Class Action Litigation
The potential exposure created when hundreds or thousands of claims are brought as a class action – even when the individual value of the claims is small – can be substantial. Defending class actions demands a specialized skill set cultivated through experience. Duane Morris attorneys have represented defendants in thousands of high-stakes state, national, and multi-district class actions, as well as in complex mass tort litigation throughout the country. At Duane Morris, we combine deep class action experience with a thorough understanding of the technical subject matter, resulting in a robust class action defense. Additionally, our state-of-the-art DNASM budgeting software allows us craft optimal defense strategies with our client’s costs in mind at every stage.
Duane Morris’ attorneys tailor defense strategies in the following areas:
Compliance: The best class action defense is not to be sued at all. Our lawyers provide compliance reviews aimed at reducing the risk that our clients will become the next class action target. Should our clients face a class action, proactive compliance planning can minimize risk and cost exposure. Our guidance covers the areas of marketing (direct mail, media advertising, websites and telemarketing), contract review (for compliance with consumer statutes), and employee background screening.
Early Motion Practice: On occasion, motion practice will resolve a class action at the earliest possible stage. More frequently, early motion practice carves down or eliminates parts of litigation or legal theories. Where appropriate, we recommend strategies for early motion practice to reduce our clients’ litigation costs and risk exposure.
Discovery: Discovery in a class action covers both class certification and the merits of the case. These phases may or may not take place simultaneously, though in either event, class action discovery can be voluminous. Our class action practice group fully understands how to strategically structure or limit discovery (such as class sampling and bifurcation), and we have the dedicated technical support personnel to help our lawyers handle the most complex e-discovery issues.
Class Certification: Critical to the class action defense is the opposition to class certification. Our lawyers are well versed in strategies to defeat class certification, particularly with the constantly evolving class certification standards. We present thoroughly researched and supported arguments against certification or for limiting the configuration of the classes and sub-classes.
Dispositive Motion Practice: Where appropriate, we will attempt to resolve class action claims through summary judgment practice, where we maintain a strong record in dispositive motion practice.
Settlement: When resolution of a class action is desirable, our class action practitioners are experienced in crafting cutting-edge class action settlements, through mediation and negotiation. Settlements should be designed to reduce the cost and burden of implementation. We listen to our clients and negotiate settlements that complement our clients’ business objectives to the greatest extent possible.
Settlement Approval and Administration: Once negotiated, judicial approval of class settlements requires yet another specialized skill set, honed through experience in class settlement approval practice. Duane Morris’s lawyers fully understand the intricacies of third-party expert fairness review and can address early claims administration issues such as notice, and rebutting arguments asserted by objectors of all kinds, including those of governmental agencies. After final approval of a settlement, we oversee the claims process (where applicable), either through the use of a third-party claims administrator or the client’s internal resources.
Trial: The vast majority of class actions resolve through motion practice or settlement. When class actions do proceed to trial, the lawyers in Duane Morris’ Trial Practice Group are well equipped to defend the most complex of class action disputes in court.
Appeals: Appeals are not limited to class actions that go to trial. Many class action rulings at the trial level are appealed – from dispositive motions to class certification to settlement approval. The lawyers in Duane Morris’ Appellate Practice Group have extensive experience in all facets of appellate work. Our appellate lawyers include former appellate judges and law clerks to appellate judges who understand how to best to frame legal arguments to appellate panels.
Areas of Service
Our lawyers have litigated class actions involving state and federal consumer protection statutes, antitrust and franchise violations, securities and RICO claims, employment statutes, data protection and privacy, products liability, toxic torts and mass torts. Our clients in class action cases hail from virtually every industry, including retail, financial services, insurance, real estate, education, energy, healthcare, franchising and government.
Consumer Class Actions
Consumer class actions include a broad range of claims brought under various state and federal consumer protection statutes. These class actions include statutory claims arising out of marketing materials for consumer transactions, debtor-creditor transactions, real estate transfer and leasing.
Our lawyers have litigated almost every issue arising in class actions related to the marketing of various consumer products and services under various state and federal consumer protection laws. We understand the interaction between state law and the Class Action Fairness Act, and how to conduct multidistrict litigation.
Duane Morris’ robust Financial Institution Litigation Practice represents a range of financial institutions from investment and commercial banks to market-makers. Our corporate and litigation practice provides a broad knowledge base for the representation of lenders and servicers in complex class actions. Duane Morris has extensive experience in class actions brought against financial institutions under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, among others.
