"The best firm for class actions in the U.S." --Client comment to The Legal 500 U.S. 2008
WTO's 30-lawyer class action defense group has handled hundreds of class actions, often involving multidistrict litigation, all over the United States. Our class action experience spans numerous fields and issues, including product liability, traumatic brain injury, business, energy and natural resources, insurance, securities, healthcare, telecommunications, antitrust, and consumer fraud. WTO guides clients through all facets of class action defense, from contesting class certification to prosecuting Rule 23(f) petitions and trying cases against certified classes.
WTO attorneys have defeated class certification numerous times, including in a dozen insurance bad faith cases. We recognize that litigation does not go away just because class certification is denied. Our robust mass torts practice includes numerous attorneys who handle both class actions and mass actions, and the overlap of these two areas naturally translates to tremendous bench strength and outstanding benefit for our clients.
As an example of the benefit we provide to our clients, WTO serves as national class action counsel to Whirlpool Corp. That relationship has been so effective that WTO and Whirlpool were recognized in 2012 with the Association of Corporate Counsel Value Champions Award for collaboration resulting in real innovation, increased value, and improved outcomes for both our client and the firm. As demonstrated below, WTO has achieved many favorable outcomes for Whirlpool in class action matters.
Three members of our team have collectively tried five class action cases, some of which are described below. Here is a sampling of our successes and experience:
- A WTO team currently represents a major commercial insurer to evaluate allegations of concussion and traumatic brain injury brought against the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Hockey League.
- A WTO team has served as national counsel for Whirlpool, Maytag, and Sears in a total of approximately 55 consumer class actions involving a variety of home appliances.
- As national trial counsel to Ford Motor Co., WTO lawyers successfully defended the automaker in a four-month class action trial with more than $2 billion at stake in consumer fraud claims. Plaintiffs ultimately agreed to a no-cash, coupon-based settlement for the California class and classes in three other states with pending parallel actions.
- One WTO lawyer has been regional class action defense counsel for BP America Production for over a decade. In one case for BP, our team defeated class certification in an action alleging class damages in excess of $1 billion and then successfully tried the named plaintiffs' claims to a federal jury in New Mexico. In another class action case, which went to trial, plaintiffs alleged over $2 billion in unpaid royalties and interest. By the time the jury finished deliberating, it awarded only $40 million, including interest—a major win for our client.
- WTO defended Nissan North America in separate class actions involving its minivan and alleged defective side airbags.
- Our lawyers represented AT&T Wireless in a national class action involving cell phone billing practices.
- WTO is currently defending a class action in Ohio where plaintiffs allege that they contracted over two dozen illnesses after being exposed to several chemicals allegedly associated with a local washing machine manufacturing plant. In 2013, WTO's defense of a related case led to dismissal of the case.
- As national trial counsel to Pfizer, WTO lawyers defended class action litigation involving alleged antitrust violations in prescription drug pricing.
- In alleged class action litigation filed all across the U.S., and which threatened the then prevalent nationwide HMO system of healthcare, WTO lawyers served as class action counsel to Aetna Health Plans and Aetna U.S. Healthcare.
- WTO lawyers defended engineering giant MWH Global against an FLSA class action brought by a Florida plaintiffs' class action "factory" firm. After one day of depositions with WTO lawyers, the Florida firm cancelled additional depositions and requested mediation instead. In the first hour of mediation, the firm dropped its class claim, and within three hours all claims were settled extremely favorably.
- A WTO team defeated class certification for a Fortune 500 food distribution company facing claims involving common law fraud, civil theft, and violations of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act stemming from complaints about a specific pricing program in various grocery stores. The team then obtained summary judgment against the 55 named plaintiffs.
- WTO represented a major shipping company in a class action involving claims that its drivers were misclassified, a complaint that threatened the company's basic business model. The case ultimately settled on favorable terms without any changes in driver classification.
- WTO lawyers representing Whirlpool won dismissal with prejudice of plaintiffs' class action allegations that more than one million of our client's products were defective.
- WTO secured dismissal of a putative class action involving claims that KitchenAid refrigerators were mislabeled with the Energy Star logo.
- In a U.S. Supreme Court case in which plaintiffs claimed class damages in excess of $900 million, WTO successfully defended the lower court's denial of class certification for a large car dealership network.
- WTO is panel counsel to AIG on employment class actions, and our lawyers have consulted with USAA on insurance class actions and represented insurance companies in approximately 25 purported class actions filed on behalf of all Colorado policy holders regarding extended personal injury protection coverage and related bad faith allegations.