of cards is known in the industry as “Magnetic Stripe Data” or “Track Data.” The data encoded in the magnetic stripe is for authorization during card-present transactions.   Unauthorized possession of this information is dangerous, because having it enables miscreants to combine all of the elements necessary to create usable counterfeit cards. The theft of ‘track data’ enables the creation counterfeit cards encoded with consumers’ information onto “clone cards” with a magnetic stripe. This means that criminals are able to make clones of cards that were swiped at Home Depot stores and use them to make fraudulent “card-present,” or “card-not-present” debit or credit transactions on consumers’ accounts.
  • What Home Depot’s announcement in the aftermath of the data breach did not disclose is the full scope of risks posed to consumers who shopped at Home Depot during the breach, or Home Depot’s failure to take precautions in time to prevent the breach from occurring in the first place.
  • Home Depot’s public relations announcement[6] on its website emphasized the steps it undertook to improve security after the breach, but downplayed the actual harm to consumers. In a press release, Home Depot’s CEO stated, “[w]e apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and anxiety this has caused, and want to reassure them that they will not be liable for fraudulent charges,” and “from the time this investigation began, our guiding principle has been to put our customers first, and we will continue to do so.”
  • On September 8, 2014, a full six days after Brian Krebs revealed the breach, Home Depot finally released a statement fully confirming that a breach had occurred.
  • The breach occurred during the busy spring season, a time when consumers historically spend the most on home-improvement goods.

[1] Krebs, Brian. Why KrebsOnSecurity.com?, retrieved from http://krebsonsecurity.com/cpm/ on October 21, 2014.

[2] Id. Banks: Credit Card Breach at Home Depot, retrieved from http://krebsonsecurity.com/2014/09/banks-credit-card-breach-at-home-depot/ on October 6, 2014.

[3] The Wall Street Journal. Home Depot’s 56 Million Card Breach Bigger Than Target’s, retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/articles/home-depot-breach-bigger-than-targets-1411073571 on September 22, 2014.

[4] Reuters. Home Depot breach bigger than Target at 56 million cards, retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/18/us-home-depot-dataprotection-idUSKBN0HD2J420140918 on September 22, 2014.

[5] The Boston Globe. Home Depot says 56 million payment cards breached, retrieved from http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/09/18/home-depot-says-million-payment-cards-breached/DS5ZV79i7Ro69yIMySzmXM/story.html on September 23, 2014.

[6] Home Depot. Customer update on payment breach, retreived from https://corporate.homedepot.com/MediaCenter/Pages/Statement1.aspx on October 6, 20

[1] New York Times. Ex-Employees Say Home Depot Left Data Vulnerable, retrieved from http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/09/20/business/ex-employees-say-home-depot-left-data-vulnerable.html?_r=0 on September 22, 2014.

Original Post (9/3/14)

Home Depot — the biggest data breach in U.S. History?

According to the same Internet security researcher that broke the Target data breach story, there is evidence that Home Depot has experienced a massive credit card data breach. It may have started back in April, 2014, and affected nearly every Home Depot in America. If you have shopped at a Home Depot with a credit or debit card in the past six months,  you are welcome to contact us immediately.  Fake “clone” credit cards have apparently already been made from consumers’ private information obtained during the breach — and  are currently being sold by criminals on the Internet.

The Leonard Law Office, P.C. is accepting inquiries from potential Home Depot data breach clients. We are already representing clients in the Target data breach case.

See Brian Krebson’s article: Nearly All U.S. Home Depot Stores Hit

See Home Depot’s current disclosure: ​Message to our customers about news reports of a possible payment data breach

Home Depot, South Bay, Dorchester Massachusetts

Home Depot – South Bay – Dorchester, Massachusetts

Home Depot’s September 18 Press Release:

The Home Depot Completes Malware Elimination and Enhanced Encryption of Payment Data in All U.S. Stores * * * Provides Further Investigation Details, Updates Outlook ATLANTA, September 18, 2014 — The Home Depot®, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, today confirmed that the malware used in its recent breach has been eliminated from its U.S. and Canadian networks. The company also has completed a major payment security project that provides enhanced encryption of payment data at point of sale in the company’s U.S. stores, offering significant new protection for customers. Roll-out of enhanced encryption to Canadian stores will be complete by early 2015. Canadian stores are already enabled with EMV “Chip and PIN” technology. The company said its fiscal third quarter sales, including sales in September, are on plan. Additional guidance is provided below. Investigation Details The investigation into a possible breach began on Tuesday morning, September 2, immediately after The Home Depot received reports from its banking partners and law enforcement that criminals may have breached its systems. Since then, the company’s IT security team has been working around the clock with leading IT security firms, its banking partners and the Secret Service to rapidly gather facts, resolve the problem and provide information to customers. The company’s ongoing investigation has determined the following:

Criminals used unique, custom-built malware to evade detection. The malware had not been seen previously in other attacks, according to Home Depot’s security partners.

The cyber-attack is estimated to have put payment card information at risk for approximately 56 million unique payment cards.  The malware is believed to have been present between April and September 2014. To protect customer data until the malware was eliminated, any terminals identified with malware were taken out of service, and the company quickly put in place other security enhancements. The hackers’ method of entry has been closed off, the malware has been eliminated from the company’s systems, and the company has rolled out enhanced encryption of payment data to all U.S. stores.

There is no evidence that debit PIN numbers were compromised or that the breach has impacted stores in Mexico or customers who shopped online at HomeDepot.com or HomeDepot.ca. The Home Depot is offering free identity protection services, including credit monitoring, to any customer who used a payment card at a Home Depot store in 2014, from April on. Customers who wish to take advantage of these services can learn more at http://www.homedepot.com or by calling 1-800-HOMEDEPOT (800-466-3337). Customers in Canada can call 800-668-2266. “We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and anxiety this has caused, and want to reassure them that they will not be liable for fraudulent charges,” said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO. “From the time this investigation began, our guiding principle has been to put our customers first, and we will continue to do so.” Payment Security Enhancements The company’s new payment security protection locks down payment data through enhanced encryption, which takes raw payment card information and scrambles it to make it unreadable and virtually useless to hackers. Home Depot’s new encryption technology, provided by Voltage Security, Inc., has been tested and validated by two independent IT security firms. The encryption project was launched in January 2014. The rollout was completed in all U.S. stores on Saturday, September 13, 2014. The rollout to Canadian stores will be completed by early 2015. EMV “Chip and PIN” technology, which began rolling out in early 2013 and already exists in Canadian stores, will be deployed to all U.S. stores by the end of the year, well ahead of a 2015 deadline established by the payments industry. These projects required writing tens of thousands of lines of new software code and deploying nearly 85,000 new pin pads to stores.

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Case Closed: Equity Residential “Move-in Fee” Class Action Lawsuit in Massachusetts


September 2, 2015

How to Claim Settlement Funds from the Equity Residential “Move-in Fee” Class Action Lawsuit

August 11, 2015

Order for Preliminary Approval of Class Settlement signed by Judge Zobel.

July 30, 2015

Thousands of tenants in Massachusetts apartments owned by Equity Residential stand to fully recoup illegal pet, move-in and application fees collected by the company — plus 
10 percent interest — under a proposed federal court settlement.” (Boston Herald)

September 10, 2014

Sam Zell‘s company is appealing class certification to the First Circuit.

August 26, 2014

After a two year legal battle with Equity Residential, Massachusetts tenants have achieved a significant legal victory.  Federal Judge Rya Zobel has declared that move-in fees, community fees, application fees, and up-front pet fees violated the Massachusetts Security Deposit Statute.

Boston Herald

Boston Herald, Friday, August 29, 2014

The law firms that filed the original move in fee /amenity fee class actions against Equity Residential are: Pastor Law Office, LLP, Fogelman & Fogelman, LLC, and Leonard Law Office, P.C.  Have you been affected by Equity’s business practices in Massachusetts? If so, you are welcome to contact us.

Boston Herald: Judge Says Equity’s Tenant Fees Illegal (pdf).

See August 26, 2014 – Memorandum and order: pdf


Application Fee
Two Commonwealth courts have concluded that section 15B(1)(b) does not authorize landlords to charge prospective tenants an application fee…. I agree.

Amenity Fee/Move-in Fee
The amenity fee, at times called a move-in fee, is indistinguishable from the Community Fee. Defendant argues the community fee is lawful because it does not collect the fee until the second month of tenants’ occupancy…But the statute prohibits landlords from “requir[ing] a tenant or prospective tenant to pay” unlisted fees. That is just what defendant does when it charges the fee before a tenant moves in. Deferring collection does not make an unlawful fee lawful. “amenity use fee” Judge Young found unlawful in Hermida. It is not on the list of permissible charges; it is therefore prohibited.

Up-Front Pet Fee
Like the others, the up-front pet fee is not among the permissible charges. It is therefore prohibited.

Monthly Pet Fee
The monthly pet fee is not incurred up front, but rather each month during which the tenant owns a pet. Because plaintiffs became obligated to pay the fee after they were already tenants, they may not turn to section 15B(1)(b) for relief.”

*     *     *     *

Miller v. Equity Residential Management LLC

On May 8, 2012, a class action lawsuit was filed against EQUITY RESIDENTIAL MANAGEMENT LLC, a subsidiary of  Equity Residential (EQR)-NYSE, in the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts.  Equity Residential is the biggest, and perhaps the most infamous landlord in the America.

Boston Business Journal: “The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, seeks refunds for all tenants in Equity Residential properties. The Chicago-based company owns more than 6,000 apartments in the Bay State.” Read the rest of that article here.  Additional media coverage here.

Perry v. Equity Residential Management LLC

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly:  “Residents of Equity Longview Place in Waltham are suing their property management company over similar allegations.  Equity Residential Management LLC, and Illinois company, manages more than two dozen apartment complexes in Massachusetts. ” Read the rest of that article here.

