From CNNMoney's "Above The Law," an extensive investigative report on debt collection on behalf of the government.

Some Debt Collectors Get Away With Shady Behavior When Collecting Debt For Government

Federal and state regulators are continually trying to crack down on debt collectors who use unsavory, illegal tactics to make consumers pay up. But some ethically questionable collectors are operating under the regulatory radar because they collect debts for the government. [More]

(via Newsday)

Barefoot Contessa Suing California Company Over Unauthorized “Contessa Chef Inspired” Frozen Dinners

Having a famous brand might sound pretty awesome, but with a name everyone recognizes comes the hassle of trying to protect that name from others out there trying to make a buck off it. Food Network host Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, is preparing to do battle to keep her brand her own, suing a California company for selling what she calls unauthorized look-alikes of her frozen dinners. [More]

The defendants' website promises that only 4- and 5-star reviews will be posted online while reviews of 3-star or worse will be sent to a "Control Center."

Yelp Sues Websites Promising “All Positive Reviews” For Businesses

While Yelp may be within its legal rights to re-order and filter its user-submitted reviews, the company is taking legal action against the operator of multiple websites promising “all positive reviews for your business.” [More]

BytePhoto.com has been running online contests since 2003, but is now being sued by a company that obtained a patent on this sort of online voting.

Hobbyist Photo-Sharing Site Defends Itself Against Company With A Patent On Online Voting

Patents are intended to protect the developers of specific concepts. That’s why you don’t see a patent for “thing that can treat diseases,” but for individual medicines and devices. Last summer, the Supreme Court confirmed you can’t simply patent a generic idea just because you apply it to a computer. But a small photo-sharing site is being sued for infringing on a patent that arguably covers a vast range of vote-for-your-favorite competitions. [More]

BlackBerry Suing Makers Of Slip-On iPhone Keyboard Again, Claiming New Version Is Infringement

BlackBerry Suing Makers Of Slip-On iPhone Keyboard Again, Claiming New Version Is Infringement

BlackBerry has a bone to pick with Typo, the makers of a slip-on iPhone keyboard that the mobile phone company already sued once with claims that the case infringes on its patents, and it’s not ready to let that bone go anytime soon. A new lawsuit against Typo is now on the books, this time aimed at the company’s second iteration of slip-on accessories [More]

Philip Morris Does Horrible Job Of Defending Itself After John Oliver Mocking

Philip Morris Does Horrible Job Of Defending Itself After John Oliver Mocking

On Sunday night, John Oliver called out the tobacco industry, and particularly Philip Morris, for the practice of threatening small and poor countries with complicated, expensive international trade lawsuits if they try to strictly regulate cigarette marketing. But while Big Tobacco has the coffers to pay for costly legal battles, it does a really poor job of trying to defend its actions. [More]

Death Toll From GM Ignition Defect Reaches 56

Death Toll From GM Ignition Defect Reaches 56

A year after General Motors first announced the long-delayed recall of the Chevy Cobalt, Saturn Ion and several other vehicles for an ignition problem that both the carmaker and regulators had ignored, the fund responsible for vetting death and injury claims related to the recall is now acknowledging at least 56 fatalities. [More]

Meet The New Marlboro Spokesman: Jeff, The Diseased Lung In A Cowboy Hat

Meet The New Marlboro Spokesman: Jeff, The Diseased Lung In A Cowboy Hat

On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver took an in-depth look at how the tobacco industry uses expensive lawsuits and byzantine international trade agreements to keep countries from pushing for stronger regulation on cigarettes. But rather than just call Big Tobacco out for its bad behavior, Oliver also offered a helpful solution that might make all sides happy. [More]

(Alan Cleaver)

Gamblers Who Won $1.5M Must Return Winnings Over Unshuffled Cards

Back in 2012, some gamblers in Atlantic City realized there was a pattern to the way the cards were coming out while playing mini-baccarat and won 41 straight hands worth around $1.5 million in total. But this week a court ruled the winnings must be returned because the cards had not been shuffled. [More]

(Mike Mozart)

