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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the concurrent filing of a complaint and a settlement involving allegations that The Gatorade Company violated California consumer protection laws by making misleading statements about water in a mobile videogame application it used to promote Gatorade sports drinks to teens and young adults.

The complaint filed by the Attorney General alleges that in the videogame “Bolt!”—made available free of charge on iTunes—Gatorade portrayed its products positively while inaccurately and negatively depicting water as hindering athletic performance. Specifically, users controlled a cartoon version of Olympic Gold Medalist Usain Bolt and ran an endless race to recover gold coins stolen by pirates. Upon touching a Gatorade icon, the Bolt avatar ran faster and the “fuel meter” increased; upon touching a water droplet, he slowed down and the “fuel meter” decreased. Gatorade reinforced this misleading message through the game’s tutorial, which urged users to “Keep Your Performance Level High By Avoiding Water.”

“Making misleading statements is a violation of California law. But making misleading statements aimed at our children is beyond unlawful, it’s morally wrong and a betrayal of trust. It’s what causes consumers to lose faith in the products they buy,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Today’s settlement should make clear that the California Department of Justice will pursue false advertisers and hold them accountable.”

The complaint further alleges that Gatorade promoted “Bolt!” on social media, drawing in a youthful audience of which more than 70 percent was aged 13 to 24. The app amassed more than 2.3 million downloads and 87 million games played worldwide in 2012 and 2013. The app was also made available on iTunes for a period of time in 2017. “Bolt!” was downloaded an estimated 30,000 times in California. It is no longer available for download. Continue Reading »

Los Angeles, CADespite lack of consensus in the scientific community directly associating talcum powder with the risk of ovarian cancer, jurors have sided with plaintiffs rather than Johnson & Johnson in four out of six talcum powder lawsuits that have gone to trial.

While the plaintiffs have presented studies dating back to the 1970s that show a link between talc and ovarian cancer, Johnson & Johnson has in its arsenal studies showing there is little or no link . As well, plaintiffs in the Fox lawsuit, which resulted in a $72 million settlement, cited internal memos indicating that J&J officials were aware of decades of research but chose not to warn consumers, rather choosing profit over people’s lives. Attorneys introduced as evidence a 1997 memo from a J&J medical consultant who said that, “anybody who denies [the] risks” between “hygenic” talc use and ovarian cancer would be publicly perceived in the same light as those who denied a link between smoking cigarettes and cancer.”

And talcum powder is far from the first product J&J has defended: a long string of litigation, from Motrin to hip implants to contact lenses has more than tarnished its reputation. The giant health-care company has already paid out several billion dollars in civil settlements and criminal fines, and now it’s shelling out millions of dollars to settle talcum powder lawsuits. Another nail in its coffin is the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of groups that, since 2009, has been hounding J&J to eliminate possible carcinogenic ingredients such as 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde from its products, including baby products. J&J finally agreed to eliminate those ingredients(The New York Times, 1/17/14), but it took several years of campaigning and negative publicity to do so.

It would appear that J&J lost its credibility a long time ago. Continue Reading »

CALABASAS, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Unico American Corporation (NASDAQ: UNAM) (“Unico,” the “Company”), announced today that, on September 12, 2017, a settlement agreement was reached on judgments which were finalized in December 2015 and March 2016 on a policy liability claim covered by Crusader Insurance Company (“Crusader”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Unico. Both judgments had been appealed, and, in connection with the appeal, Crusader placed with the Los Angeles Superior Court cash deposits of $7,924,178 and $5,449,615 in December 2015 and March 2016, respectively, in lieu of appeal bonds.

The settlement, amounting to $7,000,000, is required to be paid from the funds deposited by Crusader with the Los Angeles Superior Court. The remaining funds on deposit with the Los Angeles Superior Court are to be returned to Crusader. The Company recognized $797,500 for actual and anticipated losses and loss adjustment expenses, net of reinsurance, since inception of the claim through June 30, 2017. As a result of the settlement, the Company expects that it will incur approximately $1,600,000 in additional losses and loss adjustment expenses for the quarter ended September 30, 2017.

Headquartered in Calabasas, California, Unico is an insurance holding company that underwrites property and casualty insurance through its insurance company subsidiary; provides property, casualty, and health insurance through its agency subsidiaries; and through its other subsidiaries provides insurance premium financing and membership association services. Unico has conducted the majority of its operations through its subsidiary Crusader Insurance Company since 1985. For more information concerning Crusader Insurance Company, please visit Crusader’s website at www.crusaderinsurance.com.