What are the recent Equity Residential class actions about?

Both suits allege that up-front fees Equity Residential has charged tenants (“amenity fees,” “amenity use fees,” “move-in fees”) are in violation of the Massachusetts Security Deposit Law.

Matthew J. Fogelman established a significant legal precedent on which the plaintiffs in Perry and Miller now rely in support of their claims. See Hermida v. Archstone, 826 F. Supp. 2d 380 (D. Mass. 2011).

Who is part of the Class?

The Class is defined as:  all current and former tenants of Equity Residential apartments in Massachusetts who from May 8, 2008 through May 8, 2012  paid an Amenity Fee or a Move In fee.

Case Documents:




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National Robocall Class Action Filed Against Specialized Loan Servicing (SLS)

According to a recent class action complaint (pdf here) filed by the Leonard Law Office, PC and co-counsel:

“Plaintiff  brings this class action challenging Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC’s (SLS’s) standardized practice of calling cellular telephones using an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”) or a prerecorded voice without obtaining the subscriber’s prior express consent. These calls violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq. (TCPA). Such calls are characterized as “robocalls” for purposes of this Complaint.

Part of SLS’s loan servicing business involves making dunning calls to consumers to encourage their payment of outstanding debts. SLS places robocalls to consumers’ cell phones throughout the nation in its collection efforts.

SLS makes a significant portion of such robocalls to cell phone subscribers or users like Plaintiff, who have not consented to receiving any type of call from SLS, much less a robocall from a debt collector. There is no legitimate purpose for these calls.

SLS is a limited liability company formed in the State of Delaware. SLS is wholly-owned by Specialized Loan Servicing Holdings, LLC, a company whose ultimate parent is Computershare Limited, a publicly traded company on the Australian stock exchange. A third party residential mortgage servicer, SLS has offices in Colorado, Georgia, and Arizona, and is licensed in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

According to Plaintiff’s phone records and cellular device, a partial list of calls he from received on his cell phone from SLS are as follows:

  • 06/12/13 05:40 PM from 800-268-9706
  • 08/20/13 10:31 PM from 800-268-9706
  • 08/20/13 10:32 PM from 800-268-9706
  • 11/20/13 09:21 AM from 800-268-9706
  • 12/03/13 02:30 PM from 800-268-9706
  • 01/06/14 04:50 PM from 800-268-9706
  • 03/19/14 from 800-268-9706
  • 04/29/14 09:16 PM from 800-268-9706
  • 04/03/14 from 800-268-9706
  • 04/16/14 from 800-268-9706
  • 5/30/14 from 800-268-9706

SLS Routinely And Systematically Violates The TCPA

There are numerous entries on Internet sites set up to collect and share complaints about unwanted calls. A number of such sites contain complaints regarding similar calls from the same number regarding SLS. For example there are numerous complaints and comments on 800notes.com about (800) 268-9706, the number SLS frequently uses to contact Plaintiff:

  • “These a***oles call me every day with their recorded message and 800#. I don’t know what the hell they are calling about, but I don’t want to talk
    to them.”
  • “Sounds like a debt collector… since the number they are calling is a new one for me I assume it is wrong. Obviously I have no intention of calling
    them back.”
  • “This company is calling me everyday (sic) to get a debt collection from someone else. I really hate it, they should go after the real person… Source: http://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-800-268-9706, accessed May 14, 2014.”

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Have you received Junk Faxes from Crystal Training?



A consumer recently complained about receiving a junk fax from Crystal Training (pdf here). The Crystal Training fax from (307) 200-3919 said:


Crystal Training
2981 Ford St. Ext., Unit #333 Ogdensburg, NY 13669
Phone: 1-800-535-8176 Fax: 1-800-455-7012

Dear Owner/Manager,

We would like to take a moment of your valuable time to tell you about our upcoming QuickBooks, Sage 50 (formerly Peachtree Accounting) and Excel training in your area. Our company provides training classes in many cities coast-to-coast.

The classes run from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, with 30 minute lunch break.  Every student is provided with a notebook computer for use during the class.  Registration cost for any single class is $259 or save 10% with any two or more classes at $229 each. We accept Visa, MasterCard, and Paypal.

Boston: Embassy Suites Boston, 207 Porter Street, Boston MA

For full details, including course topic outlines, please visit our website, at http://www.crystal-training.net or call us at 1-800-535-8176.

Best regards,

Crystal Training
Phone: 1-800-535-8176 Fax: 1-800-455-7012
Live operators: Monday – Friday from 8AM EST to 7PM EST/5AM PST to 4PM PST
web: http://www.crystal-training.net  Email: Info@crystal-training.net

*           *           *

Who is really behind these faxes?

A suspected source is this Canadian company:

Crystal Training  / Crystal Queen, Inc.
166 Owl Drive
Canada, K1V 9P6


The address given on the Crystal Training faxes in New York is a “mail drop”;  2981 Ford St. Ext. Ogdensburg NY 13669 is a UPS store (See http://ogdensburg-ny-2946.theupsstorelocal.com/) and “Suite #3333” is just a mail box within that UPS store.


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Consumers’ 3 Day Right to Cancel Gym Memberships in Massachussetts

Q: If you join a Massachusetts gym and change your mind, how long do you have to cancel the contract and get your money back?

A: Three days, pursuant to MG.L. ch. 93  § 81.

MG.L. ch. 93  § 81 Every contract for health club services shall provide clearly and conspicuously in writing that such contract may be cancelled within three business days after the date of receipt by the buyer of a copy of the written contract or written receipt indicating the buyer’s payment for health club services. The contract for health club services shall contain the following written notice in at least ten point bold type:


Notice of the buyer’s right to cancel and the method of cancellation under this section shall also be posted clearly and conspicuously on the premises of the health club.

The notice of the buyer’s cancellation of his contract shall be in writing and delivered in person or by certified or registered United States mail at the address specified in the contract. Such notice shall be accompanied by the contract forms, membership cards and any other documents or evidence of membership previously delivered to the buyer. All monies paid pursuant to such contract shall be refunded within fifteen business days of receipt of such notice of cancellation. If the buyer has executed any credit or loan agreement to pay for all or part of the health club services, any such negotiable instrument shall be void upon cancellation under this section and shall also be returned to the buyer within said fifteen days.

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Class Action Investigation: Junk Mail from Restoration Hardware

Some consumers have complained about twelve pound parcels of junk mail they have received from Restoration Hardware. Have you received Restoration Hardware’s massive catalogue?

Restoration Hardware

You are invited to contact us about this investigation if (a) you made a credit/debit card purchase at a Massachusetts Restoration Hardware retail location within the past four years; (b) the teller asked you for your ZIP code; (c) you received junk mail from Restoration Hardware.

Restoration Hardware recently suffered a $36,000,000 judgment related to its California junk mail operations (Hernandez v. Restoration Hardware – pdf)

Information About Restoration Hardware

Restoration Hardware Holdings, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, operates as a luxury home furnishings retailer. The company offers various categories, including furniture, lighting, textiles, bathware, decor, outdoor and garden, tableware, and children’s furnishings. These products are sold through the company’s stores, catalogs, and Websites.” Restoration Hardware is a publicly traded company (RH Form 10-Q)).

Restoration Hardware Headquarters
15 Koch Road, Suite J
Corte Madera, CA 94925
Phone: 415-924-1005

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FTC sues T-Mobile for “Wireless Cramming”

If you have been affected by mobile cramming, you are welcome to contact us.

An excerpt from the complaint (pdf):

Until at least December 2013, in addition to charging for phone services offered by Defendant (T-Mobile) Defendant has charged many consumers for other services offered by third-party merchants. These purported services have included monthly subscriptions for content such as ringtones, wallpaper, and text messages providing horoscopes, flirting tips, celebrity gossip, and other similar information (“Third-Party Subscriptions”). Defendant typically has charged consumers $9.99 per month for such Third-Party Subscriptions.

In numerous instances, Defendant has charged consumers for Third-Party Subscriptions that the consumers did not order or authorize, a practice known as cramming. Defendant has continued to charge consumers for Third-Party Subscriptions even after large numbers of consumers complained about unauthorized charges. Refund rates for the subscriptions were high – in some cases as high as 40%. Further, Defendant has continued to charge consumers for Third-Party Subscriptions even after industry auditor alerts, law enforcement and other legal actions, and news articles indicated that the third-party merchants were not obtaining valid authorization from consumers for the charges.

Defendant has retained a portion of each charge for Third-Party Subscriptions paid by consumers, typically at least 35% of the charge and in some cases as high as 40%. Defendant has retained a larger cut from subscriptions that generate a large percentage of refunds. Defendant has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from Third-Party Subscriptions. T-Mobile’s practices have caused consumers millions of dollars of injury.

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Class Action Investigation: GM Ignition Recall

General Motors is the subject of investigation for taking more than ten years to recall 2.6 million cars with an ignition switch defect that allegedly caused between 13 and 74 fatalites. We are currently accepting clients who own GM vehicles of the models/years listed below:

Buick Lacrosse 2005-2009
Chevrolet Impala 2006-2014
Cadillac Deville 2000–2005
Cadillac DTS 2007–2011
Buick Lucerne 2006–2011
Buick Regal LS & GS 2004-2005
Chevrolet Monte Carlo 2006–2008
Chevrolet Camaro 2010—2014

If you have one of these vehicles, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

Related Articles

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Questions and Answers about Class Actions

What is a class action?

A class action is a type of lawsuit in which one or several persons sue on behalf of a larger group of similarly-situated persons.

What is a class representative?

Class representatives are plaintiffs named in the lawsuit who assert the claims of the entire class so that everyone with the same claim or injury does not have to file his or her own separate lawsuit.

What are the duties of class representative?

