Entries Tagged as 'Legal'

Bait and switch rates?

Yesterday (Monday 6-Jul-2010) at 4:15pm I stopped by Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union to open up an IRA Certificate of Deposit; I’d been in the process of transferring money from one institution to another (and it took much longer than it should have — but since two institutions were involved, it’s hard to know which was responsible for the delay).

Anyway, I ended up having to wait 45 minutes to be helped; that gave me plenty of time to look over the posted rate board — and I’d decided that the 2.09% for a 24-month IRA-CD looked reasonable (I’d have preferred 18 months or less, but I wanted a reasonable return rate, and I don’t really expect the economy to start to rebound for several years).

The customer service representative that helped me (the “Financial Services Representative”) ask me which CD I was interested in and I told him — the 24-month 2.09% APR; he immediately said, that the 24-month IRA-CD was 1.97%, not 2.09% — that it had changed on Friday 2-Jul-2010 and they simply hadn’t gotten around to posting it on their rate board.

WTF?

I’ve long been under the impression that financial institutions understand the importance of posting accurate rate information — and I thought most any ethical institution understands the legal (even if they don’t understand the moral) implications of posting fraudulent information.

When I got home I filed complaints with the State of Florida Attorney General’s office (in Tallahassee, FL) and the National Credit Union Administration, Region III office (in Atlanta, GA) requesting that they investigate the business practices of Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union.



Post Note: The VP of Operations contacted me this morning (7-Jul-2010) and Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union will honor the rate as posted yesterday (for me at least).

Originally posted 2010-07-07 02:00:32.

Fry’s Class Action Settlement – Credit Card Return Policy

Seems there’s a Class Action Legal Action against Fry’s Electronics revolving around their credit card return policy.  You can read all the details via the link below, and I’ve copied the text into this blog as well.

Thumbnail… if you did a credit card return to Fry’s between 5 March 2006 and 31 January 2008 you can file for a 20% off (up to a $20 maximum) coupon; you simply need to download the PDF (link below), fill it out, and have it postmarked by 25 July 2008.

Class Action Settlement

Claim Form

———-

California Only

Notice of Proposed Settlement of Class Action
TO: All persons who, from March 5, 2006 through January 31, 2008, entered into a credit card return transaction with Fry’s Electronics, Inc., in the state of California (“Class Members”).

IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF THIS CLASS OF PERSONS, YOU SHOULD READ THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY BECAUSE IT WILL AFFECT YOUR RIGHTS.PURPOSE OF THIS NOTICE
This notice informs you about the above-referenced action and a proposed Settlement on behalf of a certain class of persons. This notice advises you of the benefits that may be available to you under the proposed Settlement and your rights and options as a Class Member, and notifies you that hearings will be held to approve the Settlement.

There is currently pending in the California Superior Court for the County of Sacramento an action entitled Krimsky vs. Fry’s Electronics Inc., Case No. 07AS00928 (the “Action”). On April 16, 2008, Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang of the Sacramento County Superior Court, tentatively approved a proposed settlement in this Action.

WHAT THE ACTION IS ABOUT
Plaintiff Roger Krimsky filed a class action lawsuit against Fry’s Electronics, Inc., (hereinafter referred to as “Fry’s” or “Defendant”) on behalf of himself and all Class Members. Plaintiff’s law firm (“Class Counsel”), which represents Plaintiff and the Class Members, is Westrup Klick, LLP.

The lawsuit alleges that Fry’s violated California law by utilizing a return invoice for credit card transactions which conta ined preprinted spaces designated for filling in the address, telephone and/or fax numbers of the cardholder. Fry’s denies that it has violated California law, and denies that any class member is entitled to any relief. However, to avoid the expense, inconvenience and interference with its business operations created by the Action, it has concluded that it is in its best interests to settle the Action on the terms summarized in this Notice.

The settlement was reached through lengthy arms-length negotiations between the parties and with the assistance of a neutral mediator, the Honorable Richard Silver (ret).

The Court has determined that the Action should proceed as a Class Action, for purposes of settlement only, with Plaintiff as the representative of the Class, and granted preliminary approval of the settlement, subject to a final fairness hearing discussed below.

THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT
THE PARTIES HAVE AGREED TO THE SETTLEMENT GENERALLY DESCRIBED BELOW:

Fry’s has agreed to cease utilizing a return invoice form for credit card transactions which contain preprinted spaces designated for customers’ addresses, telephone and/or fax numbers, except in those instances where required for a special purpose. Such change is subject to modification in relation to modification of the law permitting such.

Class Members who submit a timely Claim Form as described below shall be eligible to receive a 20% off coupon (maximum value of $20 off).

The Parties agreed that, subject to the Court’s final approval, the named Plaintiff, Roger Krimsky, shall be entitled to an incentive award of up to $2,500 in recognition of the risk to Plaintiff as the Class representative in commencing the lawsuit in the Action, both financial and otherwise; the amount of time and effort spent by Plaintiff as the Class representative; and for serving the public interest. The Parties also agreed that subject to the Court’s final approval, Class Counsel shall be entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees and costs of up to $150,000. The Payment of attorneys’ fees will not affect the benefits provided to the Settlement Class.

RELEASE OF ALL CLAIMS
If the settlement is granted final approval, Fry’s and each of its past or present officers, directors, shareholders, employee’s, agents, principals, heirs, representatives, accountants, auditors, consultants, attorneys, insurers and reinsurers, and its and their respective successors and predecessors in interest, subsidiaries, affiliates, parents, subsidiaries, and each of their company- sponsored employee benefit plans and all of their respective officers, directors, employees, administrators, fiduciaries, trustees and agents will be released from all claims, liabilities, demands, debts, accounts, obligations, actions, and causes of action, known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, at law or in equity, of any kind or nature whatsoever (collectively “Claims”) for Defendant’s alleged violation of Civil Code Section 1747.08(a)(3).

FINAL FAIRNESS HEARING
A final hearing will be held before Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang of the Sacramento County Superior Court, on July 18, 2008 at 9:00 a.m., to determine whether the proposed Settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate and should be finally approved. The hearing will take place at the Sacramento County Superior Court, in Dept. 54, located at 720 9th Street, Sacramento, California 95814. You are not required to attend the hearing in order to participate in the settlement.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. To Receive A 20% off Coupon. As a Class Member you are eligible to receive a 20% off coupon (maximum value of up to $20 off). In order to receive your 20% off coupon, you must timely complete and return a valid Claim Form. A Claim Form can be obtained by asking for a Claim Form at a Fry’s return register or by downloading a Claim Form at www.frys.com. In order for the Claim Form to be considered, it must be postmarked by July 25, 2008, and mailed to Krimsky v. Fry’s Electronics Claims Administrator, c/o Desmond, Marcello & Amster, P.O. Box 451999, Los Angeles, California 90045.

2. To Exclude Yourself From The Settlement. As a Class Member, you have the right to exclude yourself from the Action and the settlement. If you are a Class Member and wish to be excluded, you must submit a letter or postcard post-marked no later than June 25, 2008 with the case name, your name, address, and telephone number, stating “I wish to be excluded from the Fry’s Class Action.” To be considered valid, a request for exclusion must set forth all of this information and must be timely received. It must be signed by you personally, in order to be valid. Your request must be sent to: Fry’s Class Action: Krimsky v. Fry’s Electronics Claims Administrator, c/o Desmond, Marcello & Amster, P.O. Box 451999, Los Angeles, California 90045.

If you timely and validly request exclusion from the Class, you will be excluded from the Class; you will not receive any benefits from the settlement; you will not be bound by the judgment entered in the Action and you will not be precluded from otherwise prosecuting any individual claim, if timely, against Fry’s based on the transactions complained of in the Action. If you do not wish to exclude yourself, and have no objection to the settlement, you are eligible to receive the benefits of the settlement if the settlement is approved.

3. To Object To The Settlement. If for some reason you desire to object to the terms of the settlement, you ma y do so under the procedures set forth below. If your objection is rejected you will be bound by the final judgment just as if you had not objected.

