Class-action granted certification for damages and injunctive relief for small-business owners; estimated damages between $608 million and $1 billion
A federal judge has certified a nationwide class of Stericycle (NASDAQ: SRCL) consumers in a lawsuit alleging the company violated contracts and defrauded them by hundreds of millions of dollars through an automatic price-increasing scheme, according to Hagens Berman.
In its February 16, 2017 order (PDF download), the court certified a nationwide class of consumers seeking damages and injunctive relief stemming from Stericycle’s pricing practices. The court also upheld the testimony of plaintiffs’ expert, which Stericycle had sought to exclude.
“With the help of our experts, we developed a method allowing us to identify every single class member and calculate exactly how much they were overcharged,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and lead counsel representing the class of consumers.
The class has more than 246,000 class members, with damages estimated preliminarily at $608 million, a figure that is expected to climb to $1 billion or more as damages continue to accrue.
The court appointed Hagens Berman as lead counsel in the case, stating, “Hagens Berman has done highly responsible work for plaintiffs up to this point, and there is no doubt that it will continue to represent the interests of the class fairly and adequately hereafter.”
Information from Hagens Berman on the lawsuit's progress may be found here.
“We’re incredibly pleased with this enormous victory for the thousands of small-business owners who were defrauded by Stericycle’s overpricing scheme,” added Berman. “Stericycle tried every trick in the book to keep consumers from seeking justice, but the court agreed that there is ample evidence that Stericycle perpetrated the same fraud on the entire class by imposing huge automatic price increases over an extensive period.”
The class includes non-governmental customers who had flat-fee “Steri-Safe” or variable “transactional” medical waste disposal contracts with Stericycle and were subjected to the disputed price increases. The court officially defined the class as all persons and entities that, between March 8, 2003, through the date of trial resided in the United States (except Washington and Alaska), were identified by Stericycle as "Small Quantity" or "SQ" customers, and were charged and paid more than their contractually agreed price for Stericycle's medical waste disposal goods and services pursuant to Stericycle's automated price increase policy.
The customers impacted by Stericycle’s practices include a wide variety of businesses that produce regulated medical waste, including veterinary clinics, medical clinics, dental practices and medical labs across the country. The small companies who contracted with Stericycle claim the hazardous-waste disposal company defrauded them by improperly raising their rates automatically by as much as 18%, contrary to contract terms. These regular rate increases occurred as often as every six months, and were programmed into Stericycle’s billing software, according to the complaint.
Hagens Berman encouraged, "If your business has been subjected to drastically increased rates from Stericycle, find out more about the class-action lawsuit against Stericycle."
Source: Hagens Berman press release 17 February 2017
Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Apex360 e-newsletter. Apex360 is a DentistryIQ partner publication for dental practitioners and members of the dental industry. Its goal is to provide timely dental information and present it in meaningful context, empowering those in the dental space to make better business decisions. Subscribe to the Apex360 e-newsletter here.