/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/100128.mbx             C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

           Thursday, January 28, 2010, Vol. 12, No. 19


ALLSTATE: Settles 10-Year-Old Madison County Class Action Suit
AMEREN CORP: Green Energy Program Challenged in Mo. Lawsuit
BLIP TOYS: Recalls 15,000 Nature Wonders HD Pinto Horse Figures
BLUE CROSS: 11th Cir. Prohibits Doctor From Suing Insurer
CABLEVISION SYSTEMS: Subscriber Sues After Losing Cable Channels

CAPITAL ONE: Suit Says Bank Doesn't Honor Payment Protection Plan
EFG CAPITAL: $130 Million Madoff-Related Suit Filed in S.D. Fla.
GENERAL NUTRITION: Cal. App. Ct. Reinstates Steroid Class Action
LAND SOUTH: $228,000 Employee Class Settlement on the Horizon
LEARJET INC: 7th Cir. Says Remand to State Court Was Incorrect

MERCURY INSURANCE: Sued in Calif. for Shortchanging Policyholders
MICROSOFT CORP: E.D. Pa. Suit Says Virtual Currency is Worthless
MOTOROLA INC: Shareholder Files Suit in N.D. Ill.
SPRINT NEXTEL: $17.5 Mil. Flat-Rate Cell Phone Settlement Okay
STATE FARM: Calif. Lawsuit Challenges Smoke Damage Claim Payouts

STERLING FINANICAL: Hagens Berman Files 401(k) Suit in E.D. Wash.
TGI FRIDAY'S: N.J. Lawsuit Complains About Disparate Drink Prices
UNITED STATES: N.D. Calif. Tosses Suits Contesting NSA Wiretaps


ALLSTATE: Settles 10-Year-Old Madison County Class Action Suit
Allstate entered into a settlement of a nationwide class
action lawsuit, Strasen v. Allstate Insurance Company, Case No.
99 L 1040 (consolidated with Puritt v. Allstate, Case No.
95 CH 9855, and Loizon v. Allstate, No. 94 CH 9546) (Ruth, J.),
which has been pending in the Circuit Court of Madison County,
Illinois, for almost 10 years. This settlement includes all
Allstate and Encompass entities. The Court entered a final order
approving the settlement on November 25, 2009.  

Plaintiffs alleged that Allstate utilized a computerized medical
bill review system provided by ADP which failed to correctly
calculate medical expenses from automobile and homeowner's
claims. Allstate continues to believe its medical bill review
practices were and are appropriate and fully comply with the law,
but agreed to resolve the case on terms Allstate considered fair
and appropriate to avoid the burden and expense of continued

Allstate believes its bill review procedures help policyholders
maximize their benefits by reimbursing providers the appropriate
amount for services. Allstate's policy is to try to resolve
billing disputes with providers while protecting its
policyholders' interests.

Anyone wishing to participate in the settlement must complete and
submit a valid claim form postmarked no later than February 8,
2010.  Claim forms can be obtained by visiting:


Further information about the settlement is available on the Web

Individuals with questions about the settlement may also contact
plaintiffs counsel:

          Bradley M. Lakin, Esq.
          LakinChapman LLC
          300 Evans Ave.
          PO Box 229
          Wood River, IL 62095
          Telephone: (618) 254-1127

Other plaintiffs' lawyers involved in this litigation are:

          Paul M. Weiss, Esq.
          FREED & WEISS LLC
          111 W. Washington, Suite 1331
          Chicago, IL 60602
               - and -  

          William J. Harte, Esq.
          WILLIAM J. HARTE, LTD.
          111 West Washington Street, Suite 1110
          Chicago, IL 60602

               - and -  

          Timothy Campbell, Esq.
          3017 Godfrey Road
          P.O. Box 505
          Godfrey, IL 62035

               - and -  

          Arthur Aufmann, Esq.
          Eleven South LaSalle Street, Suite 1600
          Chicago, IL 60602

               - and -  

          Robert Holstein, Esq.
          Holstein Law Offices, LLC
          100 West Monroe Street, Suite 1300
          Chicago, IL 60603

               - and -  

          Michael J. Freed, Esq.
          2201 Waukegan Rd., Suite 130
          Bannockburn, IL 60015

               - and -  

          Larry D. Drury, Esq.
          LARRY D. DRURY, LTD.
          205 West Randloph, Suite 1430
          Chicago, IL 60606

               - and -  

          KLAMANN & HUBBARD, P.A.
          929 Walnut Street, #800
          Kansas City, MO 64106

               - and -  

          Ray Hodge & Associates, LLC
          135 North Main Street
          Wichita, KS 67202

               - and -  

          Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, Chartered
          2600 Grand Boulevard, #550
          Kansas City, MO 64108-4627

               - and -  

          Hayes and Kieler, LLC
          7300 W. 110th Street, #900
          Overland Park, KS 66210

The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation's largest
publicly held personal lines insurer.  Widely known through the
"You're In Good Hands With Allstate(R)" slogan, Allstate is
reinventing protection and retirement to help more than 17
million households insure what they have today and better prepare
for tomorrow.

