Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog


When most of us buy a pet, we like to think we're saving it from a horrible life in a pen, or worse. And animal shelters rely on the good intentions of pet owners to place animals in good homes. But in California, those good intentions have become law.

Governor Jerry Brown this week announced the signing of Assembly Bill No. 485, requiring pet stores to sell only rescue animals. The law is aimed at ending the practice of so-called "puppy mills," and makes the Golden State the first to enact such a law. So what does the new law actually prohibit, and what are the penalties?

After a national tragedy, like the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, you may want to reach deep into your pocketbook to help the victims, or donate to related causes. However, before you decide to donate, you may want to confirm that you're really donating your money to a real charity rather than just giving it to a scammer.

As disgusting as it sounds, some scammers have already tried to capitalize on the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Fake donation pages set up to look like funds would go to victims or victims' families, but in reality, the money was going directly to a scammer. Authorities have already had some scam donation pages taken down.

Let's be honest, most of us aren't reading every word of our warranties, and we're certainly not doing it before we purchase a product. And while that might save us a ton of time, it may cost us our ability to take companies to court if their products don't perform as advertised. That's because more and more manufacturers are tucking mandatory arbitration clauses deep in their warranties.

But the Supreme Court is pushing back on those clauses, handing a small victory to consumers. Here's how.

If you read the name Honey Bucket and first thought of Winnie the Pooh or fried chicken, I have some foul smelling news for you. Honey Buckets are actually portable toilets, the stench from which some neighbors in Pacific, Washington are not too pleased with.

"Hazardous odors, gases, fumes, and contaminants have been and are being released from the Honey Bucket Facility property," their lawsuit claims, "interfering with the use and enjoyment of the Plaintiff's and the Class Members' properties, have substantially impaired the value of their properties, and have caused adverse personal impacts such as annoyance, irritation, discomfort, and other similar physical ailments." That lawsuit was certified as a class action this week, allowing more neighbors to join the case.

Puppy Scams? Yes, Puppy Scams

Is nothing sacred anymore? Can we not even leave pure, innocent animals out of our online scams these days?

Apparently not. The Better Business Bureau is reporting that 80 percent of sponsored advertisements about pets may be fake, leading to hundreds of thousands of dollars lost to pet fraud. Scam artists are posting pictures of puppies, taking payment, and then never producing the pet. These people are monsters.

Where goes any hack or data breach, so comes the scam. Worried your personal information is in the hands of criminals? Give us, who are definitely not criminals, your personal information and we'll check and make sure to keep you safe. The appeal is simple, insidious, and predictable.

So it's not surprising that, following on the heels of what might be the most damaging data breach in history, here comes the Equifax scam.

Of all the hacks and data breaches going around lately, the last place you'd expect or want to get hacked is a credit reporting agency. After all, they're entrusted with an enormous amount of personal information and financial history -- a one-stop-shop for identity theft data.

So you'd hope that one of the largest consumer credit reporting agencies would have the latest and greatest when it comes to data security. You'd also hope that if one of those agencies were hacked, they'd address the issue ASAP. And maybe that addressing the issue wouldn't require victimized consumers to forfeit their right to sue.

Sorry to break it to you, but you're going to have to say goodbye to those hopes and hello to the Equifax hack.

As great man once said, "There's a time and place for everything -- and it's called college." And in a place where anything can happen, not all of those things are good.

From flood damage and pranks gone wrong, to simple theft or misappropriation, some bad things can happen to a college student's dorm room. Does that mean they need to insure those rooms, and their belongings?

We all hate robocalls -- those pre-recorded telemarketing calls that always seem to interrupt dinner, which, in my house, is really the third hour of binging "Cake Boss." But most of us don't hate them enough to file a lawsuit about it. Lucky for us lazy litigants, there's a nifty little thing called the class action lawsuit, where one person can file a suit on behalf of all the other people in the same situation, and we can just ride their coattails to a nice little judgment or settlement.

So by now you're wondering, has there been a class action lawsuit filed over those annoying robocalls from cruise lines? (Yes.) How do I know if I'm a member of the class? (It's pretty easy.) And how much money are we talking about here? (See below.)

Plaintiff Stephen Hadley has filed a lawsuit claiming that the many different Kellogg breakfast products he ate for breakfast were not as healthy as the breakfast maker has claimed. And while Kellogg denies these allegations, the company was not successful in having the case dismissed at the earliest possible stage.

Now, the case can continue on in the Northern District Court of California. Mr. Hadley is seeking to prove that nearly 30 different Kellogg products ranging from cereal bars to breakfast cereals contained more sugar than is actually healthy but nevertheless Kellogg advertised the products as "healthy." Perhaps most shockingly, one of the flagship cereals, Raisin Bran, has had its health benefits called into question, two scoops and all.