Class actions filed against a company can quickly turn low-stake claims into litigation that can critically impact operations and create large exposures. Saul Ewing’s Class Actions Litigation Group guides clients through all phases of class action litigation defense, focusing on early-case assessment and resolution. When those efforts fail, our attorneys are experienced at contesting class certification, challenging the bona fides and methodologies of class experts, guiding cases to conclusion via dispositive motions or settlement, dealing with settlement objectors, and helping to ensure avoidance of future lawsuits. We also advise on ways to help avoid class action litigation and design contracts and other standard forms to help defeat class-wide treatment of individual claims. We represent companies across a variety of industries, including consumer financial services; food, beverage and agribusiness; higher education; insurance; publishing; as well as employers of all kinds, in federal and state courts and in multidistrict class actions.
Our team regularly handles cases across the country in the following areas:
- Antitrust – defending companies charged with violations of the Sherman Act, from price fixing to unlawful use of market power. We also represent companies in opt-out antitrust claims where staying in the class is not in the company’s best financial interest.
- Consumer Financial Services Class Actions – defending banks, mortgage servicers, student loan servicers, auto finance companies and other finance companies from class actions arising under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), and consumer fraud.
- Food, Beverage and Agribusiness Class Actions – defending nationwide class actions arising from claims of fraudulent misrepresentation and non-disclosure arising from labeling.
- Employment Collective and Class Actions – defending employers in collective and class actions involving minimum wage, wage-and-hour, overtime, and tip pooling matters brought by employees. We also have represented employers in federal and state Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Acts (WARN) class actions and pattern and practice class actions brought under state and federal discrimination laws.
- Environmental Class Actions – defending landfill owners and operators in regional class actions in federal and state courts involving negligence and nuisance claims arising from landfill design, construction, operation and maintenance practices.
- Higher Education Class Actions – defending colleges and universities in class actions alleging breach of fiduciary duty, antitrust violations, breach of contract, and consumer fraud related to promotional materials or quality of education.
- Insurance Class Actions – defending insurance companies in class actions involving ERISA, claims handling practices, premium collection, policy procurement, corporate governance, claims coverage, and timeliness of claim payments.
- Product Liability Class Actions – defending manufacturers and distributors facing allegations of defective products from lawn chairs to medical devices and toxic tort exposures from asbestos to tobacco.
Our attorneys understand the “business” of class actions and how to leverage a client’s superior knowledge and resources to reduce a company’s exposure in class or collective litigation. We frequently brief and argue class certification motions and have a record of success in defeating class claims either on the merits or at the certification stage.
Saul Ewing attorneys have handled these select class and collective action matters in the representation of:
Consumer Financial Services Class Actions
- A national bank in a multi-district class action litigation arising from overdraft fee practices.
- A national bank and mortgage corporations in the successful defense of multi-million-dollar consumer financial services class actions involving truth-in-lending, settlement services, broker compensation and other issues.
- A national student loan servicer in a putative class action arising from alleged violations of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.
- A national student loan servicer in a putative class action arising from alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- A national auto finance company in two putative class actions arising from alleged violations of Maryland’s Credit Grantor Closed End Credit Provisions.
- A national auto-finance company as co-counsel in a putative class action arising under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
- A national auto finance company in a putative class action arising from alleged violations of Maryland’s Credit Grantor Closed End Credit Provision.
Food and Beverage Class Actions
- A national restaurant chain in a putative class action arising from alleged violations of New York General Business Law §349.
- A national restaurant chain in a first-of-its-kind pattern and practice class action challenging the enforceability of its arbitration agreement brought by the EEOC, which was dismissed on summary judgement.
- One of the country’s largest restaurant franchisees in a wage-and-hour class action arising under New York’s labor law alleging failure to pay for all time worked and improper use of the tip credit. The case was resolved on favorable terms prior to class certification.
Insurance Class Actions
- An insurance company in a federal court class action brought by a policyholder challenging claim payment practices. A dismissal for failure to state a claim was affirmed by the court.
- An insurance company in a federal court class action brought by a policyholder challenging premium collection practices. The case settled on favorable terms after the national class was limited to less than 40 persons.
- An insurance company in a federal court class action brought by a policyholder challenging policy procurement practices. The case was resolved on favorable terms.
- An insurance company in a state court class action brought by a policyholder challenging corporate governance practices. The case was dismissed for lack of standing.
- An insurance company in a state court class action brought by a policyholder challenging the timeliness of claim payments. Dismissal for lack of standing was affirmed by the court.
Product Liability Class Actions
- A watch manufacturer in the defense of a putative class action alleging that a series of its watches is not waterproof as advertised.
- A maker of alleged tainted biologics in hundreds of cases in state and federal court in which the litigation spanned more than a decade and included multi-district litigation and class action proceedings.
