Tag Archives: class action

…Is this couch “leather” or “pleather”?

What is “Pleather” Furniture?

There are various names under which fake or imitation leather furniture is sold, some of which refer to products that may contain small amounts of leather (though not furniture-grade leather).    Some of the more common technical terms used by sellers of these products include “bonded leather,” “bicast,” “bi-cast leather,” “PU Leather,” and “leather match.”

Companies that sell these and other types of fake leather Furniture

There are many businesses that sell authentic and fake leather furniture products, including Wayfair.com, JCPenney, Value City, Jennifer, and Bob’s Discount Furniture, and Bernie & Phyl’s.

What is wrong with Bonded Leather and other similar Fake Leather Products?

Like all imitation products, there are serious quality and durability issues with bonded leather and other fake leather  furniture.  Many consumers have complained that furniture they believed would stand the test of time and have the durability of genuine leather (which can and should last for many years) has instead developed deep cracks, delamination, and tearing (sometimes within a few months after purchase).  Some fake leather furniture products (including bonded leather and bicast leather) may be sold using deceptive advertising and marketing. Some consumers have been led to believe they are purchasing genuine leather furniture, when in fact that is not the case.

"Pleather" Sofa

“Pleather” Sofa

What can you do if you were deceived into buying furniture that was not real leather?

If you believe you may have purchased fake leather furniture based on deceptive advertising or marketing, you are welcome to contact us. Even if the advertising or promotional material refers to the product by its actual name, such as “bonded leather,” this does not necessarily mean that the advertising and product description may not have been deceptive.

Related information

There is a detailed blog post published by FOW Furniture in New Jersey that explains the true nature of many so-called “leather” products: A Look at the Bi-Cast Leather Controversy.

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Primark Data Breach

Information about the Primark Data Breach


Pimark in Boston’s “downtown crossing”

Primark has reported that its Boston store, located in Downtown Crossing at 10 Summer Street, was affected by a data breach running from July to October of 2016. On or about October 17, 2016, Primark found out that “skimmers” had been secretly installed in their credit card machines. They failed to make this discovery for approximately four months.

As a result, it is believed that cybercriminals may have intercepted tens of thousands of consumers’ credit card numbers and financial data. Primark’s public notification about their data breach is here.

Information about Primark

Primark is an inexpensive clothing company.  It has been harshly criticized for its labor practices. It is known for selling fashionable, yet extremely low-priced goods manufactured in 3rd world factories.According to Bloomberg, Mr. Arthur Ryan is the Founder, Chairman and Managing Director, and the company is headquartered in the United Kingdom.

News Reports about the Primark data breach


Primark – Boston

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Does Jergens Skin Firming Lotion work?

Some consumers have questioned bold claims made by Jergens “Skin Firming” lotion. Is this yet another “anti-cellulite” cream? Respected dermatologists have firmly rejected the notion that any such product can produce the results promised, and consistently indicated that as a matter of accurate science and physiology, cellulite cannot be successfully combated by any skin cream.

Jergens Skin Firming Lotion, sold at national retailers such as CVS, makes a number of questionable claims, including but not limited to:

  • “Reduces appearance of cellulite for visibly firmer skin.”
  • “Helps you achieve deeply luminous, visibly firmer skin.”
  • “Tightens and increases elasticity of cellulite prone skin for visibly firmer results.”

Jergens claims that the magic ingredients giving this otherwise ordinary lotion the ability to fight cellulite are its unique “Hydralucence blend,” collagen, and elastin. “Hydralucence” is a scientific-sounding word, but does it have any real meaning?

One thing is for sure – consumers who buy lotions claiming to have special properties that defy the boundaries of reality and science – i.e. “anti-aging” and “anti-cellulite” creams – spend lots of money, but may be extremely disappointed when they compare the benefits promised to the results obtained.


Have you purchased questionable anti-cellulite products?

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Lierac Body-Slim – too good to be true?

We are looking into Ales Group, U.S.A., Inc.’s  Lierac Body-Slim products.  The issue is whether Ales has made false representations to deceive women into believing that by simply applying expensive creams and serums, they can obtain relief from “cellulite.”

“‘Cellulite’ is a word first coined in France sometime around 1920 to describe the dimpled, uneven appearance of skin caused by the distribution of subcutaneous fat, particularly around the hips, thighs, and posterior of women. Primed by unrelenting pressure to appear youthful and attractive, women have been presented with “anti-cellulite” products in recent years.

Ales has marketed anti-cellulite products by presenting idealized, possibly photo-shopped images of young models in association with their “body slim” line of skin products, and by promoting the idea that the normal human imperfection of cellulite can be fixed by applying consumer goods.

Ales has made claims that its products work against “unwanted bodily curves.” Ales has made, and continues to make claims and promises to consumers about the efficacy of its Lierac Paris Body-Slim line of cellulite products, (collectively “Lierac Body-Slim” or “Lierac Body-Slim Cellulite Products”).

Do Lierac Body-Slim Cellulite products live up to advertised claims?

For example, one in-store display claims, “You’re only 2 weeks from a firmer, smoother body.”Body Slim Ad

Is the premise that there are slimming or cellulite-banishing effects available through the application of any cream, ointment, supported by credible scientific evidence?

According to our research, there is a long line of peer-reviewed scholarly articles, and credible medical opinions revealing the ineffective and useless nature of anti-cellulite creams.

Is there a product on earth that by mere application to human skin, can bring about a “firmer, smoother body,” “[h]elp[] correct the appearance of all visible signs of stubborn cellulite,” or live up to various other claims made by Ales to promote its Lierac Body-Slim Cellulite Products?

Molly Wanner, MD, MBA, and Mathew Avram, MD, JD, both of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, after carefully studying cellulite, its causes, and attempts at stopping it, have published their conclusion that cellulite is a normal condition affecting virtually all women, for which there is no effective remedy to be found on the shelves of a drug store:

“Cellulite is the characteristic, nonpathologic appearance of dimpled, ‘cottage cheese-like’ skin surface change typically seen in women on the thighs and buttocks. It is commonly seen on the abdomen, breasts, and arms. Given that the occurrence of cellulite is nearly universal in post-pubertal females, it is thought of as a female secondary sex characteristic. Nevertheless, it can be a distressing condition and patients spend billions of dollars on treatments that are largely ineffective.”[1]

Facts Relating to Ales’ Body-Slim Anti-Cellulite Claims

Ales markets a line of anti-cellulite products through its Lierac “Body-Slim” brand. There are at least seven products in this line:

Lierac Body-Slim Multi-Action Concentrate

Lierac Body-Slim Stomach and Waist

Lierac Body-Slim Stubborn Areas

Lierac Body-Slim Destock Night

Lierac Body-Slim Oil

Lierac Body-Slim Triple Action

Lierac Body-Slim Day and Night Duo

Each of these products specifically promises, by statements on its packaging, to reduce the appearance of cellulite and/or have a slimming effect on the user. In particular, the product packaging contains the following statements:

Lierac Body-Slim Multi-Action Concentrate packaging




. . . .

