Tag Archives: Corporate Litigation

Bayer to appeal $265 million U.S. damages award on dicamba weedkiller

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Bayer AG is pictured outside a plant of the German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Wuppertal, Germany August 9, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) – German agrochemicals group Bayer said on Sunday it would appeal a U.S. jury’s $265 million damages award against it and BASF in favor of a Missouri farmer who said the company’s dicamba herbicide had destroyed his peach orchards.

The jury award, the first of more than 140 dicamba cases to come to trial, is separate to multi-billion-dollar litigation Bayer is trying to settle over the Roundup weedkiller made by Monsanto, the U.S. firm it took over for $63 billion in 2018. Monsanto made both Roundup and dicamba, and Bayer is being sued over both products.

In the dicamba case, a jury awarded $15 million in compensation to farmer Bill Bader and a further $250 million in punitive damages against Bayer and BASF, according to media reports on Friday. No breakdown of the damages was immediately available.

“We are disappointed with the jury’s verdict,” Bayer said in a statement.

“We believe the evidence presented at trial demonstrated that Monsanto’s products were not responsible for the losses sought in this lawsuit and we look forward to appealing the decision.”

No comment was available from BASF, which makes its own herbicide on the basis of dicamba.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposed restrictions on the use of dicamba in Nov. 2018 due to concerns about the potential damage to crops surrounding those it was being applied to.

Bayer’s genetically engineered soy seeds are designed to be resistant to dicamba.

Reporting by Patricia Weiss; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by David Gregorio

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Amazon’s Ring cameras are weak to hackers, lawsuit in U.S. claims

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(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and its Ring dwelling safety digicam unit have been sued by an Alabama house owner who stated the cameras’ faulty design leaves purchasers weak to cyberattacks.

FILE PHOTO: The emblem of Amazon is seen on the firm logistics centre in Boves, France, November 5, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

In a proposed class motion filed on Thursday, John Baker Orange stated an unknown hacker just lately accessed his Ring digicam whereas his youngsters, ages 7, 9 and 10, have been enjoying basketball on the driveway, and thru its speaker system inspired them to maneuver nearer to the digicam.

Orange, who stated he paid $249 for his digicam in July, stated the cameras work solely when linked to the web, and are “fatally flawed” as a result of they don’t defend in opposition to cyberattacks, regardless of Ring’s assurances of “peace of thoughts” and “good safety right here, there, in all places.”

A spokeswoman for Ring stated the Santa Monica, California-based firm doesn’t talk about authorized issues.

The grievance filed in Los Angeles federal courtroom seeks unspecified damages from Ring and Seattle-based Amazon, in addition to improved safety for brand new and present Ring cameras.

It adopted a number of reported incidents of hackers accessing properties by way of Ring cameras, together with when a person repeatedly referred to as an 8-year-old Mississippi lady a racial slur and claimed he was Santa Claus.

“An organization that sells a tool that’s supposed to guard occupants of a house shouldn’t develop into a platform for doubtlessly endangering these occupants,” John Yanchunis, a lawyer for Orange, stated in an interview.

Ring’s most important product is a doorbell that comprises a safety digicam and lets householders monitor and talk with guests by way of a telephone app even when they aren’t at dwelling.

Amazon has stated it purchased Ring in April 2018 for $839 million in money.

Orange, who lives in Jefferson County, Alabama, stated he modified his “medium-strong” password and started utilizing two-factor authentication for his digicam after studying in regards to the incident involving his youngsters.

“So many units are tethered to the Web, and customers merely don’t have a realization of how that may be so simply exploited,” Yanchunis stated.

The case is Orange v Ring LLC et al, U.S. District Court docket, Central District of California, No. 19-10899.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Enhancing by Cynthia Osterman

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.

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Southwest passengers get no damages for flights canceled by de-icer scarcity: U.S. choose

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(Reuters) – Southwest Airways Co (LUV.N) gained the dismissal of a proposed class-action lawsuit searching for damages for stranded passengers on a whole lot of winter flights it was compelled to cancel as a result of it ran out of de-icer fluid.

