HLF Investigates Potential Consumer Claim that Nivea Skin Cream Can Help People “Slim Down”. If you used Nivea My Silhouette! skin cream in response to television or internet claims it would help you “slim down,” you may be able to pursue monetary compensation. Contact HLF to learn your rights and determine whether you qualify to participate.
The Federal Trade Commission recently reached a settlement requiring the maker of Nivea My Silhouette! skin cream to stop advertising that the cream can significantly reduce a consumer’s body size. The company also has agreed to pay $900,000 as part of the settlement. According to the complaint, Nivea marketed the skin cream in nationwide television ads and through sponsored search results on Google. One television ad depicts a woman getting dressed after having applied Nivea My Silhouette! cream to her stomach and thighs. She digs through the back of her closet, tries on a pair of old jeans, and discovers that they now fit.
The company also allegedly purchased sponsored search results from Google so that when consumers searched on the words “stomach fat,” “nivea slim silhouette,” or “thin waist,” they found Nivea ads implying that Nivea My Silhouette! could tone their stomachs, thin their waists, and help them slim down.
If you used Nivea My Silhouette! skin cream in response to television or internet claims it would help you “slim down,” you may be able to pursue monetary compensation. Contact HLF to learn your rights and determine whether you qualify to participate: firstname.lastname@example.org
As a former truck driver, John knows about the dangers of truck on car collisions. Last night, north of Billings, was a tragic example of what can happen when a car collides with a big truck. Learn more information about truck accidents at www.heenanlawfirm.com
(From Billings Gazette)
Three men died Wednesday night after a fiery three-vehicle wreck on Highway 87 north of Billings. Montana Highway Patrol trooper Gerald Perman said the wreck happened shortly after 8 p.m. when a southbound semitrailer pulling an empty tanker crossed the center line, colliding with a northbound passenger car with Fergus County license plates.
A Jeep Wrangler that was about 45 feet behind the car then collided with the tanker. It wasn’t clear why the semi crossed into the northbound lane, Perman said. The Wrangler caught fire immediately after the collision and nearly exploded, he said.
The two men in the Wrangler, one from Billings and one from South Dakota, both in their early 20s, died at the scene of the crash. The car’s male driver also died at the scene, Perman said. A young woman and an infant who were passengers in the car were taken to Billings hospitals. Details about their injuries weren’t available late Wednesday.
One was taken via St. Vincent Healthcare HELP Flight and one went via American Medical Response ambulance, but it wasn’t immediately clear which patient went on the helicopter and who went by ambulance.
Published in NewWest.Net (By Kate Schwab)
The Rocky Mountain states remain among the most dangerous in the nation for workers, according to the AFL-CIO, which tracks job-related deaths.
Montana’s taken the top slot for workplace fatalities in 2010, averaging 10.8 deaths per 100,000 workers. Next up and tied for second are Louisiana and North Dakota at 7.2, followed by Wyoming in fourth at 6.8.
Workplace injuries cost Montana businesses roughly $145 million annually, according to SafeMT, a workplace safety site operated by the Montana State Fund. As the state’s official workers compensation insurance option, SafeMT offers industry-specific hazard data and tips to help companies come up with a plan for their own in-house safety programs.
A calculator on the SafeMT website estimates the state has actually lost $373 million because of on-the-job injuries in the past two and a half years.
What’s not so clear is the cause. Montana is home to a significant number of traditionally risky industries, including logging, mining and agriculture. Nationally, agriculture is considered the most dangerous industry; hazards include uncooperative livestock, all-terrain vehicles, heavy equipment and chemical exposure combined with working in remote and rugged areas. But the state says the data show a problem with worker safety across the board.
Young workers ages 16 to 24 tend to be the ones to get hurt. They’re key players in the retail, food service, construction and ranching industries. Nearly 1,000 Montana workers under 25 are injured on the job every year. And most of them are injured within a month of starting a new job. Inexperience, lack of familiarity with the equipment, inadequate supervision, drowsiness from balancing employment and educational obligations and personal pride are all culprits.
State law requires businesses to provide a new-hire orientation program that covers safety considerations before employees begin work. Companies are supposed to provide refresher courses on a routine basis, as well as assess potential hazards and review safety procedures at least once a year. And employers with more than five employees must not only investigate accidents, but also establish a safety committee that convenes a minimum of three times a year.