If you decide to appear and object, you must file and serve your written request to appear and object with the Court, and upon Counsel for all of the parties by June 25, 2008. You must serve all such notices and papers upon Class counsel and Defendant’s counsel at the following addresses:

Phillip R. Poliner, Esq.
Westrup Klick LLP
444 West Ocean Blvd.,
Suite 1614
Long Beach, CA 90802
(Plaintiff Class Counsel)

William H. Curtis, Esq.
Fry’s Electronics, Inc.
Legal Department
600 East Brokaw
San Jose, CA 95112
(Defendant Class Counsel) 

The mailing address for the Final Approval Hearing is:

Sacramento County Superior Court
Dept.54
720 9th Street
Sacramento, California 95814

Class Members who do not timely make their objections in this manner will be deemed to have waived all objections and shall not be entitled to be heard at the settlement approval hearing.
If you have further questions regarding this lawsuit you may contact Plaintiffs’ Class Counsel, Phillip R. Poliner Esq., of Westrup Klick LLP, at 1-888-268-6884. DO NOT ADDRESS ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SETTLEMENT OR THE LITIGATION TO THE CLERK OF THE COURT, TO THE JUDGE, OR TO COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT.

Originally posted 2008-05-14 12:10:54.

Privacy Violation

Mid 2006 AT&T, Bell South (soon to be part of AT&T), and Verizon all turned over their phone call database to the National Security Agency just because they ask.  Qwest refused, indicating to the NSA that they were required to obtain a subpoena before such information could be release.

Section 2702 of Title 18, part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, provides that “a provider of … electronic communication service [including telephone service] to the public shall not knowingly divulge a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber to or customer of such service … to any governmental entity” without the customer’s consent or a subpoena or court order. Under section 2707, carriers face civil liability, including minimum damages of $1,000 per violation, punitive damages, and attorneys fees. Government employees who participated in a violation also may face administrative discipline.

My questions is, since the NSA obtained such information illegally, why haven’t the telcos been fined, the information obtained by the NSA been destroyed, and the NSA employees who requested (and authorized the requests) been terminated?

I personally am tired of waiting for the restoration of my civil rights; the new administration has been in the White House for a year now, the honey moon is over — let’s stop hearing rhetoric, and start seeing action.

Originally posted 2009-12-31 02:00:15.

Do Not Mail Initiatives

In the United States we have a “Do Not Call” list that’s moderately effective at reducing marketing calls for those of us who don’t want them (though politicians notably made an exception for themselves)… but we don’t have a “Do Not Mail” list… and we should.

Organizations like the Direct Marketing Association lobby congress heavily to keep their mail rates cheap and prevent any legislation from standing in the way of their members from killing millions of trees, littering our mail boxes with “junk mail”, and wasting energy to produce – distribute – collect – and hopefully recycle all that garbage.

For several years now legislation has been pending that would greatly limit direct mail marketing (in much the same way as telephone marketing) — write your representatives in Washington DC and tell them YOU want legislation that will give you control over your mail box.

NOTE:  In all fairness, the Direct Marketing Association does offer a “Mail Preference Service” to consumers, and does require that it’s members use those preferences when mailing materials.  However, they make it difficult for consumers to enter their addresses and there are questions as to how effect self regulation has been.

Originally posted 2008-11-01 12:00:03.

Federal Express is a SPAMmer

Yesterday evening I received an Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE, aka SPAM) from Federal Express in violation of the California Professions and Business Code Section 17538.45.

Apparently Federal Express has taken to harvesting email addresses used in requesting tracking services and subscribing them to their marketing mailings lists without obtaining the permission of the owner of the email address (California law prohibits OPT-OUT policies, and requires that advertisers use OPT-IN methods).

Not only have I send a demand to Federal Expresses marketing campaign company and Federal Express demanding immediate payment of the fifty dollar fine specified by California Law; but I will no longer do business with Federal Express PERIOD.  That means I do not ship via FedEx, and I do not accept packages via FedEx, which means I don’t deal with vendors that use FedEx.

Originally posted 2009-02-19 01:00:25.

Microsoft Office 2007

Today a new version of Microsoft Office 2007 should be available.

One 22 December 2009 Microsoft got an early Christmas present; and injunction on the sale of Microsoft Office 2007 went into effect with the loss of a patent case involving a company named i4i located in Toronto, ON, CA.