A plaintiff must meet certain basic requirements in order to be certified by the court as a class representative. The representative’s situation must be typical of the situation in which other class members find themselves and the representative must be generally familiar with the litigation. A class representative must cooperate in the preparation of the case, and be present on reasonable notice for any necessary appearances. In addition, a class representative may be asked to produce documents and/or give deposition testimony throughout the litigation process.

Are class representatives entitled to additional compensation?

If a class action is successful in winning relief for the class, some courts will provide class representatives with “service awards.” Judges are typically given broad discretion in deciding whether these awards are appropriate and in setting the amounts of the awards. In deciding how much, if anything, to award to the class representatives, courts look at factors such as the amount of involvement of the class representative and the size of the recovery for the class. The duties of class representatives may require an effort deserving of a service premium in addition to any recovery the representative may obtain by virtue of his or her membership in the class. Therefore, the attorneys may attempt to recover an appropriate amount for the class representative’s service, but make no promise or guaranty that the attorneys will seek a service award or that the Court will award any service premium.

What are the costs to me?

Most class action law firms work on a contingency-fee basis. This means that, to the extent provided by law, you do not pay any costs or expenses of litigation upfront, and lawyers do not collect any fees from you unless the firms working on the case obtain a recovery on your behalf.

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Connecticut Passes its own mini-TCPA, with sharp teeth: “…shall be fined not more than [eleven] twenty thousand dollars for each violation.”

The Connecticut Legislature passed its own version of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. This new law goes into effect in October, 2014. The full text (pdf) is pasted below.


Substitute Senate Bill No. 209

Public Act No. 14-53

THE DO NOT CALL REGISTRY. Continue reading

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Balise Toyota settles service department mispricing class action — $87,000 settlement to consumers

July 30, 2014 – This case has settled, resulting in a favorable settlement for class members and a cy pres distribution to a charity.
Court Documents
  1. Class Action Complaint (pdf)
  2. Class Notice (pdf)
  3. Order for Notice and Hearing (pdf)
  4. Settlement Agreement (pdf)
  5. Final Judgment (pdf)
AS A CUSTOMER OF BTLS, INC. d/b/a BALISE TOYOTA YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO BENEFITS UNDER A CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT. READ THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY. The Massachusetts Superior Court for Suffolk County authorized this notice. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer. You are not being sued. YOU MAY RECEIVE A DISCOUNT COUPON FROM THIS SETTLEMENT.
 A class action lawsuit by a service customer against BTLS, Inc. d/b/a Balise Toyota (“Balise Toyota”) has been settled for $87,500.  Plaintiff alleges that Balise Toyota charged 4,269 customers more than the advertised price (an “Overcharge”) for a variety of services including oil changes, tire rotations, and brake work at its dealership and service center located at 1399 Riverdale Street, West Springfield, Massachusetts (the “West Springfield Location”). Plaintiff sought as damages the amount of the Overcharge and statutory damages under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 93A on her own behalf and on behalf of the purported class of similarly situated customers (the “Class”). Balise Toyota contends that any Overcharge was inadvertent and the result of a coding error in its billing software. Despite their differences, Plaintiff and Balise Toyota have entered into a Settlement Agreement to compromise the claims that plaintiffs have asserted against Balise Toyota.  Under the proposed Settlement Agreement, approximately 4,269 customers will share net settlement proceeds of approximately $55,000 worth of $15.00 coupons (the “Coupon”), redeemable for a discount on any product or service sold by Balise Toyota at the West Springfield Location.  The $15.00 Coupon(s) you receive will average more than 15 times the size of each of your calculated Overcharge, as the vast majority of all Overcharges were under $1.00.  You do not need to do anything to get your Coupon(s). If the Settlement Agreement is approved by the Court, you will automatically receive one Coupon for each Overcharge transaction with Balise Toyota. The Coupon(s) will be sent to the same address as this notice….

Why did I get this notice?

According to records maintained by Balise Toyota, you were overcharged by Balise Toyota for an automotive service or parts purchase at its West Springfield Location. This notice concerns the settlement of a class action lawsuit that challenges the manner in which Balise Toyota advertised and charged for these services and purchases. The case has been settled, and the Court has ordered that you be sent this Notice, because you have a right to know your options before the Court decides whether to approve the settlement. This Notice explains the lawsuit, the settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who is eligible for them, and how to get them….

….the rest of this notice: pdf) —————————————————–
 May 29, 2014 – the Leonard Law Office and co-counsel filed a class action complaint (pdf) against BTLS, Inc. d/b/a Balise Toyota.
  • This case seeks compensation for Balise Toyota’s alleged systematic mispricing of goods and services received by its service customers at the Balise Toyota at 1399 Riverdale Street, West Springfield, Massachusetts.
  • The complaint alleges that rates listed on signage and pricing literature at the Balise Toyota service department were lower than amounts consumers were actually charged.
* If have been affected by pricing issues at any Balise location in Massachusetts, you are welcome to contact us. 

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Not Spam: Ticketmaster Settlement email

The notice pasted below was emailed to class members. Some people have wondered if it is spam. It is not. This is not our case, so please do not contact us for additional information.


If you purchased tickets from http://www.Ticketmaster.com you may be entitled to benefits from a class action settlement.

This is a court ordered notice. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.

• For each ticket order (up to 17 orders) you made from http://www.Ticketmaster.com between October 21, 1999 and February 27, 2013, a settlement will provide a credit of $2.25 for use on future ticket orders. You will receive an additional $5 credit towards UPS delivery of future orders, for each order where you purchased the UPS delivery option (up to 17 purchases). Continue reading

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The 9 Leading Data Brokers, and What They Know About You

  1.  Acxiom: Acxiom provides consumer data and analytics for marketing campaigns and fraud  detection. Its databases contain information about 700 million consumers worldwide with over 3000 data segments for nearly every U.S. consumer.
  2. Corelogic: Corelogic provides data and analytic services to businesses and government based primarily on property information, as well as consumer and financial information. Its databases include over 795 million historical property transactions, over ninety-three million mortgage applications, and property-specific data covering over ninety-nine percent of U.S. residential properties, in total exceeding 147 million records.
  3. Datalogix: Datalogix provides businesses with marketing data on almost every U.S. household and more than one trillion dollars in consumer transactions.23 In September 2012, Facebook announced a partnership with Datalogix to measure how often Facebook’s one billion users see a product advertised on the social site and then complete the purchase in a brick and mortar retail store.
  4. eBureau: eBureau provides predictive scoring and analytics services for marketers, financial services companies, online retailers, and others. eBureau primarily offers products that predict whether someone is likely to become a profitable customer or whether a transaction is likely to conclude in fraud. It provides clients with information drawn from billions of consumer records adding over three billion new records each month.
  5. ID Analytics: ID Analytics provides analytics services designed principally to verify people’s identities or to determine whether a transaction is likely fraudulent. The ID Analytics networkincludes hundreds of billions of aggregated data points, 1.1 billion unique identity elements, and it covers 1.4 billion consumer transactions.
  6. Intelius: Intelius provides businesses and consumers with background check and public record information. Its databases contain more than twenty billion records.
  7. PeekYou: PeekYou has patented technology that analyzes content from over sixty social media sites, news sources, homepages, and blog platforms to provide clients with detailed consumer profiles.
  8. Rapleaf: Rapleaf is a data aggregator that has at least one data point associated with over eighty percent of all U.S. consumer email addresses.31 Rapleaf supplements email lists with the email address owner’s age, gender, marital status, and thirty other data points.
  9.  Recorded Future: Recorded Future captures historical data on consumers and companies across the Internet and uses that information to predict the future behavior of those consumers and companies. As of May 2014, Recorded Future had access to information from over 502,591 different open Internet sites.

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Massachusetts Minimum Wage and Tipped Employees

In Massachusetts, the minimum wage for tipped employees (i.e. waitresses, bartenders) is $2.63 per hour. No matter how much a tipped employee makes in tips, they must also be paid their minimum wage. Also, if on a given shift, minimum wage pay and tips do not add up to an hourly pay rate of $8.00 per hour, the employer must make up the difference. The Massachusetts “Reporting Pay” regulation requires employers to pay an employee for a minimum of three hours of work if they are called in for any shift of four hours or more, and then sent home.  Employers must pay their employees on a weekly or biweekly schedule.

Hypothetical examples:

A. Shirley is a “bottle service” waitress  at the Coconut Grove. She is putting herself through college with the money she makes from tips. Her job is to pour alcohol at tables reserved by patrons willing to spend hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars a night on vastly overpriced champagne and hard liquor. She’s on her feet for five hours in heels, lugging bottles, and pushing through crowds of drunk people. Sometimes the customers are all over her, but she puts up with it to make her tuition and rent payments. On a good night, she can take home $1,500.00.  On a bad night, her table cancels, or for whatever reason, no one reserves a table, and she’s sent home.  After paying for parking, she’s minus $40.00. Over a three year period, she is sent home with zero pay 20 times.

By law, on a night when Shirley is cut, she’s entitled to the following in reporting pay, assuming a 5 hour shift:

3 * $8.00 * 24 = $576.00

If she sues the Coconut Grove, she’s entitled to:

$576.00 * 3 = $1,728.00  and her employer must pay her attorney’s fees and costs of filing suit.

B. Katrina is also a bottle service waitress at the Coconut Grove. She is only scheduled for the busiest nights, because she’s a top earner for the nightclub. She has close relationships with the high rollers patrons, so they never cancel on her. Over a three year time span (one hundred shifts a year) she makes $300,000 in tips. She is never paid her hourly tipped employee minimum wage.

By law, Katrina is entitled to:

5 * $2.63 * 300  = $3,945.00 (trebled to $11,835.00).

 Have you been affected by wage and hour law violations in your workplace? The Leonard Law Office is accepting Massachusetts wage theft cases.

  • It is illegal to retaliate against employees for bringing wage claims. 
  • Employers must pay the wronged employee’s attorneys fees in wage theft cases.
  • Triple damages are automatic; employers must pay the amount owed in wages times three. 