AMEREN CORP: Green Energy Program Challenged in Mo. Lawsuit
Joe Harris at Courthouse News Service reports that AmerenUE
misleads customers about its Pure Power program, under which
customers can pay extra on their bill to help the company buy
renewable energy, according to a class action in City Court.
Customers actually buy Renewable Energy Certificates, which help
subsidize clean energy products, the suit states.  AmerenUE buys
the certificates through a third-party administrator named
Named plaintiff Kevin Gaus says the power company doesn't tell
the truth about how much money is spent on administrative costs.
Gaus claims he was told that $1 out of every $15 goes to
administrative costs.
But while AmerenUE may retain only $1 for administration, less
than half of the remaining $14 sent to 3Degrees is used to buy
certificates, according to the complaint. The rest, Gaus says, is
used to pay 3Degrees' administrative costs.
The class consists of all AmerenUE customers who participated in
the Pure Power program. Defendants are Union Electric Co. dba
AmerenUE and Ameren Services Co. 3Degrees is not named as a
Mr. Gaus seeks class damages for violations of the Missouri
Merchandising Practices Act.

A copy of the Complaint in Gaus v. Union Electric Company dba
AmerenuUE, et al., Case No. 1022-CC00158 (Mo. Cir. Ct., City of
St. Louis), is available at:


The Plaintiff is represented by:

          William T. Dowd, Esq.
          Alex R. Lumaghi, Esq.
          DOWD & DOWD, P.C.
          100 North Broadway, Suite 1600
          St. Louis, MO 63102
          Telephone: 314-621-2500

BLIP TOYS: Recalls 15,000 Nature Wonders HD Pinto Horse Figures
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with
Blip Toys, of Minneapolis, Minn., announced a voluntary recall of
about 15,000 Nature Wonders HD Pinto Horse Toy Figures. Consumers
should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise

The surface paint coating on the horse contains excessive levels
of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard.

No incidents or injuries have been reported.

This recall involves the Nature Wonders HD pinto horse toy
figures with model number 92093.  The plastic horse is white with
brown spots and measures about 4 inches tall. The model number
and "Nature Wonders HD" are printed on the retail tag wrapped
around the horse's leg.

The recalled toys were manufactured in China and sold at Walmart
stores nationwide from January 2009 through July 2009 for about

Consumers should immediately take the recalled toys away from
children and contact Blip Toys to receive a free replacement toy.  
For additional information, please contact Blip Toys toll-free at
(888) 405-7696 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Central Time,
Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's Web site at

BLUE CROSS: 11th Cir. Prohibits Doctor From Suing Insurer
Courthouse News Service reports that a dermatologist can't sue
his insurer for allegedly driving away business, because he
agreed not to sue in a class-action settlement, the 11th Circuit

A copy of the decision in Thomas, et al. v. Blue Cross and Blue
Shield Association, et al., No. 08-15880 (11th Cir.), is
available at:


In the litigation giving rise to this appeal, Thomas, et al. v.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, et al., Case No. 03-21296  
(S.D. Fla.), a class of physicians had complained that Blue Cross
and Blue Shield Association, Inc., and its member plans had
engaged in a scheme to deny, delay, and reduce payments to the
physicians.  As part of a settlement, the physicians agreed to
release the Blue Cross plans from all claims arising from or
related to the class action and settlement agreement, and the
district court permanently enjoined the class members from
prosecuting released claims against the Blue Cross plans.

CABLEVISION SYSTEMS: Subscriber Sues After Losing Cable Channels
Dan McCue at Courthouse News Service reports that Cablevision's
decision to drop HGTV and the Food Network after a dispute with
Scripps Network Interactive violates subscribers' contractual
rights by denying them the programs they've paid to see,
according to a class action in New York County Court.  It's an
indication of growing trouble -- and litigation -- from customers
angry at rate squabbles between cable companies and content

A copy of the Complaint in Bragger v. Cablevision Systems
Corporation, et al., Index No. 10/600135 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., N.Y.
Cty.), is available at:


The Plaintiff is represented by:

          Roy L. Jacobs, Esq.
          One Grand Central Place
          60 East 42nd Street, 46th Floor
          New York, NY 10165
          Telephone: 212-867-1156

               - and -  

          Laurence D. Paskowitz, Esq.
          60 East 42nd Street, 46th Floor
          New York, NY 10165
          Telephone: 212-685-0969

CAPITAL ONE: Suit Says Bank Doesn't Honor Payment Protection Plan
Courthouse News Service reports that Capital One Bank charges
customers -- particularly senior citizens and retires -- for a
"payment protection" plan and denies them its benefits when they
claim it, a class action claims in San Diego Federal Court.