Helps correct the appearance of

all visible signs of stubborn cellulite:

dimpled skin, loss of firmness,

excess water retention

improves skin quality

. . . .

Visible results in just 14 days*

-Reduction in the appearance of cellulite

and orange peel skin 100%**

-Refining effect on thighs and hips 96%**

-Firmer skin 93%**

Study conducted with 29 women

*Clinical study with instrumental measurements recorded after 14 days –

**Self-assessment after 56 days

Lierac Body-Slim Stomach and Waist packaging (Exhibit 2)





.   .   .   .  

“Flat stomach” effect

Helps refine the waist

Firms and tightens the skin

Firms the skin

Helps reduce excess water

.   .   .   .  

Visible results in just 14 days.

After 28 days:

– Reduction in the appearance of

abdominal fat 91%*

(average reduction of abdomen

circumference: 3.34 cm** and of

waist circumference: 1.46 cm**)

– firmed skin 97%*

Study conducted with 34 women

*Self-assessment after 28 days

**Clinical study with instrumental measurements after 28 days

 Lierac Body-Slim Stubborn Areas packaging: (Exhibit 3)





.   .   .   .

Firming Lifting Serum Against Embedded Cellulite

Helps Firm and Shape Inner Arms & Thighs

Reduces the Appearance of Cellulite in Stubborn Areas

.   .   .   .  


Improved tone on inner arms: 85%* and thighs: 90%*

Reduction in the appearance of stubborn cellulite: 77%**

Lifted skin: 83%***

*Study conducted with 19 volunteers after 28 days of use – % of subjects improved

Study conducted on the active ingredient

**Self-assessment after 14 days conducted with 48 volunteers

***Self-assessment after 28 days conducted with 52 volunteers

Lierac Body-Slim Destock Night packaging: (Exhibit 4)





.   .   .   .  

Helps fight the appearance of

stubborn cellulite while you sleep

Helps release stored fat

Helps reduce fat storage

.   .   .   .  

9 out of 10 WOMEN[1]




[1]Self-assessment by 29 women after 28 days

[2]Clinical study with instrumental measurement conducted

among 31 women

Lierac Body-Slim Oil packaging: (Exhibit 5)






.   .   .   .  

Smoothes the appearance

of “dimpled skin”

Helps fight excess

water retention

.   .   .   .  



*Thighs – Self-assessment after 14 days –

Study conducted with 28 women

Lierac Body-Slim Triple Action packaging (Exhibit 6)






.   .   .   .  

Smoothes the appearance

of “dimpled skin”

Firms the skin

Helps reduce excess water

.   .   .   .  



*Self-assessment after 56 days

Lierac Body-Slim Day and Night Duo is two-pack package containing Body-Slim Multi-Action Concentrate and Body-Slim Destock Night. In addition to the representations on the individual boxes, as previously detailed, Lierac Body-Slim Day and Night Duo packaging (Exhibit 7) claims:



. . . .

Firming and shaping formulas to help reduce the appearance of cellulite

and dimpled skin night and day

Lierac Body-Slim Slackened & Stubborn Areas Firming Lifting Serum Against Embedded Cellulite (Exhibit 8).



.   .   .   .  

Helps firm and shape

inner arms and thighs

Reduces the appearance

of cellulite in stubborn areas

.   .   .   .  

2% patented WTB SYSTEM [sacred lotus – white willow – peptide]

12.5% LIPO-REVERSE [10% active caffeine

+ 2.5% glaucine complex]

1% anti-glycation complex

5% sesame extracts.

.   .   .   .  

Results after just 14 days

Improved tone on inner arms: 85% and thighs: 90%

Reduced appearance of stubborn cellulite: 77%

Lifted skin: 83%

Any studies appearing in product footnotes may lack credibility, due to this non-exhaustive list of flaws:

  • Ø not published or subjected to critique or peer-review by the scientific community
  • Ø based upon self-reporting of subjects
  • Ø unblinded – i.e. not a double blind placebo-controlled trial
  • Ø small sample size
  • Ø no meta-analysis of other cellulite studies
  • Ø possible test subject selection bias


The Lierac Body-Slim products are expensive ($50 – $80) but do they serve a real purpose or benefit to consumers?

The Scientific Community’s Rejection of Anti-Cellulite Claims

According to the first scholarly paper written on the topic of cellulite, “[I]t is an important obligation of physicians to teach the fact that so-called cellulite is not a disease, but is the result of the sex-typical structure of the skin of women and a natural consequence of aging,” and “there is up to now no other cosmetic or medical (short of surgical) treatment to improve so-called cellulite, certainly none at all to cause complete disappearance of it.” Nürnberger, F. and Müller, G. “So-Called Cellulite: An Invented Disease.”   The Journal of Dermatologic Surgery and Oncology (1978) 4:3 221-9.

Medical practitioners still soundly reject the notion that any topical product can effectively treat the condition of cellulite:

  • “At this point, there is no outstanding treatment for cellulite.” (Dr. Molly Wanner, dermatology instructor at Harvard Medical School. See St. Louis, Catherine. “Treating Cellulite? It’s Still There.”[2] The New York Times (June 24, 2009).   See also Wanner, Molly. “An evidence-based review of existing cellulite-reduction treatments.” Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. (2008) April 7(4):341-5.
  • “It’s a Madison Avenue term. It’s a normal variant of fat that shows as dimples. There’s no way a cream or pounding will change that fat.” (Dr. Samuel J. Stegman, associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California at San Francisco). See Wells, Linda. “Beauty; Battle of the Bulge.”[3] The New York Times, July 3, 1988.
  • “It’s not a happy situation for women who want to get rid of it because we don’t know how to treat it.” (Dr. Arthur Shipp, clinical professor of plastic surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York who conducted an extensive cellulite study. See Carr, Amy. “Erasing Cellulite.”[4] Daily Herald (Arlington Heights) June 7, 1998.
  • “[A]ccording to 27 years of medical literature recently reviewed in The Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, scientific proof that creams make a real, lasting difference does not exist. ‘There is no evidence to show that any topical medications improve cellulite.’” (Dr. Mathew Avram, Harvard Medical School). See Siegel, Jessica. “Fat Chance.”[5] The New York Times, August 15, 2005.
  • “According to [UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine Dr. Jenny] Kim, no studies have convincingly shown that cellulite creams do any good on actual bodies.” Woolston, Chris. “Little proof of cellulite cream success.”[6] Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2008.
  • “I don’t think the evidence is there to recommend spending money on a cellulite cream,” says Dr. Molly Wanner, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. Id.

