Class Actions

Specific Cases With Litigation Group Involvement:

Congressional Testimony on Class Action Litigation Issues

  • Testimony before the House Committee the Judiciary regarding H.R. 1115, Class Action Legislation (5/15/2003)
  • Testimony before the Senate Commitee on the Judiciary regarding S. 353, the Class Action "Fairness" Act of 1999 (5/4/1999)
  • Testimony before the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property, in opposition to H.R. 3789, the Class Action Jurisdiction Act of 1998 (6/18/1998)
  • Testimony before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts (10/30/1997)

AcroMed Limited Fund Class Action

AcroMed- Sambolin Appeal Re Notice to Class

AcroMed Collateral Attack (Lloyd Litigation)

AcroMed- Challenge to Indemnification (Custer Appeal)

Agent Orange Class Action Settlement

Bowling Heart Valve Class Action—Attorney's Fees Issues

Broin Flight Attendants Settlement

Chrysler Mini-Van Latch Litigation

Community Bank of Northern Virginia Predatory Mortgage Loan Litigation

Computer Monitors Settlement

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. Class Action Settlement

Delta Financial Services Predatory Lending Settlement 

Favreau v. United States

Ford Bronco II Litigation

Georgine Asbestos Litigation

Hayden v. Atochem Arsenic Class Action

Hoormann v. SmithKline Beecham Corporation (Paxil Pediatric Settlement)

Along with the Prescription Access Litigation Project, Public Citizen Litigation Group has filed objections challenging the proposed settlement to a class action for economic-damages against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the maker of Paxil, which alleged that Paxil was dangerous and ineffective when taken by children under 18. Under the agreement, GSK will set aside $63.8 million into a settlement fund to pay class members' out-of-pocket expenses, attorneys' fees, and expenses. Public Citizen has objected to the settlement, and will present oral argument at the April 25, 2007 fairness hearing, based on our belief that class members will not receive the full value of the fund because:

  1. The settlement requires that class members submit proof of their out-of-pocket expenses to recover their claims, even though some class members will be required to produce records that are more than a decade old.
  2. Class members who are unable to prove out-of-pocket expenses will only receive up to $15, and will only receive their pro rata share of $300,000 if more than 20,000 undocumented claims are made, no matter how much money remains in the primary fund.
  3. The settlement agreement is silent as to what will happen to any funds remaining at the end of the claims period. Although we have urged the court to award any remaining money as a cy pres distribution, if any of the remaining fund reverts to GSK, the value of the settlement to the class will be significantly diminished.
  4. Despite the fact that the value of the settlement to the class is unknown, class counsel will request a fee award of $16 million. We have urged the court to withhold any fee award until the end of the claims period, at which time the value of the settlement to the class can be better assessed.

Update: After Public Citizen got involved, the parties significantly improved the Paxil Pediatric Settlement. Class members without documentation of their Paxil purchases can now receive up to $100, instead of $15. If you ever purchased Paxil or Paxil CR for someone under the age of 18, you are entitled to recover the money you spent on the drug. Make a claim today to be reimbursed. Claims must be made by the end of August 2007.

John Hancock Life Insurance Litigation

In Re: Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation

We represent three objectors to a proposed class action settlement agreement that would create a fund of about $20 million to resolve all claims against the defendant levee districts and their insurer for billions of dollars of damage resulting from levee failures following Hurricane Katrina, and which would deny any class member the right to opt-out.

In our objections submitted on March 11, 2009, we explained that the settlement agreement should not be approved because 1) the notice failed to provide class members any means of estimating their individual recoveries, which are likely to be insignificant; 2) the settling parties propose to resolve the case by designating the defendants’ assets “limited funds,” thereby binding all class members to the settlement without affording them a right to opt out, even though the settling parties have not shown that the settlement meets the requirements for limited fund treatment; 3) the settlement does not provide value to the class members; and 4) the agreement allows the lawyers to seek reimbursement of more than their actual costs and expenses.