A copy of the Complaint in McCoy v. Capital One Bank, et al.,
Case No. 10-cv-00185 (S.D. Calif.), is available at:


The Plaintiff is represented by:

          Marc L. Godino, Esq.
          Lionel Z. Glancy, Esq.
          1801 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 311
          Los Angeles, CA 90067
          Telephone: 310-201-9150

               - and -  

          Kevin Landau, Esq.
          Brett Cebulash, Esq.
          1515 Broadway, 11th Floor
          New York, NY
          Telephone: 212-520-4310

               - and -  

          Brian Murray, Esq.
          275 Madison Ave., Suite 801
          New York, NY 10016
          Telephone: 212-682-181

               - and -  

          James E. Miller, Esq.
          Patrick A. Klingman, Esq.
          65 Main Street
          Chester, CT 06412
          Telephone: 860-526-1100

EFG CAPITAL: $130 Million Madoff-Related Suit Filed in S.D. Fla.
Tony Dobrowolski at the Berkshire Eagle reports that a
Pittsfield, Mass., law firm has joined forces with a former city
attorney to file a $130 million class action lawsuit in Florida
on behalf of a group of victims who lost funds that were invested
in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

The lawyers in Ferreira, et ux. v. EFG Captial International
Corp., et al., Case No. 10-cv-20206 (S.D. Fla.) (Martinez, J.):

          Kevin M. Kinne, Esq.
          28 North Street, 3rd Floor
          Pittsfield, MA 01201
          Telephone: 413-443-9399

               - and -  

          Daniel R. Solin, Esq.
          401 Broadway
          New York, NY 10013-3005
          Telephone: 212-226-0959

               - and -  

          Lawrence Allan Kellogg, Esq.
          Four Seasons Tower
          1441 Brickell Avenue, 15th Floor
          Miami, FL 33131-3407
          Telephone: 305-536-1112

claim in court papers that EFG Capital International Group of
Switzerland recommended that its customers invest in a limited
security hedge fund that was involved in Mr. Madoff's scheme to
defraud investors.

Mr. Madoff pleaded guilty on Dec. 11, 2008 to defrauding
investors of more than $50 billion through a Ponzi scheme that
used the investments of new clients to pre-existing clients. He
is serving a 150 year federal prison sentence.

The suit alleges that EFG Capital, a member of the EFG Bank
network, recommended Fairfield Sentry Limited Fund, one of its
principal feeder funds, to its customers. The complaint accuses
EFG Capital of gross negligence and unjust enrichment, and claims
the company breached its fiduciary duties, and violated Florida's
Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Fairfield Sentry was managed by Mr. Madoff and 95 percent
invested in Mr. Madoff's firm, according to court documents.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Miami because that city
is where EFG Capital, the investment arm of EFG Banks, bases its
American operations, Mr. Kinne said.  A Miami law firm, Tew
Cardenas LLP, has been retained to assist with legal
representation in that city.  A trial date has yet to be set.

The complaint is filed on behalf of hedge fund investors Loreene
and Arlete Da Silva Ferreira, Brazilian citizens who live in
Uruguay.  Class action lawsuits are legal complaints that are
filed on behalf of people who have a claim that can be decided as
one class or group. The complaint asks the court to award damages
to all of the people who invested funds in the Fairfield Sentry
Limited Fund on EFG's recommendation, according to Kinne.

"We have the two people listed as class action representatives,"
Kinne said, referring to the Ferrieras. The value of the
Ferrieria's investment with Fairfield Sentry was $151,588 as of
July 2008, according to court papers.

In some cases against Madoff, people have tried to recover
investments only to find out the entities they invested in are
either bankrupt or out of money.

"In this case we're going against a well-established Swiss bank
that recommended feeder funds to their client," Kinne said. "It
gives us a much better chance to collect as compared to getting
funds from Madoff, who is in jail."

Cohen, Kinne, Valicenti, and Cook, formed their firm last
January. Kinne, law partner Daniel Valicenti, and associate
Christopher Hennessy, have represented clients in federal court
cases similar to this one for several years often with Solin's

"We've been working with Dan for about 10 or 15 years," Kinne
said of Solin, who moved from Pittsfield to Florida several years
ago but has an office in New York. "This is the first time we've
had a class action case."

The Ferrierias learned of the Pittsfield law firm through
neighbors in Uruguay that Kinne's old law firm represented around
10 years ago.

"One of their next-door neighbors was a plaintiff in the suit,"
Mr. Kinne said.  The Ferrierias, "lost their entire savings and
want it back along with putative fees," he said.

GENERAL NUTRITION: Cal. App. Ct. Reinstates Steroid Class Action
Avery Fellow at Courthouse News Service reports that a California
appeals court has reinstated a class action accusing General
Nutrition Companies of illegally selling over-the-counter
nutritional supplements containing anabolic steroids.
Consumers said GNC sold them products containing androstenediol,
a controlled substance under state law, without requiring a
Lead plaintiff Diego Martinez said he never would have bought the
products had he known it was illegal to possess them without a
The trial court refused to certify the class, because the damage
to each class member varied with his or her perceived value of
the product. Determining each class member's subjective belief
would require individual inquiry, the trial court ruled.
But the appeals court found that "damage" under the Consumer
Legal Remedies Act meant any damage, not actual damages.
Misrepresentation is material if a reasonable person would find
it important to know if the product was legal or illegal before
buying it, the appeals court ruled.
"GNC appears to argue that the proper analysis is not whether
legality is important to a generic reasonable person but rather,
whether it is important to bodybuilders, and Martinez failed to
establish materiality because he failed to show that the legality
of the androstenediol products is important to bodybuilders,"
Justice Thomas Willhite wrote.
"[T]here is no reason to believe that, as a rule, bodybuilders
care less about legality than non-bodybuilders," the ruling
The appeals court ruled that class certification was valid even
if some class members would have bought the products knowing they
were illegal. Justice Willhite reversed the trial court, ruling
that the denial of class certification was based on an erroneous
legal assumption.

