Tag Archives: Massachusetts

Brooks Brothers Faces Privacy Class Action

Brooks Brothers Logo

Massachusetts law prohibits businesses from requesting and recording a customer’s personal identification when accepting payment by credit card.  Leonard Law Office, LLP and Bailey & Glasser, LLP are representing Massachusetts consumers in a privacy class action against Brooks Brothers, filed in August, 2013.

If you have received junk mailing from Brooks Brothers after using a credit/debit card at a retail location and providing Brooks Brothers with your zip code or home address, you are invited to contact us.

Brooks Brothers Newbury St

Brooks Brothers – Newbury St.

The Class Action Complaint alleges:

  • Brooks Brothers requests customers’ zip codes when they make a purchase using a credit card.
  • Brooks Brothers has a policy of automatically requesting a customer’s zip code in all credit or debit card transactions, and, if provided, recording the zip code electronically in connection with the transaction.
  • Brooks Brothers has a policy of using its customers’ zip codes, and information obtained from third party databases to send marketing materials to customers.
  • Brooks Brothers has a policy of sharing this information with other Brooks Brothers brands.
  • Brooks Brothers’ policies harm Massachusetts consumers by subjecting them to unwanted junk mail, and other marketing without their consent, and using customers’ personal information without their consent for its own business purposes. Continue reading
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Filed under Boston News, Class Action Lawsuits

Equity Residential Faces Class Action Lawsuit About Heat and Water (Habitability) Issues at the Walden Park Apartments

Update (1/10/15)

The past few weeks have been cold.  According to the Boston Globe, “Yesterday’s high was a bitter 18 degrees, and if the forecast holds, temperatures in Boston may not break freezing for several days.” In the face of this cold weather, and despite conversion from oil to natural gas at Equity Residential’s Walden Park apartments in Cambridge, complaints continue to come in to this office regarding insufficient heat at the apartment complex.

Update (2/15/14)

On February 12, 2014, a Massachusetts Federal Judge issued an eighteen page opinion (PDF) remanding (sending back) this case to state court, summarizing: “[b]ecause Equity ‘has not demonstrated a reasonable probability that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million,’ the case must be remanded. ” We continue to receive complaints from tenants about heat and hot water problems at this apartment complex.

*     *     *     *

Original Post (4/15/13)

Equity Residential now faces its sixth class action lawsuit in Massachusetts since 2012. This is believed to set the record for the most class action lawsuits against one company in any one year period in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Leonard Law Office PC, and the Law Offices of Joshua N. Garick PC together filed suit against Equity Residential on behalf of tenants of the Walden Park Apartments in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Leonard Law Office PC is representing Massachusetts consumers in two other class actions against Equity Residential.

If you reside at the Walden Park Apartments, you are welcome to contact us about heating issues such as lack of hot water or inadequate heat in your apartment.  

THE SUIT SEEKS $3M IN DAMAGES FOR TENANTS

Case Documents:

1. Class Action Complaint (PDF).

220-225 Walden St. (Walden Park Apartments)

220-225 Walden St. (Walden Park Apartments)

The complaint alleges: “On November 4, 2011, Equity acquired Walden Park, which includes two large apartment buildings located at 205 and 225 Walden Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Walden Park has approximately 250 apartment units. When Equity acquired Walden Park, the heating and hot water systems were fully operable and in good working order. The plaintiffs entered into a written lease agreement with Walden Park’s previous owner, the Dolben Company, to rent the apartment located at 225 Walden Park, Cambridge, MA. When the Dolben Company owned Walden Park, the plaintiffs had no issues with the heat or hot water system. After Equity acquired Walden Park, issues with Equity-provided utilities, including heat and hot water, began. Starting in April of 2012, and continuing for well over a year thereafter until the present date, the plaintiffs and the Class experienced significant deficiencies and outages with the heat and hot water, including, without limitation, issues on the following dates:

May 8, 2012
May 12,2012
May 16,2012
June 27, 2012
August 23, 2012
October 20, 2012
October 21,2012
October 23, 2012
November 1, 2012
November 3, 2012
November 6, 2012
November 7, 2012
November 16, 2012
November 17, 2012
November 19,2012
March 28, 2013
April 3,2013
April 10, 2013
April 17, 2013
April 18, 2013
April23, 2013
June 6, 2013
June 25, 2013
August 15, 2013

These outages were systemic, and affected all Walden Park units. Over the course of this year, Equity exhibited no urgency in resolving these issues and provided misleading and contradictory reasons for shutting off the utilities. These reasons included, among other stated reasons, conversion from oil to natural gas, a water conservation project, a heating and cooling project, fuel supply/consumption issues, operator error, and automatic shutdowns. The problem was so egregious that the Cambridge Board of Health, which received numerous reports from Walden Park residents, cited Equity for violations of the State Sanitary Code, and deemed the violations to materially impair the health, safety or well-being of the Walden Park’s residents. On numerous occasions, the plaintiffs, (as well as other Walden Park residents) complained to Equity’s staff including complaints by telephone, e-mail and in person. These complaints were not resolved, forcing the plaintiffs to pursue formal litigation against Equity.” The Complaint further alleges that Equity Residential Equity backed out of a settlement deal reached earlier this month between Equity’s lawyers, and attorneys representing tenants.