Walmart Sues Texas Over Law Banning Publicly Traded Companies From Selling Liquor

Depending on the state you live in, buying booze and beer can be a bit tricky. South Carolina and Kentucky previously outlawed the sale of alcohol on Election Day, while last year, the state of Michigan pondered a law that would classify a “pint” of beer as 16-ounces or less. But it’s a long-running law in Texas banning the sale of liquor (but not beer or wine) at publicly traded companies that raised the ire of Walmart. Now the nation’s largest retailer is suing the state to gain the ability to sell the spirits.  [More]

Burger King Settles Suit Filed By Soldier Who Says He Found Needles In Triple Stacker

Burger King Settles Suit Filed By Soldier Who Says He Found Needles In Triple Stacker

For more than three years, a now-retired Army sergeant has been fighting a legal battle against both Burger King and the military, alleging the kitchen at an on-base BK served him a Triple Stacker that contained needles. Part of the case has been brought to an end now that the fast food giant has settled, though the complaint against the military looks like it may be headed to trial. [More]

(Mr.TinDC)

Target Agrees To Pay $3.9M To Settle False-Advertising Lawsuit

It seems some of that infamously fuzzy Target math finally caught up with the retailer, as the company has agreed to pay $3.9 million to settle a false-advertising lawsuit brought by prosecutors in California. [More]

(Dusko Tasic)

Privacy Advocates Sue DOJ For Info About Planes Used To Snoop On Cellphones

Last November, a Wall Street Journal report pulled back the covers on a U.S. Marshals Service program that uses small planes carrying devices that mimic cellphone towers, allowing them to track criminals but also scoop up information from countless other phones of citizens not involved in any crimes. After months of trying to get more details on the program, one consumer privacy advocacy group has sued the Dept. of Justice hoping to compel the release of this information. [More]

Orbitz Settles Suit With “Hidden City” Ticket Site Skiplagged.com

Orbitz Settles Suit With “Hidden City” Ticket Site Skiplagged.com

Back in November, United Airlines and Orbitz sued Skiplagged.com, a site offering so-called “hidden city” fares that can save you money by booking a ticket on a flight you never intend to take to its final destination. Now Skiplagged’s owner and Orbitz say they have reached a deal to keep their dispute out of court. [More]

Southwest Frequent Flyer Earned Enough Points For Free Companion Ticket; Or So He Thought

Southwest Frequent Flyer Earned Enough Points For Free Companion Ticket; Or So He Thought

With only a few weeks to go in the year, one Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards member says he was right on the cusp of earning a free companion pass. After allegedly being told that any points accrued before the end of the year would count toward that goal, he spent more on his Rapid Rewards credit card to rack up those points — only to later be told the deadline for earning points via the credit card was not Dec. 31. [More]

Traveler Says TSA Jailed Him For Making Complaint, Lied In Court About Bomb Threat

Traveler Says TSA Jailed Him For Making Complaint, Lied In Court About Bomb Threat

What line does a traveler need to cross before he’s deemed worthy of arrest by airport security agents? According to one man, not only was he detained overnight after attempting to file a complaint about the way he was being treated, but a TSA supervisor then lied under oath about a bomb threat the traveler never made. [More]

Yelp Goes To Court To Protect Identity Of Anonymous Review-Writer

Yelp Goes To Court To Protect Identity Of Anonymous Review-Writer

Once again, a business who is displeased with an anonymous review on Yelp is trying to sue that reviewer and attempting to compel Yelp to reveal that user’s actual identity. But this morning, lawyers for Yelp and consumer advocates were in court to argue that there is no justification for unmasking the writer of this review. [More]

Cablevision Sues Verizon, Claims “Fastest WiFi” Ads Are Misleading

Cablevision Sues Verizon, Claims “Fastest WiFi” Ads Are Misleading

Competing companies often call each other out for exaggerations in ads and other marketing sleight of hand, but Cablevision has decided to let the legal system settle its dispute with Verizon over claims of who has the “fastest WiFi available.” Meanwhile, Verizon says the lawsuit is a marketing ploy to sell Cablevision’s WiFi phone service. [More]