FILE PHOTO: A traveler checks her baggage on the Southwest Airways terminal at LAX airport in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photograph

U.S. District Decide Sara Ellis in Chicago dominated on Tuesday that Southwest’s ticketing phrases didn’t suggest that the Dallas-based service had a authorized obligation to all the time inventory sufficient fluid.

She additionally stated the phrases explicitly excused Southwest from legal responsibility, as a result of passenger security could possibly be jeopardized if planes that had not been de-iced took off in winter climate.

“Working out of de-icer implicates aviation security, no matter whether or not it was a foreseeable occasion,” Ellis wrote.

A lawyer for the plaintiff Brian Hughes, an Illinois resident, had no quick touch upon Wednesday. Southwest and its attorneys didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

Hughes sued on behalf of Southwest passengers who incurred resort, meals and different prices due to flight cancellations at Chicago’s Halfway Airport on six days from Dec. 8, 2017 to Feb. 11, 2018.

He stated Southwest canceled 250 flights to and from Halfway on Feb. 11, together with his scheduled flight from Phoenix, as a result of it ran out of de-icer fluid, which no different service had performed.

Hughes stated was compelled to fly as a substitute to Omaha, Nebraska and keep in a single day, returning to Chicago on Feb. 12.

In searching for a dismissal, Southwest stated it couldn’t management the climate, and its passenger contracts allowed it to cancel flights due to dangerous climate “when vital or advisable.”

The case is Hughes v Southwest Airways Co, U.S. District Courtroom, Northern District of Illinois, No. 18-5315.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Modifying by David Gregorio

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.

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OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma information for chapter safety

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP filed for chapter safety Sunday evening, succumbing to stress from greater than 2,600 lawsuits alleging the corporate helped gasoline the lethal U.S. opioid epidemic.

Purdue’s board met Sunday night to approve the long-expected chapter submitting, which the corporate is pursuing to restructure below phrases of a proposal to settle the widespread litigation.

Purdue, which filed for Chapter 11 safety in a federal chapter courtroom in White Plains, New York, reached a tentative deal to resolve lawsuits with 24 states and 5 U.S. territories, in addition to lead legal professionals for greater than 2,000 cities, counties and different plaintiffs, the corporate mentioned.

Two dozen states stay opposed or uncommitted to the proposed settlement, setting the stage for contentious authorized battles over who bears accountability for a public well being disaster that has claimed the lives of almost 400,000 individuals between 1999 and 2017, in accordance with the most recent U.S. knowledge.

Hundreds of cities and counties, together with almost each state, have sued Purdue and, in some circumstances, its controlling Sackler household. The lawsuits, in search of billions of {dollars} in damages, declare the corporate and household aggressively marketed prescription painkillers whereas deceptive docs and sufferers about their dependancy and overdose dangers.

Purdue and the Sacklers have denied the allegations.

Opposing states, together with Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut, need the Sacklers to ensure extra of their very own cash will go towards a settlement, and have questioned Purdue’s calculations valuing the general deal at greater than $10 billion.

The Sacklers, who would cede management of Purdue within the proposed settlement, have supplied $three billion in money and an extra $1.5 billion or extra by way of the eventual sale of one other firm they personal, known as Mundipharma, in accordance with the corporate and folks aware of the phrases. The Sacklers have declined to revise their supply.

“That is the fork within the highway. There are solely two methods to go from right here,” mentioned Purdue Chairman Steve Miller in an interview with Reuters.

Miller mentioned Purdue plans to argue to opposing states that preventing the proposed settlement will doubtless end in protracted litigation, growing authorized charges and depleting worth that might be steered to U.S. communities reeling from opioid abuse. He described chapter proceedings because the “finest hope for finalizing and implementing a worldwide decision to this litigation.”

