Aerospace and Defense
- Represented Northrop Grumman Corporation in a shareholder class action alleging misrepresentations made in connection with the aborted Lockheed/Northrop merger. This case was dismissed on a judgment on the pleadings and went up on appeal. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the District Court.
Automobile Rental and Leasing
- Acted as national coordinating counsel for The Hertz Corporation in multiple state and federal class actions challenging fees, pass-throughs, and refueling charges. Defeated class certification or prevailed on dispositive motion in four recent cases. Our representation included Schnall v. The Hertz Corporation, 78 Cal. App. 4th 1144 (2000), a leading case establishing the scope of the “safe harbor” defense in Section 17200 jurisprudence.
- Handled numerous product liability individual suits and class actions involving roofing insulation and other building materials for Johns Manville Corporation. Negotiated a national settlement of one such class action after previously litigating, to a successful conclusion, claims against the client’s insurance carriers and the developer of the technology.
- Served as national coordinating defense counsel for Masco Corp. and Behr Process Corporation in multiple class action lawsuits filed in seven states alleging that certain exterior wood sealants failed to retard mildew growth and ultraviolet light degradation. Achieved a settlement with significant insurer participation and a very favorable claims process.
- Represented Milgard Manufacturing, Inc. and related companies, as co-lead defense counsel in consumer and product liability class action concerning aluminum windows. Defeated class certification in the trial court; plaintiffs’ appeal is pending.
Consumer Products and Technology
- For Creative Labs, Inc., handled class actions relating to representations regarding computer sound cards’ audio processing capabilities. Case settled on favorable terms after limited litigation.
- Represented MCI WorldCom in multiple class actions and other matters with respect to billing practices and disclosures regarding various calling plans.
- Handled a class action alleging damage to consumers’ personal computers for Palm, Inc. and 3Com, as a result of electrostatic discharge “build-up” on Palm III, IIIc, V, and Vx models. Represented in two additional class actions alleging damage to Palm 500 series models as a result of electrostatic discharge and disclosure issues. Each case was settled favorably to the client’s interests.
- For Philip Morris USA (now an Altria company), handled a series of suits brought by third-party payers of medical benefits, including the states of California and Washington, numerous cities and counties, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, labor unions, hospital associations, insurers and various Indian Tribes. After the nationwide settlement agreement with the states, we were successful in obtaining dismissal of all the remaining third-party payer cases on summary judgment and/or winning denial of class certification.
- Defended the issuer and its officers and directors in the defense of a class action securities fraud case arising from an initial public offering. In this case, we successfully defeated class action certification, obtained several dismissals and obtained a judgment on the pleadings.
- Defended the issuer and two directors in two class action securities fraud cases filed under Corporations Code sections 25400, 25500, 25401, 25501, 25402 and 25502, Civil Code sections 1709 and 1710, and Business and Professions Code sections 17200 et seq. In the first round of demurrers, we successfully obtained a dismissal of all claims and a dismissal with prejudice of the Section 17200 claim.
- Represented officers and directors of Bergen Brunswig Corporation in a securities fraud class action in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
- Defended the lead underwriters in half a dozen consolidated class action securities fraud cases. The first round of motions to dismiss were granted and the second round of motions to dismiss were granted in part.
- Defended the officer and director defendants in two class action securities fraud cases and a parallel Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. We obtained summary judgment on all claims, which was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit.
- Defended four directors and officers of Polaris Aircraft Leasing Corporation, which sponsored income fund limited partnerships sold through Prudential Bache, in a series of class action and shareholder derivative actions.
- Defended a medical imaging equipment manufacturer and its officers and directors in a class action and shareholder derivative action and in a parallel Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.
- Defended Sierra Capital, a real estate investment trust, its external advisor and its officers and directors in a class action and shareholder derivative action. We also prosecuted related proxy litigation against the named plaintiff.
- Defended the directors and officers of Wahlco Environmental Systems, Inc. in a securities fraud class action brought within months of the company’s initial public offering. The case was settled for a fraction of the alleged damages after we won a partial summary judgment.
- Represented NRG Energy, Inc. in a series of 12 state and federal cases brought by a class of all California consumers and alleging anti-competitive conduct in violation of the Cartwright Act and Business and Professions Code section 17200 that resulted in high wholesale electricity prices.
- Successfully defended AT&T Capital and won a jury verdict in an action brought on behalf of a nationwide class alleging improper charges of fees and taxes under Business & Professions Code section 17200.
- Sheppard Mullin attorneys regularly consult on so-called “force-placed” or “lender-placed” insurance issues for Balboa Insurance Company and Assurant Group (American Security Insurance Company). Currently represent ASIC in putative class action challenging force-placed insurance on California mortgages.
- Represented Bank of America in a nationwide class action alleging unfair costs associated with trust accounts. We successfully obtained a transfer of this matter to Probate Court.
- Represented Comerica in a nationwide consumer class action challenging the fees associated with the use of debit cards. The case was dismissed before class certification.
- For Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., handled a putative nationwide class action regarding force-placed insurance. Achieved favorable settlement for the named plaintiff only, after prevailing on dispositive motion on most claims. Previously defended Countrywide and Bank of America on similar class actions.
