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  1. BLF JOINS CLASS ACTION AGAINST CHAMPION PET FOODS
    July, 2018
    On April 9, 2018, Brown Law Firm joined as counsel a class action lawsuit filed by Strauss Troy and Barnow and Associates in US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on behalf of plaintiff Lisa Hodge against Champion Petfoods USA Inc. for violating the Ohio Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Breach of Express and Implied Warranties. The lawsuit is among the earliest of many filed against Champion Petfoods USA nationwide alleging that the company engaged in deceptive trade practices by making false representations about the quality of its premium priced dog food, such as the claim that Orijen and Arcana dog food brands contain “FRESH, RAW or DEHYDRATED ingredients, from minimally processed poultry, fish and eggs that are deemed fit for human consumption prior to inclusion in our foods.” However, as alleged in lawsuits filed in Ohio, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kentucky, and elsewhere, Champion-brand dog food products are not composed of high quality ingredients fit for human consumption, but are actually contaminated with high levels of harmful and toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. Much of the data supporting recent class action allegations against Champion Petfoods is drawn from specific research published by Champion that is known as the “white paper.” A white paper is a marketing tool used to promote a product or service and is often founded on some empirical data. The Champion white paper is a four page pamphlet that sets forth the purported findings of some third-party studies conducted on the heavy metals levels in Orijen and Arcana dog food brands. It discloses high concentrations of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in the company’s dog foods and concludes that the concentrations of these heavy metals in Champion dog food products are far below dangerous or inappropriate levels. Like class actions filed elsewhere, the current litigation in Ohio contends that the Champion white paper data is accurate but its conclusion is not. Recently, in Loeb v. Champion Petfoods USA Inc. et al., another class action filed against Champion Petfoods in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Champion sought to have the complaint dismissed and argued that the plaintiff could not simultaneously rely on the white paper’s data and disagree with its conclusion. The court disagreed: “Defendants again rely on the mistaken assumption that the White Paper – which they authored – conclusively establishes the safety and quality of the products.” The court denied Champion’s motion to dismiss. The Court in Ohio has taken judicial notice of this ruling in Wisconsin. To see a copy of the complaint filed in Ohio, click here.
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  2. BLF FILES FIRST LAWSUIT IN OHIO AGAINST APPLE FOR SLOWING DOWN IPHONES
    January, 2018
    On December 20, 2017, Apple Inc. publicly admitted that recent updates to the iOS 10 and iOS 11 Updates deliberately slowed down older iPhones, including the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7. These updates damaged the functionality of older phones and even rendered them inoperable. On December 28, 2017, after much public criticism, Apple issued an apology for "how we have communicated." While Apple now claims that the deliberate slow-down in functionality was designed to offset shut-down issues with older batteries, customers have instead experienced reduced battery life since the iOS 10 and iOS 11 updates. Apple Inc. did not warn iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 owners of the potential consequences of downloading the iOS 10 and iOS 11 updates until months after the updates were released to the public. Instead, Apple Inc. deceptively touted the necessity of the updates and the purported improvements that would result from the updates. For example, in advertising for the security updates on its website, Apple Inc. emphasized the necessity of the updates by stating: "Keeping your software up to date is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your Apple product's security." Nowhere did Apple Inc. ever disclose to its customers that the updates would negatively affect the iPhones and their functionality. On January 4, 2018, Brown Law Firm filed the first complaint in Ohio against Apple Inc. for violating the Ohio Deceptive Trade Practices Act §4165.01 et seq and committing Common Law Fraud.
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  3. OHIO DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AWARDS "EXEMPLARY" RATING TO BLF CLIENT
    January, 2018
    Brown Law Firm is proud to announce that a sponsor it represents was rated “Exemplary” for its Compliance in the recent Ohio Department of Education ratings. As you know, ODE rates sponsors on three equal components: • Academic Performance (4 points) • Compliance with Laws and Rules (4 points) • Quality Practices (4 points) For the most part, academic performance is primarily within the bailiwick of the school – not the sponsor. For the Compliance component, sponsors are evaluated on compliance with all applicable laws and rules, including their obligation to monitor schools’ compliance. There are 19 items identified for sponsor level certification, using 9 key documents, and 251 items identified for school level certification, using 76 documents per school. A rating of exemplary requires that the number of items not in compliance is less than 3. The Quality Practices Component is based on adherence to quality practices developed by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and other national organizations. It includes the following areas: • Commitment and Capacity • Application Process and Decision-making • Oversight and Evaluation • Termination and Renewal Decision-making • Technical Assistance and Special Requirements in Rule and Law Among the documents evaluated for both Compliance and Quality Practices are the Sponsorship Agreement and the Site Visit Form. These are evaluated for both meeting legal and regulatory requirements and promoting “best practices.” Among ODE’s recommended “best practices”: • Recommendation for Governing Authority to appoint Finance Committee. • School Performance measurements using cohorts and subgroups. The 10 subgroups evaluated in Ohio are: all students; American Indian/Alaska Native Students; Asian/Pacific Island Students; Black; non-Hispanic Students; Hispanic Students; Economically Disadvantaged Students; Students with Disabilities; and Students with Limited English Proficiency. • Requiring high-stakes review of Schools as part of Sponsorship Contract renewal process. Including these “best practices” in your documentation hold potential to add points to both your Compliance and Quality Practices scores. For further information, feel free to contact us.
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  4. DEFAULT JUDGMENT IS NOT NECESSARILY THE END OF THE STORY
    December, 2017
    A lawsuit is filed against a business owner. The business owner attempts to send a copy of the complaint to his attorney. Due to an inadvertent miscommunication, the complaint never reaches its intended destination and the business owner’s attorney is never notified of the lawsuit. Consequently, a default judgment is entered against the business owner and he or she is ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars, despite the fact that the business owner has meritorious defenses. End of the story? Not necessarily. Recently, we had a case involving this situation. We successfully challenged the default judgment and obtained a favorable outcome for our client. The Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure allow a party to file a motion for relief from default judgment. If successful, the default judgment is overturned and the party against whom judgment was taken is given the opportunity to dispute the allegations and file any counter-claims that may apply. To prevail on a motion for relief, you must demonstrate that (a) you have a meritorious defense or claim to present if relief is granted; (b) you are entitled to relief for excusable neglect – or another ground set forth in the Rules; and (c) the motion is made within a reasonable time. Ohio courts are generally inclined to grant a motion for relief from judgment if you are able to demonstrate that the failure to answer a complaint was because the complaint never reached the appropriate person. Ohio courts have found excusable neglect when a party or its attorney demonstrates that the failure to respond to a filed complaint is due to a lack of notification of the proper person and that such occurrences are rare, isolated events. The most important thing to do if an adverse default judgment has been taken against you is to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. The longer a default judgment is left unopposed, the more difficult it becomes to set it aside.
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