In an announcement, members of the Sackler household controlling Purdue mentioned they hoped these opposing the present settlement supply would ultimately change their minds.

FILE PHOTO: Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin tablets, made by Purdue Pharma LP, are seen on a counter at an area pharmacy in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey

“It’s our hope the chapter reorganization course of that’s now underway will finish our possession of Purdue and guarantee its property are devoted for the general public profit,” the household mentioned.

The result of Purdue’s tried chapter reorganization and settlement negotiations will assist decide how a lot cash U.S. communities obtain from the corporate and the Sacklers to deal with hurt from opioids. A reorganization and settlement would in the end should be permitted by a U.S. chapter choose.

States suing the Sacklers, together with a number of over the previous week, allege the household improperly reaped billions of {dollars} from opioid gross sales regardless of information of their dangerous results. The Sacklers, a few of whom beforehand served on the Purdue’s board and are well-known rich philanthropists, have denied the allegations.

Purdue’s proposed settlement envisions it changing into a belief that might contribute to U.S. communities, at little or no value, tens of thousands and thousands of doses of medicine the corporate developed to fight opioid overdoses and dependancy, the corporate mentioned.

Purdue values the medication at $4.45 billion over a decade, the individuals aware of the matter mentioned. Underneath the proposal’s phrases, the restructured Purdue could be completely sure by so-called injunctive aid, which incorporates restrictions on the promotion and sale of opioids.

States opposing the settlement supply have vowed to battle makes an attempt by Purdue and the Sacklers to make use of chapter proceedings to comprise the litigation.

On Friday, New York Lawyer Basic Letitia James mentioned she uncovered roughly $1 billion in wire transfers “between the Sacklers, entities they management and completely different monetary establishments, together with those who have funneled funds into Swiss financial institution accounts.”

The knowledge, in information an unnamed monetary establishment produced in response to a subpoena from James’s workplace, detailed monetary transfers involving former Purdue board member Mortimer D.A. Sackler, in accordance with courtroom paperwork her workplace filed.

He allegedly used shell firms “to shift Purdue cash by way of accounts world wide after which conceal it in no less than two separate multimillion-dollar actual property investments again right here in New York, sanitized (till now) of any readily-detectable connections to the Sackler household,” a lawyer in James’ workplace mentioned in one of many courtroom filings.

“There’s nothing newsworthy about these decade-old transfers, which had been completely authorized and acceptable in each respect,” a spokesman for Mortimer D.A. Sackler mentioned in an announcement.

“This can be a cynical try by a hostile AG’s workplace to generate defamatory headlines to attempt to torpedo a mutually useful settlement that’s supported by so many different states and would end in billions of {dollars} going to communities and people throughout the nation that need assistance,” the assertion added.

FILE PHOTO: Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin tablets, made by Purdue Pharma LP sit on a counter at an area pharmacy in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photograph

Purdue, in the meantime, plans to ask a chapter choose to halt lively litigation so it could negotiate a closing settlement, the individuals mentioned. However the firm is making ready for states to argue their lawsuits can’t be halted by a Chapter 11 submitting as a result of their authorized actions had been delivered to implement public well being and security legal guidelines – exempting them from the standard chapter guidelines that might cease their complaints.

One other thorny authorized query entails the Sacklers and below what circumstances Purdue may use chapter legislation in an try and additionally halt lawsuits in opposition to them.

These authorized skirmishes may take a while to develop, as Purdue initially should search courtroom approval to proceed paying workers and tackle routine working bills.

Reporting by Mike Spector; modifying by Edward Tobin and Stephen Coates

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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Bayer mediator dismisses report of $eight billion Roundup settlement

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NEW YORK/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Bayer AG has not supplied to pay billions of {dollars} to settle claims in the USA associated to the Roundup herbicide, mediator Ken Feinberg mentioned, dismissing a report back to that impact which drove its shares as a lot as 11% increased.

