State and federal laws provide consumers with broad protections from unfair or deceptive acts or practices as well as false or misleading advertising. Wolf Haldenstein has taken leading roles in bringing and successfully prosecuting cases on behalf of consumers against computer companies, cellular telephone companies, crop seed manufacturers, automobile manufacturers, insurance companies, and Internet-based advertising and marketing companies nationwide. Among the consumer protection cases Wolf Haldenstein has spearheaded is the In re StarLink Corn Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1403 (N.D. Illinois) (the ´StarLink Case´).
In the StarLink Case, Wolf Haldenstein represented all of the corn farmers in the United States against Aventis CropScience USA Holding, Inc. and Garst Seed Company, for those companies’ wrongful introduction of a bioengineered corn seed product into the general U.S. food corn supply – despite being specifically instructed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency not to do so. After more than two years of hard-fought litigation against some of the top defense firms in the United States, the StarLink case was settled for $110 million in cash.
In Naevus v. AT&T (N.Y. County Sup. Ct.), Wolf Haldenstein represented a class of cell phone users asserting claims under New York General Business Law §§ 349-350 against AT&T Wireless, for misrepresentation of the quality of its cell phone service after the introduction of its Digital One Rate payment plan in the Spring of 1998. Plaintiffs argued that AT&T Wireless represented that its service was reliable and of high quality when, in fact, the rate of dropped and blocked calls was excessive. Ultimately, the 1.1 million class members settled with defendant AT&T Wireless for approximately $40 million.
Wolf Haldenstein represented a class of Compaq Presario computer purchasers in a class action lawsuit against Compaq, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, alleging that Compaq defrauded its own customers by selling them Presario computers with hard disk drives that Compaq, for its own financial gain, unilaterally partitioned in a manner that reduced the usable capacity of each of those hard disk drives by as much as three gigabytes. After considering plaintiffs´ allegations, Compaq settled that case in a manner that provided complete relief to each class member.
Wolf Haldenstein is presently or has been co-lead counsel in a lawsuit against the Monsanto Company, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, and E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company alleging that those companies acted deceptively and improperly in setting and maintaining the prices of genetically modified corn and soybean seeds; and against Toshiba for that company´s allegedly defective Infinia line of computers. We are presently analyzing cases relating to the home mortgage, health insurance, pharmaceutical, and consumer products industries.