A copy of the decision in In re Steroid Hormone Product Cases,
No. B211968 (Calif. App. Ct.), is available at:


LAND SOUTH: $228,000 Employee Class Settlement on the Horizon
Jason Geary at The Ledger reports from Tampa, Fla., that a
possible settlement totaling more than $228,000 could soon be
reached in Pearson, et al. v. Land South Adventures, LLC, Case
No. 08-cv-02395 (M.D. Fla.) (Bucklew, J.) -- a federal class
action lawsuit involving Cypress Gardens.

The proposal was discussed during a Friday hearing in the U.S.
District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

In 2008, former employees of the Winter Haven theme park claimed
in the lawsuit that they weren't given proper notice when they
were laid off.

The lawsuit involves 124 former employees as plaintiffs.

The proposed settlement calls for $108,450 in back pay for the
employees and $120,000 in lawyer fees and costs to be made by
September, records show.

U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew has not yet approved the
settlement and requested lawyers make some final changes.

On Thursday, a press conference unveiled plans by Merlin
Entertainments Group to develop Legoland Florida at the Cypress
Gardens site.

The judge asked how the recent sale of Cypress Gardens to Merlin
from Land South Holdings might impact the proposed settlement.

A lawyer representing Land South:

          Kevin E. Hyde, Esq.
          One Independent Drive, Suite 1300
          Jacksonville, FL 32202-5017
          Telephone: (904) 359-2000

said almost every bit of the money from the sale of the park
would be needed to satisfy creditors and final payroll.

But Mr. Hyde said the first payment toward the settlement
agreement has been made, and "other sources" would be used to
fulfill the rest of the payments.

The Plaintiffs are represented by:

          Bernard R. Mazaheri, Esq.
          2727 Ulmerton Road, Suite 210
          Clearwater, FL 33762
          Telephone: (727) 524-6300

LEARJET INC: 7th Cir. Says Remand to State Court Was Incorrect
The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit handed
down its decision in Cunningham Charter Corporation V. Learjet,
Inc., No. 09-8042, saying that the District Court, after denying
class certification, should not have remanded the case to the
state court in which the suit originated.  

Cunningham Charter Corporation sued Learjet, Inc., in an Illinois
state court asserting claims for breach of warranty and products
liability on behalf of itself and all other buyers of Learjets
who had received the same warranty from the manufacturer that
Cunningham had received. The defendant removed the case to
federal district court under the Class Action Fairness Act of
2005, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1332(d), and the plaintiff then moved to
certify two classes. The district judge denied the motion on the
ground that neither proposed class satisfied the criteria for
certification set forth in Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The judge then ruled that the denial of class
certification eliminated subject-matter jurisdiction under the
Act, and so he remanded the case to the state court. Learjet
petitioned for leave to appeal the order of remand. 28 U.S.C.
Sec. 1453(c). We granted the petition in order to resolve an
issue under the Class Action Fairness Act that this court has not
heretofore had to resolve.

The Act creates federal diversity jurisdiction over certain class
actions in which at least one member of the class is a citizen of
a different state from any defendant (that is, in which diversity
may not be complete). 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1332(d)(2). The Act defines
class action as "any civil action filed under rule 23 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or similar State statute or rule
of judicial procedure authorizing an action to be brought by 1 or
more representative persons as a class action." Sec.

A later section says the Act applies "to any class action [within
the Act's scope] before or after the entry of a class
certification order." Sec. 1332(d)(8). Probably all this means is
that the defendant can wait until a class is certified before
deciding whether to remove the case to federal court. If (d)(8)
said "the" instead of "a" class certification order, it might be
thought to imply that the Act was limited to cases in which such
an order was eventually issued. But that would be inconsistent
with (d)(1)(B), the section quoted above that defines class
action as a suit filed under a statute or rule authorizing class
actions, even though many such suits cannot be maintained as
class actions because the judge refuses to certify a class. As
actually worded, (d)(8), insofar as it relates to jurisdiction at
all(it doesn't mention the word-the conferral of jurisdiction is
limited to (d)(2)), implies at most an expectation that a class
will or at least may be certified eventually. The absence of such
an expectation could mean that the suit was not within the
jurisdiction conferred by the Class Action Fairness Act -- that
it wasn't really a class action. Frivolous attempts to invoke
federal jurisdiction fail, and compel dismissal. If a plaintiff
sued in state court a seller of fish tanks on behalf of himself
and 1,000 goldfish for $5,000,001 and the defendant removed the
case to federal district court, that court would have to dismiss
the case, as it would have been certain from the outset of the
litigation that no class could be certified.