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Under Investigation – Wage Practices of McDonald’s, Subway, Dominos, and Dunkin Donuts

Do Massachusetts fast food franchises violate labor laws?

Examples of labor law violations:

Minimum wage violations – Not paying employees the minimum wage. This can happen in a variety of ways, such as when employees are required to pay for uniforms, causing net pay to sink below minimum wage. The Massachusetts minimum wage is $8.00/hr., and the Federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr.

Break violations – Not granting breaks, or deducting a 30 minute lunch break from pay, without actually allowing the break.

Overtime violations – Not paying employees for time and a half for work over 40 hours in a week.

“Off-the-clock” violations – Requiring employees to do unpaid work before or after punching in.

Paycheck docking violations – Deducting money from paychecks for cash register shortages when this causes the paycheck to fall below minimum wage.

Misclassification violations – Illegally designating employees as “Independent Contractors,” Providing 1099 instead of W2 forms to employees to save the business money.

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Privacy Class Action Filed Against East Coast Alpine

A class action lawsuit has been filed by the Leonard Law Office and co-counsel against East Coast Alpine. The case alleges that East Coast Alpine violated a Massachusetts credit card privacy law.

East Coast Alpine, Comm. Ave. Boston

East Coast Alpine, Comm. Ave. Boston


Excerpts from the complaint:

Plaintiff brings this action for redress of the unlawful practice of East Coast Alpine of collecting ZIP codes at checkout at its Massachusetts stores from customers who make purchases with Credit Cards, recording that information as part of the Credit Card transaction, and then using that information for its own marketing and promotional purposes, including to send unsolicited marketing and promotional materials, or “junk mail.” This practice, which has affected Plaintiff and members of the Class, as described and defined herein, is an invasion of privacy and violates G. L. c. 93 § 105(a) and G. L. c. 93A, § 2.


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Unpaid Interns – Should You Be Paid For Your Work?

Unpaid internships can seem like a great opportunity.  Sometimes, however, unpaid internships benefit the employer far more than the intern.  In some cases, unpaid internship programs violate state and federal labor laws.

Have you been negatively affected by an unpaid internship? We are accepting stories about unpaid internships in Massachusetts. We are also accepting clients who wish to seek financial compensation after working as unpaid interns. 

The use of unpaid interns obviously allows employers to reduce labor costs. Starving for opportunity, energetic and naive young people are routinely exploited through unpaid internships.

Unpaid interns are becoming the modern-day equivalent of entry-level employees, except that employers are not paying them for the many hours that they work.  Unlike apprenticeship programs of the past, many interns are not taught a trade, or given paid employment after their internship. Instead, most interns are required to do general menial tasks and gopher work with no educational value, for no pay.

Minimum wage laws require that employers pay all employes (even college students and recent grads who are desperate for work) the minimum wage, as well as overtime for hours over forty in a workweek.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has no exemption for interns unless they are apprentices or in a vocational training program. The Department of Labor (DOL) uses a six-factor test to evaluate whether a worker is a trainee or an employee.  It is only permissible to pay interns and less than minimum wage (and even then at no less than 75% of minimum wage) after applying for and being granted an authorizing certificate from the DOL, pursuant to Section 14(a) of the FLSA.

Another aspect of the use of unpaid interns is the unfair business advantage that this business practice creates.  The competitive disadvantage suffered by businesses not supplemented by unpaid intern labor in unfair.

The Department of Labor published a fact sheet about how federal law applies to unpaid internships — see below:

Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act

This fact sheet provides general information to help determine whether interns must be paid the minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act for the services that they provide to “for-profit” private sector employers.


The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines the term “employ” very broadly as including to “suffer or permit to work.”  Covered and non-exempt individuals who are “suffered or permitted” to work must be compensated under the law for the services they perform for an employer.  Internships in the “for-profit” private sector will most often be viewed as employment, unless the test described below relating to trainees is met.  Interns in the “for-profit” private sector who qualify as employees rather than trainees typically must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked over forty in a workweek.*

The Test For Unpaid Interns

There are some circumstances under which individuals who participate in “for-profit” private sector internships or training programs may do so without compensation.  The Supreme Court has held that the term “suffer or permit to work” cannot be interpreted so as to make a person whose work serves only his or her own interest an employee of another who provides aid or instruction.  This may apply to interns who receive training for their own educational benefit if the training meets certain criteria.  The determination of whether an internship or training program meets this exclusion depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of each such program.

The following six criteria must be applied when making this determination:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If all of the factors listed above are met, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the Act’s minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the intern.  This exclusion from the definition of employment is necessarily quite narrow because the FLSA’s definition of “employ” is very broad.  Some of the most commonly discussed factors for “for-profit” private sector internship programs are considered below.

Similar To An Education Environment And The Primary Beneficiary Of The Activity

In general, the more an internship program is structured around a classroom or academic experience as opposed to the employer’s actual operations, the more likely the internship will be viewed as an extension of the individual’s educational experience (this often occurs where a college or university exercises oversight over the internship program and provides educational credit).  The more the internship provides the individual with skills that can be used in multiple employment settings, as opposed to skills particular to one employer’s operation, the more likely the intern would be viewed as receiving training.  Under these circumstances the intern does not perform the routine work of the business on a regular and recurring basis, and the business is not dependent upon the work of the intern.  On the other hand, if the interns are engaged in the operations of the employer or are performing productive work (for example, filing, performing other clerical work, or assisting customers), then the fact that they may be receiving some benefits in the form of a new skill or improved work habits will not exclude them from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements because the employer benefits from the interns’ work.

Displacement And Supervision Issues

If an employer uses interns as substitutes for regular workers or to augment its existing workforce during specific time periods, these interns should be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked over forty in a workweek.  If the employer would have hired additional employees or required existing staff to work additional hours had the interns not performed the work, then the interns will be viewed as employees and entitled compensation under the FLSA.  Conversely, if the employer is providing job shadowing opportunities that allow an intern to learn certain functions under the close and constant supervision of regular employees, but the intern performs no or minimal work, the activity is more likely to be viewed as a bona fide education experience.  On the other hand, if the intern receives the same level of supervision as the employer’s regular workforce, this would suggest an employment relationship, rather than training.

Job Entitlement

The internship should be of a fixed duration, established prior to the outset of the internship.  Further, unpaid internships generally should not be used by the employer as a trial period for individuals seeking employment at the conclusion of the internship period.  If an intern is placed with the employer for a trial period with the expectation that he or she will then be hired on a permanent basis, that individual generally would be considered an employee under the FLSA.

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Judge Posner affirms TCPA class certification and upholds 7th Circuit’s TCPA standing precedent

In a good decision [PDF] for TCPA class actions, Judge Posner today ruled for plaintiffs in ARNOLD CHAPMAN and PALDO SIGN & DISPLAY COMPANY, v. WAGENER EQUITIES, INC. and DANIEL WAGENER.

“…our decision in Holtzman v. Turza, 728 F.3d 682, 684 (7th Cir. 2013), holds that no monetary loss need be shown to entitle the junk‐fax recipient to statutory damages. Whether or not the user of the fax machine is an owner, he may be annoyed, distracted, or otherwise inconvenienced if his use of the machine is interrupted by unsolicited faxes to it, or if the machine wears out prematurely because of overuse attributable to junk faxes.”

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Starbucks, “Greek Yogurt,” and Consumer Law

In early 2013, the Leonard Law Office wrote to Starbucks CEO Howard D. Schultz challenging the “Greek Yogurt,” claim made on various yogurt products sold at Starbucks in Massachusetts.

Authentic Greek yogurt has two main ingredients: milk and active yogurt cultures. It differs from ordinary yogurt in that most of the whey is strained out of it, producing an end result that is higher in protein, lower in fat, and has a thicker consistency than ordinary yogurt. Greek yogurt costs more than ordinary yogurt because it requires more milk and more work to make it, and has health benefits that make Greek yogurt more desirable than ordinary yogurt.


  • Contains Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Contains Pectin
  • Calories: 300
  • Protein: 8g
Starbucks greek yogurt label 600dpi black and white cropped

Starbucks’ previous “Greek Yogurt” version


  • Whey Protein Concentrate 
  • Pectin
  • Calories: 260
  • Protein: 15g

Current Ingredients Label

*     *     *

Current Lid Label — “15g of Protein”

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Starbucks has obviously changed the packaging and the product contained inside, despite Mr. Shultz’s lawyers dismissing the substance of the letter:

ScreenHunter_39 Mar. 30 20.28

“no legal basis”

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The new version tastes better, has more protein, fewer calories, and costs the same.

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Class Action Alleges Massachusetts Employees Misclassified as Independent Contractors

Together with another employment law firm, we filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against The Boston Institute for Psychotherapy, Inc. (“BIP”) alleging that BIP failed to pay its employees in accordance with the Massachusetts Wage Act and that BIP misclassified its employees as “independent contractors” in violation of Massachusetts law.

The lawsuit alleges that BIP classified its psychotherapy clinicians, and other employees, as “independent contractors” to avoid expenses commonly associated with having employees, such as employment tax, health insurance, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation and other employee benefits. The lawsuit also claims that BIP, by classifying these employees as “independent contractors,” attempted to skirt the Massachusetts Wage Act by paying its employees once per month, which exceeds the permissible time frame allowed by law.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts seeks class certification on behalf of all current and former clinicians and other employees who were affected by BIP’s allegedly unlawful payroll practices.

PDF Doulamis v. BIP Class Action Complaint

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Privacy Class Action Filed Against Fresh

A class action lawsuit has been filed by the Leonard Law Office and co-counsel against Fresh. The case alleges that Fresh violated a Massachusetts credit card privacy law.