In January 2014, The Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement enjoining a cosmetics company from making deceptive cellulite cream claims.   See “FTC Approves Final Consent Settling Charges that L’Occitane, Inc. Misled Consumers to Believe that Creams Could Slim Their Bodies.[7] In that case, the FTC alleged that L’Occitane violated the Federal Trade Commission Act because it advertised a cream that “helps to visibly reduce the appearance of cellulite,” and “reduces cellulite.” See Complaint, In re L’Occitane, Inc. a corporation, FTC file No. 122 3115[8].

Ales sells Lierac Body-Slim to United States consumers through a variety of different channels, including through independent retailers (such as CVS, Walgreens, Amazon, Drugstore.com), and through Ales’ website, http://www.lierac-usa.com.

[1] Wanner M, Avram M. “An evidence-based assessment of treatments for cellulite.” J Drugs Dermatol. 2008 Apr;7(4):341-5.

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/25/fashion/25skinintro.html?_r=0, last accessed November 19, 2015.

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/03/magazine/beauty-battle-of-the-bulge.html, last accessed November 19, 2015.

[4] https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-68783688.html, last accessed November 19, 2015.

[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/15/opinion/fat-chance.html, last accessed 11/19/15.

[6] http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-skeptic3-2008nov03-story.html, last accessed November 19, 2015.

[7] https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/04/ftc-approves-final-consent-settling-charges-loccitane-inc-misled, last accessed November 19, 2015

[8] https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/cases/140408loccitanecmpt.pdf, last accessed November 19, 2015

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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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Welcome to Leonard Law Office’s consumer law blog. The mistreatment of consumers by businesses is one of the most interesting subjects in the law.  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 products aimed at weight loss and anti-aging — unfair business practices affect most Americans.

Snake Oil

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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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Free People Privacy Class Action Filed

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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23 and Me

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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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

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

Urban Outfitters Faces Privacy Class Action in Massachusetts

The Leonard Law Office, PC is representing clients regarding credit card privacy claims against Urban Outfitters. This class action, alleging violations of Massachusetts privacy and consumer protection laws, was filed on August 15, 2013. If you have received “junk mail” from Urban Outfitters, you are welcome to contact us.

Urban Outfitters - Massachusetts Ave.

Urban Outfitters – Massachusetts Ave.

Information about the class action lawsuit against Urban Outfitters

The complaint alleges that Urban Outfitters collected ZIP codes at checkout at its Massachusetts stores from customers who made purchases with credit cards, recorded that information as part of credit card transactions, and then used that information for marketing purposes, including to send unsolicited marketing and promotional materials, or “junk mail.” The complaint further alleges that: Continue reading


Filed under Uncategorized

Equity Residential Faces Class Action Lawsuit About Heat and Water (Habitability) Issues at the Walden Park Apartments

Update (1/10/15)

The past few weeks have been cold.  According to the Boston Globe, “Yesterday’s high was a bitter 18 degrees, and if the forecast holds, temperatures in Boston may not break freezing for several days.” In the face of this cold weather, and despite conversion from oil to natural gas at Equity Residential’s Walden Park apartments in Cambridge, complaints continue to come in to this office regarding insufficient heat at the apartment complex.

Update (2/15/14)

On February 12, 2014, a Massachusetts Federal Judge issued an eighteen page opinion (PDF) remanding (sending back) this case to state court, summarizing: “[b]ecause Equity ‘has not demonstrated a reasonable probability that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million,’ the case must be remanded. ” We continue to receive complaints from tenants about heat and hot water problems at this apartment complex.

*     *     *     *

Original Post (4/15/13)

Equity Residential now faces its sixth class action lawsuit in Massachusetts since 2012. This is believed to set the record for the most class action lawsuits against one company in any one year period in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Leonard Law Office PC, and the Law Offices of Joshua N. Garick PC together filed suit against Equity Residential on behalf of tenants of the Walden Park Apartments in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Leonard Law Office PC is representing Massachusetts consumers in two other class actions against Equity Residential.

If you reside at the Walden Park Apartments, you are welcome to contact us about heating issues such as lack of hot water or inadequate heat in your apartment.  


Case Documents:

1. Class Action Complaint (PDF).

220-225 Walden St. (Walden Park Apartments)

220-225 Walden St. (Walden Park Apartments)

The complaint alleges: “On November 4, 2011, Equity acquired Walden Park, which includes two large apartment buildings located at 205 and 225 Walden Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Walden Park has approximately 250 apartment units. When Equity acquired Walden Park, the heating and hot water systems were fully operable and in good working order. The plaintiffs entered into a written lease agreement with Walden Park’s previous owner, the Dolben Company, to rent the apartment located at 225 Walden Park, Cambridge, MA. When the Dolben Company owned Walden Park, the plaintiffs had no issues with the heat or hot water system. After Equity acquired Walden Park, issues with Equity-provided utilities, including heat and hot water, began. Starting in April of 2012, and continuing for well over a year thereafter until the present date, the plaintiffs and the Class experienced significant deficiencies and outages with the heat and hot water, including, without limitation, issues on the following dates:

May 8, 2012
May 12,2012
May 16,2012
June 27, 2012
August 23, 2012
October 20, 2012
October 21,2012
October 23, 2012
November 1, 2012
November 3, 2012
November 6, 2012
November 7, 2012
November 16, 2012
November 17, 2012
November 19,2012
March 28, 2013
April 3,2013
April 10, 2013
April 17, 2013
April 18, 2013
April23, 2013
June 6, 2013
June 25, 2013
August 15, 2013

These outages were systemic, and affected all Walden Park units. Over the course of this year, Equity exhibited no urgency in resolving these issues and provided misleading and contradictory reasons for shutting off the utilities. These reasons included, among other stated reasons, conversion from oil to natural gas, a water conservation project, a heating and cooling project, fuel supply/consumption issues, operator error, and automatic shutdowns. The problem was so egregious that the Cambridge Board of Health, which received numerous reports from Walden Park residents, cited Equity for violations of the State Sanitary Code, and deemed the violations to materially impair the health, safety or well-being of the Walden Park’s residents. On numerous occasions, the plaintiffs, (as well as other Walden Park residents) complained to Equity’s staff including complaints by telephone, e-mail and in person. These complaints were not resolved, forcing the plaintiffs to pursue formal litigation against Equity.” The Complaint further alleges that Equity Residential Equity backed out of a settlement deal reached earlier this month between Equity’s lawyers, and attorneys representing tenants.