- Represented Fleet Credit Card Services in an action under Business and Professions Code section 17200 alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- Handled a series of “predatory lending” actions in Washington and California for HSBC North America. In Washington, we defeated plaintiffs’ motion to certify a class of 12,000 alleged victims of predatory lending; case was subsequently settled based on a narrow class. Reduced plaintiffs’ counsel’s claimed attorney’s fees by 50 percent based on innovative “reverse lodestar” approach. In California, we coordinated the defense of multiple overlapping class actions and successfully removed them to federal court. A national settlement was subsequently achieved on favorable terms.
- Represented Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation in a class action challenging its use of private, dealer-only auctions to remarket repossessed vehicles. After limited discovery and motion practice, the case was settled favorably based on the named plaintiff’s claim only.
- Represented The Credit Store, Inc., a consumer credit/collection company, in a consumer class action related to allegations concerning the company’s collection practices and disclosures.
- Represented The Check Cashing Place, Inc. in a representative Business and Professions Code section 17200 action alleging violations of applicable check cashing laws.
- Toyota Motor Credit Corporation, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation, CenterOne Financial Services, LLC, Household Automotive Finance Corporation, KeyBank USA and AmeriCredit Financial Services, Inc.: Sheppard Mullin attorneys worked on a series of class and private attorney general actions challenging the adequacy of post-repossession notices used in connection with motor vehicle loans. In the Household and KeyBank cases, Sheppard Mullin attorneys negotiated innovative “non-class” settlements of the private attorney general claims. Defeated class certification in another KeyBank case.
- Handled related class actions for Toyota Motor Credit Corporation and Toyota Motor Sales challenging the disclosure of certain fees and costs to leasing customers. After a class was certified, we prevailed on summary judgment in one case in its entirety and obtained summary adjudication of almost all the issues and claims in the second action. Subsequently obtained an attorneys’ fee award of approximately $1 million in the first action, which led a very favorable settlement of the plaintiffs’ appeal.
- Represented Trans Union in a class action for illegal business practices under Business and Professions Code section 17200 for alleged sale of credit information in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- Represented U.S. Bank National Association in Business and Professions Code section 17200 case alleging unfair business practices in collection of deficiencies on automobile repossessions.
- Handled a “private attorney general” action for Washington Mutual Bank challenging the adequacy of its advertising of “free checking” accounts. The trial court dismissed the case on demurrer and no appeal was filed.
- Represented Wells Fargo Bank in a class action filed by several California corporations alleging breach of contract, fraud, false advertising of business services and unfair competition. A class was never certified and the matter was favorably resolved.
- Represented Wells Fargo Bank in a class action alleging, among other things, unfair business practices under Business and Professions Code section 17200 based upon alleged wrongful disclosure of personal customer information.
- For Willis North America, Inc., handled a “private attorney general” action for alleged failure to disclose certain insurance commissions. On demurrer, we successfully eliminated plaintiff’s restitution claim and were ultimately able to obtain a favorable settlement of the action.
Food and Beverage
- Defended a case for Enzymatic Therapy, challenging labeling of vitamins and nutritional supplements.
- For McDonald’s Corporation, handled a series of highly publicized class actions alleging failure to disclose that McDonald’s french fries contained beef flavoring. We took the lead role in negotiating an innovative global settlement involving a $10 million cy pres fund and creation of a vegetarian advisory board, among other things.
- Represented Star-Kist Foods, Inc. in class action brought by fishermen alleging price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act. The class was denied and the action was dismissed on standing grounds.
Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals
- Represented ABI in a class action brought by health insurance plans purchasing the cancer drug Taxol and alleging violation of the Cartwright Act and Business and Professions Code section 17200 through alleged conspiracy to block entry of generic competitors.
- Defended The Boots Company PLC, a British healthcare and pharmaceutical company, in a series of 10 class actions involving the sale of Synthroid, a synthetic thyroid hormone. Those class actions sought more than $2.5 billion in compensatory, treble and punitive damages for alleged misrepresentations regarding the bioequivalence of competing generic brand drugs. The lawsuits included claims for fraud, unfair competition, antitrust and RICO violations.
- Represented individual directors who were members of the Special Committee in a class action arising from the merger of Raytel Medical Corporation and SHL TeleMedecine Ltd.
- Represented the State Compensation Insurance Fund in a class action alleging violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200 relating to the coding of certain loss costs which allegedly resulted in the overcharging of premiums and the underpayment of dividends.
- Represented American General Life Insurance Company (and two affiliated life insurance companies) in a Business and Professions Code section 17200 case alleging unfair business practices for charging for premiums during a period where coverage was not in place.
- Represented three CNA companies in a statewide class action lawsuit filed against virtually the entire workers’ compensation insurance industry in California for fraud and alleged price fixing in violation of California’s antitrust and unfair competition laws. The plaintiffs sought damages in excess of $1 billion.
- Represented CNA in a Business and Professions Code section 17200 action alleging unfair business practices for failure to disclose allegedly secret commissions to brokers.
