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Recently in Litigation Category

The recent verdict in the big Monsanto Roundup trial is certainly causing a stir. The chemical company has been ordered to pay nearly $300 million in damages, with the bulk of the damages being punitive. Unfortunately, the plaintiff, who is terminally ill, will likely have to wait for appeals to wind down before he collects.

Throughout the trial, expert witnesses testified and explained to the jury their respective opinions on an active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate. In this individual case, a middle aged plaintiff alleged that his repeat exposures to Roundup while working as a groundskeeper resulted in his non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

A recent class action lawsuit filed against Nike alleges the company has discriminated against its employees by failing to pay, promote, and treat women equally. The plaintiffs are alleging that Nike demeaned and devalued women employees.

The lawsuit comes nearly a month after the company announced that it would be giving roughly 10 percent of its employees pay raises, which according to a CNBC, and any casual observer for that matter, was done to remedy the past discrimination and mistreatment of women employees that was revealed within the last year.

An Expensive Lesson on Arbitration Agreements and Forum Shopping

Julio Hernandez and two co-workers filed wage claims against their employer, but the company said they had to go through arbitration.

The arbitration fees exceeded the demand, however, so the employer went back and asked a federal court to reopen the cases. That didn't go so well for the company either.

In Hernandez v. Acosta, an appeals court said it "certainly looks like forum shopping." That slap back came after the company had incurred $100,000 in arbitration fees and costs.

Unfortunately, across industries, when a corporation is targeted for a government investigation, you can almost expect that consumer class actions will follow. For in-house and general counsel, it's basically the epitome of going from bad to worse.

After all, often a government investigation will result in the publication of notices or announcements by the government agencies involved, which then results in press, which then results in consumers finding out and filing lawsuits, with ultimately results in potential dips in investor confidence and financial losses (and then actually finally investor lawsuits). Taking a look at the recent TV advertising cases that have been filed provides a good example of this phenomenon.

Amazon to Pay $1.5M for Misleading 'Biodegradable' Label

Amazon agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged the company misled consumers about "biodegradable" plastic products.

The agreement resolved a complaint by district attorneys from 23 California counties. They said it's misleading to label products "biodegradable" or "compostable" unless scientifically proven.

The settlement is important to environmentalists, but we live in a new world. When Amazon is run by the richest man alive, is $1.5 million really that big of a deal? 

The short-term rental service, Airbnb, is no stranger to litigation. However, it stands to reason that most of Airbnb's hosts aren't as familiar with the inside of a courtroom.

Nevertheless, Airbnb has decided to financially stand behind one of its hosts who is challenging a $32K fine issued by New York City, which has some of the most restrictive rules in the nation on short-term rentals. The Airbnb host, Stanley Karol, alleges that he was targeted for the fine in retaliation for speaking out against the latest local legislation requiring Airbnb to give the city a list of names and addresses for every host offering a rental in the city.

IBM Beats Up Groupon in Patent Battle

Groupon attorneys tried to portray IBM as a big fish gobbling up little fish in the sea.

But jurors liked the tech giant's story better: little fish bottom-feeding on leftovers from the big fish. They awarded IBM $83 million against the coupon company for infringing on its patents.

Groupon says it didn't do anything wrong. But that's what happens in litigation, and everybody has a fish story.

Hearst to Pay $50 Million to Settle Data Privacy Case

It's hard to say how much a person's privacy is worth, but Hearst says it will pay $50 million to settle a data-privacy lawsuit that alleged the magazine publisher sold subscribers' information.

In the class-action, plaintiffs say they were bombarded with junk mail, advertisements and phone calls after the company sold their personal information. Lead plaintiff Josephine Edwards had subscribed to Good Housekeeping, one of many Hearst publications.

It is the largest settlement payment under a Michigan law that prohibits businesses from selling personal information about their customers. Under the settlement, subscribers will be eligible to receive about $155 each.

Judge Dismisses SEC Bribery Case Against Och-Ziff

Surviving a criminal investigation is not exactly a comeback, but it's better than the alternative.

Och-Ziff executives dodged a big bullet when a federal judge dismissed a bribery case against them. The judge said the Securities and Exchange Commission missed a five-year deadline to sue them.

Michael Cohen and Vanja Baros may have breathed a sigh of relief, but the company is still reeling from a $412 million payment to settle related investigations. For now, Och-Ziff is open for business.

For businesses and law firms, using stock photography can be both a blessing and a curse. While businesses can often find high quality and creative images to use for free, they can also end up accidentally violating an artist's copyright and having to pay out millions.

Stock photography websites can often get it wrong, or have images available that the sites don't actually have the rights to sell. This means that a business could very well violate the copyrights of artists by doing so, despite the good intentions behind using free stock photography (rather than just stealing images). And if you don't think this actually happens, then ask the United States Postmaster General (or just keep reading).