FILE PHOTO: Monsanto Co’s Roundup is proven on the market in Encinitas, California, U.S., June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Picture

“Bayer has not proposed paying $eight billion to settle all of the U.S. Roundup most cancers claims. Such an announcement is pure fiction,” Feinberg mentioned in an e mail on Friday. “Compensation has not even been mentioned within the world mediation discussions.”

Bayer shares, which had shed a few of their features earlier than Feinberg’s assertion, retreated additional and closed up 1.7% at 64.63 euros.

Bayer, which acquired Roundup and different glyphosate-based weedkillers as a part of its $63 billion takeover of Monsanto final yr, declined touch upon the preliminary Bloomberg information report and on Feinberg’s response.

Bayer Chief Govt Werner Baumann final week mentioned the corporate would contemplate settling with U.S. plaintiffs solely on affordable phrases, and if it “achieves finality of the general litigation”.

He added on the time the group was “constructively participating” in a court-ordered course of with mediator Feinberg on the circumstances heard in federal courtroom. Many of the pending circumstances, nevertheless, have been filed with U.S. state courts.

Feinberg added that any efforts by Bayer towards a complete settlement have been tied in with the mediation proceedings overseen by him. “These are all a part of the identical mediation course of.”

Bayer shares have misplaced greater than a 3rd of their worth, or roughly 30 billion euros ($34 billion), since final August when a California jury within the first such lawsuit discovered Monsanto ought to have warned of the alleged most cancers dangers from Roundup.

HIGH EXPECTATIONS

The German medicine and pesticides firm has engaged in negotiations with plaintiffs’ legal professionals, two sources accustomed to the matter instructed Reuters.

“The issue is, how do you get the plaintiffs to climb down from their very excessive expectations? Not one of the jury verdicts to this point have been favorable for Bayer,” one of many sources mentioned, including that talks have been centered on fundamental questions corresponding to how one can deal with potential future claims.

Bayer mentioned on Friday that the following U.S. glyphosate lawsuit initially scheduled to be heard in St. Louis, Missouri, this month could be postponed to Jan. 27, 2020, and {that a} following St. Louis case slated for September had additionally been postponed.

The German firm might profit from having circumstances heard within the metropolis the place Monsanto was headquartered and the place Bayer manages its world seeds enterprise. However Missouri can be identified for juries that usually hit firms with large damages.

Bloomberg mentioned the delays had been pursued by Bayer to permit for undisturbed settlement talks.

The preliminary unfavorable courtroom rulings within the first three glyphosate circumstances, heard in California, have at occasions dragged Bayer’s market worth under what it paid for Monsanto, though the shares at the moment are buying and selling above that stage.

The corporate, which says regulators and in depth analysis have discovered glyphosate to be protected, has beforehand mentioned it was banking on U.S. appeals courts to reverse or tone down three preliminary courtroom rulings which have to this point awarded tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to every plaintiff.

Bloomberg cited three sources accustomed to the discussions as saying Bayer’s legal professionals have been in search of an accord to resolve all present and future circumstances. Talks over circumstances which have but to be filed have been notably difficult, the report added.

Whereas Bayer has indicated it may pay $6-$eight billion, plaintiffs’ legal professionals need greater than $10 billion to drop their claims, the report mentioned.

FILE PHOTO: The emblem of Bayer AG is pictured on the facade of the historic headquarters of the German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Leverkusen, Germany, Could 14, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Picture

An estimate of a $20 billion hit from the litigation has beforehand been mirrored within the share value, whereas a possible litigation settlement legal responsibility was within the mid single-digit billion greenback vary, Financial institution of America analysts mentioned in observe.

They saved a “impartial” ranking on the inventory, citing uncertainty over Bayer’s fortunes within the appeals course of – with the primary appeals verdict anticipated by the top of the yr – and whether or not a settlement may very well be achieved earlier than that.

The variety of U.S. plaintiffs blaming Roundup and different glyphosate-based weedkillers for most cancers had continued to rise by 5,000 to 18,400, Bayer mentioned final week.