Lack of accountability may be one factor affecting not only the region, but also the nation. Since 1970, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been responsible for establishing and enforcing job site safety and health standards for American workers. (A separate agency, MSHA, governs mining.) Calling the present level of OSHA oversight “woefully inadequate,” the AFL-CIO report noted that only 2,218 OSHA inspectors, including both federal and state employees, are available to keep watch on 8 million businesses nationwide. That equates to one inspector for every 57,984 workers. Most businesses cannot be inspected routinely with that level of manpower; the report claims federal inspectors get around to the average business once every 129 years, and state inspectors average about half that time.
Nationwide, flagrant safety violations by companies themselves rose by 15.3 percent in the past five years, but “serious violations” are tracking at a higher rate—22.1 percent—and incidents chalked up as “willful violations” have skyrocketed to 217.1 percent. Citations are most commonly given for issues related to scaffolding, ladders, machine guards, falls, electrical wiring, tagout procedures, trucks, hazard communication and respiratory safety.
OSHA employees investigated 804 deaths and performed 40,993 inspections last year, according to the agency’s annual report.
If you or a loved one is involved in a workplace injury in Montana, including a mine or oilfield, contact Heenan Law Firm to receive a free copy of John Heenan’s new book “Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to Injury Victim’s Rights in Montana” www.heenanlawfirm.com
***UPDATE: John Heenan appeared on KTVQ NEWS LAST NIGHT TO DISCUSS LEGAL ISSUES AFFECTING PROPERTY OWNERS AS A RESULT OF THE OIL SPILL. WATCH JOHN’S COMMENTS HERE: John Heenan Discusses Yellowstone River Oil Spill on 10 O\’Clock News
An ExxonMobil oil pipeline just east of the Laurel Bridge ruptured around 11:30 p.m. Friday, dumping oil into the Yellowstone River. Current estimates are over 100,000 gallons of oil was spilled into the Yellowstone River, affecting private property downstream for potentially hundreds of miles.
In a press conference Saturday morning, Yellowstone County and ExxonMobil officials said they don’t know yet what caused the break in the 12-inch pipeline or how much oil escaped into the river. The pipeline runs below the Yellowstone riverbed. Emergency crews shut the pipeline down just before midnight, said Duane Winslow, Yellowstone County director of disaster and emergency services. “We regret the release,” said Pam Malek, a spokeswoman for ExxonMobil.
The long-term affects to property owners downstream of the spill are as yet unknown, and may not be known for some time. If your land has been affected, you should document the pollution by taking photos and videos.
Under Montana law, landowners are generally entitled to full remediation of the polluted land. In other words, the responsible party must pay to restore the land to what it was like before it became polluted.
The Heenan Law Firm regularly represents private land owners who are the victims of property damage, including pollution damage.
We had the privilege of helping out Montana Trial Lawyers Association in handing out bike helmets again this year. MTLA works We want to work with school officials and others to get helmets out to our young kids, primarily those kids whose families are not able to afford them. If a helmet protects just one child from the tragedy of suffering a traumatic head injury, the program will be worth it for us.
From the State Bar of Montana
CAN MONEY BE TAKEN OUT OF YOUR BANK ACCOUNT?
A creditor may be allowed to take funds from your account due to a judgment, but there are some funds that are exempt from this garnishment. There is only a certain amount a creditor can take
from your wages. The most a creditor may take from your weekly disposable income is 25%. Also,
$217.50 of your disposable income is always exempt. Other income sources may also be exempt. Some
• Unemployment or public assistance benefits like Social Security, LIEAP, and unemployment insurance
• Child support and spousal maintenance
• Retirement or veteran benefits
• Income from an injury illness, or disability
You can see a full list of exempt funds in the Montana Code Annotated (MCA) in section 25-13-
608. You can find the MCA at your local library, the State Law Library of Montana, or online:
Once you receive a notification of seizure that money is going to be taken, you have only 10 days to file your claim of exemption with the court.
First, fill out forms Claim of Exemption and Request for Hearing along with Statement of Claimed Exemptions and Reasons.
These forms can be found by going to:
PREPARING TO FILE
Along with the filled out forms, you need to make sure you file the proof that this money is legally exempt
from seizure, and should not be allowed to be taken from you. Use the calculations provided you on the
www.MontanaLawHelp.org packet to determine if too much of your pay check is being garnished.
Make sure to provide all of your bank statements, benefit statements, and pay stubs. Most benefit
programs and businesses should be able to provide you with any missing documentation upon request. Failure to attach documents proving your claim may result in your request being denied. The documents need to be attached at the time you file the claim, not afterwards.
