The Firm has extensive experience in defeating class certification in state and federal court litigation, and has been involved in such efforts since its founding. The Firm pursues an aggressive strategy of turning class action claims against plaintiffs by forcing plaintiffs to substantiate their claims in support of the necessary class certification elements. In this way, rather than becoming an in terrorem weapon for plaintiffs, class action claims force plaintiffs into significant up front expenditures before they can get an opportunity for full merits discovery against our clients. In some cases, plaintiffs have voluntarily abandoned class certification claims rather than investing resources into a likely losing effort. See, e.g., Arias v. DynCorp, 752 F.3d 1011 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (Ecuadorian residents claimed personal injury and property damages arising from exposure to drug-eradication chemicals; class certification dropped rather than respond to aggressive discovery; summary judgment obtained, and affirmed).
In cases where plaintiffs have persisted in class action allegations against our clients, they have been unsuccessful. One of our early victories for Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation in the In re Aredia and Zometa Prods. Liab. Litig. multidistrict litigation was our success in defeating plaintiffs’ motion for certification of a nationwide $19 billion medical monitoring class and obtaining summary judgment on all claims brought by the putative class representatives. See In re Aredia & Zometa Prods. Liab. Litig., 2007 WL 3012972 (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 10, 2007) (court found improper class definition due to plaintiff-specific variations, and lack of typicality and adequacy due to multiple state laws and plaintiff-specific variations).
We convinced a state court judge not to certify a class action involving alleged defective gas furnace and boiler high temperature plastic vents, which allegedly could lead to carbon monoxide, because a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) product recall program provided was a superior remedy to affected consumers. Engel v. Chevron Corporation, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 37715 (Rutherford County, Tenn. 1997). In that case, we obtained supporting affidavits from CPSC staff.
As another example, in the Norwood v. Raytheon Co., No. EP-04-CA-127-PRM (W.D. Tex. 2006), we took the leading role in successfully defeating a class certification effort brought on behalf of former German, U.S., and NATO country radar operators/technicians exposed to military radars over forty years. The court’s ruling rejecting class certification largely destroyed plaintiffs’ litigation leverage over the defense contractor defendants.
We have successfully defended our clients in asbestos property damage class actions involving primary and secondary schools, public universities, and owners of buildings leased to the federal government. See, e.g., In re Asbestos Schools Litigation, 1991 WL 137128 (E.D. Pa. 1991) (dismissal of “conspiracy” claims). We represented a company in an asbestos-related bankruptcy reorganization proceeding and were successful in defeating a class action of property damage claimants and obtaining exclusion of plaintiffs’ experts under Daubert scientific reliability standards. In re Armstrong World Industries, 285 B.R. 864 (Del. Bankr. 2002); see In re Armstrong World Industries, 348 B.R. 136 (Del. Bankr. 2006).
We have similarly defeated class certification efforts in cases involving alleged environmental contamination, including separate claims brought against our clients Stauffer Chemical Company and ITT in state and federal courts in Florida. See Hoyte v. Stauffer Chemical Co., Case No. 98-3024-CI-7, 2002 WL 31892830 (Cir. Ct. Pinellas County Florida Nov. 6, 2002) (a putative class of former phosphorus plant workers alleged work place exposure to a variety of hazardous substances and sought a court-supervised fund for a medical monitoring program designed to detect future injuries. Following a four-day evidentiary hearing in Florida state court, we obtained a favorable ruling rejecting class certification); Rutherford v. ITT Industries, Inc., Civil No. 4:98 CV263-WS (N.D. Fla. 1999) (major class action asserted property damage claims arising from alleged solvent contamination of potable water supplies; case favorably settled on the eve of class certification hearings based on the strategy of enlarging the settlement class to preclude future filings).
In addition to our defense of putative class actions, the Firm has been heavily involved in the defense of other types of serial and mass litigation, including federal multidistrict litigation and state law equivalents.