Equity Residential & Cambridge Inspectional Services Division (ISD) Violations

Violation

Violation – “Deemed to Endgr. or Impair Health of Safety”

Equity Residential Walden St. Apartments, Cambridge, MA

Equity Residential Walden St. Apartments, Cambridge, MA

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J. Crew Faces Privacy Class Action in Boston Federal Court (Settled Case)

Updates

July 25, 2014 – This case has settled. The official settlement website is www.millercrohnjcrewsettlement.com, where notices and claim forms can be found. Email notices went out on 7/25/14. The claim form can be downloaded here (pdf), or filled out and submitted online (recommended). The deadline to file a claim to receive a $20 J. Crew voucher is September 25, 2014.

If You Made a Credit Card Purchase at a J. Crew Massachusetts Retail Store Between June 20, 2009 and June 27, 2014, you could receive compensation from the Class Action Settlement.

This Settlement is for individuals who made a credit card purchase at one or more J. Crew retail stores in Massachusetts between June 20, 2009 and June 27, 2014 and whose Personal Identification Information (i.e. ZIP code or other information) was requested and recorded by J. Crew. The Settlement does not include purchases made online. Class Members will receive a voucher for $20 that may be redeemed at J. Crew retail stores in Massachusetts.

Miller v. J Crew Settlement Notice (front)

J. Crew Zip Code Settlement Notice (front)

 

Miller v. J. Crew - Settement Notice (reverse)

J. Crew Zip Code Settlement Notice (reverse)

The email notice is not a scam.

From: “Miller and Crohn J. Crew Settlement Administrator ” <Administrator@qgemail.com<mailto:Administrator@qgemail.com>>
Date: July 25, 2014 at 2:00:27 PM EDT
Subject: LEGAL NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION

________________________________
NOTICE OF PENDING CLASS ACTION AND NOTICE OF PROPOSED SETTLEMENT MILLER V. J. CREW GROUP, INC.
________________________________
If you engaged in a Credit Card transaction at a Massachusetts
J. Crew Store between June 20, 2009 and June 27, 2014 and your
Personal Identification Information (e.g., ZIP code) was requested and
recorded you may be entitled to receive a Voucher for $20 off your
next J. Crew Store purchase….etc.

June 30, 2013 – The Leonard Law Office is representing clients regarding credit card privacy claims against J. Crew. This class action alleges violations of Massachusetts privacy and consumer protection laws.

J crew

Information about the class action lawsuit against J. Crew

The complaint alleges that J. Crew collected ZIP codes at checkout at its Massachusetts stores from customers who made purchases with credit cards, recorded that information as part of credit card transactions, and then used that information for marketing  purposes, including to send unsolicited marketing and promotional materials, or “junk mail.”  The complaint further alleges that:

  • J. Crew does not collect, record, and use the customers’ ZIP code information in order to verify the customer’s identity or for any other legitimate purpose in connection with the Credit Card transaction.
  • J. Crew uses this information for its own marketing and promotional purposes. Possession of the consumer’s ZIP code information, together with the customer’s name, enables Defendant to identify the customer’s address and/or telephone number through the use of publicly available databases.
  • J. Crew uses the ZIP code information it collects from customers and the addresses and other information it then obtains, to send unsolicited marketing and promotional materials, or “junk mail,” to customers, including Plaintiff and Class members.
  • J. Crew also has the ability to sell the ZIP code information it collects from customers (including Plaintiff and Class members) and the addresses and other information it then obtains, to third parties for a profit or to use the information for other marketing and promotional purposes.

Information about the Class

The proposed class would consist of all persons whose ZIP codes were collected and recorded at any J. Crew retail location in Massachusetts while making Credit Card purchases during the period from June 20, 2009 through June 20, 2013.   The class has not yet been certified.  If you have questions about whether you may be involved, you are welcome to contact the Leonard Law Office.

Information about J. Crew

J. Crew is a privately-held corporation, organized under the laws of Delaware with a principal place of business at 770 Broadway, New York NY 10003.  J. Crew has sixteen retail locations in Massachusetts, three of which are factory outlets and the remainder of which are traditional retail stores.