On April 2, 2009, we participated in the class certification and fairness hearing. We filed a post-hearing brief on May 5, 2009, urging the Court to deny certification of a mandatory settlement class and disapprove the proposed agreement because 1) the settling parties failed to show that the defendant levee districts have made the maximum possible contribution to the fund; 2) certifying a mandatory settlement class in a mass tort case violates the Due Process Clause; 3) the settlement does not benefit the class; 4) the content of the notice was deficient; and 5) the proposed settlement agreement allows counsel to seek an enhancement of any award of costs and expenses. We suggested that the settling parties refashion the proposal to allow class members a right to opt out.

Louque v. Allstate Insurance Company

Palmer, et al. v. Friendly Ice Cream Corporation

In this case, we're asking the Connecticut Supreme Court to decide whether an order denying certification of a class may be immediately appealed — a question of first impression in the Connecticut courts. We argue that all of the relevant considerations — the efficiency rationales of class action litigation, the separate and distinct nature of the class action proceeding, the risk that denials of certification will constitute the "death knell" of the litigation, and the need to protect the rights of absent plaintifs — all favor allowing immediate appeals from orders denying class certification.

Prudential Insurance Settlement

Rodriguez v. West Publishing Corp

Public Citizen represents Robert Gaudet, Jr., and three other objectors to a class action settlement in an antitrust case brought against West Publishing Corp. and Kaplan, Inc. The antitrust case was based on allegations that the companies conspired to avoid competition in the market for bar preparation courses nationwide. The settlement calls for cash payments to members of the class, who were purchasers of bar review courses. In approving the settlement, however, the district court refused to evaluate the fairness of the amount of the payments in comparison to the treble damages that the class would be entitled to under the antitrust laws if it were to prevail, and instead considered only single damages. In addition, the court acted on the basis of an almost entirely sealed record, even though no findings sufficient to support such blanket sealing had ever been made and the sealing inhibited class members’ ability to assess the fairness of the settlement.

The case is currently fully briefed and awaiting argument in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Sulzer Hip Replacement Settlement

Tower Loan Non-Opt-Out "Insurance Packing" Settlement

Telectronics Pacemaker Lead Litigation

West v. Carfax, Inc. and Polk Carfax, Inc.

This lawsuit was brought as a class action to remedy the allegedly misleading practices of Carfax in suggesting to consumers that Carfax Vehicle History Reports were based on accident data provided from all 50 states, when in fact Carfax's database does not include police accident data from 23 states. The complaint seeks rescission of the price of Carfax reports and/or actual damages and an injunction requiring disclosure of the limitations of the Carfax database. The parties have now sought court approval of a proposed settlement that would provide neither damages nor disclosure of the actual scope of the Carfax database. The primary relief offered to class members would be coupons worthless to any class member who does not buy a used car in the next three years. Even for class members who buy a used car within that time period, the predominant relief would be only the Carfax reports that the complaint portrays as being of limited value because of limitations in the Carfax database. In addition, because the means of providing notice of the settlement is so inadequate, the majority of the class is unlikely even to know that a settlement has occurred.

Public Citizen filed objections to the proposed settlement on behalf of 17 individual Carfax customers and the Center for Auto Safety.

William T. Chapman, et al. v. Butler & Hosch, P.A., et al. (Florida Circuit Court)

This Florida-wide class action was brought against Butler & Hosch, a law firm that prosecutes home mortgage foreclosures, alleging that the firm charged consumers excessive fees and costs as a condition of reinstating their mortgages. The class includes all Florida residents who were victims of the firm's practices from 1996 through 2005. Working together with local counsel April Charney of Jacksonville Legal Aid, we prepared objections to a proposed settlement of the class action.

Most of the class members were not given notice at all, meaning that, under the settlement, they would have have valuable claims and defenses released without any compensation or opportunity to opt-out. Even those who received notice were not told that class counsel would seek nearly half of the settlement fund in fees or given any clue what their share of the fund would be. Substantively, we argued that the scope of the releases, the meager relief, the large size of the fee request, and other aspects of the settlement, all rendered the settlement unfair. In response to our objections, the court agreed to require the settling parties to provide notice to all members of the class. However, the court rejected our substantive objections and approved the settlement. We are currently examining our options on appeal.