June 24, 2011 in City



Cellphone billers may be hit with class-action suit

A Spokane law firm seeks to establish a class-action suit on behalf of state residents who may have been bilked by Internet companies that signed them up for monthly cellphone charges.

Scott Law Group recently filed the claim in Spokane’s U.S. Eastern Washington District Court. Terrell Marshall Daudt & Willie PLLC of Seattle is co-counsel.

The suit’s plaintiff is Spokane resident and business owner Hong Huang, who said in the lawsuit he was deceptively billed $9.99 per month by Hot-Hot-News.com without his permission. He incurred the charges from June 2010 to March 2011.

The lawsuit, if certified to include other victims, seeks to recover an undetermined amount of money paid by thousands of customers to more than 20 companies and individuals who charge consumers for text messaging services.

Among the defendants is Wayne B. DeStefano, an Arizona resident who has been involved with several companies described as Internet marketing firms. DeStefano and companies connected to him have been named in civil actions filed by Verizon Wireless and by the state of Texas over the same alleged fraudulent practice.

The practice of misleading customers into incurring monthly charges through their cellphone bills is called cramming. Many of the charges are less than $5 per month and are often overlooked by consumers, the suit states.

Tom Sowa

Unemployment claims up for 11th straight week

WASHINGTON – Applications for unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 429,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the biggest jump in a month and marked the 11th straight week that applications have been above 400,000. Elevated unemployment benefit claims signal a worsening job market.

Also Thursday, the Commerce Department said new-home sales fell in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 319,000. That’s fewer than half the 700,000 that economists say must be sold to sustain a healthy housing market.

Stocks tumbled after the weaker data on housing and layoffs were released. It came one day after the Fed lowered its outlook for growth and unemployment for the rest of the year.

Associated Press

Saab story almost over; bankruptcy looms

STOCKHOLM – Swedish car company Saab moved closer to bankruptcy Thursday after it conceded that it didn’t have any money to pay employees’ wages.

After months of production stoppages and problems with paying suppliers, Saab said the situation is so dire that it won’t be able to pay its 3,700 employees.

Analysts said the future for the company was bleak indeed, and Swedish Automobile shares fell by 62 percent on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.

Associated Press

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