Recent Settlements: Facebook, a weed killer, and a major bank – Aronberg and Aronberg

Jul. 25th, 2012   /  

 

So, let’s play a game: what do the social media giant Facebook, the Atrazine weed killer company and mammoth PNC Bank have in common?  Sure, they all generate a great deal of money, but that’s not the answer we’re looking for.  The correct answer is…. They all recent paid out in major settlements!  In this blog we’re going to give you a look at how some of the biggest companies in the world have settled in recent civil lawsuits.

Let’s start with Facebook, the social media site that has inspired a new generation of techies (while recently disappointing plenty of wall street investors).  So what, exactly, landed Facebook in this hot seat?  Well, the web-based company faced a class-action lawsuit in California over their use of Facebook members’ likenesses in a public manner.  The lawsuit filed against Facebook last December claimed that the company had violatedCalifornia’s Right of Publicity Statute, which explicitly prohibits the use of another person’s likeness, name, voice, signature, photograph, etc., for the purposes of advertising.  This has to do with Facebook because users of the site’s “likes” were being used for brand endorsements in combination with the person’s name and photo (all without their consent).  Facebook has settled and agreed to pay $10 million to charities to make the lawsuit go away.  People say that Facebook “owns” all of its users’ information, but the law still supersedes all.

Across the country, in New York, the company Syngenta has settled an environmental class-action lawsuit for $105 million.  The lawsuit was brought against Syngenta in NYC by a number of water companies (all based in theMidwest) that alleged that Syngenta’s atrazine weed killer had contaminated water supplies.  The water companies sought payment from Syngenta to cover the expenses of filtering the contamination from the water.  The company at the center of the suit, Syngenta, is a Swiss-based company; surprisingly, the herbicide in question is not used in Europe.

Lastly, we come back home to Coral Gables, Florida, where PNC Bank has agreed to settle a major lawsuit.  The suit accused PNC of manipulating its customers’ debit card transactions in an effort to generate extra revenue via abnormally high overdraft fees.  The settlement agreement outlines that PNC will pay $90 million to make the suit go away.  This type of lawsuit is not a new one.  Last year, Bank of America settled for $410 million in a similar case, and JPMorgan Chase, Citizens bank, and TD Bank have also recently announced settlements.  These types of cases give more power to the consumer and limit the rogue manipulation that takes place at the highest levels of some major corporations.

As a consumer (of social media, household products, or financial tools, etc), you have rights.  If you feel those rights may have been violated, contact our experienced attorneys at 561-266-9191 or email us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com.

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