September 15, 2017 05:20 PM Eastern Daylight Time


A woman who claims that she developed ovarian cancer after using products like baby powder for feminine hygiene purposes was been awarded more than $400 million after a court ruled that Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn her about the potential health risks.

As Reuters reported on Monday, California resident Eva Echeverria had sued the pharmaceutical company in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that they did not do enough to warn consumers that talc-based products were potentially carcinogenic. The court sided with her and awarded her the sum of $417 million – the largest verdict of its kind for a talcum powder lawsuit.

Echeverria, now 63, said that she started using Johnson & Johnson baby powder when she was just 11 years old, according to BBC News. She continued to use those products on a daily basis for decades and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, the Associated Press said. Her condition is said to be terminal, and her lawsuit alleges that the talcum powder is to blame.

“Mrs. Echeverria is dying from this ovarian cancer, and… all she wanted to do was to help the other women throughout the whole country who have ovarian cancer for using Johnson & Johnson for 20 and 30 years,” her attorney, Mark Robinson, told the AP. “She really didn’t want sympathy. She just wanted to get a message out to help these other women.” Continue Reading »

SACRAMENTO – Today, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, joined by the attorneys general for Minnesota, Maryland and Maine, filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration over its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative (DACA). The four States filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California arguing that the Trump Administration violated the Constitution and federal laws when it rescinded DACA.

“The DACA initiative has allowed more than 800,000 Dreamers, children brought to this country without documentation, to come out of the shadows and become successful and productive Americans. One-in-four of those DACA Dreamers know California as home, and it’s no coincidence that our great state is the sixth largest economy in the world,” said Attorney General Becerra. “In California, we don’t just support and value them – we fight for them. And it’s important that we get this right. We will not permit Donald Trump to destroy the lives of young immigrants who make California and our country stronger. The court of public opinion has already spoken: the vast majority of Americans agree Dreamers should be here to stay; so now it’s time to fight in every way we can – and on multiple fronts – in the court of law.”

In the complaint, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, and Attorney General Becerra describe the several violations by the federal government of the Constitution and federal laws designed to ensure that our government treats everyone fairly and transparently. Among other things, the complaint alleges:

  • The Trump Administration’s termination of DACA and the associated Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo and FAQs may lead to the untenable outcome that the Administration will renege on the promise it made to Dreamers and their employers that information they gave to the government for their participation in the program will not be used to deport them or prosecute their employers. The risk DACA grantees face is compounded by DHS’s earlier imposition of boundless enforcement “priorities” that sweep in most immigrants. The threatened misuse of sensitive information provided in good faith by DACA grantees to the government is fundamentally unfair, violating the Fifth Amendment’s due process guarantee. Continue Reading »

The City Attorney’s Office filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the 88-year-old owner of a Boyle Heights triplex and her grandson, alleging that gang-related shootings have taken place at the property despite it being “perilously close” to an elementary school.

The Los Angeles Superior Court complaint seeks an injunction and abatement of an alleged nuisance against Esther M. Oregon and her grandson, Manuel Oregon Martinez, both of whom are residents of the Sheridan Street triplex. Martinez, 36, is an “influential member” of a local gang and “attracts and invites other gang members there,” according to the lawsuit.

A second grandson, who is not a defendant, also resides there and returned fire on rival gang members with a handgun while standing in the driveway of the triplex in July 2015, the suit states. The suit seeks a court order directing Martinez and other gang members to stay up to 1,000 feet from the triplex. Oregon and Martinez could not be immediately reached.

The triplex “is perilously close to Sheridan Street Elementary School, which is located directly across the street, only 59 feet away from the property,” the suit states. “Prosecutors have filed this nuisance-abatement action in order to intervene before a life is claimed by this gang-related gunfire and other associated gang violence,” the suit states. Continue Reading »

SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced a $3.5 million multi-state settlement with Lenovo to resolve allegations that it illegally preinstalled ad-injecting software that compromised the security of its computers. California will receive $389,204 — the largest share of any of the 32 states involved in the settlement — based, in large part, on its size and leadership role in the multi-state investigation. This marks the first time that California has held a hardware manufacturer accountable for software preinstalled on its products. The settlement was negotiated and finalized in coordination with the Federal Trade Commission.

“What Lenovo did is inexcusable,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Companies should make every effort to develop secure software and protect consumers’ privacy. Today’s announcement should serve as a warning to any company that believes it can put profits ahead of people — we will hold you accountable and we will ensure that justice prevails.”