Fresh — Newbury Street, Boston

Excerpts from the complaint:

Plaintiff brings this action for redress of the unlawful practice of Fresh of collecting ZIP codes at checkout at its Massachusetts store from customers who make purchases with Credit Cards, recording that information as part of the Credit Card transaction, and then using that information for its own marketing and promotional purposes, including to send unsolicited marketing and promotional materials, or “junk mail.” This practice, which has affected Plaintiff and members of the Class, as described and defined herein, is an invasion of privacy and violates G. L. c. 93 § 105(a) and G. L. c. 93A, § 2.

Information About Fresh:

Fresh is a for-profit corporation, organized under the laws of Delaware with a principal place of business at 560 Harrison Avenue, Suite 407, Boston, Massachusetts 02118. It sells cosmetics, skin cream, and hair care products.

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Free People Privacy Class Action Filed

A class action lawsuit has been filed by the Leonard Law Office and co-counsel against Free People. The case alleges that Free People violated a Massachusetts credit card privacy law.

Free People -- Prudential Center, Boston

Free People — Prudential Center, Boston

Excerpts from the complaint:

Plaintiff brings this action for redress of the unlawful practice of Free People of collecting ZIP codes at checkout at its Massachusetts store from customers who make purchases with Credit Cards, recording that information as part of the Credit Card transaction, and then using that information for its own marketing and promotional purposes, including to send unsolicited marketing and promotional materials, or “junk mail.” This practice, which has affected Plaintiff and members of the Class, as described and defined herein, is an invasion of privacy and violates G. L. c. 93 § 105(a) and G. L. c. 93A, § 2.

Information About Free People

Free People LLC is a limited liability company, organized under the laws of Delaware, with a principal place of business at 5000 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19112. Defendant Free People of PA LLC is a limited liability company, organized under the laws of Delaware, which merged with Free People LLC in 2005.  Free People is a subdivision of Urban Outfitters. The President of Free People is Margaret Hayne.

Free people one


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Patagonia Privacy Class Action Filed


The Settlement Administrator sent out an email to class members. This email, sent on 11/25/14 from millerpatagoniasettlement@tgcginc.com is below:


You are receiving this e-mail because, between March 18, 2010 and April 17, 2013, you may have provided a zip code (that Patagonia did not previously have) during a Credit Card purchase transaction at Patagonia’s Massachusetts Retail Store, and Patagonia maintains an email address for you.

A court authorized this Notice.  This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.  You are not being sued.

Why did I get this notice?  A settlement (“Settlement”) has been proposed in a class action lawsuit pending in the Suffolk County Superior Court for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts titled Miller v. Patagonia, Inc., C.A. 14-0888 (the “Action).  According to available records, you may be a “Settlement Class Member.”  The purpose of this notice is to inform you of the Action and the Settlement so that you may decide what steps to take in relation to it.

What is the Action about?  The Action was filed against Patagonia, Inc. (“Patagonia”).  Plaintiff Lauren Miller claims that Patagonia improperly collected customers’ zip codes at Patagonia’s Massachusetts store and sent customers unwanted marketing materials.  Patagonia denies that its actions violated the law, and no court or other entity has made any judgment or other determination that Patagonia violated the law.  Plaintiff believes that Patagonia’s conduct, as alleged, violated Massachusetts law and that her lawsuit has substantive merit. Both parties have agreed to a settlement to avoid the cost and risk of a trial.

Who is a member of the Settlement Class?  The Settlement Class – which includes you – is comprised of all Massachusetts customers who provided a zip code during a credit card or debit card purchase transaction at Patagonia’s retail store located at 346 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02115 (“Patagonia’s Massachusetts Retail Store”) from March 18, 2010 to April 17, 2013, for whom Patagonia did not already have a zip code and for whom Patagonia maintains a mailing or email address.

What relief does the Settlement provide me?  Patagonia has agreed to provide a merchandise certificate (“Certificate”) to all Settlement Class Members redeemable for $13 toward a future purchase from Patagonia.  The Certificate shall be fully transferrable.  The Certificate may not be used in conjunction with other offers, coupons, discounts, and promotions.  Only one Certificate may be used by each customer.  The Certificate is to be used on a single, in-store purchase at Patagonia’s Massachusetts Retail Store.  The Certificate is not redeemable for purchases from mail order catalogues, from Patagonia.com, for gift cards, or for prior purchases.  No minimum or maximum purchase amount is required to use the Certificate.  The Certificate cannot be redeemed for cash back, and any remaining balance not used in a single, in-store transaction shall be forfeited.  No monetary refund, cash, or change of any kind shall be provided for all or any portion of the Certificate’s value.  The Certificate cannot be redeemed as cash or merchandise credit if the merchandise is returned.  The Certificate is not a gift card or a gift certificate under federal or Massachusetts law, it cannot be replaced or redeemed if lost or stolen, and copies of the Certificate will not be accepted.  The Certificate shall be immediately available for redemption upon receipt, and shall expire 180 days after issuance.

                How can I get a Certificate?  If the Settlement is approved, you do not need to do anything to receive a certificate.  Instead, within 30 days after the settlement has been finally approved, Patagonia will send you a certificate by email or, if you do not have a valid email on file with Patagonia, by mail at the mailing address on file with Patagonia.  In the event that any such email or postal mailing is returned as undeliverable, Patagonia shall have no further obligation to deliver a Certificate to you unless you provide Patagonia with a valid email or postal mailing address within 60 days after the Settlement has obtained Final Judicial Approval.

                What happens when the Settlement is approved?  If the Settlement is approved, Patagonia will send you a Certificate.  In addition, you (and any person claiming by, for, or through you) will give up any right to bring your own lawsuit or participate in any lawsuit about the issues in this case.  The Settlement releases Patagonia and affiliated parties from all the claims as described in the settlement agreement, available for you to read on the settlement website here.

What other options do I have?  You may object or ask for permission for you or your own lawyer to appear and speak at the hearing – at your own cost – but you don’t have to do either.  Written objections and requests to appear must be sent to Civil Clerk’s Office, Suffolk Superior Court, County Courthouse, 12th Floor, Three Pemberton Square, Boston, MA 02108 and received by January 2, 2015 (with a copy to counsel for Patagonia and the Class).  Details on how to object, along with more information, are described here.  The Court will hold a hearing on February 3, 2015, at 2:00 p.m. to consider whether to approve the settlement and attorneys’ fees and awards for the Class Representative.  The hearing will take place before the Honorable Janet Sanders (or another Superior Court judge sitting in her stead) in Room 1017, County Courthouse, Suffolk Superior Court, Three Pemberton Square, Boston, MA 02108.

Where can I find more information about the Settlement?  For more detailed information about your rights in connection with this case, please visit www.millerpatagonia-settlement.com.

*                             *                              *                                   *

Original Post

A class action lawsuit has been filed by the Leonard Law Office and co-counsel against Patagonia.  The case alleges that Patagonia violated a Massachusetts credit card privacy law.


Patagonia — Newbury Street, Boston

Excerpts from the complaint:

Plaintiff brings this action for redress of the unlawful practice of Patagonia of collecting ZIP codes at checkout at its Massachusetts store from customers who make purchases with Credit Cards , recording that information as part of the Credit Card transaction, and then using that information for its own marketing and promotional purposes, including to send unsolicited marketing and promotional materials, or “junk mail.” This practice, which has affected Plaintiff and members of the Class, as described and defined herein, is an invasion of privacy and violates G. L. c. 93 § 105(a) and G. L. c. 93A, § 2.

A recent article from CNNMoney discussed the significant privacy violations that result from the practice of collecting ZIP codes. According to CNNMoney:

[T]he five-digit zip code is one of the key items data brokers use to link a wealth of public records to what you buy. They can figure out whether you’re getting married (or divorced), selling your home, smoke cigarettes, sending a kid off to college or about to have one. Such information is the cornerstone of a multi-billion dollar industry that enables retailers to target consumers with advertising and coupons. Yet, data privacy experts are concerned about the level at which consumers are being tracked without their knowledge — and what would happen if that data got into the wrong hands. Acxiom, one of the biggest data brokers in the business, claims to have a database that holds information — including one’s age, marital status, education level, political leanings, hobbies and income level — on 190 million individuals. Major competitors, like Datalogix and CoreLogic, tout similarly vast databases. In most cases, all that is needed to match the information these data brokers compile with what you buy is your full name — obtained when you swipe a credit card — and a zip code, according to data privacy experts. This allows them to figure out that you are the Sally Smith who lives in Butte, Mont., not the one who lives in Denver, for example. “For the majority of the country, the zip code is going to be the piece of the puzzle that is going to enable a merchant to identify you,” said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

Source “What Your ZIP Code Reveals About You,” April 18, 2013 (available at http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/18/pf/data-privacy/).

Information about Patagonia

Patagonia is a California company founded by Yvon Chouinard. It is best known for its high quality outdoor clothing, and esteemable corporate ethics.


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Massachusetts State, County, and City Consumer Protection Offices

Massachusetts State Offices
Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108-1518
617-727-8400 (Consumer Hotline)
TTY: 617-727-4765
email: ago@state.ma.us

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Hangtime Text Message / Privacy Class Action Filed in Massachusetts Federal Court

The Leonard Law Office  is representing plaintiffs in a class action against California app company Hangtime. The case is about unsolicited text messages that allegedly violate federal telemarketing and Massachusetts consumer protection law.

A text from hangtime is below:

Invite to MA Resident (7.6.14)

The Hangtime TCPA Class action complaint (PDF) asserts:

– In a misguided effort to promote its mobile application or “app,” Hangtime engages in an invasive and unlawful form of marketing: the unauthorized transmission of advertising in the form of “text message” calls to the cellular telephones of consumers throughout the nation.

– By effectuating these unauthorized text message calls (“wireless spam”), Hangtime has violated consumers’ statutory rights and has caused consumers actual harm, not only because consumers were subjected to the aggravation that necessarily accompanies wireless spam, but also because consumers frequently have to pay their cell phone service providers for the receipt of such wireless spam.