Equity Residential & Cambridge Inspectional Services Division (ISD) Violations


Violation – “Deemed to Endgr. or Impair Health of Safety”

Equity Residential Walden St. Apartments, Cambridge, MA

Equity Residential Walden St. Apartments, Cambridge, MA

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Filed under Boston News, Class Action Investigations, Class Action Lawsuits

Ocwen – A Company To Be Wary Of?


Ocwen is a mortgage servicing company headquartered in Florida.  A “mortgage servicer” is a debt collector by another name. Ocwen’s phone number is (561) 682-8000. Ocwen (Ocwen Financial Corporation) is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol OCN.


Complaints about Ocwen

Complaints at Consumeraffairs.com (408 complaints)

Complaints at RipoffReport.com (2,026 complaints)

Complaints at Complaints.com (45 complaints)

Complaints at Complaintsboard.com (682)


Filed under Uncategorized

J. Crew Faces Privacy Class Action in Boston Federal Court (Settled Case)


July 25, 2014 – This case has settled. The official settlement website is www.millercrohnjcrewsettlement.com, where notices and claim forms can be found. Email notices went out on 7/25/14. The claim form can be downloaded here (pdf), or filled out and submitted online (recommended). The deadline to file a claim to receive a $20 J. Crew voucher is September 25, 2014.

If You Made a Credit Card Purchase at a J. Crew Massachusetts Retail Store Between June 20, 2009 and June 27, 2014, you could receive compensation from the Class Action Settlement.

This Settlement is for individuals who made a credit card purchase at one or more J. Crew retail stores in Massachusetts between June 20, 2009 and June 27, 2014 and whose Personal Identification Information (i.e. ZIP code or other information) was requested and recorded by J. Crew. The Settlement does not include purchases made online. Class Members will receive a voucher for $20 that may be redeemed at J. Crew retail stores in Massachusetts.

Miller v. J Crew Settlement Notice (front)

J. Crew Zip Code Settlement Notice (front)


Miller v. J. Crew - Settement Notice (reverse)

J. Crew Zip Code Settlement Notice (reverse)

The email notice is not a scam.

From: “Miller and Crohn J. Crew Settlement Administrator ” <Administrator@qgemail.com<mailto:Administrator@qgemail.com>>
Date: July 25, 2014 at 2:00:27 PM EDT

If you engaged in a Credit Card transaction at a Massachusetts
J. Crew Store between June 20, 2009 and June 27, 2014 and your
Personal Identification Information (e.g., ZIP code) was requested and
recorded you may be entitled to receive a Voucher for $20 off your
next J. Crew Store purchase….etc.

June 30, 2013 – The Leonard Law Office is representing clients regarding credit card privacy claims against J. Crew. This class action alleges violations of Massachusetts privacy and consumer protection laws.

J crew

Information about the class action lawsuit against J. Crew

The complaint alleges that J. Crew collected ZIP codes at checkout at its Massachusetts stores from customers who made purchases with credit cards, recorded that information as part of credit card transactions, and then used that information for marketing  purposes, including to send unsolicited marketing and promotional materials, or “junk mail.”  The complaint further alleges that:

  • J. Crew does not collect, record, and use the customers’ ZIP code information in order to verify the customer’s identity or for any other legitimate purpose in connection with the Credit Card transaction.
  • J. Crew uses this information for its own marketing and promotional purposes. Possession of the consumer’s ZIP code information, together with the customer’s name, enables Defendant to identify the customer’s address and/or telephone number through the use of publicly available databases.
  • J. Crew uses the ZIP code information it collects from customers and the addresses and other information it then obtains, to send unsolicited marketing and promotional materials, or “junk mail,” to customers, including Plaintiff and Class members.
  • J. Crew also has the ability to sell the ZIP code information it collects from customers (including Plaintiff and Class members) and the addresses and other information it then obtains, to third parties for a profit or to use the information for other marketing and promotional purposes.

Information about the Class

The proposed class would consist of all persons whose ZIP codes were collected and recorded at any J. Crew retail location in Massachusetts while making Credit Card purchases during the period from June 20, 2009 through June 20, 2013.   The class has not yet been certified.  If you have questions about whether you may be involved, you are welcome to contact the Leonard Law Office.

Information about J. Crew

J. Crew is a privately-held corporation, organized under the laws of Delaware with a principal place of business at 770 Broadway, New York NY 10003.  J. Crew has sixteen retail locations in Massachusetts, three of which are factory outlets and the remainder of which are traditional retail stores.


Filed under Class Action Lawsuits, Current Cases

SEO Company 29 Prime Faces TCPA (Robocall) Class Action


Actual complaint filed about 29 Prime a/k/a “Reliable Places”


July, 2016 – 29 Prime has filed for bankruptcy. This is not a surprise, since Russell Wallace filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009.

March 13, 2016 – Check out this blog about 29 Prime and Russell Wallace: 29 Prime Scam Warning – Exposing the truth behind 29prime.com -another Russell Wallace scam and the highly negative Yelp reviews about 29 Prime here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/29-prime-irvine

November 4, 2015 – If you receive unwanted robocalls to your cellphone, or prerecorded calls to your landline from 29 Prime (or whatever this company is calling itself now), contact the Federal Trade Commission here: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

July 28, 2015 – This morning I received a robocall on my personal cell phone from someone regarding a free Google listing (caller id: 617-207-0003). The obnoxious fellow I spoke with said he was in Orange County California (caller id obviously spoofed).  He claimed he was with “Lighthouse Marketing” and directed me to a website. I later learned that the owner of this business has been receiving complaints for over a year because someone has been giving out her company’s name when placing robocalls about free Google listings. Lighthouse Marketing is a reputable small business that does not place outbound sales calls about SEO optimization or Google rankings. Did 29 Prime robocall my cell phone?

July 27, 2015 – Please note: Our class action lawsuit against 29 Prime only addresses allegations of robocalls. If you have other complaints about 29 Prime (i.e. page ranking promises, quality of SEO services, billing problems, etc.) the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may be able to assist you.  The link to register a complaint with the FTC is: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

April 23, 2015 – Second Amended Class Action Complaint (pdf) filed in California against 29 Prime, Inc., OC Listing Inc., Local Zoom, Tony Redman, Russell Wallace.

September 4, 2014 – First Amended Class Action Complaint (pdf) filed, adding as defendants OC Listing, Inc., Local Zoom, Russell Wallace, and Tony Redman. Summons Issued as to Local Zoom, OC Listing, Inc., Tony Redman, Russell Wallace.