Further reporting by Tina Bellon; Enhancing by David Evans and David Holmes

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.

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Apple faces investigation for suspected unfair competitors in Russia

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The emblem of Apple firm is seen outdoors an Apple retailer in Bordeaux, France, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Apple (AAPL.O) is beneath investigation in Russia following a criticism from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab and could also be abusing its dominant market place, Russia’s anti-monopoly watchdog stated on Thursday.

Watchdog FAS stated it was investigating why a brand new model of Kaspersky Lab’s Protected Youngsters utility had been declined by Apple’s working system, leading to a major loss in performance for the parental management app.

It stated Apple had launched model 12 of its personal parental management app, Display Time, which had related features to the Kaspersky program. Parental management apps enable dad and mom to regulate their kids’s cellphone and pill utilization.

Requested in regards to the Russian investigation, Apple referred Reuters to an April 28 assertion during which it stated it had not too long ago eliminated a number of parental management apps from its App Retailer as a result of they “put customers’ privateness and safety in danger.”

It stated a number of of those apps had been utilizing a “extremely invasive” expertise referred to as Cell Machine Administration (MDM) and that its use in a consumer-focused app was a violation of App Retailer insurance policies.

Kaspersky stated Apple’s App Retailer pointers allowed for a restricted use of MDM, however that it was not clear methods to get hold of Apple’s permission to take action. It additionally stated the necessities diminished the competitiveness of third social gathering builders.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, Nadezhda Tsydenova; writing by Tom Balmforth; modifying by Jason Neely/Keith Weir

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.

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Bayer could benefit from home advantage in St. Louis Roundup cancer trial: experts

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ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE), facing an upcoming trial in St. Louis over allegations that its Roundup weed killer causes cancer, has recruited Missouri-based expert witnesses to make its case in a place where it has century-old roots but where juries often hit companies with huge damages.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Bayer AG is pictured at the facade of the historic headquarters of the German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Leverkusen, Germany, May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Four expert witnesses Bayer is seeking to admit hail from Missouri universities, and some legal experts said the company is trying to clinch its first favorable Roundup verdict by emphasizing its reputation as a major local employer.

Bayer on Tuesday announced it would create an additional 500 “high-paying” jobs in the St. Louis area. The Bayer unit that makes the glyphosate-based herbicide, the former Monsanto Co, was founded in St. Louis in 1901. Monsanto employed 5,400 full-time employees in the St. Louis area as of May 2018, according to company statements.

The trial in St. Louis County Circuit Court, expected to begin on Aug. 19, was brought by Illinois resident Sharlean Gordon, who says she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup for around 14 years at her home. It is the fourth trial over Roundup and the first one outside of California, where three juries hit Bayer with verdicts as large as $2 billion. Bayer is appealing those verdicts.

Bayer denies glyphosate or Roundup cause cancer, saying decades of studies have shown glyphosate to be safe. The company said it looked forward to presenting the scientific evidence to juries. It said the experts in the upcoming St. Louis trial are at the top of their field and were selected for their expertise, not their Missouri ties.

The Germany-based company has lost nearly 40 billion euros ($33.75 billion) in market valuation since the first Roundup jury verdict in August 2018. Bayer last month announced it had set up a committee to help resolve the litigation, saying it would “constructively engage” in court-mandated mediation talks.

NEW WITNESSES

Bayer has said in court papers and hearings that juries in California’s traditionally liberal Bay Area, where the first three trials took place, were unfairly influenced by news coverage of the trials and harbored negative attitudes toward Monsanto in part because of its development of genetically modified seeds.

The company’s experts in those cases came mostly from states other than California. In the St. Louis trial, Bayer is so far seeking to admit a total of 14 scientific expert witnesses. None previously testified in the Roundup litigation.

Of the more than 13,400 Roundup claims nationwide that have yet to go to trial, about 75% have been filed in St. Louis city or county courts, according to plaintiffs’ lawyers. Those courts have a history of issuing large punitive damages against companies and have often been criticized by business groups for issuing favorable plaintiffs rulings.

