A few years ago, legal commentators speculated that class action litigation might have reached its twilight. The Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), it was hoped, would allow rational disposition of class cases and permit appellate review by competent judges with no concern for re-election. The death of class action litigation has been greatly exaggerated. Certain federal courts have picked up where state courts left off, certifying classes in the face of intractable problems of individual proof. State courts, for their part, have eroded legislative efforts to curtail laws that promoted meritless class litigation, and new federal legislation, such as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, have spawned waves of new lawsuits. The Internet and the media have also ensured that new filings receive national attention, making the proliferation of “copycat” actions a constant risk.
Class actions continue to pose substantial threats to corporations. At minimum, they can hurt sales and tarnish reputations. At worst, they can bankrupt companies that provide critical goods and services, employ thousands of people and whose conduct harmed no one. The plaintiffs’ class action bar has learned from past failures, and continues to look for ways to confront defendants with the grim choice of potentially annihilating liability or extortionate settlements.
Sedgwick brings an aggressive approach to class action litigation. Nothing begets class litigation more than easy settlements, and nothing discourages it more than corporate resolve to fight. That is where we can help. We have attorneys who fully dedicate their practices to class action defense, supported by crisis managers, trial lawyers and appellate specialists who assist in all phases of class litigation. We focus on the disciplines at the center of class action litigation: consumer fraud/deceptive trade practice, antitrust, employment, product liability, toxic tort and environmental. We have years of experience representing the industries targeted by class action plaintiffs: consumer products, manufacturing, life sciences, construction, financial services, insurance, transportation, retail, motor vehicles, information technology and web-based business.
One of our strongest assets is our geographical footprint. Class action litigation represents a nationwide problem. Our firm has offices in popular class action venues across the country. We field integrated teams whose members know local venues while maintaining a national perspective. Sedgwick works seamlessly across offices and time zones to coordinate efforts, maximize knowledge, staff leanly and minimize travel.
Our Pretrial Strategy
Sedgwick’s first steps are to attain a complete understanding of the dispute and our client’s business needs. We construct our client’s defense to meet short- and long-term business goals.
At the inception of a case, we scrutinize jurisdiction, venue and judicial assignment to ensure the best chance for a successful defense. Early motion practice typically seeks dismissal and favorable case management provisions.
Our discovery plan focuses on individual issues and presenting evidence to demonstrate that the rights of absent class members cannot be adjudicated through representative or “classwide” proof. We find talented, honest experts to inform courts why they cannot and should not treat all class members alike.
We furnish trial and appellate courts with cogent briefs that set forth the impracticality of lumping dissimilar claims together for common resolution. We show that class certification will deprive the defendant of substantive rights and will not advance the interests of the putative class.
Through it all, we take principled positions, accord professional courtesy and build trust with our opponents and the court.
Trial and Settlement
Our trial teams have been tested and proven in high-stakes litigation. They give us an ultimate weapon to win cases. Over the years, our trial readiness has often caused plaintiffs to “blink first” and have led to the successful resolution of difficult cases. And, of course, if we cannot settle, we try the case to win it.
When our clients elect to pursue settlement, we have successfully navigated the risks of settlement approval and implementation. We have structured our agreements to avoid objections, defended our agreements from professional objectors, and provided courts the information they need to enter judgments that withstand appeals and collateral attacks.
As for settlement implementation, we manage the process efficiently. We have good relationships with service providers — notice experts, notice providers and claims administrators — who want our business. We make them bid competitively and we review their proposals to ensure that they are realistic. Settlements can carry a lot of transactional cost. We do everything we can to ensure that our clients know the full cost of a settlement before they sign any agreement.
We will be pleased to provide a list of representative engagements upon request.