July 29, 2014 – The following transaction was entered into Pacer on 7/29/2014 at 2:47 PM EDT and filed on 7/29/2014 Case Name: Russell v. 29 Prime, Inc.  Case Number: 1:13-cv-12814-NMG Docket Text:  ELECTRONIC Clerk’s Notes for proceedings held before Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton: Scheduling Conference held on 7/29/2014: Automatic Discovery to be completed by 8/12/14; Amendments and/or Supplements to the Pleadings due by 8/25/2014; written discovery served by 11/30/14, answered by 12/31/14; all fact Discovery to be completed by 3/6/2015; Motion for Class Certification due by 4/15/2015, opposition due by 5/15/2015, reply due by 5/31/2015. Motion Hearing set for 6/25/2015 03:00 PM in Courtroom 4 before Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton. (Court Reporter: No Court Reporter Used.)(Attorneys present: Pastor, Smith, Baruch (by phone), Salinger) (Patch, Christine)

July 25, 2014 – 29 Prime filed its Answer to the Class Action Complaint (Russell v. 29 Prime, Inc. Case Number: 1:13-cv-12814-NMG) (pdf)

July 15, 2014 –  Judge Gorton’s Denial of Motion to Dismiss Opinion featured on Leagle:


29 PRIME’s phone calls to Massachusetts residents, through its resellers, also constitute sufficient contacts to satisfy the purposeful availment inquiry. See, e.g., Hudak v. Berkley Grp., Inc., No. 3:13-cv-00089-WWE, 2014 WL 354676, at *3 (D. Conn. Jan. 23, 2014). 29 PRIME must contact prospective customers in order to secure sales but not all solicitations will result in business relationships. Because the forum selection, choice of law, and arbitration clauses only apply to customers who execute the Terms & Conditions sheet, it was reasonably foreseeable that these clauses would not govern all of 29 PRIME’s contacts with Massachusetts…”

The public interest factors do not compel jurisdiction in California. Massachusetts has a local interest in providing a convenient forum for its residents against foreign corporations. Rodriguez v. Samsung Elec. Co., Ltd., 734 F.Supp.2d 220, 228 (D. Mass. 2010). California, however, also has an interest in remedying injuries caused by one of its resident corporations. See id. Given both interests, the public interest inquiry is a wash. Id. Because this Court defers to plaintiff’s choice of forum and the private factors weigh in favor of jurisdiction, defendant’s motion to dismiss for improper venue will be denied.”

July 14, 2014 – Law 360 Article – Tech Co. Can’t Escape Massachusetts TCPA Class Action (pdf).

“A Massachusetts federal judge on Thursday refused to toss a proposed class action accusing search engine optimizer 29 Prime Inc. of making mass phone calls to consumers in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, rejecting its argument that the court lacked jurisdiction.

Plaintiff alleges that 29 Prime made mass solicitations to him and other putative class members using autodialers without their consent, but the company filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and for improper venue to transfer this case…”

July 10, 2014 – 29 Prime’s Motion to Dismiss Denied – Memorandum and Order (pdf).

July 8, 2014 – Freedom of Information Act documents from the FTC (pdf) and FCC (pdf) about 29 Prime and robocalls.

February 5, 2014 – three months after our case, a copycat federal TCPA class action was filed against 29 Prime by Washington and California lawyers. The copycat case is Marlowe v. 29 Prime (pdf ).

 New Court documents:

  • Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Law in Oppostion to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (pdf)
  • 29 Prime’s Motion to Dismiss (pdf)
  • Affidavit of Russell Wallace (pdf)

*     *     *

On November 6, 2013, Leonard Law Office LLP, Pastor Law Office LLP, Sweetnam LLC, and Milberg LLP filed a class action lawsuit against California search engine optimization company 29 Prime for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The TCPA is a federal law that generally forbids telemarketing calls to cell phones.

29 Prime

29 Prime, Inc.

A Summons [PDF here] was filed on November 18, 2013. 29 The Class Action Complaint [PDF here] alleges:

“Plaintiff brings this action for damages, and other legal and equitable remedies, resulting from the actions of Defendant in negligently, knowingly, and/or willfully placing calls to Plaintiff’s cellular telephone using an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”) (i.e., “robocalls”) without his prior express consent in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 et seq. (“TCPA”).

Plaintiff is the primary user of the cellular telephone to which Defendant placed calls using an ATDS without his express consent and is a member of the class defined herein.

 Defendant, 29 Prime, is a corporation organized under the laws of Nevada with its principal place of business at 9701 Jeronimo Road., Irvine, California, 92618. The nature of 29 Prime’s business is to place calls to telephones throughout the United States to solicit unsuspecting customers for search engine optimization services, making claims about their ability to improve Google rankings. Defendant has in the past and continues to operate under unincorporated alter egos with similar websites, such as “Reliable Places.” The company was founded in 2010 by Russell Wallace and Tony Redman.  The Defendant placed robocalls to Plaintiff and other class members in violation of the TCPA, as alleged herein.”  More Excerpts from the class action complaint are pasted at below.

If you have information about 29 Prime’s business practices, or have been affected by telemarketing to your cell phone, you are welcome to contact us

Information about 29 Prime

29 Prime is a web site design and search engine optimization company. This is an industry whose validity and efficacy has been questioned.  29 Prime is apparently one of the most successful SEO companies. “In 2012, 29 Prime, Inc. placed 36 on Inc. Magazine‘s Inc. 5000 list, which ranks the fastest-growing companies in the country based on revenue growth. According to the list, the organization ranked sixth among the top 100 advertising and marketing companies in the United States, seventh among all companies in California, including fourth in Los Angeles and second in Orange County.”

Inc. Magazine’s online profile of the company describes 29 Prime as a company which “specializes in increasing small and midsize local businesses’ visibility on the Internet. The company guarantees front page placement on Google as well as placement on Yahoo and Bing, and also offers video SEO, coupons, and Facebook and Twitter strategies.”  The article reported 2011 income of 6.4MM.

In October, 2012, the Orange County Business Journal [PDF] ranked 29 Prime as number one on the list of fastest growing private companies, with 2012 revenues of 8.7 MM, located at  9701 Jeronimo Road, third floor, Irvine CA 92618-2020.

Is 29 Prime’s Autodialler Responsible for the Company’s Explosive Growth?

“the dialer calls out”

29 Prime CEO Russell Wallace claims: “Our goal is to help business owners that aren’t Web savvy to get online, build their reputation and grow their business.” According to his Linkedin profile, Russell Wallace, 31, is “Co-Founder and CEO of 29 Prime, Inc.,” with “more than 10 years’ experience directing as many as 300 employees in companies with revenues in excess of $30 million.” Russell Wallace and Tony Redman founded the company in 2010.

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Filed under Boston News, Class Action Lawsuits

Nationstar Mortgage — A company to be wary of?


