F&F v. East West Bank
F&F v. East West Bank. FBBC’s clients, family-owned businesses, file Lender Liability lawsuit against East West Bank. FBBC’s clients have filed a lawsuit in California State Court against lender East West Bank, alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and negligence, among other causes of action. The lawsuit is being brought by the borrower and two other businesses and alleges that the lender failed to properly fund-control a $40,000,000 commercial development project in Southern California and tricked the borrower into default so as to eliminate the otherwise performing loan from its portfolio by way of sale to another of its customers. The case is in its initial stages, but the Firm intends to act effectively and decisively to enable its clients to recover for all provable wrongful conduct. This case is being handled by partners Justin P. Karczag and Robert A. Curtis.
Superior Court Judge Affirms $14.8 Million Dollar Arbitration Award
On January 13, 2003, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge J. William McLafferty, affirmed an arbitration award issued by retired Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, David Eagleson which awarded Gregory J. Parker 14.8 million dollars in damages, punitive damages, and interest against Wendy P. McCaw, the owner and CEO of the Santa Barbara News-Press.
In documents filed with the court, McCaw’s attorneys had argued that the 14.8 million award should be vacated on the grounds that Justice Eagleson was biased against McCaw and her entities. Judge McLafferty, however, was not swayed by McCaw argument and denied McCaw’s petition to vacate.
Two Classes Certified in Class Action Against GTE/Verizon
Foley & Bezek, a Santa Barbara law firm with a practice specializing in class actions, along with the firm of Arias, Ozzello & Gignac, won a victory for consumers by certifying two classes in a class action against GTE/Verizon. Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle certified the Wrong PIC Code Class and Billing Date Error Class on May 29, 2002 after 3 days of hearings. Judge Anderle found that the Plaintiffs’ claims against GTE/Verizon for wrongful billing resulting in overcharges for consumers should proceed as a class action and appointed Foley & Bezek as one of the class counsel.
The Plaintiffs filed suit in August of 2000, alleging that flaws in GTE/Verizon’s billing system resulted in consumers getting billed for long distance calls by a carrier other than the carrier which they had chosen. This resulted in substantial overcharges to the consumers. Plaintiffs also determined that a consumer who changed his/her long distance carrier from AT&T to some other carrier any time during the billing cycle would also get charged higher rates. Plaintiffs’ complaint seeks damages for negligence, fraud, conversion, unfair business practices and violations of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act on behalf of consumers in both classes.
Class Action Certified in Structured Settlement Case
Santa Barbara, CA – Foley & Bezek, a Southern California law firm with a practice specializing in class actions, confirms that a California State Court has certified a class action in the In Re: Structured Settlement Litigation, Case No. BC249692, in Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Judge Peter Lichtman certified the class on January 29, 2002. Judge Licthman found that the Plaintiffs’ claims against numerous defendants for alleged failure to make timely payments to individuals who settled personal injury cases and agreed to accept periodic payments utilizing “structured settlements,” should proceed as a class action and appointed Foley & Bezek as one of the class counsel.
The Plaintiffs filed suit in January 2001 alleging that they have relied upon the integrity of Treasury Bond Trusts established by IBAR, Merrill Lynch and Merrrill Lynch Settlement Services Inc., under trust agreements with Bank of America and Wells Fargo, to secure over 0 million in outstanding settlement obligations. The complaint further alleges that in November, 2000, the current structured settlement company, SSTAI, defaulted on those payments. The complaint alleges that this default has had an enormous impact on the Plaintiffs, who represent an acutely vulnerable class of persons, many of whom are dependant on these settlement payments for medical care and the daily necessities of life.
In certifying this action as a class action, Judge Licthman defined the class of persons as all persons and entities who are parties to structured settlements with a company variously known as IBAR, Inc., Merrill Lynch IBAR, Inc., Merrill Lynch Settlement Services, Inc., ML Settlement Services, Inc., or Settlement Services Treasury Assignments, Inc., whose structured settlements provided for payments to be paid out of the interest and principal paid on U.S. Treasury bonds held in trust and who have not received payment in full of the amounts due to them under their structured settlements.