From July 2014 to January 2015, Lenovo preinstalled a program called “Visual Discovery” on its computers. The states alleged that the program not only viewed online browsing activity so that it could inject product recommendations and advertising based on the websites a consumer visited, but also acted as a “man-in-the-middle,” causing both the browser and the website to believe that they had established a direct, encrypted connection. In reality, the program was breaking the secured connection without the user’s knowledge so that, on certain websites such as email or bank websites, a consumer’s sensitive personal information became vulnerable to unauthorized viewing or — even worse — use by others.

Lenovo sold 750,134 computers in the United States that had the program preinstalled. The states alleged that Lenovo did not make any disclosures about the program prior to purchase, and that many consumers inadvertently became active users because the opt-out link was easy to miss, and even if selected, did not fully disable the adware from running on the computer. Continue Reading »

BATON ROUGE, LA – The National Center for Disaster Fraud reminds the public to be aware of and report any instances of alleged fraudulent activity related to relief operations and funding for victims. Unfortunately, criminals can exploit disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey, for their own gain by sending fraudulent communications through email or social media and by creating phony websites designed to solicit contributions.

Tips should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721. The line is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, e-mails can be sent to disaster@leo.gov(link sends e-mail), and information can be faxed to (225) 334-4707.

The U.S. Department of Justice established the National Center for Disaster Fraud to investigate, prosecute, and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when billions of dollars in federal disaster relief poured into the Gulf Coast region. Its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or manmade disaster. More than 30 federal, state, and local agencies participate in the National Center for Disaster Fraud, which allows the center to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to disaster relief fraud.

The public should remember to perform due diligence before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations or individuals offering to provide assistance to those affected by the tornadoes. Solicitations can originate from social media, e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, flyers, mailings, telephone calls, and other similar methods.

Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including: Continue Reading »

Hollywood legend Olivia de Havilland has strengthened her resolve in her court battle with FX and “Feud” showrunner Ryan Murphy.

The 101-year-old, two-time Oscar winner regarded the network’s “weak” move on Tuesday to dismiss her latest complaint as a sign of “their continuing disrespect for her and for California law,” her attorney, Suzelle M. Smith, said in a statement to The Times on Wednesday.

It’s the latest move in the “Gone With the Wind” star’s lawsuit against FX and Murphy, which she filed in June over her depiction in “Feud: Bette and Joan,” the miniseries about rival actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The Paris-based De Havilland, who was played by Catherine Zeta-Jones in the docudrama, makes four major legal claims about violations of her common law and statutory rights of publicity, her right to privacy and unjust enrichment.

Her latest amended complaint was meant to establish the legal elements of falsity, reckless disregard for the truth and a conscious decision by FX and Murphy not to obtain her consent to use her name or character, Smith said in her statement.

Dishy details about the main characters and other Hollywood power players, as well as whether De Havilland described her sister and storied rival Joan Fontaine as a “bitch” in the series, are among the items discussed in De Havilland’s amended complaint and FX’s motion to strike it. Continue Reading »

Los Angeles, CAWhen Janumet (sitagliptin and metformin combined) was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2007, the type 2 diabetes drug was within five years of achieving sales of $1.7 Billion. That year, when Janumet hit blockbuster status by 2012, the parent drug of Janumet – Januvia – earned $4 Billion for manufacturer Merck & Co. Januvia has been associated with Januvia side effects, and has resulted in Januvia cancer lawsuits.

But so has Janumet. In fact, within two years of giving the nod to Janumet for use in the US, the FDA was back in 2009 with a mandate for new warnings with regard to the risk for pancreatitis related to both Januvia and Janumet. The duo belong to the dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor class of incretin mimetics and were linked to 88 cases of pancreatitis reported to the FDA’s adverse events reporting system (AERS) between October 2006 (the year before Janumet was approved) and 2009.

Thus, reports for 2006 were confined to Januvia side effects, as Janumet was still a year away.

However, Janumet in isolation quickly came to the attention of the FDA, after studies suggested that Janumet may be associated with pre-cancerous cellular changes in the pancreas (pancreatic duct metaplasia). Pancreatitis can lead to cancer of the pancreas.

When the FDA mandated new warnings for Janumet in 2009, the regulator also compelled Merck to study the effects of both Janumet and Januvia on the pancreas with regard to a potential association for Januvia pancreatic cancer (and similar suspicions over Janumet). Merck agreed to conduct a three-month study for completion in March, 2011 with a final report three months later. Continue Reading »

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