Experienced Class Action Litigators
Our record in class actions is impressive and we have made legal history with some of our cases. This specialized area of law requires counsel with our special kind of experience.
An Example Of Our Ability
Our most recent jury trial result in class action litigation occurred in a jury trial in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in the largest FDCPA action ever tried. In that case, which had been pending for 11 years before we were hired, the court had entered summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs less than six months before trial. The plaintiffs were claiming that there were no real issues remaning for trial, and that they were entitled to $30 million in statutory and liquidated damages. Three months before trial, the defense retained our firm to take over as lead trial counsel. After a careful review of key documents and thorough strategic and analytical review of the case (as well as some thorough legal research), we developed new defenses that had not yet been raised in the case by any of our predecessors, and found a way to prevail for our clients, winning at trial. We succeeded in convincing the court to reverse its earlier summary judgment, and we proved to the jury that the plaintiff class had suffered no actual damages. After that we prevailed on an appeal before the 9th Circuit. Our fees for “pulling that case out of the fire” were a small fraction of what our predecessors had charged before we were retained. Read more about the case >
Our class action litigation and mass tort experience includes:
- Medical device class actions
- Drug class actions
- Construction defect class actions
- Product liability class actions
- Insurance class actions
- Securities and shareholder actions
Cost Control In Class Actions
The first major hurdle to class action litigation is the cost of the proceedings. Because of the number of persons involved, notice expenses alone can run into the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, and it is not unusual for courts to require these costs to be borne in whole or in part by the defense. Knowing how to deal effectively with these issues is the first step in managing the cost of class action litigation. The time and effort required to evaluate a class action—examination and evaluation of discovery responses, responding to discovery propounded by the opposition, engaging in motions practice and overall case management—can be truly significant. This is why cost control strategies and the efficient use of special technologies designed to streamline and support these tasks is essential. Our goal is not to “throw bodies at a case,” but rather to apply intellect and good judgment to the task of winning, and doing so as efficiently as possible
The number of plaintiffs in a class action makes it essential to have superb systems of document and data management. Because our entire practice is paperless (meaning that all documents have been scanned with text-recognition OCR software), and every document is nearly instantaneiously accessible, there are few firms that have mastered document management to the degree of our firm. Additionally, for particularly large cases, we develop customized databases that interface with our case-management software and our document management software to create an integrated seamless solution for document and data management in class action cases.
Typicality of Representative Plaintiffs
The selection of individual plaintiffs to serve as the named or representative platiniffs in class action litigation is rarely made with the care this critical choice deserves. Consequently, the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit are not only subject to extreme scrutiny, their individual circumstances can be imputed to all members of the class in some situations. The elements of a claim that are common to plaintffs rarely include damages, and we focus on that issue early in the analysis of any class action case.
We are experienced in evaluating all of these nuances, and have had the opportunity to observe in actuality what may or may not make sense intuitively in such cases.
Class Certification & Class Counsel
The first major battles in class action litigation occur in the context of the motion by the plaintiffs to certify the class. These motions involve a number of strategic decisions on both sides of the case. For Plaintiffs, the question of who to list as named representative plaintiffs is key. For the defense, establishing whether or not to challenge the class certification is a very specialized question. It is not always in the interests of the defense to challenge class certification, particularly if the defense wishes to be able to settle mass claims in bulk and have a measure of finality associated with the settlement of the litigation. On the other hand, class certification can give artificial weight to small claims brought by clusters of plaintiffs who, absent that additional leverage, would not have legally or economically viable claims to bring in their individual capacities. We have made law in the area of class counsel certification.
For these reasons, retaining a firm such as Godfrey | Johnson, P.C. to handle a class action makes sense, as firms lacking our experience are generally at a disadvantage in this uniquely demanding area of law.
The key to success in litigation is to be realistic and careful in terms of how a "win" is defined under the circumstances of any given dispute. No two cases are exactly alike. Remember that no attorney or firm can guarantee success according to any arbitrary standard or in terms of a favorable result at trial. Whether or not to try a case or settle a case is a decision a client makes with the advise of an attorney, and no attorney can guarantee anything about the outcome of a civil case. Any case, tried to a jury or a court, might be resolved unfavorably. Trials are inherently unpredictable. Statements contained on this website regarding the ability of the professionals at Godfrey | Johnson, P.C., are based upon good faith perceptions of our abilities demonstrated over years of practice, and are not intended to imply that the attorneys have never lost a case or that we can assure that any particular case will be won at trial or on motions. The best way to evaluate any case is to communicate about it in depth with qualified legal counsel, providing all relevant information to the attorney. It is dangerous to withhold facts from an attorney, and can lead to the delivery of legal advise that is fundamentally flawed. No attorney can prevent this from happening, as attorneys all must rely to some extent upon the information that is provided to them by their clients. The best way to evaluate an attorney is by that attorney's track record, and ours is open for discussion in any specific field. Our abilities as described on this website are based upon experience in actual cases, which have been successful more often than not. ©2015 Godfrey | Johnson, P.C. All rights reserved.