Hangtime - California App Company

– In order to redress these injuries, Plaintiff, on behalf of himself and a nationwide class of similarly situated individuals, and a Massachusetts subclass, brings action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq. (“47 U.S.C. § 227”) (the “TCPA”), which prohibits unsolicited voice and text calls to cell phones, and the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, M.G.L. c. 93A, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices.

– Unlike more conventional advertisements, wireless spam invades privacy and can actually cost its recipients money, because cell phone users like Plaintiff must frequently either pay their respective wireless service providers for each text message call they receive or incur a usage allocation deduction to their text plan, regardless of whether or not the message is authorized.

– Over the course of an extended period beginning in at least 2013, Hangtime and its agents directed the mass transmission of wireless spam to the cell phones nationwide of what they hoped were potential customers of Hangtime’s social networking services.

– For instance, on or about December 29, 2013, Plaintiff’s cell phone rang, indicating that a text call was being received.

– The “from” field of the transmission was identified cryptically as “14158153107,” which is a special purpose telephone number known as a long code operated by Hangtime and its agents.  The body of such text message read:

Mikey Leftside shared events with you on Hangtime. http://hangti.me/XiEpF6mLKc

Hangtime’s and its agents’ use of a long code enabled Hangtime’s mass transmission of wireless spam to a list of cellular telephone numbers.

Hangtime sent these messages using equipment with the capacity to store or produce telephone numbers to be called using a random or sequential number generator and to dial such numbers

– By use of these methods, Hangtime sent text messages that were the same or practically the same as the message sent to Plaintiff, referenced in Paragraph 15 above, to numerous cell phones throughout the country.

– These text messages, including the text message sent to Plaintiff did not originate from, nor were they created by, the individuals referenced in the messages (though the messages were intended and made to appear that way).  Rather, the messages sent to Plaintiff and other class members originated from and were created by Hangtime as a promotional device for its service.

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Securities Fraud Class Action Investigation: Merge Healthcare Inc. (Nasdaq: MRGE)

What is Securities Fraud?

Securities fraud takes a variety of forms.  All dishonest actions on the part of publicly traded corporations can cause their investors serious financial harm. When the market reacts negatively to news of wrongdoing, share prices decrease, and investors lose money.

Merge Healthcare’s Falsified Contracts and Overstated Figures

On January 8, 2014, MRGE issued a corrective disclosure (PDF) confessing that the company had “falsified the existence or amount of certain customer contracts.” This is the second time Merge Healthcare has had problems with ethics. In 2009, the SEC charged two former senior executives with accounting fraud, in a scandal that caused the stock price to plummet. Continue reading

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Harvard University’s “Collossal” Payroll Blunder – Potential Class Action Investigation

According to two Harvard Law School professors (see below) Harvard’s initial handling of massive payroll error was misleading and inadequate.

  • Did Havard’s tax error and resulting payroll mistakes violate Massachusetts Wage and Hour Laws?
  • Does Harvard owe far more than it claims?

If you were affected by this issue, you are welcome to contact us. You may be entitled to significant financial compensation. The Leonard Law Office is now accepting Massachusetts Wage & Hour Law Violation / Wage Theft cases.


To: HLS Faculty and Staff
From: Professors Alvin Warren and Daniel Halperin
Date: February 4, 2014
Re: Major Harvard Tax Error

We write in response to requests for our views regarding a letter from the Harvard Benefits Office dated January 21, 2014 concerning Harvard supplemental life insurance. If you received this letter, it is because the University reported too much taxable income for you to the federal and state governments for one or more taxable years beginning in 2009. If you did not receive the letter, you need not read any further.

In our view, the letter misstates the law and is misleading as to both the scope of the problem and the University’s responsibility to make some 11,000 employees whole for a monumental mistake by the central administration. After reviewing the letter, we met with a group of responsible personnel in Harvard’s central administration. The good news is that we think that they understand just how misleading the letter is. Although nothing has been decided, they are also aware of our position that the University must make its faculty and staff whole for excess taxes we paid on more than $20,000,000 of income that we did not receive, but which was erroneously reported by Harvard to the federal and state governments on our W-2 forms.

These are the facts as provided to us by the central administration: Prior to 2009, the University’s pricing of supplemental life insurance resulted in some employees receiving what the IRS regarded as taxable subsidies that had to be reported as income. In 2009, the University changed the pricing of the insurance so that there were no more taxable subsidies. The Harvard administration nonetheless continued to report taxable income to the federal and state governments, as though no change had been made. This taxable income was included on employees’ W-2 forms, so we paid taxes on income that we did not receive. The central administration first became aware of possible overreporting in October 2013. The first communication to the faculty and staff regarding the issue was the January 21, 2014 letter.

The letter misstates the law. It says that “IRS regulations do not allow the University to assist you in filing for a state or federal income tax refund.” There is no such regulation.

The letter does not accurately present the scope of the problem. It says that “For many people, the amount of the over-reported income was less that $200 per year.” That is true, but for some employees, the amount exceeds $10,000. Nowhere is the total scope of the problem frankly presented. We were told in our meeting that more than 11,000 current and former employees are affected, with the total amount of overreported income exceeding $20,000,000. In our judgment, to mention in the letter only those employees for whom the amount involved is less than $200 per year is misleading as to the true extent of the problem.

The letter fails to reveal all of the years for which there is a problem. The letter only discusses 2011-13, but the overreporting also occurred in 2009 and 2010. This fact is obscured by the vague expression in the first paragraph, which states that the problem involves “several years prior to 2014.” The full scope of the years involved is never disclosed. The federal statute of limitations has run for 2009, so no refund can be claimed for that year unless an employee’s tax return is still open due to, for example, an audit. The federal statute of limitations for 2010 runs on April 15, 2014, but the administration does not believe it can provide corrected W-2 forms by then.

Most grievously, the letter fails to accept Harvard’s responsibility to make its employees whole for its monumental error. Although 11,000 Harvard employees were victims of the administration’s error, the only remedy presented in the letter is for each of the victims to file amended tax returns with the state and federal governments. The only “resources” offered in the “Frequently Asked Questions” that accompanied the letter are a couple of links to federal (not state) government tax sites.

In our view, Harvard has a responsibility to make its employees whole for its colossal error. For taxable year 2013 (for which returns are due on April 15, 2014) , the central administration hopes to send us corrected W-2 forms somewhat earlier than the March 21 date mentioned in the letter. As to earlier years, it seems to us that the only viable choices are as follows: (1) For years in which amended returns are precluded by the statue of limitations (2009 and 2010, depending on the circumstances), Harvard should offer to reimburse employees for the excess taxes they paid due to the University’s error. These amounts should be compounded to present value. (2) For years in which amended returns are possible, the University should offer employees either (a) reimbursement of excess taxes paid (again compounded to present value) or (b) free professional preparation of amended tax returns. The latter might be done in easily accessible locations on campus or by reimbursement of professional fees for faculty and staff who preferred to use a different return preparer. Some employees might, of course, prefer not to accept either offer and to prepare their own amended returns.

To do anything less than the steps described in the preceding paragraph would indicate that the central administration does not believe that it has an obligation to take responsibility for its errors. Nothing could be further from the core values of truth and honesty that infuse teaching and research at this University. At our meeting with the central administration, we expressed this view with considerable force.

Finally, if you want to see the amount that was overreported for you, it does not appear on your W-2 form. As indicated at the top of the second page of the “Frequently Asked Questions” that accompanied the January 21 letter, that information can be found in a year-to-date total on your December paycheck for each year.


February 7, 2014

Dear Colleague:
You received a letter from the Harvard Benefits Office dated January 21 regarding an error in IRS Forms W-2 in which Harvard incorrectly reported imputed income on supplemental life insurance for you and others. I offer my sincere apologies for the error itself and for the failure of the initial letter to communicate effectively, including about the nature and scope of the problem, and Harvard’s proposed response.

I write now to correct inaccuracies in the letter, to inform you of steps Harvard will take to assist affected individuals, and to provide additional information in the interest of greater clarity and transparency that you have every right to expect.

The University began to investigate a possible error in reporting of imputed income in October 2013. The problem resulted from a change in the structure of the supplemental life insurance plan in 2009 which meant that income should no longer have been imputed for the benefit.

Overall, the income incorrectly reported for years 2009 through 2013 was significant, estimated to be in excess of $20M for approximately 11,000 affected former and current University employees, while the effect on individual employee’s taxes varied widely. For example, in 2013, the error resulted in less than $200 of imputed income for approximately 60% of affected employees. However, the annual impact was significantly greater for some over $1,000 of imputed income in 2013 for about 13% of those employees affected last year and over $10,000 of imputed income in 2013 for a small number of individuals.

The initial letter misstated the type of assistance the University is able to provide in rectifying the erroneously imputed income. We had intended the letter to note that the University itself could not apply for a state or federal income tax refund on an employee’s behalf. The letter instead said that the University could not assist employees in filing for a refund. This was not accurate. Indeed, the University can provide assistance and, as described below, is actively considering how best to do so.

The original communication did not include steps Harvard would take to support affected members of the community. That was a mistake and we recognize our obligation to ensure that those affected do not incur any financial losses related to this situation. Specifically:

* For 2009 and 2010 we will make payments to current and former employees for excess taxes paid, plus interest. If taxes are due on the foregoing payments, we will reimburse individuals for taxes owed.

* For 2011 and 2012, affected employees can recover the excess tax payments by filing amended tax returns. We recognize that this represents an inconvenience and are committed to doing all that we can to help. We will reimburse individuals for out-of-pocket tax preparation costs, after taxes, if any, that they incur as a result of filing amended returns. We will offer educational programming on filing an amended return. We are also exploring the feasibility of making available tax preparation services that will provide confidential assistance and that will be independent of the University. For individuals with small refund claims, for whom the cost of filing a claim would exceed the amount to be refunded, we will offer the alternative of a cash payment by Harvard in lieu of the individual’s filing a refund claim. If taxes are due on these payments, we will reimburse individuals for taxes owed. We currently anticipate that corrected Forms W-2 for 2011 and 2012 will be available in the early summer.

