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Girard Gibbs represents a wide range of individual and business clients in cases involving consumer protection, personal injury, securities, antitrust, and employment laws. The firm has litigated cases against some of the world’s largest companies, and has earned a reputation for its skillful advocacy and impressive recoveries obtained on behalf of the firm’s clients.

Below is a listing of the cases we have successfully resolved, as well as the cases we are currently litigating. For more information about a particular case, or to discuss a potential new case with our attorneys, please complete the form to your right or call us toll-free at (866) 981-4800.

Summary

Girard Gibbs LLP represents various institutional shareholders of Safeway, Inc. in a class action lawsuit related to Cerberus Capital Management’s proposed acquisition of Safeway Inc.  The lawsuit has been filed in Delaware Court of Chancery against Safeway, its officers and directors, Cerberus and various Cerberus affiliates. 

Girard Gibbs filed a lawsuit on behalf of four U.S. and European institutional investors. All of the actions have been consolidated before Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster, who appointed Girard Gibbs to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee.

If you have questions concerning the lawsuit please call 866 981 4800 or fill out the Form to the Right.

Breach of Fiduciary Duties to Shareholders, alleged

On March 6, 2014, Safeway and Cerberus issued a joint press release announcing that Cerberus would acquire Safeway for an implied value of $40 per share.   Yet Safeway stockholders will only receive $32.50 per share in cash.  The balance of the purported value is actually a combination of a $3.95 per share distribution from the spinoff of Safeway’s partial ownership of Blackhawk Network Holdings, Inc. that was planned prior to the merger announcement and will be distributed before the proposed merger is consummated, and an entirely speculative $3.65 per share distribution from potential future sales of certain non-core assets. 

In contrast, Safeway’s board and executives will benefit from immediate vesting of stock options, restricted share awards, performance share awards, or other monetary and non-monetary benefits not shared by stockholders.  The lawsuit alleges that Safeway’s board breached its fiduciary duties to stockholders by failing to obtain the highest possible value for the company.  

Flawed Acquisition Process, alleged

The lawsuit also alleges that the inadequately priced deal involves a flawed process that includes a number of onerous and preclusive deal protections that serve to deter competing bidders from offering a higher price.  In particular, the merger agreement includes an unusually short 21-day “go-shop” period that expired on March 27, 2014, during which time the Board could solicit superior proposals from third parties.  However, the definition of “Superior Proposal” in the merger agreement eviscerates any chance of a superior offer because a potential acquirer must top the illusory $40 valuation of the Proposed Merger consideration. Further, the merger agreement provides Cerberus with unlimited matching rights, so that a competing bidder can never force Cerberus to put a “best and final” offer on the table.

Improper Servance Plan Alleged

The Board also adopted an Executive Severance Plan on the eve of announcing the Cerberus deal, which would trigger potentially tens of millions of dollars in severance payments to Safeway’s senior management upon their qualifying termination.  The Executive Severance Plan has no impact on Cerberus, which has already announced that Safeway’s senior management will be employed in similar positions in the newly combined entity.  However, the Plan would have a substantial impact on strategic buyers who would want to replace executives and be forced to pay tens of millions of dollars in severance payments, thus serving as another improper deal protection favoring Cerberus.

Questions About the Safeway Adquisition Lawsuit? 

If you have any questions about the case, please call (866) 981-4800 or fill out the form to the right to receive email updates about the progress of the case.

Alleged Legal Violation(s)
Summary

Girard Gibbs LLP is representing clients who used the Fitbit Force™ Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband (known as the Force Wristband) and suffered injuries such as skin lesions, painful blisters, itchy and burning rashes, and permanent scarring.

Thousands of Force users in the United States have already reported experiencing such side effects after using the Force Wristband after a few weeks.

Fitbit, a California fitness technology company, released the Force Wristband in the United States in October 2013.  The Force Wristband is Fitbit’s latest fitness activity tracking device. The device is a plastic wristband that is worn around the user’s wrist 24/7 to track the user’s sleeping patterns, fitness activities, and the amount of calories burned in a day.

Fitbit Force Users Experience Lesions and Rashes

Around December 2013, many Force Wristband users, who had purchased the product hoping to improve their health, began reporting burning skin rashes where they had worn the wristband.  Users also complained that their rashes grew and blistered, are slow to heal, and have been told that they will have permanent scarring as a result.   