By suing in the county where Bayer’s crop science business is headquartered, plaintiffs can also take advantage of procedural rules allowing them to compel live testimony from executives who work locally. In the California trials, jurors only saw video depositions of Monsanto executives.

David Noll, a professor at Rutgers Law School, said Bayer appeared to be hiring local experts to appeal to St. Louis jurors. “(They) are not seen as hired guns, flying in from afar, but … can explain the case in a way local jurors understand,” Noll said.

But Alexandra Lahav, a law professor at the University of Connecticut, said Bayer could simply be using new experts that the company thinks would have a better rapport with the jury and “not necessarily because the experts are local.”

Counting on a more favorable jury pool in a company’s backyard is not a new tactic.

New Jersey-based Merck & Co (MRK.N), which in the early 2000s faced thousands of lawsuits by patients over its Vioxx painkiller, won several trials in New Jersey, which plaintiffs lawyers at the time attributed to the company’s strong ties to the state.

Merck in 2013 settled some 27,000 Vioxx claims for $4.85 billion.

Reporting by Tina Bellon in St. Louis; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Matthew Lewis

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Samsung in hot water over splashy Australian phone ads

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s consumer watchdog has sued Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s (005930.KS) Australian unit for allegedly misleading consumers by promoting water-resistant Galaxy smartphones as suitable to use in swimming pools and the surf.

FILE PHOTO: A model demonstrates the waterproof function of Samsung Electronics’ new smartphone, Galaxy S7 Edge, during its launch ceremony in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

The world’s largest smartphone maker did not know or sufficiently test the effects of pool or saltwater exposure on its phones when ads showed them fully submerged, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) lawsuit says.

The case is the first filed by a major regulator and could result in multi-million dollar fines. It centers on more than 300 advertisements in which Samsung showed its Galaxy phones being used at the bottom of swimming pools and in the ocean.

“The ACCC alleges Samsung’s advertisements falsely and misleadingly represented Galaxy phones would be suitable for use in, or for exposure to, all types of water … when this was not the case,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement on Thursday.

Samsung said it stood by its advertising, complied with Australian law and would defend the case.

The South Korean electronics giant has spent heavily on advertising to rebuild public faith in its premium smartphones following the costly recall of its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 devices in 2016.

It is due to announce preliminary quarterly earnings on Friday, when it is widely expected to flag a profit plunge due to falls in chip prices.

HOT WATER

Samsung’s water resistance claims came under heavy scrutiny as early as 2016 when influential U.S. magazine Consumer Reports said the Galaxy S7 phone – which appears dunked in a fish tank in commercials – had failed an immersion test.

The company attributed that to a manufacturing defect, affecting a small number of phones, which it soon fixed. But customers online continued reporting problems, forum comments show.

Some consumers damaged their phones when exposing them to water and Samsung had refused to honor warranty claims, the ACCC said in the lawsuit, though Samsung said it complied with all of its warranty obligations under Australian law.

The regulator also said Samsung’s advice to some Galaxy model users that the phones were not suitable for beach or pool use suggested the firm considered water could cause damage.

“Samsung showed the Galaxy phones used in situations they shouldn’t be to attract customers,” Sims said.

“Samsung’s advertisements, we believe, denied consumers an informed choice and gave Samsung an unfair competitive advantage.”

The ACCC alleges law breaches occurred in more than 300 advertisements. If proven, each breach after 1 Sept. 2018 can attract a fine of up to A$10 million ($7 million), triple the benefit of the conduct or as much as 10% of annual turnover.

Breaches prior to 1 Sept. 2018 can attract penalties as high as A$1.1 million. Rival Sony settled a U.S. class action over similar claims for its Xperia smartphone range in 2017, promising refunds where the phones had failed.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY. Additional reporting by Ju-min Park in SEOUL; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Stephen Coates

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