The patent in this case, No. 5,787,449, was issued in July 1998.

i4i alleged, and successfully defended the assertion that Microsoft infringed on a patent by including a custom XML feature in Word 2007 which allowed it to open .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM files.

An injunction issued in August 2009 was delayed until the ruling was issued on 22 December 2009.

Reuters estimated that Microsoft will have to pay about $290 million US ($200 million awarded in damages by the jury, and about $90 million in fees and interest).

Microsoft responded to the court ruling in a public statement:

While we are moving quickly to address the injunction issue, we are also considering our legal options, which could include a request for a rehearing by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals en banc or a request for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kevin Kurtz, director of public affairs for Microsoft

In separate announcements, Microsoft confirmed that the code used in Microsoft Word 2007 would be changed, and a new version would be available on 10 January 2010.

Ruling

Originally posted 2010-01-10 01:00:27.

Mega Church – Mega Sex Scandle

Bishop Eddie Long of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia (just East of Atlanta) has been accused by three young male members of his congregation for sexual impropriety.

It’s yet another example of religious figures potentially using their position of authority and respect to seduce individuals who trust and respect them.

In this case, apparently the church leader seduced the boys by providing them with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips, and access to celebrities.

What is totally hilarious about this particular case of homosexual relations between Long and three boys is that Long had joined with Rev Bernice King (the youngest daughter of the late Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr and also a pastor at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church) in a march in 2004 in Atlanta to support a national constitutional amendment to protect marriage as a union “between one man and one woman”.  Additionally not only does Long support a national ban on same-sex marriage, but his church counsels gay members to become straight.

One can only wonder what else might happen at the Longfellows Youth Academy, a tuition-based program for young men between the ages of 13 and 18.

Just another mega evil of mega religion.

Originally posted 2010-09-29 02:00:28.

Lone Star Republic

Some times I think the one star on the Texas flag is more representative of the IQ of the average Texan than anything else… clearly though the State of Texas seems to miss the point about separation of church and state.

Last March the Texas Board of Education removed Thomas Jefferson from the curriculum of Texas schools and substituted John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone in his place to put a religious spin on the ideology of the found of this country (and many other revolutions around the world) rather than teach about Jefferson — the man who coined the phrase “separation between church and state.”

Now the State of Texas has judged many text books to have a pro-Islamic / anti-Christian tone.

Freedom of religion and freedom from religion are the fundamentals that this country was founded on; however, the Christian right understands how fragile their belief system is, and cannot take any risks that allowing individuals access to information that might enlighten their thinking and question the mis-guided beleifs the Christian right bases their bigotry and hatred on might defuse their strangle hold on backwards locations.

The really alarming aspect of the Texas Board of Education rulings is that with 4.7 million students subject to their regulations and rules text book publishers pay attention to their demands and thus Texas view points find their way into classrooms throughout the county.

It is a travesty to allow religion to be promoted in the public school system any place in this country.

Originally posted 2010-09-27 02:00:17.

Brink’s Pill Heist

On the 17th of March in what could well become the basis of the next Hollywood crime caper movie, $75 million worth of pharmaceuticals was stolen from a warehouse in Enfield, MA from Eli Lilly & Co.

The thieves disabled the alarm system, scaled an exterior brick wall, cut a hold in the roof, rappelled inside, loaded pallets of merchandise onto an awaiting vehicle, and left with a semi-truck full of stolen goods.

Prozac, Cymbalta, Zyprexa according to Eli Lilly no narcotics or painkillers were stored in this ware house.

Why worry about drugs from abroad when it seems the drug trade is very much alive right in our own back yard.

Originally posted 2010-03-19 02:00:13.

As Kagan Joins, Federal Courts’ Roles Rise In Importance

by Ron Elving

This weekend, Elena Kagan was sworn into the elite club of 112 who have served on the U.S. Supreme Court. The moment was duly noted across all news media, in large part because Kagan is just the fourth woman in the club.

But journalists also pounce on new appointments to the High Court in part to correct our perennial neglect of the judicial system. By far the preponderance of political journalism spilling out of Washington is devoted to the White House and Capitol Hill. As a rule, we pay attention to the courts when they interfere with something the other branches are trying to do.