For instance, one user shared that her “rash developed after wearing it about a week.  I tried every OTC remedy . . . nothing would work.  Finally the rash looked really ugly and I went for medical care.”  The same user is also “not allergic to any metals, and have never experienced this before.”  

Another user reported:  “The itching and redness turned to blistering.  After the blisters broke the skin turned dry and scaly.  I believe this was a chemical burn caused by the battery leaking.  The recharging must have caused it to leak.  Since Fitbit support does not want to address this issue I guess I will have to report this to the Consumer Protection Agency.”

A different user described the injury as “a poison ivy burn/blister on my right wrist.  It was really swollen and nasty looking. . . it itches and looks like a bad burn on the right arm.”

Fitbit Claims Skin Problems are Allergic Reactions to Nickel

In January, Fitbit claimed that tests from an “independent lab have eliminated the possibility of a problem with the mechanical or electrical functioning of the device” and that Fitbit “consulted with medical professionals whose assessments are that these irritations are most likely common allergic reactions to nickel, a component of the surgical-grade steel used in the Fitbit Force.”  However, many Force Wristband users made clear that they have no known nickel allergies or any allergies at all.  Additionally, some people who had switched over to the Force Wristband after using the Fitbit Flex™ Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband, which like the Force has a “surgical-grade stainless steel clasp” that contains nickel, did not experience the same problems with the Flex.

The severity of some injured Force Wristband users has also grabbed the attention of media news outlets.  In a Huffington Post interview in January, Mike Townsend of River Falls, Wisconsin, said he developed a skin irritation after wearing the Force Wristband on his left wrist for about two to three weeks.  He thought the irritation was caused by bacteria, which Fitbit has said could accumulate in the Force Wristband.  However, after cleaning his Force Wristband, Townsend’s rash got worse, became painful and would “break and ooze or bleed” when scratched.

Fitbit Force Gets Recalled

On February 20, 2014, Fitbit finally recalled the Force Wristbands while maintaining that the side effects “were likely the result of allergic contact dermatitis.”   In March 2014, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) followed with an official recall of the Force Wristbands, making it illegal to sell or resell the device in the United States.  By this time, the CSPC had received over 10,000 complaints of negative skin reactions to the Force Wristband.

According to ABC News, the number of complaints may be much more than what the CPSC has received.  Fitbit has not given another explanation for these negative side effects, which have left some users worried about whether the skin reactions are a “carcinogenic reaction,” and whether the chemicals in the device can cause “breast cancer, birth defects, or long term debilitation.”

Potential Effects of the Force Wristbands Experienced by Users

·     Red blotches
·     Skin lesions
·     Rashes
·     Blisters
·     Scars
·     Burns
·     Skin redness
·     Pain
·     Peeling skin
·     Swelling

Did You Experience a Skin Sore, Rash, Blisters or Burns After Wearing the Force Wristband? Speak with a lawyer.

If you wore the Force Wristband and experienced a skin sore, rash, blisters or burns on the area of your skin that came into contact with the Force Wristband, or if you want to learn more about the lawsuit, please contact our consumer lawyers toll free at (866) 981-4800 or by filling out the form to the right.  All inquiries are free and confidential.

Summary

On March 20, 2014, Girard Gibbs LLP filed a class action lawsuit against Fitbit on behalf of individuals who purchased a Force™ Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband (known as the Force Wristband).

The lawsuit generally alleges many Force Wristband users have reported skin rashes, irritation and blisters after using the device and that Fitbit violated consumer protection laws by marketing and selling the product even after learning of consumers’ painful complaints, which the lawsuit alleges Fitbit wrongfully attributed to nickel allergies. 

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages on behalf of purchasers that bought the Force Wristband, including any costs associated with their medical treatment.

Force Wristband Users Experience Painful Rashes and Permanent Scarring

Fitbit’s Force Wristband hit the U.S. market in October 2013 and has been popular with health-conscious consumers who bought over one million of them at a retail price around $129.  The Force Wristband is a “smart” bracelet that is meant to be worn 24/7 to help people track their fitness activities.  Among other features, it is advertised to track sleeping patterns as well as the number of steps taken and calories burned in a day.  Fitbit claims users can then sync that data with their computers and smart phones to help monitor their health and meet fitness goals. 

The lawsuit alleges that by December 2013 many Force Wristband users began complaining about painful blisters and skin rashes on their wrists and arms.  Some Force Wristband users also reported that the rashes and blisters have led to permanent scarring, and have required medical treatment. 