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Legal Discussion: Reporting Pay or the “Three Hour Rule”

Reporting Pay, or the “Three Hour Rule”

In Massachusetts, the law is clear about “reporting pay.” Reporting pay means the minimum pay that an employer must give for requiring an employee to show up for a shift of three or more hours, and then sending them home early.

Here is the law:

455 CMR 2.03

2.03: Hours Worked (1) Reporting Pay. When an employee who is scheduled to work three or more hours reports for duty at the time set by the employer, and that employee is not provided with the expected hours of work, the employee shall be paid for at least three hours on such day at no less than the basic minimum wage. 455 CMR 2.03(1) shall not apply to organizations granted status as charitable organizations under the Internal Revenue Code.

Example:

Joe is a delivery man at a flower shop.  Joe is scheduled to work a full shift (5 hours) on Valentines Day.  Due to a nationwide shortage of roses, the business is unable to fill any orders. Joe’s boss “cuts” him and sends him home after 2.5 hours on the clock.  Joe’s hourly rate is $15.00.  The flower shop must pay him this way:

  • 2.5 hours at Joe’s regular rate of 15.00/hr, which equals  $37.5, then at least the minimum wage for a half hour, which would be $4.00, resulting in a  a total of $41.50 minimum owed to Joe.

Reporting Pay image

Source: Attorney General’s publication about Massachusetts Wage and Hour Laws, .pdf (here).

There are no reported cases that I was able to find about this law. However, there is an opinion letter here and below:

07/09/2007 - Reporting Pay Provision "Three Hour Rule"
Opinion Letter
MW-2007-002
July 9, 2007
I am writing in response to your request, on behalf of your client ***, for this Office's written opinion regarding the applicability of the Massachusetts Minimum Fair Wage Law. Specifically, you have asked how 455 C.M.R. §2.03(1), the Reporting Pay requirement, applies to employees scheduled to work less than three hours. [1]
The Reporting Pay provision, also known as the "three hour rule," provides:
When an employee who is scheduled to work three or more hours reports for duty at the time set by the employer, and that employee is not provided with the expected hours of work, the employee shall be paid for at least three hours on such day at no less than the basic minimum wage. [This provision] shall not apply to organizations granted status as charitable organizations under the Internal Revenue Code.
455 C.M.R. §2.03(1). Therefore, if a for-profit employer schedules an employee for three or more hours, the employee arrives at the worksite on time, and the employer does not provide the expected hours, the employee must be paid for at least three hours at no less than the minimum wage ($7.50 per hour). Of course, for any actual time worked, the employee must be paid his/her actual wage. For example, if an employee is told that a meeting will take four hours, and the employee is sent home after two hours, the employee must be paid for two hours at his/her regular rate of pay, and at least minimum wage for the third hour. [2]
Alternatively, if an employee is, in good faith, scheduled for less than three hours, the employer may pay the employee for only the hours worked. For example, if an employee is scheduled for a two-hour meeting and she/he works these two hours, the "three hour rule" is inapplicable, and the employer may pay the employee for only the hours worked.
I hope this information has been helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.
Sincerely,
Lisa C. Price
Deputy General Counsel
[1] As you know, most employers are also subject to the federal minimum wage and hour law, found in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and regulations promulgated thereunder. For information about applicable federal wage and hour laws, you should contact the U.S. Department of Labor.
[2] Of course, if the meeting causes a non-exempt employee's hours to exceed 40 hours in the workweek, the employee must be paid time and one-half pay for all hours actually worked in excess of 40 hours.
***=Names have been Omitted

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Is Greystar a Good Landlord?

We are interested in learning more about Greystar’s Business Practices in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Greystar operates six apartment buildings in Massachusetts:

Do you have complaints about Greystar?

Greystar

Greystar

In a January 2013 press release Greystar claims to be “the largest operator of apartments in the United States” (Equity Residential may dispute that assertion).

*

Greystar: Redefining Excellence in Apartment Living?

Really?

* Continue reading

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Filed under Class Action Investigations, Uncategorized

Class Action Investigation: Eastern Bank, Middlesex Savings Bank, Rockland Trust Company, Salem Five Bank — Overdraft Fees

Under Investigation: -OVERDRAFT FEES- Eastern Bank, Middlesex Savings, Rockland Trust, Salem Five

ANNOUNCEMENT: You may have heard of (or been affected by) overdraft fees at Citizens Bank or Bank of America, and the class action lawsuits and settlements related to those overdraft fees.

