Every action – whether it stands alone or is part of a wave of related class, “mass” and individual actions filed in multiple venues – poses critical business challenges because of the risk of significant liabilities and costs. Through our defense of consumer, antitrust, products liability, securities and employment class actions for industry leading clients, Drinker Biddle’s class action lawyers have developed the skills and experience to direct and manage the most complex class action defense.
Class action defense cannot follow a formula. The defense of each asserted action requires careful and creative evaluation and strategic planning that address the case’s unique challenges and unique opportunities for success. Getting the Company’s story on the merits out early, often and persuasively is always the overriding goal of litigation. The first battles that must be won in an action, however, involve the shaping of the battlefield and setting the rules of engagement. At the outset of each action, we seek to set the stage to protect our clients through effective management of forum, leverage of substantive and evidentiary issues, careful use of substantive experts, cooperation with other defendants and, where appropriate, crafting of strategic settlements. In every action, Drinker calls upon the best lawyers from its many offices and practice groups to bring together the strongest combination of procedural, strategic and substantive experience for that engagement.
Duplicative action litigation – involving related actions in multiple state courts or consolidation under the federal Multidistrict Litigation Rules – poses the greatest threat to our clients. As national defense counsel in high profile actions across the country, Drinker Biddle lawyers have achieved a strong reputation in spearheading the initial phases of the defense of these actions. For example, when the wireless phone industry was hit with a wave of simultaneous actions challenging so-called “federal cost recovery fees,” the first two carriers sued engaged Drinker Biddle as national coordinating counsel to organize the formulation and execution of the initial strategy for gaining control over these actions.
A few of our engagements mark the breadth and significance of our action defense:
In one pharmaceutical Multidistrict Litigation, we obtained a consent order coordinating discovery proceedings, including depositions, in hundreds of state and federal lawsuits, thus saving our client both the expense and risk of duplicative discovery.
As national counsel for a telecommunications company, Drinker lawyers coordinate defense of actions nationwide that run the gamut from complex regulatory issues involving the regulation of radio frequency radiation and E-911 services, to consumer complaints about billing practices. Drinker has obtained pre-certification dismissal of many such claims and defeated certification in others.
As co-national counsel for a computer manufacturer, Drinker lawyers, along with others, defeated a coordinated campaign of 33 putative state-wide class actions by obtaining dismissal of more than half of the cases, obtaining summary judgment in several other matters and winning a jury trial verdict in the only case where a class was certified.
In May 2004, a team led by Drinker lawyers persuaded the Supreme Court of Texas to reverse an east Texas court’s certification of a nationwide class of purchasers of computers whose claims were patterned on the now infamous Toshiba floppy disc controller litigation.
Drinker lawyers made strategic use of statistical evidence to reduce or eliminate claims for employment discrimination and, recently, to negotiate a nominal settlement in a multi-state racial discrimination action against a major retail chain involving more than 20,000 individuals.
As national counsel for a sports association in connection with racial and disability discrimination claims, Drinker Biddle successfully defeated certification of a national class.