Fitbit, Inc's Response to Complaints of Rashes and Burns

In January 2014, Fitbit’s CEO, James Park, responded to the complaints by posting a letter on the company’s website.  His letter said that the skin irritation users were experiencing was not caused by “mechanical or electrical functioning of the device.”  Rather, his letter claimed that users who experienced problems “most likely” had common allergic reactions to nickel which is contained in the Force Wristband.  However, the lawsuit alleges many users that experienced rashes and blisters have pointed out that they do not have known nickel allergies and that they did not experience similar allergic reactions to other Fitbit products that contain nickel like the Flex™ Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband.    

Even as more and more consumers reported skin rashes after wearing the Force Wristband, Fitbit did not announce a recall of the device until February 20, 2014, a move that was then backed by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.  The Safety Commission ordered the recall after receiving about 9,900 reports of skin irritation and another 250 reports of blistering. 

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges Fitbit should have known the device would have caused health problems but did not properly test the product for safety and did not properly warn consumers about the health risks of wearing a Force Wristband.  Judge Claudia Wilken of the Northern District of California federal court has been assigned to oversee the case.

Did You Experience a Rash, Blisters or Burns After Wearing the Force Wristband? Speak with a lawyer.

If you wore the Force Wristband and experienced a rash, blisters or burns on the area of your skin that came into contact with the wristband, or if you want to learn more about the lawsuit, please contact our consumer lawyers toll free at (866) 981-4800 or by filling out the form to the right.  All inquiries are free and confidential.  

Summary

When a manufacturer is aware of a defect in its product(s), it generally has a duty to address and correct that problem. When it fails to disclose a known problem, consumers have important legal rights to hold it accountable. Girard Gibbs LLP represents consumers in drug defect;lawsuits.

If you have a question about one of the cases below or would like to discuss a potential case with one of our drug defect lawyers, please cor call us toll-free at  (866) 981-4800.

Summary

In March 2014, Girard Gibbs LLP filed a class action lawsuit against Sutherland Healthcare Solutions, Inc. for a data security breach that could potentially impact as many as 168,500 Californians.  Sutherland Healthcare Solutions is a billing and collections contractor for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and Department of Public Health.  According to the complaint, on February 5, 2014, the Torrance office of Sutherland Healthcare was burglarized and eight computers were stolen.  The stolen computers allegedly contained data including patients’ first and last names, Social Security numbers and certain medical and billing information, and they may also have included birth dates, addresses and diagnoses.  According to the lawsuit, the information was allegedly unencrypted.

According to the complaint, Sutherland Healthcare Solutions reported the theft on February 6, 2014 and later confirmed on February 25, 2014 that patients’ data were stolen. Sutherland, however, allegedly did not begin notifying patients of the breach until March 6, 2014. 

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Robert Campbell, the Los Angeles County Assistant Auditor-Controllers, emphasized the magnitude of the breach, saying that “I’m not aware of another breach of this significance ever having occurred.”   The auditor-controller’s office oversees the county’s compliance with federal medical privacy regulations.

Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Violations of California’s Confidential Medical Information Act

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that Sutherland Healthcare Solutions violated the Confidential Medical Information Act (“CMIA”), a California law that seeks to protect the confidentiality of individually identifiable medical information obtained from a patient by a healthcare provider.  As a contractor of medical billing services for Los Angeles County, Sutherland Healthcare is governed by the CMIA.  According to the complaint, Sutherland Healthcare violated section 56.101 of the CMIA for its negligent storage of private health information and section 56.36 of the CMIA for Sutherland’s negligent release of personal medical information. The complaint also alleges a violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law, for Sutherland’s unlawful and unfair business practices.

Damages under the CMIA

Violations of the CMIA can result in significant consequences for healthcare service providers including personal liability to the patients, the imposition of administrative fines and civil penalties, and even criminal liability.   For example, under Section 56.36(b), a patient may seek nominal damages of $1,000 and/or actual damages, for the negligent release of his or her personal medical information.   Under the CMIA, these remedies are in addition to other remedies available at law. 

Was your personal medical information compromised?  Speak with a lawyer.

If you were notified that your personal information was compromised as a result of the Sutherland breach, or if you want to learn more about this case, please contact our consumer lawyers toll free at (866) 981-4800 or by filing out the form to the right.

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