When the stakes are high and the issues complex
Venable’s class action defense practice is national in scope and forms a cornerstone of the firm’s elite commercial litigation practice. Our litigators have successfully resolved numerous complicated class actions for clients in the food, beverage, dietary supplements, education, manufacturing, financial services, hospitality, pharmaceutical and life sciences, media and entertainment, retail, transportation, and construction sectors. We also have successfully represented trade associations and other nonprofits in class action litigation.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to defending against a class action. Our lawyers work with our clients early on to assess the case and determine the best strategies to pursue under the circumstances. Should we determine to challenge the claims, Venable has been extremely successful at having putative class claims dismissed on motion, before discovery. We have also defeated motions to certify classes – swiftly reducing the potential exposure on a case from many millions of dollars to a negligible amount. Should our early case assessment lead our clients to explore settlement, we have been very successful in structuring creative settlements of complex class claims – settlements which received the required court approval while also minimizing the economic impact on our clients.
We have served as national coordinating counsel in class actions involving multiple states and federal districts. We have successfully used the Multi-District Litigation process to consolidate and transfer multiple litigations to one forum, achieving great efficiencies for our clients in the process. We are well-versed in the unique procedural rules applicable to class and mass tort actions, and know how to use these rules to our clients’ advantage. We have extensive experience managing electronic discovery and performing statistical analysis in complex litigation matters.
Our class action practice is deep and broad
The lawyers in our top-ranked advertising and marketing practice regularly defend corporate and individual clients against class claims alleging violation of state and federal deceptive trade practices acts, unfair competition laws, and other consumer protection statutes, including claims related to labeling and health benefits.
In the securities area, we represent directors, officers and corporations in class actions challenging corporate actions based on federal and state law, including claims arising from regulatory investigations, corporate transactions and criminal investigations. We also defend clients in class actions claiming violation of privacy statutes – an area where lawyers from our award-winning privacy practice are key parts of the team. We regularly defend class actions claiming antitrust violations, and violations of employee protection statutes and ERISA. Additionally, we have a long and successful history of handling multi-plaintiff litigations claiming product liability cases for pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers and others. Below, we highlight experience in each of these substantive areas.
Companion government investigations
Class actions often proceed concurrently with regulatory and law enforcement agency investigations covering the same issues. Our bench of former prosecutors and regulators is particularly well positioned to lead our clients through the potential minefields presented by simultaneous class action litigation and government investigations or proceedings.
Our ranks include former prosecutors and regulators from the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, as well as numerous former Assistant U.S. Attorneys and assistant state district attorneys. These attorneys bring the valuable insights they formed on the enforcement side to benefit our clients facing class action litigation. Indeed, many of these government alumni have experience enforcing the very statutes that form the basis for the class claims our clients face.
Advertising and Marketing
- Currently representing an international fast-food chain in a putative nationwide class action alleging false advertising and violations of California’s unfair competition and consumer protection laws.
- Currently defending a dietary supplement company in a purported federal nationwide consumer class action involving joint health support claims for the company’s glucosamine and chondroitin dietary supplement.
- Successfully secured dismissal with prejudice of a class action complaint against a large dietary supplement company for allegations of false and misleading labeling of the companies’ testosterone boosting supplement products.
- Represented a nationwide supplement retailer against false labeling allegations related to 16 different products. Venable obtained a dismissal with prejudice.
- Successfully defended an ABA-accredited law school in a putative class action filed in New York State Supreme Court by three of the school’s alumni alleging that the school published misleading statistical information regarding its graduates’ employment rates and salaries. Our motion to dismiss the amended complaint was granted in full and upheld on appeal.
- Secured a summary judgment victory on horizontal conspiracy claims for client Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. in major "reverse payment" case. This marked one of the first cases to reach the summary judgment stage after the Supreme Court's recent decision in FTC v. Actavis, 133 S. Ct. 2223 (2013).
- Represented a sleep products trade association in connection with a multi-district litigation civil antitrust class action alleging output restrictions and price fixing in the polyurethane foam market.
- Represented a pharmaceutical trade association defending multi-district-litigation Section 1 claims alleging price and output restrictions arising from data collection and reporting activities on behalf of a putative class of hospital and other health service providers.
- Represented a group of domestic steel companies in a putative class action alleging horizontal price fixing by Chinese producers of manganese.
- Successfully resolved class member and opt-out claims in MDL litigation involving a transportation industry client arising out of a criminal prosecution of price fixing and related conduct in that particular transportation industry.
Labor and Employment
- Representing a large media company in a wage and hour class action, in which the plaintiff alleges that the employer deprived employees of overtime wages and missed breaks. After several months of litigation, the plaintiff abandoned the overtime and missed break claims and substantially narrowed their claim for inaccurate wage statements. Currently, the parties are briefing the class certification of the significantly narrowed claim.
- Representing a global leader in the aerospace and defense high-precision manufacturing industry in a class action lawsuit alleging "wage and hour" violations.
- Defeated class certification in a California class action involving alleged privacy violations arising from our client's, a research and publishing company, alleged recording of telephone communications between its sales force and customers.
- Won a motion to dismiss federal statutory privacy claims against an Internet advertising company in an MDL class action pending in the District of Delaware.
- Secured summary judgment in the Southern District of California of putative class claims challenging ordinary course of business telephone call monitoring and recording under California Invasion of Privacy Act ("CIPA") and 12 other state privacy statutes.
- Won a putative class action for an international security company in the Central District Court of California. Plaintiff alleged that our client failed to protect its employees' personal, confidential information from theft, in violation of privacy statutes.
- Successfully moved to dismiss with prejudice a putative nationwide class action filed in the Southern District of Texas against a national bank. The putative class alleged that the bank’s marketing and administration of life insurance products to account holders violated state and federal privacy and RICO laws.
- Defeated class certification in a putative multi-state class action challenging our client’s alleged data pass and other magazine subscription continuity programs, cancel/save and IVR system issues.
- Defending an oil exploration and extraction consulting firm against securities fraud claims asserted in the Southern District of New York by shareholders of an oil company that retained our client to assess oil resource reserves in Canada. The case squarely presents this issue of the impact of meaningful cautionary statements contained in consultants’ reports circulated in the securities markets. It is expected to have a direct impact on the evolution of the "bespeaks caution" doctrine.
- Successfully defended a national clothing retailer in a securities class action and several shareholder derivative suits alleging damages in excess of $100 million. In the course of the representation, Venable obtained cutting-edge rulings confirming a securities defendant’s ability to discover the identity of an alleged corporate whistleblower (see Lefkoe v. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc., 577 F.3d 240 (4th Cir. 2009)), and limiting the information available to a prospective plaintiff under §220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law (see Norfolk County Retirement System v. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc., 2009 WL 353746 (Del. Ch. Feb. 12, 2009)).
- Successfully defended the former Chief Financial Officer of a national bank in class action litigation alleging violations of the 1933 and 1934 Acts. After successfully moving to dismiss a related shareholder derivative suit commenced in Puerto Rico District Court, Venable successfully negotiated a settlement of the securities fraud suit brought against the client without any admission of culpability and on terms favorable to the client.
- Represented Royal Ahold and U.S. Foodservice ("USF") in matters arising out of the restatement of Royal Ahold’s financial statements as a result of accounting irregularities of its subsidiary, USF, which resulted in one of the largest securities claim settlements in history. Venable participated in the MDL securities class action brought by shareholders under the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws, and was the lead counsel for Royal Ahold and USF in litigation against the former CEO of USF for breach of his fiduciary duties in connection with the accounting irregularities at USF.