At Michelman & Robinson, LLP (M&R), we know your business, and how to protect it.
Our Class Action & Complex Litigation Practice Group combines substantial experience and subject matter knowledge with thoughtful, strategic and creative approaches to defending multifaceted lawsuits. M&R litigation attorneys specialize in managing and organizing complex cases and class actions involving multiple parties and districts and highly technical issues. Because of our rigorous preparation and investigative approach to each new matter, we are proactive instead of reactive, achieving favorable results for our clients.
From the outset, M&R works closely with our clients to achieve their underlying goals and protect their business interests. Our exacting preparation, coupled with a nuanced understanding of our clients’ industries, enables us to anticipate how each lawsuit will play out over time. M&R’s veteran litigators repeatedly secure early claims dismissals, defeat high exposure class certification cases, and significantly reduce client exposure by negotiating favorable settlements. While we always strive to secure a prompt resolution, if one is not possible, our skilled litigators efficiently and aggressively navigate lawsuits through trial and appeal.
Over the past decade, M&R attorneys have represented clients in scores of class action cases, with billions of dollars and entire businesses at stake. We have successfully defended companies from an array of industries against class actions alleging unfair business practices, unfair competition and misappropriation of trade secrets, wrongful termination, wage and hour violations, and benefit violations. Additionally, our attorneys have represented insurance companies against actions involving excessive rates and defended major manufacturers in product liability lawsuits.
M&R has built a national reputation in class action and multi-district litigation cases. M&R’s Commercial & Business Litigation Practice was recommended by the prestigious directory, The Legal 500. This was, in large part, due to our considerable track record of repelling class action claims. The directory noted M&R’s successful defense of Rightscorp in a putative class action alleging numerous statutory violations. M&R Co-Founder, Sanford Michelman and Litigation Department Chair, Mona Hanna, received special mention for their litigation prowess, as did Todd Stitt for his leadership of M&R’s Class Action & Complex Litigation practice.
Class action lawsuits present significant risks to a company’s business reputation and brand. That is why M&R uses aggressive, innovative strategies for defeating class actions before they gain momentum, allowing you to focus on what matters most — your business.
Areas Of Expertise
- Advertising & Marketing
We defend clients against class action claims alleging violation of state and federal deceptive trade practices, false advertising, unfair competition and other consumer protection statutes. To defeat complex cases in the rapidly growing area of false advertising class actions, our attorneys combine their knowledge of consumer product laws as well as successful class action experience to attack the legal claims on which false advertising cases are based.
- Consumer Finance & Lending Practices
Our attorneys represent clients in virtually every type of bank and lending litigation, including multijurisdictional consumer class actions, individual consumer and commercial litigation and matters pending in bankruptcy and probate courts. We also regularly handle investigations and enforcement actions by state Attorneys General and state and federal regulators such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- Consumer Protection & Products Liability
We have extensive experience defending clients in class actions asserting claims under consumer protection laws, including statutes imposing severe penalties for commercial behavior, such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. We also defend clients against claims relating to defective products, breach of warranty, false or misleading advertising, failure to disclose, misrepresentations of purpose or use, inadequate service or support, and other consumer fraud issues.
Our team is adept at managing complex, national class actions, statewide matters, and individual “opt-out” cases because our attorneys have extensive class action procedural knowledge and a thorough understanding of the insurance industry, including coverage types, claims adjustment procedures and related laws and regulations.
- Labor & Employment
We have defended a broad range of employment class actions for management-side clients as well as high-stakes adverse treatment and adverse impact discrimination class actions involving race, gender, age, and/or disability issues, and hiring, promotions, discipline, harassment, and/or discharge claims. Our attorneys also have substantial experience with class claims for retaliation, breach of contract, entitlement to benefits, violations of ERISA, payment of prevailing wages, overtime claims, challenges to exempt status, and other employment-related claims.
- Privacy & Data Protection
Our privacy specialists help businesses unlock the value of data, while ensuring compliance with U.S. and non-U.S. laws and standards that regulate the collection, use, sharing and protection of data.
Our experienced securities litigators represent all manner of issuer, underwriter, advisor, auditor, officer, and director in connection with every aspect and phase of class actions alleging violations of federal and state securities laws, rules, and regulations.
- Advertising: A California-based nutritional supplement company was sued by a nationwide class of consumers claiming that the results of the supplement were not as advertised in print or on television. M&R conducted an internal audit and investigation and was able to successfully obtain a favorable settlement, which allowed the supplement company to continue promoting and selling its product.
- Automotive: M&R represented a leading automobile manufacturer in winning a denial of class certification. We then won dismissal of the remaining consumer action on summary judgment.
- California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA): M&R successfully defended a leading credit card processor in two “bet-the-company” class actions involving usury and violation of the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA) claims. We were able to obtain dismissal of the usury class action claims at the pleading stage by demonstrating that a class action waiver was enforceable, and not procedurally and substantively unconscionable as the plaintiffs had argued. The trial court issued an order striking the class action allegations, which transformed a multi-million dollar action into an $18,000 claim. The ruling was affirmed on appeal. The individual plaintiff was forced to settle for a waiver of appellate costs. M&R also favorably settled one CIPA claim by demonstrating that individual issues would predominate over common issues, rendering class action status improper.
- Copyright: A popular game manufacturer retained M&R to prosecute a copyright infringement action against a counterfeiting ring comprised of local and China-based corporate and individual defendants who sold knock-off products in the United States and abroad. After extensive discovery efforts, M&R achieved a stipulated judgment against defendants that required payment to the client of the maximum statutory damages allowable under the law for willful copyright infringement, as well as a permanent injunction against the future sale of counterfeit products.