Another section of the Act defines "class certification order" as
"an order issued by a court approving the treatment of some or
all aspects of a civil action as a class action." Sec.
1332(d)(1)(C). Read in isolation from the rest of the Act, this
could mean that in the absence of such an order a suit is not a
class action. But remember that jurisdiction attaches when a suit
is filed as a class action, and that invariably precedes
certification. All that section 1332(d)(1)(C) means is that a
suit filed as a class-action cannot be maintained as one without
an order certifying the class. That needn't imply that unless the
class is certified the court loses jurisdiction of the case.

We assumed in Bullard v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Ry., 535
F.3d 759, 762 (7th Cir. 2008), that federal jurisdiction under
the Class Action Fairness Act does not depend on certification,
and we now join Vega v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., 564 F.3d 1256, 1268
n. 12 (11th Cir. 2009), in so holding. Cf. In re TJX Companies
Retail Security Breach Litigation, 564 F.3d 489, 492-93 (1st Cir.
2009). That is the better interpretation, see G. Shaun
Richardson, "Class Dismissed, Now What? Exploring the Exercise of
CAFA Jurisdiction After the Denial of Class Certification," 39
New Mex. L. Rev. 121, 135 (2009); Kevin M. Clermont,
"Jurisdictional Fact," 91 Cornell L. Rev. 973, 1015-17 (2006) --
and not only as a matter of semantics. For if a state happened to
have different criteria for certifying a class from those of Rule
23, the result of a remand because of the federal court's refusal
to certify the class could be that the case would continue as a
class action in state court. That result would be contrary to the
Act's purpose of relaxing the requirement of complete diversity
of citizenship so that class actions involving incomplete
diversity can be litigated in federal court.

Our conclusion vindicates the general principle that jurisdiction
once properly invoked is not lost by developments after a suit is
filed, such as a change in the state of which a party is a
citizen that destroys diversity. E.g., St. Paul Mercury Indemnity
Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 293-95 (1938); In re Shell Oil
Co., 970 F.2d 355 (7th Cir. 1992) (per curiam). The general
principle is applicable to this case because no one suggests that
a class action must be certified before it can be removed to
federal court under the Act; section 1332(d)(8) scotches any such

There are, it is true, exceptions to the principle that once
jurisdiction, always jurisdiction, notably where a case becomes
moot in the course of the litigation. See Church of Scientology
v. United States, 506 U.S. 9, 12 (1992); Walters v. Edgar, 163
F.3d 430, 432 (7th Cir. 1998). Or, if the plaintiff amends away
jurisdiction in a subsequent pleading, the case must be
dismissed. Rockwell Int'l Corp. v. United States, 549 U.S. 457,
473-74 (2007). And likewise if after the case is filed it is
discovered that there was no jurisdiction at the outset, id. at
473-not that this is really an exception to the principle that
jurisdiction, once it attaches, sticks; it is a case in which
there never was federal jurisdiction.

These points are applicable to the Class Action Fairness Act,
Clermont, supra, 91 Cornell L. Rev. at 1016-17, but inapplicable
to the present case. Although the district court found "a number
of fatal flaws" in the plaintiff's motion for class
certification, they are not so obviously fatal as to make the
plaintiff's attempt to maintain the suit as a class action
frivolous. Behind the principle that jurisdiction once obtained
normally is secure is a desire to minimize expense and delay. If
at all possible, therefore, a case should stay in the system that
first acquired jurisdiction. It should not be shunted between
court systems; litigation is not ping-pong. (This consideration
cuts against the proposal in Richardson, supra, 39 New Mex. L.
Rev. at 141-47, that having declined to certify a class the
federal court should abstain in favor of the state courts; that
would be the equivalent of returning the case to the state court
in which it had originated.) An even more important consideration
is that the policy behind the Class Action Fairness Act would be
thwarted if because of a remand a suit that was within the scope
of the Act by virtue of having been filed as a class action ended
up being litigated as a class action in state court.

The judgment of the district court is reversed and the case
remanded to that court for further proceedings consistent with
this opinion.

MERCURY INSURANCE: Sued in Calif. for Shortchanging Policyholders
Courthouse News Service reports that Mercury Insurance has a
"policy and practice of not paying car insurance benefits for
valuable property that is lost when an automobile suffers a total
loss," for example, for the "gasoline remaining in the fuel
tank," a class action claims in Los Angeles Superior Court.

MICROSOFT CORP: E.D. Pa. Suit Says Virtual Currency is Worthless
Paul McDougall at InformationWeek reports that a Philadelphia-
area attorney has filed a class action suit against Microsoft,
claiming the software maker ripped him off after he bought points
that were supposed to allow him to make purchases over the online
Xbox Live Marketplace.

Samuel Lassoff, of Horsham, Pa, said an invoice he received
earlier this month from Microsoft included charges for purchases
he couldn't complete due to a balky download system-and he
claimed it wasn't an accident.