Make three copies of all of your papers including the forms and financial statements. File the original
motion and supporting documents with the clerk of court in the county where the court that issued the writ is located. On the same day you must send another copy to your creditors or your creditors’ attorneys. To do this mail the copy to the creditor or creditors attorney using the U.S. Postal Service, Before you file with the court, contact the attorneys your creditor used in the previous judgment to find out if they will return your exempt funds without a hearing and to what address you should send the copy of your court filing.
If everything was filed correctly the court will send a letter called an Order. It will inform you of the date and time of the hearing. Here are some general rules to help you on the day of
• Show up a little early on the day of your hearing to provide extra time in case of an emergency.
• You will also want to have all of the documents you filed and received for this hearing with you.
• Just explain to the judge that exempt funds were or will be taken from your bank account.
From Billings Gazette, Appellate court affirms jury award in debt-collection case
An appellate court on Friday affirmed a $311,000 federal jury award to a Laurel man who sued a North Dakota law firm over its debt collection practices.
The case of Timothy McCollough v. Johnson, Rodenburg & Lauinger was argued in Billings in July before a special panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor along with Judges Sidney R. Thomas of Billings and William A. Fletcher of San Francisco heard the case.
Thomas issued the 30-page opinion, in which the court upheld all of the rulings made by the presiding judge, U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby, and the jury’s verdict.
In April 2009, a jury awarded McCollough $311,000 in damages, finding that JRL had violated the Montana Unfair Trade Practices Act and that its prosecution of McCollough was malicious and an abuse of process. The damages included $250,000 for emotional distress, a statutory maximum of $1,000 for violating the law, and $60,000 in punitive damages, which was the maximum under Montana law.
“It was a complete victory for Tim. I’m just absolutely tickled,” said McCollough’s attorney, John Heenan of Billings. Heenan noted that the appellate court rejected every argument JRL made on appeal. “I’m very proud of Tim for hanging in there for as long as he has,” he said.
“I’m just so giddy it’s all over. We’re finally able to take a deep breath,” McCollough said Friday afternoon. “We knew we had a good case. But it just went on forever.”
McCollough said he hoped the case showed debt collectors that “people are going to know they don’t have to take the garbage. They can fight back.”
McCollough didn’t have immediate plans for the settlement. “I’ve got to let it sink in,” he said.
McCollough had sued the firm in 2007, alleging that it violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and related state law by engaging in abusive and unlawful debt collection litigation. McCollough had old credit card debts from the 1990s and worked with companies to pay the debts, despite a head injury that left him disabled and on Social Security, which is exempt from collections.
One of the old debts was sold to a collection company, CACV of Colorado, which sued him in Yellowstone County in 2005. Representing himself in the state case, McCollough said the statue of limitations had expired, he had no money and he had been harassed by the credit card company. The case was dismissed.
Two years later, JRL, which has offices in Fargo and Bismarck, sued McCollough for $9,800, which included $6,000 in attorney fees and interest. McCollough fought back a second time, got the case dismissed and then sued JRL for violating debt collection laws.
Before the case went to trial, Ostby ruled that JRL had violated federal law by demanding attorney fees not allowed by Montana law; by filing and continuing a lawsuit barred by the statute of limitations in Montana; and by serving on McCollough requests for information she called “an abusive, unfair and unconscionable means to attempt to collect a time-barred debt.”
JRL maintained it had done nothing wrong, although a partner in the firm testified at trial that the McCollough case had prompted the company to change its procedures.
Contact Clair Johnson at email@example.com or 657-1282.
Attorneys believe Capcom’s marketing and sale of in-game app purchases to minors may violate consumer protection laws and laws regarding marketing to children. If you have been charged for your child’s in-game purchase on Smurf’s Village, please contact Heenan Law Firm for more information.
‘Smurf’s Village’ rankles parents whose kids buy pricey game gadgets without their knowledge
From The Associated Press
NEW YORK — “The Smurfs’ Village,” a game for the iPhone and other Apple gadgets, was released a month ago and quickly became the highest-grossing application in the iTunes store.
It’s free to download, so where does the money come from? Kelly Rummelhart of Gridley, Calif., has part of the answer. Her 4-year-old son was using her iPad to play the game and racked up $66.88 in charges on her credit card without knowing what he was doing.
Rummelhart had no idea that it was possible to buy things — buy them with real money — inside the game. In this case, her son bought one bushel and 11 buckets of “Smurfberries,” tokens that speed up gameplay. “Really, my biggest concern was them scratching the screen. Never in my wildest dreams did I think they would be charging things on it,” the 36-year-old mother said.