There are four Massachusetts state-chartered banks which may have engaged in similar unfair practices related to overdraft fees.  They are: (1) Middlesex Savings Bank; (2) Rockland Trust; (3) Salem Five; (4) Eastern Bank. Whenever bank transactions are re-ordered from highest to lowest to put customers into a negative balance – thereby causing a domino effect of overdraft fees, banking customers have been injured. This is especially true if you used a debit card for multiple purchases over a period of several days without realizing you had a negative balance.

If you have been a customer of any of the banks listed below, and you have paid overdraft fees, you are encouraged to contact us at (617)329-1295.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

Bank Watch List:

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Legal Discussion: Massachusetts Security Deposit Recovery

In Massachusetts, the law regarding security deposits is very pro-tenant.

Has any of the following happened to you?

  • Landlord did not return the security deposit within 30 days after termination of the tenancy
  • Landlord did not deposit the security deposit in an escrow account.
  • Landlord made up false damage
  • Landlord charged you for cleaning costs and took that from the security deposit

If your landlord did not follow the law, you could be entitled to  3 times the amount of the security deposit.

If you are interested in speaking with an experienced security deposit lawyer about your rights, you are encouraged to contact us.

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Equity Residential Class Action & Ongoing Investigation into Equity’s Business Practices

UNDER INVESTIGATION: Equity Residential

The Leonard Law Office, P.C. is currently investigating Equity Residential’s business practices.  Former or current residents and employees are welcome to contact us with information. We have filed three class action lawsuits against Equity Residential for allegedly violating the Massachusetts security deposit statute and other laws. 

Tenant Complaints

Equity Residential Watch has alleged that Equity Residential is guilty of “tenant abuse,” and “has a troubling history of flouting the law and violating tenants rights nationwide.”  Read that discussion here.

Greed

Sam Zell – Billionaire investor, Equity Residential Chairman Sam Zell clearly believes home ownership is not for everyone. He famously remarked during the subprime mortgage crisis, “We need to clean out all those people who never should have bought in the first place and not give them sympathy.”

Billionaire Sam Zell, photo by Bloomberg

Continue reading

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Class Action Investigation: Avalon

Under Investigation: If you have ever been employed by, or rented an apartment from Avalon, you are encouraged to contact us today.

UNDER INVESTIGATION:  AvalonAvalonBay Communities Inc, (NYSE: AVB)

Thousand of Units

Avalon Communities, or AvalonBay owns 7,631 rental units in Massachusetts. AvalonBay Communities, Inc. (AvalonBay) is a real estate investment trust (REIT).” “With more than 180 complexes in ten states and the District of Columbia, AvalonBay Communities, Inc. (AVB) is the nation’s second largest publicly traded apartment owner.”

Suspected Security Deposit Law Violations Under Investigation

Has Avalon refused to return your security deposit?
Has Avalon deducted money for cleaning charges?
Has Avalon charged you an application fee ?

The Leonard Law Office, LLP is investigating whether Massachusetts consumers have paid fees they should not have. If you paid an application fee before renting an Avalon apartment in the past four years, please contact us.

Avalon Properties in Massachusetts

Boston
Avalon at Prudential Center
780 Boylston Street
866-653-9583

Avalon Exeter
77 Exeter Street Continue reading

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Class Action Investigation: Massachusetts Residential Landlords Collecting “Amenity Fees” & Other Illegal Up-Front Fees

Have you been charged any of the following fees before moving into a building?
 
  • “Amenity fee”
  • “Move in fee”
  • “Pet fee”
  • “Application fee”
  • “Maintenance fee”
  • “Credit/screening fee”
  • “Holding fee”
  • New “Community fee” (As of November 2012, Equity Residential is allegedly charging a “community fee,” due some point after the first month)
 
If so, your rights may have been violated, and you may be owed financial compensation.  If you want to talk to an attorney about your legal rights, please call me, Attorney Preston W. Leonard at (617)329-1295, or see this post to learn more about a recent class action lawsuit concerning amenity fees in Massachusetts.
 
Note: If you have paid any of the up-front fees described above in the past 4 years, even if it was not to an Equity Residential or Archstone building, you may be entitled to financial compensation. 
 
Examples of Unlawful Fees in a Massachusetts Residential Lease Agreement:
 
 
 

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My Landlord kept my security deposit!

Common scenario:

A landlord keeps all or part of a security deposit.  They often commit technical violations that not only forfeit the landlord’s right to hold the deposit at all, but entitle the former tenant to three times the amount of the deposit, and legal fees.

If you are having a problem with a Massachusetts landlord, you are welcome to contact us. We have successfully taken on landlords from the biggest in the country to individual owners renting out only one unit.

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