Microsoft "engaged in a scheme to unjustly enrich itself through
their fraudulent handling" of his account, Mr. Lassoff charges in
his Complaint filed in Lassoff v. Microsoft Corporation, Case No.
10-cv-00215 (E.D. Pa.) (Yohn, J.).  Mr. Lassoff, a member of the
Pennsylvania bar, can be reached at:

          Samuel J. Lassoff, Esq.
          1616 Walnut Street, Suite 1105
          Philadelphia, PA 19103
          Telephone: 215-545-4450

Microsoft allows customers to buy games and other downloadable
media from its Xbox Live Marketplace with "Microsoft Points" that
users must purchase with real currency, typically through a
credit or debit card.

But Mr. Lassoff claimed he and at least "hundreds" of other Xbox
Live users have been overcharged. "Microsoft breached that
contract by collecting revenues for digital goods and services
which were not provided," Mr. Lassoff said in his lawsuit.

Microsoft's Points system has drawn separate criticisms from
other corners-to the point where the company is considering
scrapping it altogether. Microsoft Xbox product manager Aaron
Greenberg told G4TV this week that it might do away with the
points system and move to direct cash purchases on Xbox Live

The problem: Microsoft sells points in batches that frequently
don't correspond to the number required to buy particular items,
meaning customers often have leftover points-which they paid for-
that they can't use. "We never intended to mislead people," Mr.
Greenberg said.

Microsoft has also been hit with complaints that the Xbox Live
Marketplace isn't secure, and that users have had their accounts
hacked and Microsoft Points stolen.

As for Mr. Lassoff, he's no stranger to suing big tech companies
and other organizations.  Records show he sued Google in 2006,
claiming the search ads he placed fell victim to click fraud.  He
also sued Bally's Casino in Atlantic City in 2005, claiming he
was attacked by a drunken patron while sitting at a poker table.

Mr. Lassoff didn't immediately respond to a call from Mr.
McDougall seeking comment.  Microsoft has yet to file a formal
response in the case.

MOTOROLA INC: Shareholder Files Suit in N.D. Ill.
Ted Cox at the Daily Herald reports that a Florida firefighters'
pension group hit Motorola with a class-action suit in U.S.
District Court last week accusing the Schaumburg-based
electronics giant of falsely inflating its stock price at the end
of 2007 and beginning of 2008.

St. Lucie County Fire District Firefighters' Pension Trust Fund,
et al. v. Motorola, Inc., et al., Case No. 10-cv-00427 (N.D.
Ill.) (Kendall, J.), accuses Motorola executives of fraud in
making "false and misleading public statements" about the
company's business.

Specifically, the suit cited Motorola executives insisting the
company was robust and that "they had finally turned a corner"
after brief market setbacks for its RAZR phone series toward the
end of 2007.

"Yet secretly," the suit alleged, "defendants knew that in
reality the company had already irreparably lost significant
market share to the Apple, Inc., iPhone and other smartphone

The suit charged that Motorola was "aggressively" buying its own
stock to buttress its price, but did not reveal how tough things
were until a fourth-quarter earnings report released Jan. 23,
2008, when the stock price plummeted.

The suit is a class action for those who bought Motorola stock
from Dec. 6, 2007, through Jan. 22, 2008.

The suit named Motorola and executives Edward Zander, Gregory
Brown and Thomas Meredith.

A copy of the Complaint in St. Locie County Fire District
Firefighters' Pension Trust Fund v. Moborola, Inc., et al., Case
No. 10-cv-00427 (N.D. Ill.), is available at:


The Plaintiff is represented by:

          Eric D. Freed, Esq.
          Jeffrey A. Leon, Esq.
          Julie D. Miller, Esq.
          FREED & WEISS LLC
          111 West Washington Street, Suite 1331
          Chicago, IL 60602-3455
          Telephone: 312-220-0000

               - and -  

          Arthur L. Shingler, III, Esq.
          Mary K. Blasy, Esq.
          SCOTT + SCOTT LLP
          600 B Street, Suite 1500
          San Diego, CA 92101
          Telephone: 619-233-4565

               - and -  

          David R. Scott, Esq.
          SCOTT + SCOTT LLP
          108 Norwich Avenue
          Colchester, CT 06415
          Telephone: 860-537-3818

SPRINT NEXTEL: $17.5 Mil. Flat-Rate Cell Phone Settlement Okay
Pat Gallagher at New Jersey Law Journal reports that a $17.5
million class action settlement against Sprint Nextel over the
flat rate fees charged to people who bail out of their cell phone
contracts early has won the blessing of a federal judge.

The agreement in Larson v. Sprint Nextel Corp., 07-cv- 5325,
approved by U.S. District Judge Jose Linares in Newark, N.J., on
Jan. 15, provides for $14 million in cash and $3.5 million in
activation fee waivers, bonus minutes and credit forgiveness. Any
money left over will be used to buy phone cards for U.S. soldiers
and their families.

The class counsel, led by Carella Byrne Bain Gilfillan Cecchi
Stewart & Olstein in Roseland, N.J., will be paid out of the
settlement fund.  Their cut -- $5,775,000, or 33 percent --
includes $169,518 in expenses.

The pact also bars Sprint from requiring early-termination fees
in new subscriber contracts for the two years.

