Juries sometimes do strange things, and one in Missouri has ordered a company that buys up consumer debts to pay an astounding $83 million to Maria Guadalupe Mejia of Kansas City. Why, you may ask? The jury said the credit company wrongly tried to collect an erroneous $1,000 credit card bill. Credit.com has an extensive story about this shocker, the woman who sues a debt collector, and then wins $83 Million. KCUR reported the verdict and the jury finding that the defendant–Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC–was guilty of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
That law contains many safeguards for borrowers. With the small $1,000 disputed debt, as you might imagine, most of the verdict was for allegedly bad conduct, The verdict called for $250,000 in damages plus a few dollars shy of $83 million in punitive damages. The verdict calls it malicious prosecution, the debt not being hers to begin with.
PRA Group Inc., which owns Portfolio Recovery Associates, sent an email statement to Credit.com: “This outlandish verdict defies all common sense,” wrote spokesman Michael McKeon. “We hope and expect the judge will set aside this inappropriate award, and we plan to file motions to make that request formally in the near term. Any fair reading of the facts of this case makes plain that a verdict of this size is not justice by any means, and cannot stand.”
CINDY LEE GARCIA said she’d been had. The actress claimed that she thought she was acting in an action-adventure thriller called Desert Warrior, but her performance was co-opted into five seconds of Innocence of Muslims, a 14-minute trailer mocking the Islamic prophet Mohammed that sparked an anti-American backlash in the Middle East and led to death threats for the actors involved. The inflammatory clip was first uploaded to Google-owned YouTube in June 2012, and a few months later Garcia sued Google demanding that what she called the “hateful anti-Islamic production” be taken down.
Garcia first filed a suit in Los Angeles Superior Court, but a judge refused to have it removed, even as she claimed she was receiving death threats. She then filed a suit in federal court, yielding the same response. After all, video creators own the rights to their creations, not actors. Last year, however, a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals shocked First Amendment and copyright attorneys around the country when it found in Garcia’s favor, determining that her performance was “independently copyrightable.” Google removed the video.
Food and beverage giants are shrinking their offerings. Why? Consumers view sugar and fat to be the new tobacco, according to new research by Havas Worldwide, which found that in the last year 42 percent of consumers have reduced their sugar intake while 38 percent of consumers have decreased fat consumption. “Smaller sizes have always been appealing for products perceived as indulgent,” explained Tim Maleeny, Havas’ chief strategy officer, managing partner. “Somehow the smaller serving offsets a sense of guilt.” For brands, going small may be key to their business, noted Allen Adamson, North American chairman at brand consulting firm Landor Associates. “The alternative—if they don’t do this—is consumers will drop them off the shopping list, and that’s deadly for a brand,” he said.
v.19 n. 21 – Released May 18, 2015
This Week’s Headlines:
Making minimum wage dooms you to a life of hardship and toil. We in the U.S. have accepted or ignored this situation for a long time, while companies make billions of dollars by paying their workers less than enough to survive. But a national discussion about income inequality and the wave of worker protests for livable wages has brought attention to the issue. And now some policymakers want to add to the debate by focusing not just on the poor living conditions that result from low wages, but on the billions of dollars that the low-wage service economy costs every single taxpayer, as we pay for things like food stamps and health care for workers whose companies don’t pay them enough to live on.
Every year, U.S. taxpayers pay $153 billion in public assistance to working families, according to a recent study conducted by the University of California’s Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. This is more than the annual budgets of the U.S. Department of Education and Health and Human Services combined.
Paying low-wage employees more by raising the minimum wage—$15 an hour is what “livable” wage advocates are fighting for—is likely the most direct solution. But barring this, a few Connecticut lawmakers want to be the first in the nation to end what they see as essentially a massive payout to the Walmarts and McDonald’s of their state.
Joe Greco, who’s been churning out cookies and cakes for 27 years, usually uses about 600 pounds of liquid eggs a week at his bakery near Chicago. Now, his freezer has seven times that amount because Greco worries that record prices are about to go even higher.
The cost of breaker eggs — those cracked and sold in liquid form for use by wholesale bakers and restaurants such as McDonald’s Corp. — have more than doubled in the past three weeks. The culprit behind the surge: the worst-ever American outbreak of the bird flu virus.
More than 33.5 million chickens, turkeys and other birds have been affected. Iowa, the top U.S. egg producer, was hardest hit, losing 40 percent of its laying hens. The disease prompted the government to forecast the first annual drop in egg production since 2008. Greco is concerned his 4,200-pound (1,900-kilogram) stash of liquid eggs won’t protect him from higher costs, and that he’ll have to start buying eggs still in shells to crack by hand.
“As soon as I heard about the bird flu, I knew this was going to happen,” said Greco, 47, who owns Palermo Bakery in Norridge, Illinois, near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. He’s been racing to buy extra supplies over the past month and saw prices for the pails of liquid eggs he buys jump 28 percent last week. “After the Fourth of July, there might be another nightmare, so I’m still shopping around to see if there are better prices.”
Highly pathogenic avian influenza spread rapidly through parts of the Midwest in the past two months, and Iowa lost about 23 million hens. Post Holdings Inc. has warned that bird flu will hurt fiscal 2015 earnings at its food-service unit, while countries in the Middle East and Asia have placed restrictions on shipments of U.S. poultry.
AOL, the firm which told you “you’ve got mail” and delivered more CDs to your door than Amazon, is being bought by Verizon.
The deal values AOL at $4.4bn (£2.8bn), a long way from the mammoth $222bn price tag the company attracted 16 years ago during a boom in the share prices of technology firms.
AOL started life as Quantum Computer Services, which first provided an online service for the Commodore 64 computer system in 1985.
The company built up its position as one of the largest internet providers, gobbling up browser company Netscape and competitor CompuServe.
Then came AOL’s purchase of Time Warner in a deal valued at more than $160bn in 2000. Nine years later, Time Warner reversed the acquisition and AOL began to reinvent itself as a media company with former Google advertising executive Tim Armstrong at the helm.