About Nationstar Mortgage

Nationstar Mortgage, LLC is a mortgage servicing company headquartered in Lewisville, TX.  A “mortgage servicer” is a debt collector by another name.  Nationstar recently acquired numerous Bank of America home loans.  Bank of America N.A. transferred the servicing of thousands of loans to Nationstar Mortgage LLC effective January 31st, 2013.

Complaints about Nationstar Mortgage

590 Complaints at Consumeraffairs.com

90 Complaints at RipoffReport.com

5 Complaints at Complaints.com

25 Complaints at Complaintsboard.com


Filed under Class Action Investigations

Victims of Green Tree Servicing and Bank of America


PLEASE TRY THE CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU, BECAUSE THEY ARE ASSISTING CONSUMERS WITH ISSUES WITH GREEN TREE SERVICING. SEE http://www.consumerfinance.gov/newsroom/cfpb-and-federal-trade-commission-take-action-against-green-tree-servicing-for-mistreating-borrowers-trying-to-save-their-homes/


Green Tree Servicing Allegedly Deceived Homeowners, Many of Whom Were Already in Financial Distress

A national mortgage servicing company will pay $63 million to resolve Federal Trade Commissionand Consumer Financial Protection Bureau charges that it harmed homeowners with illegal loan servicing and debt collection practices.

The FTC and CFPB allege that Green Tree Servicing LLC made illegal and abusive debt collection calls to consumers, misrepresented the amounts people owed, and failed to honor loan modification agreements between consumers and their prior servicers, among other charges.

Under the proposed settlement, Green Tree will pay $48 million to affected consumers and a $15 million civil penalty. The company also will stop its alleged illegal practices, create a home preservation plan for some distressed homeowners, and take rigorous steps to ensure that it collects the correct amounts from consumers.

“It’s against the law for a loan servicer to lie about the debts people owe, or threaten and harass people about their debts,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Working together, the FTC and CFPB are holding Green Tree responsible for mistreating homeowners, including people in financial distress.”

Green Tree has become the servicer for a substantial number of consumers who were behind on their mortgage payments at the time their loans were transferred to Green Tree. Because homeowners cannot choose their servicer, they are locked into a relationship with the company for as long as it services their loans.

Illegal Debt Collection Practices

According to the FTC and the CFPB, Green Tree’s collectors called consumers who were late on mortgage payments many times per day, including at 5 a.m. or 11 p.m., or at their workplace, every day, week after week, and left many voicemails on the same day. They also unlawfully threatened consumers with arrest or imprisonment, seizure of property, garnishment of wages, and foreclosure, and used loud and abusive language, including calling consumers “deadbeats,” mocking their illnesses and other struggles, and yelling and cursing at them. The company also allegedly revealed debts to consumers’ employers, co-workers, neighbors, and family members, and encouraged them to tell the consumers to pay the debt or help them pay it. The complaint also alleges that Green Tree took payments from some consumers’ bank accounts without their consent.

The agencies also allege that Green Tree pressured consumers to make payments via Speedpay, a third-party service that charges a $12 “convenience” fee per transaction, claiming it was the only way to pay, or that consumers had to use the service to avoid a late fee.

Mishandled Loan Modifications and Delayed Short Sale Requests

According to the complaint, in many instances, Green Tree failed to honor loan modifications that were in the process of being finalized when consumers’ loans were transferred from other servicers to Green Tree. This resulted in consumers making higher monthly payments, receiving collection calls, and even losing their homes to foreclosure.  Green Tree also allegedly misled consumers about their loss mitigation options. The company told some consumers who were behind on their mortgages that they needed to make a payment to be considered for a loan modification, even for programs that prohibited the company from requiring up-front payments. In addition, Green Tree took up to six months to respond to consumers’ short sale requests despite telling them it would respond much more quickly. These delays caused consumers to lose potential buyers, miss other loss mitigation options, and face foreclosures they could have avoided.

Misrepresented Account Status to Consumers and Credit Reporting Agencies

According to the complaint, Green Tree misrepresented the amounts consumers owed or the terms of their loans. This included telling consumers they owed fees they did not owe, or that they had to make higher monthly payments than their mortgage contracts required. The company often knew or had reason to believe that specific portfolios of loans it acquired from other servicers contained unreliable or missing information. In many instances, it should have known that consumers had loan modifications from prior servicers and therefore owed lower amounts. And when consumers disputed the amounts owed or terms of their loans, Green Tree failed to investigate the disputes before continuing collections.

Green Tree also allegedly furnished consumers’ credit information to consumer reporting agencies when it knew, or had reasonable cause to believe, that the information was inaccurate, and failed to correct the information after determining that it was incomplete or inaccurate – often when consumers told Green Tree about it.

Proposed Settlement Order

In addition to the $63 million in monetary payments, the proposed settlement order includes provisions that require Green Tree to:

  • establish and maintain a comprehensive data integrity program to ensure the accuracy and completeness of data and other information about consumers’ accounts, before servicing them;
  • cease collection of amounts disputed by consumers until Green Tree investigates the dispute and provides consumers with verification of the amounts owed;
  • meet certain loan servicing requirements to ensure that whenever Green Tree is involved in the sale or transfer of servicing rights, the buyer or transferee will honor loss mitigation agreements and properly review outstanding loss mitigation requests;
  • ensure that it has enough personnel and the technical capacity to handle loss mitigation requests and respond to consumer inquiries in a timely fashion, and make its loss mitigation application available to consumers at no cost and on its website;
  • implement a “Home Preservation Requirement” to provide loss mitigation options to consumers whose loans were transferred to Green Tree during the time period covered by the complaint; and
  • obtain substantiation for any amounts collected when consumers have in-process loan modifications, and for purported amounts due when there is reason to believe a newly transferred loan portfolio is seriously flawed.

The proposed order also prohibits Green Tree from making material misrepresentations about loans, processing procedures, payment methods, and fees, from taking unauthorized withdrawals from consumer accounts, and from violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and proposed stipulated order was 5-0. The FTC filed the complaint and proposed stipulated order in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Stipulated orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

To learn more, read Making Payments to Your Mortgage Servicer and Debt Collection.




Bank of America Logo


Green Tree Logo




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Filed under Class Action Investigations, Current Cases

Product Investigation: Sudden Sleep for Women

Recently overheard:

“Sudden sleep?  What is this stuff? Specifically formulated for women? What does that mean?”

Sudden Sleep

Sudden Sleep

Sudden Sleep is a new product from Biotab Nutraceuticals, the company behind Extenze.  Biotab was on the receiving end of several actions from California authorities, and at least one class action lawsuit alleging false advertising.    Continue reading


Filed under False Advertising Investigations

Companies in the Spotlight: Zipcar

About Zipcar

“Zipcar was recently purchased by another company,” I recently overheard someone tell her friend.