* We are ahead of schedule for the issuance of corrected Forms W-2 for 2013 and expect they will be delivered earlier in March than originally anticipated and communicated. To avoid the need to file an amended tax return for 2013, we suggest that you delay your filing until you receive the corrected Form W-2.

Going beyond support for affected individuals, we plan to undertake a review, with the assistance of outside experts, of the tax treatment of our benefits programs to ensure there are no additional deficiencies in our processes and practices.

More details of the University’s mitigation efforts will be sent to you in the coming weeks. If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Harvard Benefits at Benefits@harvard.edu.

In closing, please accept my sincere apology. We are working to remedy this situation and to ensure an error like this does not occur again.


Marilyn Hausammann
Vice President for Human Resources


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Michael’s Stores Credit Card Privacy / Unsolicited Marketing Case Settles

Massachusetts federal judge William G. Young granted preliminary approval on Wednesday February, 12, 2013 to an $875,000 settlement resolving a class action that accused arts-and-crafts retailer Michael’s Stores Inc. of improperly demanding ZIP Codes from its customers during transactions and then sending them junk mail.  See the settlement docs: [PDF]

In this class action, Michael’s stores was sued for allegedly violating M.G.L. c. 93A sec 9 (Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act) and M.G.L. c. 93 sec. 105(a) (Massachusetts Credit Card Privacy Act). This is the seminal case in the area of credit card privacy under Massachusetts law. Class counsel took the case all the way to the SJC. In mid 2013, they won a decision from the Commonwealth’s highest state court declaring that (1) ZIP codes constitute “Personal Identification Information” in the context of M.G.L. c. 93 sec. 105(a); and (2) receipt of unsolicited marketing materials or  junk mail occasioned by an underlying violation of sec. 105(a) is an injury under 93A.

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Neiman Marcus Data Breach Class Action Investigation

Neiman Marcus has had a data breach comparable to Target’s. Personal identification information and card data from as many as 110 million customers has allegedly been exposed.

If you shopped at Neiman Marcus with a credit or debit card from July 16, 2013 – October 30, 2013, or January 2013 – January 2014, you are welcome to contact us. You may be entitled to financial compensation

According to a notice posted on the Neiman Marcus website (pdf) and (url):

“It appears that the malware actively attempted to collect or “scrape” payment card data from July 16, 2013 to October 30, 2013. During those months, approximately 1,100,000 customer payment cards could have been potentially visible to the malware. To date, Visa, MasterCard and Discover have notified us that approximately 2,400 unique customer payment cards used at Neiman Marcus and Last Call stores were subsequently used fraudulently.”

According to another disclosure (pdf) from Neiman Marcus, the company had another data breach from January 2013 – January 2014.

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Phishing Attacks, Paypal Accounts, and Fraudulent Charges

What does it mean if you have fraudulent charges on your Paypal Account?

It probably means two things:

#1: You opened a “phishing” email.
#2: A keylogger is recording everything you type and capturing your secret login/password information, as well as other private materials, and sending it to all to a wrongdoer.


Phishing is a way to send a real-looking email to an unsuspecting victim to fraudulently obtain something of value.  In the words of an actual phisher:

“PayPal’s security is not the best but it’s well secured. The probable reason for the fraudulent charges are phishing mails, that probably installed a Keylogger on his computer and got the Login details from that way. It’s the easiest way, if he doesn’t have a hi-tech antivirus software.”

A keylogger is a program that records each keystroke and sends the information to someone else through the Internet.

Successful phishing attacks depend on a valid-looking email, and a link contained in the email. Below is an example of one such email claiming to provide a death notification:

From: Hubbell Funeral Home <info@assortjapan.com>
Subject: Death notification

Hubbel Funeral Home
Simply Compassionate

We would like to express our deepest sorrow for the untimely death of your beloved
friend and inform you about the life service celebration that will take place at
Hubbell Funeral Home on February 20, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.

Please follow this link [malware link removed] to get funeral invitation.
Please be there to honor the memory of your friend with her closest people.

Our best wishes and prayers,
David Parks,
Funeral home assistant

99 North Indian Rocks Road | Belleair Bluffs, Florida 33770
Phone 727-584-7671 | Fax 727-584-1073

Phishing Attack

Email Security

(1) Be suspicious. First of all, a sender’s email address is easy to fake. There are ways to digitally forge information in such a way that an email appears to be from a trusted source – ie. security@citibank.com. So, just because you trust the sender, the message may not really be from a trusted source.

(1) If an email asks you for personal information, NEVER provide it.  Banks and legitimate online businesses such as Ebay, Amazon, and Paypal do not send customers emails asking them for:

  • First and last name
  • Password
  • Driver’s license number
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security number
  • Credit and debit card numbers
  • PIN numbers
  • Bank account numbers

(2) Do not click on links within emails, unless you are 100% sure it is from a real person whom you trust,  i.e a friend emailing you an interesting article from the New York Times. Unfortuntely, you can unknowingly download keylogging software or other malicous programs just by one click on the wrong hyperlink.

(3) Do not open software or attachments sent you to from an untrusted email sender.

Computer & Financial Account Security

It is foolish not to have a high quality anti-virus program that is up to date. AVG Free 2014, which doesn’t cost anything, may be good enough to scan for keyloggers and keep your machine secure.

If you have had fraudulent charges on a credit card, debit card, or Paypal account, you should have your cards inactivated and reissued.

Password Security

The easiest way to compromise an account is by guessing the password. Never use an idiotic password such as “Password.” Frequently change all of your passwords, and do not use the same password for everything. A secure password has these characteristics:

  • Contains no words found in the dictionary
  • Consists of a blend of uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Has at least one number and one symbol
  • Is at least ten characters in length
  • Impossible to guess based on who you are
  • Known only to one person: you
  • Has not been used for your other accounts in the past

Varieties of Phishing Attacks

Phishing emails are infinitely creative.   Scammers will stop at nothing to trick people into clicking on a link contained within an email. The notice below from February 2014, warns of a creative tactic used by criminals:

The federal judiciary has learned of an email scam, in which emails purporting to come from
federal and state courts are infecting recipients with computer viruses.
According to the Security Operations Center of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the
emails are instructing recipients to report to a hearing on a specified day and time. The emails
also instruct recipients to review an attached document for detailed case information. When the
attachments or links in the email are opened, a malicious program is launched that infects the
recipient’s computer. Several state courts have reported similar schemes, and also are warning
the public about potential viruses.
Unless you are actively involved in a case in federal court and have consented to receive court
notifications electronically, you generally will not be served with court documents electronically.
If you receive an email regarding a federal court case or matter of which you are unaware that is
purported to be from this district court, you should contact the CM/ECF help desk at 866-239-
6233 before opening any attachments or links. You may use the court locator
(http://www.uscourts.gov/court_locator.aspx) to find contact information for other federal courts.


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23 and Me — Investigation Closed

DNA tester 23andMe Inc. has been hit with a class action in which the company is accused of falsely advertising its saliva collection kit and personal genome service product as accurately providing health reports on more than 240 genetic medical conditions.


23 and me

According to the Complaint:

“This proposed class action alleges that 23andMe, Inc. (“Defendant”) falsely and misleadingly advertises their Saliva Collection Kit/Personal Genome Service (“PGS”) as providing “health reports on 240+ conditions and traits”, “drug response”, “carrier status”, among other things, when there is no analytical or clinical validation for the PGS. In addition, Defendant uses the information it collects from the DNA tests consumers pay to take to generate databases and statistical information that it then markets to other sources and the scientific community in general, even though the test results are meaningless.

3 Despite Defendant’s failure to receive marketing authorization or approval from the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), Defendant has slowly increased its list of indications for the PGS, and initiated new marketing campaigns, including television advertisements in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (“FDC Act”). Defendant 23andMe, Inc., a Delaware Corporation, was and is a corporation founded in 2006, headquartered in Mountain View, California, existing under the laws of the State of Delaware and doing business in the State of California and elsewhere throughout the United States of America.”

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS from the 23and Me Class Action:

  • ” PGS is a direct-to-consumer DNA genetic test. After a consumer purchases the PGS for $99.00 plus applicable taxes, Defendant mails to the customer a packet including a saliva depository. The customer spits into the depository, thereby providing his or her DNA sample, and mails the packet back to Defendant. Defendant allegedly runs a DNA test for 240+ conditions and traits, and mails a report to the customer regarding the risks or family history characteristics such as coronary heart disease or rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, the customer can log-in to Defendant’s website for more features.
  • Defendant Advertises and Markets PGS as a Reliable Health Aid 10 To benefit Defendant’s sales of PGS, Defendant advertises and markets PGS in multiple media forms, including internet, print, and television.
  • A small sample of such advertising and marketing under the “Health” tab of Defendant’s website shows representations regarding the value of the PGS to a customer’s health:
    •  “Learn hundreds of things about your health. Using your DNA information, 23andMe helps you know more about your health so you can take an active role in managing it. With reports on over 240+ health conditions and traits, here are a few of the things you’ll learn about you.”
    • “Plan for the future. Find out if your children are at risk for inherited conditions, so you can plan for the health of your family.”
    • “Living well starts with knowing your DNA.”
    • “Health tools – Document your family health history, track inherited conditions, and share the knowledge.”
    • “Drug response – Arm your doctor with information on how you might respond to certain medications.”
    • “Below are a few examples [diabetes, arthritis, coronary heart disease, breast cancer, plavix, lactose intolerance] where we can help you learn more. And when you know more, you can make better lifestyle choices, look out for common conditions and take steps toward mitigating serious diseases.”(https://www.23andme.com/health/ Accessed 11/26/13)
  • Defendant markets and advertises specific examples of diseases and conditions for which the PGS can aid the consumer. Further, Defendant claims, “Get personalized recommendations. Based on your DNA, we’ll provide specific health recommendations for you.” Defendant offers information on a consumer’s risk regarding such serious diseases as diabetes, coronary heart disease, and breast cancer. (https://www.23andme.com/health/ Accessed 11/26/13)
  • Defendant describes the PGS service further: “23andMe is a DNA analysis service providing information and tools for individuals to learn about and explore their DNA, We use the Illumina HumanOmniExpress-24 format chip…Our chip consists of a fully custom panel of probes for detective single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) selected by our researchers. The selection was made to maximize the number of actionable health and ancestry features available to customers as well as offer flexibility for future research.”
  • Defendant Has Provided No Support for Such Advertisements and Marketing to FDA.
  • Defendant has reaped the profit involved in marketing seemingly useful and reliable PGS health services while simultaneously failing to provide proof of the validity of such marketing claims to FDA in violation of the FDC Act
  • Beginning in July 2009, FDA worked diligently with Defendant to try to help Defendant comply with regulatory requirements regarding safety and effectiveness and to obtain marketing authorization for the PGS device.
  • FDA sent Defendant a “Warning Letter” on November 22, 2013, citing concerns over whether or not these tests work. The FDA cited concern about the public danger involved in false positives and false negatives for such serious health conditions purportedly tested by PGS.
  • The FDA Warning Letter further indicated, among other things, that, ‘To date, 23andMe has failed to provide adequate information to support a determination that the PGS is substantially equivalent to a legally marketed predicate for any of the uses for which you are marketing it; no other submission for the PGS device that you are marketing has been provided under section 510(k) of the [FDC] Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360(k).
  • After more than 14 face-to-face meetings, hundreds of email messages, and dozens of written communications between Defendant and FDA concerning the public health consequences of inaccurate results from the PGS device, FDA has concluded, “…even after these many interactions with 23andMe, we still do not have any assurance that the firm has analytically or clinically validated the PGS for its intended uses…”
  • After FDA cited specific examples of potential dangers to consumers, its letter states, “The risk of serious injury or death is known to be high when patients are either non-complaint or not properly dosed; combined with the risk that a direct-to-consumer test result may be used by a patient to self-manage, serious concerns are raised if test results are not adequately understood by patients or if incorrect test results are reported.”
  • Defendant has marketed and sold PGS to consumers for years without any analytical or clinical data to support the device’s efficacy. Despite lacking data to support their claims, Defendant made material representations to customers.
  • Without clinical data, Defendant continues to make health and efficacy claims about the PGS. Without such claims, consumers would lack incentive to purchase the product. Thus, Defendant has benefitted, and continues to benefit, from its misleading and unfair advertising and marketing.
  • If the data is unknown or cannot be produced by researchers, the marketing claims are hollow and misleading, created without backing and with the aim of drawing customers to purchase the product.
  • In a January 9, 2013 letter, Defendant stated to FDA that it was “completing the additional analytical and clinical validations for the tests that have been submitted” and “planning extensive labeling studies that will take several months to complete.” Thus, a full 5 years after the commencement of marketing the PGS to consumers, Defendant cannot support its marketing claims with scientific validation. In the absence of validation, 5 years of marketing claims were unfair, deceptive, and misleading to the consumers who trusted Defendant with potentially life-altering health matters.
  • Defendant also publishes “research” based on the test results it complies from individual consumers paying to have the PGS test administered, falsely claiming the results provide meaningful statistical data and useful scientific results.
  • Plaintiff alleges that, in committing the wrongful acts alleged herein, Defendant, in concert with its subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or other related entities and their respective employees, planned, participated in and furthered a common scheme to induce members of the public to purchase the PGS by means of misleading, deceptive and unfair representations, and that Defendant participated in the making of such representations in that it disseminated those misrepresentations and/or caused them to be disseminated.”

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Filed under Class Action Investigations

Target Data Breach Class Action Complaint Filed in Massachusetts

The Target Data Breach Class ActionTarget


Update (8/27/14)

The Consolidated National Target Data Breach Class Action Complaint (PDF) was filed on 8/25/14.

Update: (4/4/14)

The Target cases have been transferred (PDF) to Minnesota, Target’s home state.

Update: (1/21/14)

How to Limit Your Losses 

The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) offer protection if your credit, ATM, or debit cards are lost or stolen.

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Filed under Class Action Lawsuits

The Incredible Nuisance of Junk Faxes

Unsolicited faxes damage their recipients. A junk fax recipient loses the use of its fax machine, paper, and ink toner. An unsolicited fax wastes the recipient’s valuable time that would have been spent on something else. A junk fax interrupts the recipient’s privacy. Unsolicited faxes prevent fax machines from receiving authorized faxes, prevent their use for authorized outgoing faxes, cause undue wear and tear on the recipients’ fax machines, and require additional labor to attempt to discern the source and purpose of the unsolicited message.

In 1991, Congress enacted the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 et seq. (“TCPA”) to regulate the explosive growth of the telemarketing industry. In so doing, Congress recognized that “unrestricted telemarketing . . . can be an intrusive invasion of privacy . . .” See 47 U.S.C. § 227, Congressional Statement of Findings #5. Specifically, in enacting the TCPA, Congress outlawed telemarketing via unsolicited facsimile (“Junk Fax”). See 47 U.S.C. §227(b)(1)(C).

Section 227(b)(1)(C) of the Act makes it “unlawful for any person within the United States. . . to use any telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send, to a telephone facsimile machine, an unsolicited advertisement.” See 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(C); see also 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200(a)(3).

Under the TCPA, recipients of unsolicited fax advertisements can file suit in federal or state court to collect the greater of $500 or actual damages for each violation, and/or obtain an injunction. See 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(3)(B). If a court determines that the violations were willful or knowing, damages can be tripled. This means that every distinct junk fax sent out could result in damages of $1,500.

Example of a “Junk Fax”:

junk fax from regents capital finance


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FTC Finally Stops (well, not really) The Most Annoying Robocallers Ever: “Rachel from Card Services”

According to the FTC, the agency has reached a settlement with the people behind the “Rachel from Card Services” robocalls. The individuals mentioned are Emory L. “Jack” Holley IV and Lisa Miller. Going after the source of these obnoxious robocalls was one the most useful activities of the FTC in 2013. Unfortunately, however, it didn’t work. I received a call from Rachel on December 16, 2013.


FTC’s announcement:

Final Six Defendants in ‘Rachel Robocall’ Scheme Settle FTC Charges – They Will Be Permanently Banned from All Telemarketing and Debt Relief Services – The final six of 10 defendants named in an alleged “Rachel from Cardholder Services” scam have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they misled consumers with bogus claims that they would lower their credit card interest rates.The FTC settlement bans Emory L. “Jack” Holley IV, Lisa Miller, and the remaining corporate defendants from telemarketing and marketing debt relief services or assisting others in such conduct, prohibits them from misrepresenting any products or services, and imposes a partially suspended $11.9 million judgment. The FTC filed its complaint in this matter in October 2012, alleging that the defendants violated Section 5 of the FTC Act and the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) by charging illegal up-front fees during telemarketing calls in which they made false promises to reduce the interest rate on consumers’ credit cards and save them thousands of dollars.”


  1. How did they get away with it for so long?
  2. Will they really stop?

Case Documents:


Rachel from Card Services is back at it as of December 16, 2013!


Call from Rachel from Card Services (December 16, 2013)


Filed under Uncategorized

MAC Faces Privacy Class Action in Massachusetts

On November 5, 2013, the Leonard Law Office filed a class action lawsuit against MAC Cosmetics, alleging violations of Massachusetts credit card privacy and consumer protection laws.

MAC Cosmetics - Newbury St.

MAC Cosmetics – Newbury Street

If you have information about MAC’s business practices related to credit card transactions, or believe you were affected by conduct that is the basis of this case (by MAC or any other Massachusetts retailer) you are welcome to contact us.

Excerpts of the class action complaint are pasted below:

“Plaintiff brings this action for redress of the unlawful practice of MAC of collecting ZIP codes at checkout at its Massachusetts stores from customers who make purchases with Credit Cards, recording that information as part of the Credit Card transaction, and then using that information for its own marketing and promotional purposes, including to send unsolicited marketing and promotional materials, or “junk mail.”  This practice, which has affected Plaintiff and members of the Class, as described and defined herein, is an invasion of privacy and violates G. L. c. 93 § 105(a) and G. L. c. 93A, § 2.

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Filed under Boston News, Class Action Lawsuits

Do weight loss products containing Hydrocitric Acid (HCA) work as advertised? Do they contain as much HCA as advertised?

Does Hydroxycitric acid (“HCA”) work as a weight loss agent? If you have purchased a weight loss product containing Hydrocitric acid (HCA) or Garcinia Cambogia, and found that the results did not live up to product claims, you are welcome to contact us.

Top Garcinia (HCA) supplement brands

  1. Absolute Garcinia Cambogia
  2. Healthy Clip Pure Garcinia Rapid
  3. Pure Health Garcinia Cambogia
  4. Bio Nutrition Garcinia Cambogia
  5. Labrada Nutrition Garcinia Cambogia
  6. Puritan’s Pride Super Citrimax
  7. Futurebiotics Garcinia Cambogia
  8. Molecular Research Labs Pure Garcinia Cambogia
  9. Vitamin Shoppe Garcinia Cambogia Extract
  10. Garcinia Cambogia Select
  11. Nature’s Plus Citrimax
  12. Vitamin World Super Citrimax
  13. Genesis Today Garcinia Cambogia
  14. Nutritional Sciences Garcinia Lean

Warning: Six HCA products on this list have been been found to contain 16% to 81% of the HCA claimed on the label. If you have purchased any of these products, and believe you were misled, you are welcome to contact us. 

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