Mediated by former U.S. District Judge Nicholas Politan, the
settlement received preliminary approval in December 2008 but
Linares denied final approval after an initial fairness hearing
in March 2009, based on problems with the individual notice
provided to class members. Once the notice was redone and a
second fairness hearing was held, in October, Linares gave final
approval without any change in terms.

The class includes all customers who were subject to early-
termination fees of $150 to $200 in cell phone contracts with
Sprint Nextel entered into between July 1, 1999, and Dec. 31,
2008, even if they never actually paid them.

Larson is the second early-termination fee class action
settlement approved by Linares.

On Sept. 10, 2009, he approved a $13.5 million deal in Milliron
v. T-Mobile USA, Case No. 08-cv-4149, of which $4.5 million, or
one-third, went to legal fees for class counsel.  Carella Byrne
was also lead counsel in that case.

The Larson and Milliron settlements were reached against the
backdrop of similar suits in other courts over the early-
termination fees and claims by the lawyers in those cases that
they were entitled to fees for their efforts in those other
cases, which they claimed paved the way for resolving the New
Jersey federal actions.

Those lawyers -- 11 law firms around the country collectively
known as the Plutzik Group -- settled an early-termination fee
case against Verizon for $21 million, won class certification in
suits against Sprint, AT&T and Cingular and, in the case against
Sprint, secured a ruling in a case that the early-termination
fees are illegal.

They argued in Larson that their work on the earlier cases was a
catalyst for the settlement and that they should be compensated

Linares awarded them a total of $565,950 in fees and gave them
until Feb. 10 to submit declarations to class counsel listing the
hours they worked and describing what they did so class counsel
could allocate the money.

In Milliron, the same lawyers contended they should get the
majority of the fees. Linares allowed them $720,000 and, on Dec.
8, enjoined them from trying to get a California state court to
award them additional fees, a ruling now on appeal to the 3rd

The Larson agreement expressly excluded from its scope one
ongoing case, Ayyad v. Sprint Spectrum, No. RG03-121510, in the
California Superior Court, Alameda County. There, a jury held
Sprint liable for $73.8 million in fees but also held that class
members breached their phone contracts and that the company
suffered damages of more than $225 million. A new trial was
granted on Sprint's cross-claim for damages.

Linares also awarded $254,100 in fees to the lawyers for
objectors who raised the inadequate-notice issue. After the
initial notice, 12,501 claim forms were received. Another 44,808
came in after Linares sustained the objection and ordered the
notice redone.

Objections to the settlement terms and the fees did not fare as
well. The same objectors asserted that, using the Ayyad verdict
as a benchmark, the class should recover $1.2 billion, including
$296 million in cash. But Linares found the comparison inapt,
noting that in Ayyad, the damages found for Sprint exceeded the
class recovery.

Class counsel:

          James E. Cecchi , Esq.
          5 Becker Farm Road
          Roseland, NJ 07068
          Telephone: (973) 994-1700

says "we're pleased with the result and thought it was a thorough
and persuasive opinion."

Not returning calls for comment were Sprint Nextel counsel:

          Joseph A. Boyle, Esq.
          200 Kimball Drive
          Parsippany, NJ 07054
          Telephone: (973) 503-5900

               - and -  

          Jennifer Sarnelli, Esq.
          Two Gateway Center, 12th Floor
          Newark, NJ 07102
          Telephone: (973) 623-3000
which will receive $63,779 of the $254,100 fee award to the
objectors' lawyers.

Alan Plutzik of Bramson Plutzik Mahler & Birkhauser, the Walnut
Creek, Calif., firm from which the Plutzik Group takes it name,
says he and the other lawyers seeking fees for years of work in
other early-termination fee cases saw those cases settled out
from under them in the New Jersey actions.  "When the defendants'
backs were against the wall, they decided to try to extinguish
our claims by entering into a nationwide settlement with New
Jersey plaintiffs counsel who had only just filed a case against
them and had not litigated that case at all," says Mr. Plutzik.
"What happened here is bad for the class and bad for the judicial

STATE FARM: Calif. Lawsuit Challenges Smoke Damage Claim Payouts
Courthouse News Service reports that a class action claims State
Farm improperly withholds overhead and profit from actual cash
value claims for smoke damage, in Los Angeles Superior Court.

STERLING FINANICAL: Hagens Berman Files 401(k) Suit in E.D. Wash.
A former employee of Spokane-based Sterling Savings Bank
(NASDAQ:STSA - News), has filed a class-action lawsuit claiming
the bank and its holding company, Sterling Financial Corporation
failed to protect employees' investment in company stock through
the company's 401(k) Plan.  The suit is Laue v. Sterling
Financial Corporation, et al., Case No. 10-cv-00018 (E.D. Wash.)
(Shea, J.), and replaces a similar suit filed on Jan. 11, 2010,
which the firm dismissed at the request of Cory Deter.  