A settlement reached in a class action lawsuit brought by Foley Bezek Behle & Curtis, LLP against Verizon Directories (aka Idearc Media) was approved by the Superior Court on February 4, 2008. The settlement resolves a lawsuit alleging that Plaintiff and other members of the class purchased and paid for one year of advertising in the Verizon Yellow Pages print directory for Palm Springs, Indio, and the Coachella Valley. But, because Verizon did not timely distribute the directories to the public, he and other advertisers in the directories did not received the full year of advertising they had paid for.
While Verizon denied any liability, arguing that the plaintiffs’ claims were isolated incidents, under the terms of the settlement, class members will be entitled to cash payments or coupons towards future advertisements. Through aggressive litigation, FBB&C was able to achieve a very beneficial settlement for the class valued at approximately $1,578,474.00.
A settlement has been reached in a class action that alleged that T-Mobile engaged in the unfair, deceptive and misleading business practice of overcharging its cellular telephone customers for calls dialed to/from their cellular telephones while their customers (and their cellular telephones) were outside the United States. The settlement, which was approved by both the San Diego Superior Court in December 2006, requires the Defendant to pay benefits to the class members valued at approximately $4,448,000 as set forth in more detail below.
CASE NAME: Behar International Counsel v. T-Mobile USA
TYPE OF CASE: Class Action
JUDGE: The Honorable Jay Bloom – San Diego Superior Court
PLAINTIFFS REPRESENTED BY: Robert A. Curtis of FOLEY BEZEK BEHLE & CURTIS, LLP; J. Paul Gignac of ARIAS OZZELLO & GIGNAC, LLP; R. Craig Clark of CLARK & ASSOCIATES
DEFENDANTS REPRESENTED BY: Christopher Hockett and Thomas Hixson of BINGHAM McCUTCHEN
FACTS: Before March 2003, Plaintiff entered into a standard Service Agreement for cellular telephone service from defendant T-Mobile USA, Inc. (“T-Mobile”). In or around March 2003, Plaintiff noticed that its T-Mobile telephone bill contained two roaming charges of $4.99 each for numerous one minute telephone calls allegedly placed to Plaintiff’s cellular telephone while Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s cellular telephone were outside of the United States – calls which Plaintiff never made or received. As alleged in the complaint in this action, Plaintiff contacted T-Mobile several times regarding this matter but never received any explanation or a cash refund for the $4.99 charges.
As a result, Plaintiff sought the help of Foley Bezek Behle & Curtis, LLP and Arias Ozzello & Gignac, LLP, who together with the help of San Diego counsel R. Craig Clark, filed a class action lawsuit against T-Mobile in the San Diego Superior Court alleging, inter alia, that T-Mobile engaged in the unfair, deceptive and misleading business practice of billing its cellular telephone customers for calls dialed to/from their cellular telephones while their customers (and their cellular telephones) were outside the United States, even though their customers never received/made the calls for which they were billed. The class action complaint sought damages for Violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law, Breach of Contract, Unjust Enrichment and Declaratory Relief.
T-Mobile immediately moved to strike Plaintiff’s class action on the grounds that the contract that Plaintiff had entered into contained a clause that prohibited class actions and also sought to move the case to arbitration based on an arbitration clause in the contract. Judge Bloom of the San Diego Superior Court denied T-Mobile’s motion to strike the class action allegations on the grounds that such waivers are unconscionable under California Law but ordered the matter to class arbitration in front of the American Arbitration Association. Robert Brent of the American Arbitration Association was appointed the arbitrator.
After completing discovery and surviving a motion to dismiss in the class arbitration, T-Mobile approached Plaintiff with the possibility of mediation. After several exchanges of data and meetings of experts to assist in determining the class size and potential damages, the parties mediated their dispute before the Honorable Robert Altman (Ret.) of ADR Services, Los Angeles.
RESULT: The settlement reached on behalf of the entire class, which was approved by both the San Diego Superior Court and the Arbitrator pursuant to the AAA’s class action rules in December 2006, required the Defendant to pay benefits to the class members valued at approximately $4,448,000. The reaction of the members of this class to this settlement was extremely positive as only 57 of the more than 248,000 class members opted-out of the settlement and not a single class member objected to the settlement at the final approval hearing.
