PHOENIX - Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed his 9th legal brief urging a court to reject another unfair class action settlement. Leading a bipartisan coalition of 19 state attorneys general, Brnovich filed the latest brief urging a federal district court in New Jersey to reject a proposed class action settlement against WTSO.com (Wines ‘Til Sold Out). Under the proposed settlement being challenged, $1.7 million will go to attorneys while consumers are left with a highly restrictive coupon.
“As Attorney General, I am focused on making sure consumers are fairly compensated in class action lawsuits," said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Settlements focused on diverting money to special interests must be vigorously opposed. We will continue to file legal briefs opposing unfair class action settlements as long as lawyers continue to profit off of the backs of consumers."
The class action alleges the pricing on the WTSO.com was misleading, showing larger discounts on the wines sold than the actual price. WTSO.com and the class action lawyers who brought the case have proposed settling the claims of more than 200,000 consumers by paying $1.7 million in a cash payout to the lawyers while giving class members a highly restrictive coupon worth $2 off per bottle of certain eligible wines on WTSO.com.
In the Amicus Brief, Attorney General Brnovich asked the court to recognize the settlement is deeply imbalanced, as the coupons offered to consumers were highly restrictive and of questionable value to consumers. The coupons: “expire in one year, are not transferable, are only useful for a restricted selection of wines on the Defendant’s website, and can only be used in maximum increments of $2 per bottle of wine, thereby requiring class members to spend their own money to take advantage of the face value of the coupons." As one consumer noted, in order to exhaust their credits, they would have to buy almost 60 bottles of wine in the next year and spend over $1,000. The brief also emphasized that class members would have to “complete a multi-step claims process before even accessing and being able to redeem the highly restrictive ‘credits.’”
The brief was filed in Cannon v. Ashburn Corp., No. 16-1452 (D.N.J.) as a “friend of the court” under Attorney General Brnovich’s statutory authority to speak on behalf of Arizonans in connection with federal class action settlements.
Arizona is taking the lead in the case. Joining Arizona are attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.
Full copy of the Amicus Brief.