CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Mercury ordered to pay largest-ever insurance fine, Tyson recalls chicken patties, and Palm offers $5 phone plan

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Mercury Insurance fined $27.6 million for scheme to overcharge customers

Mercury Insurance Company has been ordered to pay a $27.6 million dollar fine by the California Supreme Court, after they were found to be overcharging their customers.

In 1988, Proposition 103 was approved by voters. It required insurance companies to charge fair premiums, and to get the Insurance Commissioner's approval for their rates before they went into effect. However, Mercury was found to add on "broker fees" on top of their premiums in order to circumvent the law.

The ensuing decades-long legal battle between Mercury and the California Department of Insurance resulted in Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones assessing a $150 fine for each of Mercury's 183,000 violations between 1999 and 2004. Yesterday, the California Supreme Court rejected Mercury's petition for review, upholding the $27.6 million fine. It is the largest fine ever assessed against a car insurance company in California.

Mercury is the seventh largest insurer in the state.



Tyson Foods recalls frozen chicken patties due to potential foreign contaminant

Tyson Foods is recalling 39,078 pounds of Weaver brand frozen chicken patties due to possible contamination from "extraneous materials."

The patties were produced on January 31, and sold in 26-ounce bags with the number "P-13456" on the back, carrying an expiration date of January 31, 2020, according to a USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service statement.

The FSIS said it learned about the potential contamination from consumer complaints.

Those who purchased the patties are advised to throw them away or return them to the retailer where they were bought. Those worried about adverse health effects from the patties should contact a healthcare provider.



Palm announces $5 cell phone plan

Smartphone company Palm has announced a new cell service plan that costs only $5.

Palm's "Light" service plan starts at $5 per month, and gives users 60 minutes of talk time, 200 text messages, and 200 megabytes of data. Users can opt for a yearlong, three month-long, or monthlong contract, with shorter contracts adding a few bucks to the monthly price.

The service plan is a part of Palm's partnership with US mobile and is only available for use on Palm phones. Palm introduced a new credit-card sized smartphone in November of 2018.



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