“I wonder how long it will take them to ruin it?” he asked.



In the past, Zipcar has cultivated the image of being a hip, progressive company that cares about its customers.  An abundance of carless urbanites,  parking spaces all over major American cities, and brutal $50 late fees, (about which a class action lawsuit in Massachusetts failed) kept Zipcar’s operation running smoothly and profitably.

At some point, Zipcar became of the apple of Avis’s eye.  Earlier this year, the rental car giant swallowed up Zipcar for about half a billion dollars. See: Bloomberg, “Avis Budget Embraces Car Sharing With Zipcar Acquisition”(2013) (here); CNN, “ZipCar CEO Scott Griffith resigns, hours after Avis acquisition” (2013) (here).  It should be interesting to see how Zipcar changes. The first thing that I expect will happen is that Zipcar’s persona will undergo a subtle transformation. The cutesy, friendly emails will remain, but Avis will find ways to squeeze more money out of “Zipststers” and in so doing, will tick off a lot of the customers who used to love Zipcar.

Zipcar Complaints

One recent complaint came to me the other day. The story went like so: Continue reading


Filed under Companies in the Spotlight

Class Action Investigation: Shen Min Hair Regrowth

Shen Min Hair Regrowth Investigation

There is a new product that the Leonard Law Office PC is investigating.  According to the Shen Min website, “Shen Min is a natural line of dietary supplements designed to help reduce hair loss and enhance hair growth in men and women…Shen Min® formulas are specifically designed to help block the negative effects of DHT, the “bad” form of testosterone.  This action helps prevent additional hair loss and enhances hair growth naturally. help reduce hair loss and enhance hair growth in men and women…”

These claims are in question.

If you have questions about this investigation or would like to share your experiences with this product, you are welcome to call Preston W. Leonard, Esq. at (617)329-1295.

Issues with Shen Min

  • What are the active ingredients of Shen Min?
  • Have there been any consumer complaints?
  • Is this product effective?

Advertisements seen in Boston, Massachusetts



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Filed under Uncategorized

$5,000 Reward Offered for Evidence of Facebook Biometric Privacy Violations


Wanted: Facebook

The Leonard Law Office, PC is offering a $5,000.00 reward to anyone who provides verifiable, credible information leading to the successful prosecution of a class action lawsuit against Facebook regarding its use, collection, or storage of biometric data. Specifically, we are looking for proof that Facebook has shared or sold biometric data with third parties. We are investigating all aspects of Facebook’s conduct surrounding the implementation, use, and possible misuse of facial recognition and biometrics. Biometrics refers to unique anatomical features used for identification purposes.  For Background Information about Facebook, “Tag Suggestion,” and Biometrics, See EPIC‘s FTC ComplaintIn re Facebook and Facial Recognition (here) (filed June 10, 2011). To inquire about this investigation and reward, you are welcome to contact Preston W. Leonard, Esq. at (617) 329-1295.

Related: Biometricupdate.com: “Boston law firm offers reward for proof that Facebook has shared or sold biometric data with third parties,” (here).

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Filed under Boston News, Class Action Investigations

Bed Bug “Bombs” & “Foggers” Class Action Investigation

An adult bed bug (Cimex lectularius) with the ...

An adult bed bug (Cimex lectularius) with the typical flattened oval shape. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Under InvestigationBed Bug “Bombs” & “Foggers”

Questions? Have information? – call Preston W. Leonard, Esq. at (617)329-1295.

Do Bed Bug Bombs and Foggers Work?

There are three bed bug products whose efficacy are in question:

  1. Hot Shot
  2. Spectracide
  3. Eliminator

Hot Shot

Hot Shot

According a recent study [here], “The nature of these foggers is such that they don’t penetrate in cracks and crevices where most bedbugs are hiding, so most of them will survive.”

See the Ohio State University researcher’s video below:

Ohio State University Bed Bug Fogger Study

Ohio State University Bed Bug Fogger Study

NPR reported:

  • “[R] readily available bug bombs that fill the house with a pesticide fog are understandably tempting. But research shows they’re not likely to work.
  • Writing in the Journal of Economic Entomology, researchers from Ohio State University say they tested three popular bug bomb products on five different populations of bedbugs, collected “in the wild” from homes around Ohio. All three products failed miserably. (Emphasis added).
  • A bug bomb is basically an aerosol can that fills a room with insecticides called pyrethrins. They didn’t exactly have a stellar reputation before, either. There are anecdotal reports that the products stir up the bugs, causing them to leave their hiding places and potentially scatter to new locations. And as NPR’s Jon Hamilton reported last year, many bedbugs are becoming resistant to pyrethrins.
  • “If [bug bombs] don’t work in the first place, that’s what people need to know,” lead author and entymology professor Susan Jones tells Shots. So she tested three products, including two general-purpose bug bombs, Spectracide Bug Stop Indoor Fogger and Eliminator Indoor Fogger, and one marketed specifically for bedbugs, Hot Shot Bedbug and Flea Fogger. All three are manufactured by Spectrum Brands.
  • The Federal Trade Commission‘s website goes even further. “Steer clear of bug bombs or foggers,” it warns, citing the scattering effect.

Are Bed Bug Foggers Safe?

At least one consumer has complained of devastating physical side effects of using a bed bug fogger.  Some government studies suggest that the pesticides used in foggers (i.e permethrin, tetramethrin, cypermethrin, cyfluthrin, and piperonyl butoxide) can  harm humans. According to CDC report, at least one infant death is suspected to have resulted from bed bug fogger poisoning: “This death occurred in a female infant aged 10 months who was put to bed the evening of the day her apartment was treated with three TRFs. The infant was found dead the next morning.

The safety of these products, which are marketed as providing a quick fix, have been questioned by federal and state agencies aside from the CDC For example:

NewYorkvsBedbugs.org postedNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that it would classify total release foggers (“TRFs” or “bug bombs”) as restricted-use products available only to professionals. We applauded that move, which followed a CDC study on the illnesses and injuries caused by TRFs, in large part because TRFs are inappropriate products to use by consumers in the control of bed bug infestations. They make infestations more difficult to control, dispersing bed bugs to scattered harborage sites and walls and increasing the likelihood that an infestation will spread to adjacent locations.”

The Environmental Protection Agency has urged safety precautions for total release foggers and has warned: ” failure to vacate premises during fogging or reentering without airing out may result in illness.”

Time Magazine reported: “Bed bugs do not transmit disease or cause illness — but the insecticides used to kill them do. A total of 111 illnesses associated with bed bug-related insecticides were reported in seven states between 2003 and 2010 (mostly in the last three years), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday. Most cases of poisoning were not severe, but the data included one death.