Employment Collective and Class Actions
- A communication company in obtaining a Motion to Dismiss in a wage-and-hour class action.
- A New York retailer from a putative class action arising under the New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act and related action by the New York Department of Labor.
- A New Jersey technology company in a putative nationwide class action arising from the Federal Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act.
- An Illinois restaurant in a collective action under federal law and class action under state law alleging both that servers were not paid overtime and that the application of tip credit and tip pooling to the workforce was not applied lawfully or in compliance with the law.
- An Illinois package delivery company in a misclassification case under the FLSA, Illinois Minimum Wage Act and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act.
- An Illinois towing company in an FLSA overtime and misclassification case.
- A public utility company in a collective and class action alleging failure to pay for all time worked and for overtime. The named plaintiffs were employed by a third-party contractor of our client and were also suing our client alleging that it was a joint employer. We succeeded in getting the court to dismiss our client and in convincing the plaintiffs to dismiss our client from the lawsuit with no settlement, just outright voluntary dismissal.
- A laboratory services provider in two collective actions with phlebotomists alleging multiple OT violations of the FLSA, including on-call time and waiting time.
Environmental Class Actions
- A national waste management company in defense of two putative class actions filed in a Pennsylvania state court, alleging improper landfill management and odors arising from landfill operations. Preliminary objections to both complaints are pending.
- A national waste management company in a federal class action in Pennsylvania involving alleged landfill odors. We reached a favorable settlement for our client prior to the class certification hearing.
- A chemical corporation in a class action against alleged claims of environmental contamination.
- A corporation in a class action in defense of personal injury claims stemming from alleged chemical exposure.
Higher Education Class Actions
- An Illinois university in the dismissal of a class action suit alleging fraud based on its law school’s compilation and publication of post-graduate employment statistics. This win was unanimously affirmed on appeal and certiorari was denied by the Illinois Supreme Court.
- A university in the dismissal of a class action suit in connection with tuition/student fee reimbursements related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- An Illinois university in winning a motion to dismiss an ERISA class action filed against it, which was affirmed by the Seventh Circuit.
- A for-profit career institute against claims asserted by the Massachusetts attorney general on behalf of a class of consumers pursuant to the Commonwealth’s consumer protection statute. The attorney general alleged, among other things, that the defendant misrepresented its educational programs, failed to provide an adequate education to enrolled students, and wrongfully failed and refused to provide tuition refunds when the school closed mid-semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The case resulted in a favorable settlement whereby the parties agreed to the entry of a judgment that was largely uncollectable.
- A national retail company in multi-district litigation against the builder of approximately one dozen stores in multiple states, involving approximately $30 million in overall construction claims, resulting in favorable judgments and subsequent settlements for our client and coordinated replacement contractors and suppliers.
- Investment banks and securities brokerage firms in multi-district litigation involving the firms’ underwriting of multiple issues of taxable municipal bonds marketed with a now infamous junk bond house. We worked with co-counsel to devise a strategy to defend and successfully litigate policyholder priority, over the objection of a state insurance commissioner, for the guaranteed investment contracts underlying the bonds that were issued by a defunct life insurance company. The strategy paid off and the initial claim against the firms’ underwriter clients of $1.85 billion was resolved.
- A lender pursuing claims in complex, multi-district litigation against various corporations, individuals and professionals arising out of the failure of a discount drug store chain.
- A public transportation company in multi-district litigation related to bus tires antitrust litigation.
- A purchaser of folding cartons in multi-district litigation related to folding cartons antitrust litigation.
- A mortgage servicer in multi-district litigation related to mortgage-backed securities.
Class Actions Across Additional Industries
- A national reward program and marketing company in defense against a putative nationwide TCPA class action arising from alleged impermissible text messages.
- A pharmaceutical company in negotiating the early resolution of a putative TCPA class action arising from alleged unsolicited facsimiles on an individual basis.
- A regional property management company in the successful defense of two putative class actions involving claims asserted under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act.
- The CEO of a large regional real estate asset management company in the defense of a securities class action lawsuit.
- An Illinois manufacturer in a federal and state collective and class action that resulted in dismissal prior to a responsive pleading being filed.
- An alleged “robo-signer” of mortgages in the defense of DOJ and state attorney general investigations and related civil class actions.
- A national drugstore company in an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “drive-by” case brought as a putative nationwide class action involving policies and procedures on the maintenance of parking lots, which was settled at the pre-certification stage.
- A Fortune 100 company in defense against threatened ADA Title III and state privacy class actions involving accessibility of several company websites.
- A federal government contractor on class action claims that resulted in the reversal of class certification on appeal and the subsequent dismissal of the action.