The attorneys representing plaintiff Philip Laue:

          Andrew M. Volk, Esq.
          Steve W. Berman, Esq.
          1301 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2900
          Seattle, WA 98101
          Telephone: 206-623-7292

believe that Sterling stock price has imploded as the result of
ill-advised commercial real estate, construction and land loans,
improper accounting and inadequate capitalization. Sterling and
other defendants failed to properly manage 401(k) funds by
maintaining a large investment in Company Stock long after the
stock became an imprudent investment - a violation of the federal
Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the complaint

"No qualified financial advisor would encourage rank-and-file
employees to invest more than a modest amount of retirement
savings in company stock, but actually advise against it," said
HBSS managing partner Steve Berman. "Employees often interpret a
match in company stock as an endorsement of the company and its
stock. In this case, Sterling matched the stock employees
invested in the 401(k) plan with worthless Company Stock, further
putting the pension fund at risk."

Berman said the bank failed to disclose the company's massive
financial problems caused by inadequately secured loans in
commercial real estate, construction and land loans, and masked
by allegedly improper accounting. The lawsuit charges that the
company deliberately misled employees and shareholders on the
value of the stock and failed to secure adequate reserves against
its credit portfolio. Employees in the class include those who
owned stock in the Sterling 401(k) from July 23, 2008, to the

The plan heavily invested in Sterling stock despite a clear
decline in performance. As of Dec. 31, 2007, the plan held
approximately $16 million in Sterling common stock. A year later,
Dec. 31, 2008, the plan held approximately $13 million in
Sterling common stock, representing in excess of 20 percent of
the assets of the pension plan.

In the wake of its diving stock performance, Sterling allegedly
failed to adequately and timely record losses for its impaired
loans and secure assets to safeguard against its defaulting
credit portfolio. As a result, Sterling stock traded at
artificially inflated prices during the class period, reaching a
high of $14.72 per share on Oct. 1, 2008, the lawsuit states. As
of last Friday, the beleaguered stock closed at 70 cents per

Sterling Bank is one of the largest commercial banks
headquartered in Washington. It is one of the largest regional
community banks in the U.S. that offers mortgage lending,
construction financing and investment products to individuals,
small business and commercial organizations and corporations.
Golf Savings Bank, a branch of Sterling, focuses on the sale of
single-family residential mortgage loans.

HBSS, a Seattle-based class-action law firm experienced in ERISA
and securities litigation, estimates over 2,500 employees in
Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and California are affected by
the actions listed in the complaint.

The lawsuit charges that Sterling deliberately misled employees
and investors and mismanaged its pension plan on a number of
fronts, noting specifically that Sterling:

     (A) Failed to account for and disclose Sterling's commercial
real estate, construction and land development loans and failed
to reflect impairment in the loans;

     (B) Failed to adequately reserve for loan losses, such that
Tier 1 capital was presented in violation of banking regulations
and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). As a result,
Sterling would be forced to consent to a cease and desist order
from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) directing
it to raise $300 million in capital;

     (C) Failed to adequately account for its goodwill or its
deferred tax assets such that its financial statements were
presented in violation of GAAP.

This new lawsuit filed against Sterling Financial Corp.
supersedes the Jan. 11, 2010 complaint filed by HBSS and Brodsky
& Smoth, LLC, which has been dismissed. Prospective class members
who want to learn more about legal requirements and membership in
the class should contact Nick Styant-Browne at 1-206-268-9373 or

                About Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro (HBSS) is a law firm with offices in
Seattle, Chicago, Cambridge, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San
Francisco. Named to the 2006 and 2009 Plaintiffs' Hot List by
National Law Journal, HBSS has developed a nationally recognized
practice in class-action litigation. The firm has co-lead counsel
in litigation to recover losses from Enron employees' retirement
funds and represented Washington and 12 other states in lawsuits
against the tobacco industry that resulted in the largest
settlement in the history of litigation. The firm also served as
counsel in several other high-profile cases including the
Washington Public Power Supply litigation, which resulted in
settlements of nearly $1 billion. The firm also served as co-lead
counsel in a VISA/Mastercard litigation which resulted in excess
of a $3 billion settlement.

TGI FRIDAY'S: N.J. Lawsuit Complains About Disparate Drink Prices
Courthouse News Service reports that a class action claims a TGI
Friday's restaurant in New Jersey charges $2 for a beer at the
bar and $3.59 for a beer at the table, but fails to warn
customers that the price is different depending on where they
sit, in Burlington County Court.  

A copy of the Complaint in Dugan v. TCG Friday's, Inc, et al.,
Docket No. BUR-L-0126-10 (N.J. Super. Ct., Burlington Cty.), is
available at:


The Plaintiff is represented by:

          Sander D. Friedman, Esq.
          125 North Route 73
          West Berlin, NJ 08091
          Telephone: 856-988-7777

UNITED STATES: N.D. Calif. Tosses Suits Contesting NSA Wiretaps
Annie Youderian at Courthouse News Service reports that a federal
judge in San Francisco dismissed two class actions over the
government's warrantless wiretap program, saying the alleged
injuries were too generalized to support standing. The ruling did
not address the government's claim that the cases were barred by
the state-secrets privilege.

A copy of the decision in Jewel, et al. v. National Security
Agency, et al., Case No. 08-cv-4373 (N.D. Ill.), and In re
National Security Agency Telecommunications Records Litigation,
MDL No. 06-1791; Member Case No. 07-0693 (N.D. Ill.) (Walker,
J.), is available at:



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