Information about Spectrum Brands, Inc.

Spectrum makes, Hot Shot, Spectracide, and Eliminator.  Spectrum is a Delaware corporation with its corporate headquarters at 601 Rayovac Drive, Madison, Wisconsin. Spectrum labels and advertises that its Hot Shot Bed Bug Products “Kill(s) Bed Bugs.” This representation is central to Spectrum’s marketing of its Hot Shot Bed Bug Products, and is displayed on the product itself, Spectrum’s website, and other online advertisements. See Hot Shot, http://www.hotshot.com/ (click on “Bedbugs” tab; then “learn more” link for “Hot Shot Pest Bed Bug & Flea Killer Aerosol” and “Hot Shot Bed Bug & Flea Fogger” products.

Hot Shot

Hot Shot product claims


Filed under Class Action Investigations

The Ladders.com Class Action Investigation

New:   Investigation – Closed  Bursor & Fisher, P.A. has  filed a class actions against the TheLadders.com. For more information about that case, their website is here. =======================================

Issues with TheLadders.com (1) Salary Ranges – whether consumers have been misled by Theladders.com‘s claims about employment opportunities.  Has Theladders.com overstated salary ranges? (2) Billing Practices – whether TheLadders.com has overbilled, or misled consumers about its billing model. Theladders.com Job Seeker Complaints about Theladders.com According to a recent story (here), “People pay fees to access “Only $100k+ jobs.” Then they go on an interview for one of those Ladders-listed jobs, only to find the job pays nowhere near $100k.” TheLadders.com job Search – “High End” or “Bait and Switch?” TheLadders.com has a Youtube video (below), which captures some of the issues with this company. The caption states, “Another successful $100k+ job search!”

  • Does this company employ bait and switch tactics, or does it fairly represent the jobs that are available?
  • The Ladders supposedly “focuses on high-end jobs” and charges fees to offer up the best employment opportunities, but are the jobs really “high end”?
  • Are the fees worth it for job-seekers, or is The Ladders essentially collecting money for something that it does not in fact deliver?
  • What have your experiences with this company been? Did they meet your expectations? Were the fees you paid worth it?  Has your job search benefited from this fee-based service, or were you better off with free services like Monster.com?

Hired! Is the Ladders.com a Scam? Another article (here), claims that “The Ladders Is One Gigantic Scam That Preys On Unsuspecting Job Seekers.” Lawsuits against Theladders.com A recent class action lawsuit against TheLadders.com alleges: “Unlike other job boards which are free to join, theLadders charged a premium subscription fee to members for ‘hand-screening ever job post and recruiter so you only see real, open $100k+ jobs in your area.’  In reality, however, its job postings were not hand-screened.  There were ‘scraped’ from the Internet without authorization from employers or recruiters and the employment opportunities were not for “real, open $100k+ jobs.” Moreover, Theladders had no process in place to ensure that these posted positions ever truly existed, remained open, or that they met its minimum advertised annual compensation criteria of $100k+.” Marc Cenedella One aspect of this story is how much CEO Marc Cenedalla has been making from theladders.com.  How profitable has this venture been for him? Related articles


Filed under Class Action Investigations

Class Action Investigation: Eastern Bank, Middlesex Savings Bank, Rockland Trust Company, Salem Five Bank — Overdraft Fees

Under Investigation: -OVERDRAFT FEES- Eastern Bank, Middlesex Savings, Rockland Trust, Salem Five

ANNOUNCEMENT: You may have heard of (or been affected by) overdraft fees at Citizens Bank or Bank of America, and the class action lawsuits and settlements related to those overdraft fees.

There are four Massachusetts state-chartered banks which may have engaged in similar unfair practices related to overdraft fees.  They are: (1) Middlesex Savings Bank; (2) Rockland Trust; (3) Salem Five; (4) Eastern Bank. Whenever bank transactions are re-ordered from highest to lowest to put customers into a negative balance – thereby causing a domino effect of overdraft fees, banking customers have been injured. This is especially true if you used a debit card for multiple purchases over a period of several days without realizing you had a negative balance.

If you have been a customer of any of the banks listed below, and you have paid overdraft fees, you are encouraged to contact us at (617)329-1295.


Bank Watch List:

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Class Action Investigation: Kiehl’s “Anti-Aging” Products

Under Investigation: Kiehl’s Anti-Aging Products

ANNOUNCEMENT: If you have purchased any of the supposed “anti-aging” products that Kiehl’s has sold in the past four years, you are encouraged to contact us today about your Kiehl’s Complaints. The Leonard Law Office, LLP is accepting inquiries from potential Massachusetts class representatives to bring a class action against Kiehl’s for its “anti-aging” cosmetics.


Warning: If you have purchased any anti-wrinkle or anti-aging skin cream, serum, or other product, you may have been misled.

About Kiehl’s

Kiehl’s is headquarted at 435 Hudson Street, New York, NY.  Kiehl’s was founded in East Village in 1851 by a pharmacist named John Kiehl.  Presently, the full name of the business is “KIEHL’S SINCE 1851 LLC.”  L’Oreal bought Kiehl’s in 2000. Chris Salgardo is the current President of Kiehl’s.

Kiehl’s Anti-Aging & Anti-Wrinkle Products

Kiehl’s aggressive anti-aging and anti-wrinkle claims are in question.

Kiehl’s “Line Reducing” Vitamin C

This product claims to have line-reducing benefits caused by Vitamin C. We questions the validity of such a claim.

Age Reducing Power of Vitamin C

“Feel the Power of Age Reducing Power of Vitamin C”


Kiehl’s Rosa Artica Line

1. Rosa Artica Youth Regenerating Cream with Rare “Resurrection Flower”


  • “Youth Regenerating”
  • “Recharge cells”
  • “Jolt back youth”
  • “Delivers energy to skin allowing cellular activity to reawaken”
  • “Skin transforms to a more youthful beginning”

2. Rosa Artica Youth Regenerating Lightweight Cream with Rare “Resurrection Flower”


  • Works to jolt cellular vitality, stimulating skin’s own collagen and elastin production.”

3. Rosa Artica Youth Regenerating Eye Balm with Rare “Resurrection Flower”


  • Jolts cellular vitality by stimulating skin’s collagen and elastin production.”

Kiehl’s Rosa Artica “Anti-Aging” cosmetics

Kiehl’s Newbury Street, Boston MA


Rosa Artica

Rosa Artica


Lets Us Change Your Skin!

Lets Us Change Your Skin!

Kiehl’s Anti-Wrinkle Cream with Copper PCA and Calcium PCA

Kiehl's Copper



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Filed under Class Action Investigations