SEATTLE--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Hagens Berman today announced that it has been appointed lead counsel in a class-action lawsuit brought against Stericycle (NASDAQ: SRCL) on behalf of small companies who contracted with Stericycle, claiming the hazardous-waste disposal company defrauded them by improperly raising their rates contrary to contract terms.
“Because of its access to that whistleblower’s perspective and the sharing of information with her qui tam counsel, Hagens Berman’s Complaint provided more information than any other as to Stericycle’s methodology and organizational structure.”
The original suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on April 3, 2013, accuses Stericycle of illegally increasing the amount it charged customers by as much as 18 percent a year, while the contracts state that increases can occur only when “operational changes” are implemented “to comply with documented changes in the law” or to “address cost escalation.”
According to the complaint, filed April 3, 2013, Stericycle instead raises prices automatically, programming its billing system to regularly increase rates regardless of any external conditions.
“We intend to show in court that Stericycle’s practice of automatically boosting prices without informing customers was part of a well-planned scheme to overcharge its smaller customers,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and the lead attorney on the case.
The named plaintiff, Lyndon Veterinary Clinic, contracted with Stericycle but saw its charges increase 21.1 percent in 2009, 17.8 percent in 2010, and 25.4 percent in 2012.
In an order dated October 11, 2013, Senior United States District Judge Milton I. Shadur – who is overseeing a consolidation of a number of similar suits – appointed Seattle-based Hagens Berman as interim lead counsel to the case against Stericycle. Hagens Berman will be charged with setting legal strategy for the multi-district litigation.
In his nine-page order, Judge Shadur writes: “Because of its access to that whistleblower’s perspective and the sharing of information with her qui tam counsel, Hagens Berman’s Complaint provided more information than any other as to Stericycle’s methodology and organizational structure.”
The judge also cited Hagens Berman and its lead partner, Steve Berman, for their major legal accomplishments, including a $1.6 billion settlement in the Toyota Unintended Acceleration Litigation and a substantial number of “outstanding big-ticket results,” as well as the strength of their Chicago office and team of false claims attorneys.
“In sum, this Court is pleased to designate the Hagens Berman firm as the interim lead counsel, and it looks forward to that firm’s prompt pursuit of the matter in the manner outlined in its submissions.”
In the previous case against Stericycle, United States ex rel. Perez v. Stericycle, Inc., Perez’s supervisors routinely admitted that they were aware that Stericycle’s practices were improper with respect to the governmental accounts, yet Stericycle continued these practices with its smaller, individual clients, court documents claim.
The proposed class includes non-governmental entities that had flat-fee contracts with Stericycle, Inc., for medical waste disposal services and saw fee increases.
You can learn more about this case at http://www.hbsslaw.com/cases-and-investigations/cases/stericycle
About Hagens Berman
Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP represents consumers, workers, whistleblowers and investors in complex litigation. The firm has offices in nine cities and has been named one of the top plaintiffs’ law firms in the country by the National Law Journal six times. Founded in 1993, HBSS continues to successfully fight for consumer rights in class-action litigation. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Visit the firm’s class-action law blog at www.classactionlawtoday.com.