Tidings of Christmas: Good news and bad news

Hearing Mariah Carey belt out “All I want for Christmas is yoooooo” a few times may be sensational. But hearing it 1,000 times might prove trying.

Mariah Carey, Santa and Elves, sing "All I Want for Christmas Is You" at the White House Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Washington, D.C., December 2-13. (U.S. Army Band photo via Wikipedia entry on the song, CC 2.0)

WASHINGTON, December 18, 2016 — A review of current events offers a mixed bag when it comes to  happiness, financial gain and setting things right. All, of course, are based on your perspective.

For at least some students, some of the good news relates to the controversy over for-profit DeVry University’s misleading advertisements, which triggered a Federal lawsuit just under a year ago. DeVry has agreed to pay $100 million to resolve that Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawsuit, which charged the institution with misleading both students and potential students with ads promoting unsubstantiated job and salary success upon graduation.

DeVry offers college level courses online and at various locations around the country. The University recruiting ads targeted by the FTC claimed that 90 percent of DeVry graduates found jobs in their field within six months of graduation, also claiming that their graduates earned 15 percent more a year after graduating when compared to similar graduates of other schools.

These ads were determined to be false and misleading. Under the agreement reached with the government, DeVry is going to forgive $50.6 million in debt owed by students for tuition and fees, and will pay $49.4 million to students harmed by the deceptive ads.

For some retired National Football League (NFL) players seeking compensation from the league for treatment of concussions sustained during their years in the professional football trenches, lengthy litigation on the issue is now finally coming to a close.

The settlement negotiations proved highly contentious and began over three years ago when the NFL and the players’ union first came up with a $765 million proposal. The good news for those players who joined in the settlement is that funds may be forthcoming as soon as March, when the NFL will begin paying out around $1 billion to the veteran players involved over the next 65 years.

The bad news for the many players who did not like the settlement is that the Supreme Court of the United States has refused to review it. Two petitions were considered and both were rejected, meaning lower court rulings approving the settlement remain in place. Hundreds of former players have opted out of the settlement, meaning they can proceed by themselves in suing the NFL.

Possible good news could be on the way for Macy’s, Kohl’s, J.C Penny’s and Sears shoppers in connection with a lawsuit filed in California claiming deceptive sale ads were run by these retailers. Shoppers claim the retail giants are artificially marking up list prices prior to promoting their “sales.” The result, of course, is that a “sale” on a higher price such stores have never actually charged is no sale at all. Yet unsuspecting shoppers seeing signs boasting of “mark downs” or “sales” from these never-charged prices would not otherwise know that the merchandise was really no bargain at all compared to regular everyday prices.

An example taken from the lawsuit: Sears promoted a washing machine for sale at a lower “sale” price. Sears’ ads made reference to the machine’s alleged “original price” so that the sale price appeared more attractive. The problem is that Sears never offered that washing machine at the so-called original price. Under California law, a retailer must have actually offered the sale item at the original, non-sale price within the last three months, or must clearly disclose the last date it was offered for that price.

Talk about putting your hand back in the cookie jar after being caught once: Both J.C. Penny, and Kohl’s settled similar cases in 2015. J.C. Penny paid nearly $50 million in a combined cash and store credit resolution, and Kohl’s had to pay out over $6 million.

Another price fixing scheme is being alleged, this time in the controversial generic drug sector. Twenty states filed a lawsuit against several generic drug makers that could result in potentially good news for consumers. Targeted companies include Mylan, Teva Pharmaceuticals and four smaller companies, saying their executives went out to steak dinners and “girls nights out” parties and made deals at these get-togethers to inflate the prices of their drugs.

A civil lawsuit has been filed and is being led by antitrust investigators in Connecticut. This lawsuit was filed one day after the U.S. Department of Justice filed criminal charges against two drug industry executives, also  alleging price fixing.

One of the drugs involved in the lawsuit is a common antibiotic, doxycycline hyclate. The cost for this drug rose from $20 for 500 tablets to $1,849 between October 2013 and May 2014.

Drug company executives deny all charges.

Finally, there is an individual call to be made regarding the following items in this holiday edition of the good news or bad news debate:

Christmas songs can make everyone happy. After a few weeks of listening to them, however, some may be ready to let them go. Attorney Casey Sullivan says that hearing Mariah Carey belt out “All I want for Christmas is yoooooo” a few times may be a sensational experience, but hearing it 1,000 times on his neighbor’s speakers might prove trying.

Famed Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been sued six times for playing an uninterrupted stream of holiday songs over the area prison’s PA system, including everything from “Frosty the Snowman” to “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” to “Feliz Navidad.” He has won all six cases.

Every Christmas season 8000 inmates, staffers and guards constantly hear songs such as A Christmas Kwanza Solstice, Over the Skies of Israel, Ramadan, Let it Snow, and Rodlopho El Reno. Perhaps some might agree songs by Alvin and the Chipmunks could wear on you if played too often.

These and other songs are played all day, every day, during the holiday season.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Alvinnnnnnnnnnnn!


Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980.  He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website

His book “The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You” can be instantly downloaded, for free, on his website: http://www.samakowlaw.com/book.

Samakow has now also started a small business consulting firm. His new book “Step By Step, Achieve Small Business Success” is available at www.thebusinessanswer.com.

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