Insurance Class Actions
The lawyers in Duane Morris’ nationally recognized Insurance and Reinsurance Practice Group have experience in significant and complex insurance coverage matters. Our lawyers also represent clients in insurance regulatory, corporate and liquidation fields. Our class action practice taps into this broad insurance-based experience, and has represented clients in a host of insurance-related class actions, from coverage issues to contingent profit commissions to complaints concerning premiums.
Antitrust and Franchise Class Actions
The attorneys in Duane Morris’ Antitrust and Competition Practice Group have represented clients in a range of antitrust and franchise class actions, including claims involving monopolization, anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions, price restraints, output restraints, group boycotts or collective refusals to deal, exclusive dealing, tying, price discrimination, dealer termination, territorial restraints, restrictive covenants or noncompetition agreements, improper assertions of patents and other intellectual property rights. We have litigated exemptions and immunities, including the state action doctrine, the Noerr-Pennington doctrine and the McCarran-Ferguson Act.
Our lawyers also routinely handle state unfair trade practice claims, trade secret and Lanham Act claims as well as claims brought under state franchise acts.
Securities and RICO Class Actions
Duane Morris’ Securities Litigation lawyers represent companies, directors and officers in claims under the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). We represent clients in public offerings, private offerings, REITs and real estate securities transactions, compliance, regulatory and governance matters, and in international securities transactions. This broad foundation in securities transactions informs our defenses in securities class actions. We also represent defendants in shareholder derivative litigation, which is procedurally similar to class action litigation.
Employment-Related Class Actions
Duane Morris’ Employment, Labor Benefits and Immigration Practice Group focuses on all aspects of the employment relationship, including the defense of employment-related class actions. We have litigated federal and state discrimination class actions, class actions under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and employment-related Fair Credit Reporting Act claims. We have represented companies in a range of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) cases relating to the failure to pay minimum wage, misclassification, donning and doffing, off-the-clock work, overtime and independent contractor status.
Government-Related Class Actions
Duane Morris has a cadre of lawyers experienced in various fields of government practice, from government strategies to contracts to municipal finance to gaming law. Our lawyers have represented governmental bodies in class actions and are familiar with the various immunities and defenses afforded to the government, its agencies and instrumentalities.
Real Estate and Environmental Class Actions
Our real estate clients include developers, lenders, investment managers and REITs. We provide legal guidance in all phases of domestic and international complex real estate transactions, including legal counsel for acquisitions and dispositions, leasing, financing, hospitality, multi-family/healthcare, student and military housing, condemnation, and REITs.
Similarly, our real estate class action practice is diverse. In addition to consumer class actions based on home mortgages or liens, we have significant experience in class actions and multi-plaintiff actions claiming damage to real estate, having represented both plaintiffs and defendants in such cases.
Data Protection and Privacy Class Actions
An emerging area in class action litigation, data protection and privacy requires innovative strategies for its defense. For years, Duane Morris’s Information Technologies and Telecom Multidisciplinary Team has supported businesses sued for data or confidentiality breaches. We regularly handle security breaches under the guidance of federal and state privacy and security laws. Our knowledge of web privacy and corporate policies also informs our defense of data-protection class actions.
Healthcare Class Actions
Our Health Law Practice Group counsels clients in all segments of the growing healthcare arena. We counsel hospitals, physicians, acute care centers, and other clients on a range of specialty healthcare issues from the provision of senior services to health-related information technology. We have one of the most experienced and respected health law practice groups in the country, able to provide skilled representation in class actions arising out of the provision of healthcare services.
Toxic and Mass Torts
Although not always brought as class actions, toxic torts and mass torts involve many issues similar to class actions. Multiple damages claims arising out of a single source of liability requires the same kind of experienced counsel as in the class action context. Members of our Products Liability and Toxic Torts Practice Group are familiar with handling toxic torts and mass torts, including such issues as causation, medical monitoring, increased risk of harm, Daubert, complex and overlapping discovery, and litigating bellwether cases. Duane Morris has handled cases involving food, drugs, sports equipment, hair care and cosmetics, asbestos, mold, vehicles, and many other products and substances. Of particular note is the firm’s experience in defense of medical device and biologic cases. Duane Morris also handles many class actions involving mislabeling of products.