She counts herself lucky that her son didn’t start tapping on another purchase button, like the “wheelbarrow” of Smurfberries for $59.99.
Rummelhart joins a number of parents who have been horrified by purchases of Smurfberries and other virtual items in top App Store games. The 17 highest-rated comments on “The Smurfs’ Village” in the App Store complain about the high cost of the Smurfberries, and two commenters call it a “scam.”
Apple introduced “in-app purchases” last year, letting developers use the iTunes billing system to sell items and add-ons in their games and applications.
This year, developers have started to use the system in earnest as the main revenue stream for many games. Of the 10 highest-grossing apps in the App Store, six are games that are free to download but allow in-app purchases. Four of those are easy, child-friendly games. Two of them, “Tap Zoo” and “Bakery Story,” have buttons for in-app purchases of $100 in just two taps.
Capcom Entertainment Inc., the publisher of “The Smurfs’ Village,” says inadvertent purchases by children are “lamentable.” When it realized what was happening, it added a warning about the option of in-app purchases to the game’s description in the App Store, and it’s updating the game to include warnings inside it as well. The game has retreated to being the fourth-highest-grossing app in the App Store.
The warnings may alert parents, but it’s doubtful that they’d deter children who can’t read and don’t understand money. Also, the option to buy $59.99 worth of Smurfberries at a time remains. Capcom spokesman Michael Larson says “Smurfs” is no different from other games in this regard, and the bulk purchasing option is useful to adult “power players.”
It’s quite likely that most of the money pulled in by these games comes from addicted adults who want to quickly build their Smurf villages, bakeries, zoos and zombie farms. But there’s a loophole in the in-app purchase process that children stick their fingers through.
Usually, the purchases require the owner of the device to enter his or her iTunes password. But there is no password challenge if the owner has entered the password in the last 15 minutes for any reason. That means that if a user enters the password for a purchase or a free app upgrade, then hands the phone or iPad over to a kid, the child will not be stopped by a password prompt.
Capcom and other game publishers have no control over the 15-minute password-free period, which is set by Apple.
Apple defends its system. Spokeswoman Trudy Muller says the password system is adequate and points out that parents can restrict in-app purchases. The parents contacted for the story received refunds from Apple after complaining, and praised the company’s responsiveness.
However, there’s reason to believe that the password timeout doesn’t always work.
Andrew Butterworth of Brooklin, Ontario, was well aware of how in-app purchases work and of the password-free period. He was careful to let at least 15 minutes pass after a password entry before letting his 5-year-old son play with his iPod Touch. That didn’t help, once he’d loaded “The Smurfs’ Village.”
“He came to me all proud and said he’d figured out a way to get all these Smurfberries,” Butterworth says. “And as soon as I saw the Smurfberries, I knew that he’d purchased them using my credit card. I was amazed that he’d figured out a way to do it, because I was sure that he would have needed my password.”
He had last entered his password on the iPod four or five hours earlier, he said. His son’s shopping spree cost $140.
Chris Gropp, another Canadian, said he had not entered his iTunes password the same day his son bought $67 in Smurfberries, apparently without being asked for the password.
TeamLava LLC, the publisher of “Bakery Story” and “Farm Story,” says the games follow all of Apple’s rules and restrictions. In either game, it’s possible to buy $99.99 worth of “gems” in one go.
The game publishers and Apple point out that device owners can turn off the option to conduct in-app purchases by going to the Settings app, then hitting the General button, then the Restrictions option. The parents contacted for the story had done so after being alerted to the purchases through their iTunes billing statements.
Apple takes requests for refunds through the computer version of the iTunes program. In the “Store” menu, chose “View my account,” then click “Purchase History,” then “Report a Problem.” Then click on the problem purchase.
Butterworth was pleased with the refund, but still thinks “Smurfs” is a “scam.”
“They make it a ridiculously difficult game to play, and you can skip all the difficult parts by spending money,” he said. “I believe that they know exactly what’s going on.”
John Heenan, representing The Montana Trial Lawyers Association, presented free bike helmets to dozens of afterschool kids at the Billings YMCA on Thursday, June 3. Bike helmets are a simple and effective protection that we can provide for our kids. We want to work with school officials and others to get helmets out to our young kids, primarily those kids whose families are not able to afford them. If a helmet protects just one child from the tragedy of suffering a traumatic head injury, the program will be worth it for us.