- Discrimination: Plaintiffs brought a national origin and gender discrimination class action against a Fortune 100 company. They alleged that the company had discriminated against minorities and women with respect to all aspects of employment, including recruiting, testing, hiring, initial assignments, promotions and compensation. After M&R conducted rigorous discovery on behalf of the company, the plaintiffs were forced to drop many of their claims, resulting in a significant reduction in the size of the class and, ultimately, settlement.
- Insurance Rates: M&R was part of a joint defense group in a class action that involved allegations of improper automobile insurance rates. The defense convinced a superior court judge to sustain a demurrer without leave to amend. They won an appeal and obtained a published opinion which is often used as precedent to support an insurer’s defense of litigation challenging the viability of their rates.
- Misclassification: A large insurance company was sued over allegations that its distribution channel comprised of brokers were actually “de-facto” agents. The plaintiffs sought an injunction and damages that equated to approximately $600 million for the defendant. We designed a multi-prong defense that included arguments that the class representative was “inadequate” and the actions of the insurer and broker were compliant. After lengthy litigation, M&R defeated the plaintiffs’ attempt to certify the class, and had the class representative declared “inadequate” and removed. Immediately thereafter, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case. Following this case, we successfully defended ten other similar class actions.
- Product Liability: We represented a leading automobile manufacturer in a milestone products liability case that established that principles of comparative fault apply to products liability claims.
- Securities: After a pharmaceutical company announced disappointing results of a Phase III clinical trial for its leading drug candidate, shareholders promptly brought federal class action securities litigation against the company and its director and officers, and the SEC later opened an investigation. M&R represented the defendants through years of hard-fought litigation, which resulted in a favorable settlement of the class action paid entirely from insurance proceeds with no financial contribution from any defendant, and resolution of the SEC investigation without enforcement activity.
- Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA): M&R successfully defended a national insurance brokerage against a class action alleging that the recording of customer telephone calls without proper disclosures was a violation of California statutes. At that time, California courts were interpreting this type of conduct as illegal and holding to the statutory damages of $5,000 per call. In this case, there were approximately 600,000 alleged calls and potentially billions of dollars in statutory damages. M&R designed a defense predicated on the legislative intent of the statute dating back to 1967, arguing that the statutes at issue were designed to protect against “industrial espionage.” After intense argument, the court agreed with the defense and dismissed the case in favor of our client.
- Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA): M&R won a complete dismissal (without prejudice) in a putative class action lawsuit brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Our client, an insurance agency specializing in auto and home insurance, was sued in federal court by a plaintiff alleging violations of the TCPA after he received a marketing call despite having placed his number on the do-not-call registry. From the outset, the client was adamant that they did not make this call, nor did they authorize any third party to conduct the call. We were very clear that Plaintiff had sued the wrong party, and was risking Rule 11 sanctions for doing so. After several conversations with Plaintiff’s counsel, including specifically, a Local Rule 7-3 meet and confer conference that we conducted with counsel regarding our intention to file a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, Plaintiff’s counsel advised us that they would be dismissing the case
- Unfair Competition: Multiple plaintiffs brought a class action against a nationwide retailer of consumer electronics for alleged violations of the California Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA). Based on California Civil Code section 1749.5, the plaintiffs alleged that the retailer had violated the law by printing “Not Redeemable for Cash” on the back of its gift cards. M&R persuaded the court to find that the CLRA claim had no merit and, thereafter, defeated class certification on multiple grounds.
- Wage & Hour: A prominent insurance brokerage was held liable for violating California’s wage and hour overtime laws, among related issues. Facing a $42 million judgment, the client retained M&R. After conducting in-depth analysis, M&R designed a defense around the argument that the $42 million judgment should be reduced to $1.2 million because of a conflict in federal and state employment laws that were being misapplied by the plaintiffs' lawyers. Specifically, the plaintiffs contended that pursuant to California’s Business & Professions Code section 17200 (Unfair Competition Laws), it could expand the “class” under federal law. M&R countered that the United States Congress changed the law in the 1930’s, and again in 1949, to prohibit the expansion of federal law as being applied in this case. After intense litigation regarding the legislative intent, the federal court agreed with M&R’s argument, limiting the judgment to $1.2 million. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit upheld the ruling.
- Wage & Hour: M&R successfully represented a metal supply company faced with a putative wage and hour class action lawsuit brought by a former employee. The complaint alleged causes of action for: (1) failure to pay overtime wages; (2) failure to provide meal periods; (3) failure to provide rest periods; (4) failure to pay wages upon ending employment; (5) failure to keep accurate payroll records; (6) unfair competition; and (7) violation of Labor Code section 2698, et seq. M&R quickly filed a strong petition for arbitration, forcing plaintiff to accept mediation. At mediation, we carefully demonstrated that, should it go to trial, the case would not be a class-wide arbitration, and that it would likely be limited in scope to meal and rest breaks (with no liability on the other claims). During mediation, M&R successfully settled the case for pennies on the dollar (encompassing 265 current and former employees).
- November 4, 2016
- January 20, 2016
- January 20, 2016
- April 7, 2015
- June 24, 2014
- Inside Counsel, July 6, 2016
- Law360, May 13, 2016
- Employment Class Action Waivers Under the Federal Arbitration Act: Clarity From the California Supreme CourtBloomberg BNA: Class Action Litigation Report, September 12, 2014
- Daily journal, February 23, 2011
- 27th Annual ACIC General Counsel SeminarJuly 28, 2016
- RHA Annual ConferenceJuly 12, 2016