Appellate Court Issues an Important Decision on SLAPP Litigation
On July 22, 2004, the Court of Appeal for the State of California, Second Appellate District, Division Six issued an important decision regarding the protections afforded defendants under the State’s Anti-SLAPP laws.
Santa Barbara Beach Properties, L.P. managed by and through developer Bill Levy initially filed a lawsuit against Santa Barbara resident Richard Berti and his wife, alleging that Berti had breached his fiduciary duties with the intent to harm Levy’s business. After Levy filed suit, Berti, represented by Foley & Bezek, LLP, approached the Court for permission to file a brief known as a “SLAPP Motion to Strike.” The SLAPP statute (“Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”) is designed to prohibit lawsuits initiated to quell a person’s freedom of speech or access to the courts by the fear of high litigation costs. Shortly after Berti’s request, Levy voluntarily dismissed his case.
Later, when Berti filed a motion for attorneys’ fees pursuant to the SLAPP statute, Levy’s counsel argued that, because the alleged SLAPP suit was dropped before Berti filed his SLAPP Motion to Strike, the Court did not have jurisdiction to award Berti fees. In a published decision (found by clicking on this link), the California Court of Appeals agreed with Berti’s position, by finding that the Court retained jurisdiction to hear Berti’s attorneys’ fees request, notwithstanding Levy’s voluntary dismissal.
Santa Barbara, California
CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT FILED ON BEHALF OF BAR AND RESTURANT OWNERS WITH REGARD TO LIABILITY INSURANCE POLICIES
The California Department of Insurance, the United States Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are currently investigating an alleged fraud involving the sale of insurance policies to approximately 300 to 400 bar and restaurant owners throughout the State of California.
A class action lawsuit was filed by Foley & Bezek, LLP with the Santa Barbara Superior Court on November 5, 2003 on behalf of all bar and restaurant owners who purchased allegedly fraudulent polices of liability insurance purportedly issued by Lloyd’s of London. A scanned copy (in Adobe Acrobat format) of the class action complaint filed on November 5, 2003 with the Santa Barbara Superior Court can be viewed by clicking on the link above.
Lloyd’s is currently in the process of notifying bar and restaurant owners that policies of liability insurance that were purportedly issued by Lloyd’s through United Restaurant Insurance Services, Inc., Heritage Agency, and Ian Stewart apparently were not authorized, and do not provide any insurance coverage. As a result, bar owners are scrambling to obtain replacement insurance policies.
The class action lawsuit seeks to obtain the recovery of all premiums paid by bar and restaurant owners for the allegedly fraudulent insurance policies. The named plaintiffs in the class action lawsuits are James Fletcher, the owner of “Jimboz” Lounge in Santa Barbara, and Mike Bustanchury, the owner of “Tiburon Tavern” in Santa Barbara.
William Meader, Senior Investigator for the California Department of Insurance, had advised Foley & Bezek, LLP that based on the current investigation, it appears that between 300 and 400 insurance policies were issued to bar and restaurant owners throughout the State of California. Mr. Meader is also attempting to determine whether bar owners in other states are involved, and for how many years the fraudulent policies have been issued.
Lloyd’s of London’s California attorney, Dean Hansell of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, has advised Tom Foley at Foley & Bezek, LLP that Lloyd’s is actively cooperating with the investigations being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, the FBI, and the California Department of Insurance.
Annual premiums for the fraudulent policies ranged between ,335.00 and ,000, depending on the size of the bars and restaurants involved.
December 19, 1996 article in the Los Angeles Times by Doug Smith, about a lawsuit filed in Burbank Superior Court alleging Lockheed Martin failing to informing people living near the former B-1 bomber construction plant that it was discharging chromium 6, a known carcinogen.
Roger N. Behle Jr., a partner at Foley Bezek Behle & Curtis LLP, offers his comments on the Mattel Inc. and MGA Entertainment, Inc. litigation over MGA’s Bratz dolls, in an article written by Matthew Blake of the Daily Journal.