This summer, federal judges have once again been horning in on issues of great interest and high stakes. Gay marriage. Immigration. The health care law. The post-BP moratorium on deepwater drilling. Each of these decisions will be reviewed by federal courts of appeal and ultimately by the U.S. Supreme Court.

But for that reason alone they will be generating news, inflaming public opinion and determining the direction of our politics, economics and culture.

Although most of the federal judiciary labors in lofty obscurity, at moments such as these one man or woman in a black robe can make an incalculable difference. Governors and senators and others in public life can only dream of such moments of influence.

Consider that on one day last week, one federal judge in San Francisco issued an opinion that invalidated the best known voter initiative of recent years: Proposition 8 on the 2008 California ballot, which overturned the state’s recognition of gay marriage.

Presenting extensive findings of fact from the trial before him, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker noted that defenders of Proposition 8 had scarcely attempted to refute these findings. In fact, the Prop 8 defense in its entirety was so cursory as to suggest its attorneys scarcely thought the trial court level was important. Their eye was on the friendlier venues of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

But if liberals and libertarians were heartened by Walker, they were equally gratified one week earlier by the ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton, who kicked out the key pillars of an Arizona law attempting to crack down on illegal immigration. Bolton found fault in that law’s provisions allowing state and local officials to question the immigration status of people they deemed suspicious — for whatever reason. The requirement that residents who ran afoul of such suspicion produce papers proving their immigration status was also spiked by the judge.

Bolton, like Walker, knew well how every word she put to paper would be scrutinized, analyzed and politicized. No doubt the same could be said for other judges bringing a more conservative viewpoint to bear on equally significant issues in recent days.

First of these was federal District Court Judge Martin Feldman of Houston, who spiked the administration’s six-month moratorium on oil-and-gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The administration may well have thought the argument for shutting down new explorations in the Gulf was open and shut in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon debacle. But if the shutdown was a no-brainer for environmentalists and industry critics, business folks in the Gulf states seemed to see it primarily as a short-term job killer and a long-term cloud over the economic future of the region.

Liberals were swift to note that Judge Feldman had a portfolio of stock holdings in the oil and gas sector, one that might well suffer in the event of a long-term slowdown in Gulf energy production. They also noted that the relevant federal appeals court, the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, was dominated by judges with business interests much like Feldman’s.

But the judge’s ruling stands, and is likely to stand longer than the Obama administration stands behind its six-month moratorium.

Similarly, in the same week as the Prop 8 ruling, supporters of the Obama health care law were incensed that U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond had approved Virginia’s standing to sue the federal government over the enforcement of provisions in that law. Defenders of the new health law had hoped that Hudson might uphold the historic principle of federal pre-eminence, a central issue since the founding of the Republic.

Many have noted the symbolic power of having this challenge emanate from Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy in the 1860s and the epicenter of “massive resistance” to the school integration decision of the Supreme Court in the 1950s. State’s rights may be a heading in a history textbook for some parts of the country, but they remain a mainstay of current events in the South.

Talk of nullification — the asserted right of states to ignore federal laws as they choose — has re-emerged as President Obama has pursued an activist agenda. In Texas and Tennessee, candidates for statewide office have allowed references to secession to enter their campaign vocabularies.

While no one expects another Civil War, we are clearly heading into the most significant round of state-federal confrontations we have seen since the 1960s. And that struggle has already been joined in courtrooms around the country, where it will largely be fought.

Small wonder then that Republicans in the Senate have made resistance to the judicial nominees of the new president such a salient element of their mission in these past 18 months.

To be sure, the president has seen both his nominees to the Supreme Court approved with little suspense. But the Senate has yet to allow a vote on most of the 85 nominees he has sent up for federal judgeships at the district and appeals court levels.

Same old partisan story? Not quite. The last five presidents, three of them Republicans, have seen four out of five of their appointments confirmed.

Democrats under Majority Leader Harry Reid have not been willing to call the minority’s bluff on this tactic by demanding real-time filibusters with all-night sessions and cots in the lobbies. No one wants the delay, the drama or the indignity.

But as the number of Democrats in the Senate shrinks in the November election, those who remain will need to reconsider what means are necessary to install their president’s choices in the increasingly powerful job of judge.

Original Story on NPR.org

Originally posted 2010-08-21 02:00:48.