- Successfully defended State Compensation Insurance Fund in a bad faith class action and Business and Professions Code section 17200 case alleging that the change in a reserving standard led to setting unreasonably high case reserves, the overcharging of premiums and the underpayment of dividends.
- Represented State Compensation Insurance Fund in four class actions involving issues of claims mishandling and misreporting of information to the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau, the statistical arm of the California Department of Insurance. Plaintiffs in these actions sought amounts ranging from $10,000,000 to over $100,000,000 in damages.
Labor, Employment and Civil Rights
- Represented Atlantic Richfield Company in a civil rights class action under the Americans with Disabilities Act challenging the accessibility of 900 retail sites to disabled patrons.
- Represented Brinker Restaurant Corporation in a class action alleging failure to provide proper meal periods and rest breaks. The trial court certified the class action, but Brinker appealed that decision. The Court of Appeal overturned the order certifying the class and reversed several of the substantive findings of the trial court. Recently, on appeal, the Court of Appeal denied certification of the plaintiffs’ meal and rest period class action claims. The Court reasoned that because employers are not obligated to ensure that meal and rest periods are actually taken, the assessment of whether employees were forced to forgo their breaks or voluntarily chose not to take them is necessarily “a highly individualized inquiry.” Determination of these claims requires an individual analysis of why each employee did or did not take meal and rest breaks.
- Represented Chevron in a class action alleging violation of California’s wage and hour laws. The plaintiff seeks both general and punitive damages on behalf of the alleged class, as well as equitable relief under Business and Professions Code section 17200.
- Represented Frito-Lay, Inc. in a class action alleging that Frito-Lay violated California’s wage and hour laws with respect to its classification of certain employees as “outside salespersons” who are exempt from overtime pay. The plaintiff sought equitable relief under Business and Professions Code section 17200 and other monetary damages on behalf of the alleged class. A class was never certified and this matter has since been resolved.
- Represented Nordstrom, Gymboree and Cutter and Buck in a class action and representative Business and Professions Code section 17200 action involving allegations of unlawful labor practices and human rights violations in Saipan. This matter was favorably resolved early in the litigation process as it related to Nordstrom, Gymboree and Cutter and Buck.
- Represented Victoria’s Secret Stores, Inc. in a class action alleging Victoria’s Secret violated California’s wage and hour laws with respect to the failure to pay overtime to store management employees. The plaintiff seeks both general and punitive damages on behalf of the class, as well as equitable relief under Business and Professions Code section 17200.
Manufacturing, Retail and Sales
- Represented Georgia-Pacific Corporation in a nationwide class action alleging misrepresentations of the fire resistant qualities of gypsum wallboard in violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200.
- Represented Georgia Pacific Corporation in a class action alleging price fixing under the Cartwright Act and Business and Professions Code section 17200.
- Defended Jo-Ann Stores, Inc., a chain of arts and crafts stores, in a representative consumer Business and Professions Code section 17200 action challenging the client’s advertising of sales and discounts.
- Represented Kmart in a class action alleging improper collection of California retail sales taxes. The plaintiff seeks unspecified compensatory damages, punitive damages and various forms of equitable relief under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act (Civil Code sections 1750 et seq.) and Business and Professions Code section 17200.
- Represented Ralston Purina in a class action brought by purchasers of animal feed who alleged violation of the Sherman Act. The class was denied for failure to meet the requirements for class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.
- Currently defending LendingTree Loans in nationwide class actions filed against 40 mortgage lenders alleging TILA violations relating to Option ARM loan products.
- Represented Pacific Mercantile Bank in a nationally watched case of first impression in California involving the right to remedy of class-wide rescission. The Court held remedy of class-wide rescission remedy not available in class action lawsuit under TILA. This was a significant victory for mortgage industry.
- Represented Wells Fargo Bank in handling one of the initial class actions involving ground-breaking right to privacy issues re use of customer financial information.
- Represented Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in obtaining summary judgment after certification of class action alleging customers overcharged on interest calculated pay-off amounts in connection with refinanced loans. This was a significant case in that it recognized that practice consistent with federal regulations and industry standards could not support a UCL claim.
- Represented the San Diego Mortuary Association (a subsidiary of Stewart Enterprises) in an action alleging that defendants’ pricing policies violated the Cartwright Act and Business and Professions Code section 17200.
- Represented Stewart Enterprises in a Business and Professions Code section 17200 action alleging that the defendants’ pricing practices violated the Cartwright Act and Business and Professions Code section 17200.
- Represented affiliates of Stewart Enterprises in class action for breach of common law, statutory duties and Business and Professions Code section 17200 arising out of the failure of a third party to scatter the cremains of 5,000 individuals.
- Handled a series of class and “private attorney general” actions challenging late payment charges for self-storage units for Public Storage, Inc. and Shurgard Storage Centers, Inc. The cases were all dismissed or settled for nominal amounts.
- Represented a major telecommunications company in a class action alleging discrimination, unfair business practices and unfair advertising with respect to the organization’s international calling cards. The plaintiff sought equitable relief under Business and Professions Code section 17200 and other monetary relief on behalf of the alleged class. A class was never certified and this matter has since been resolved.
- Represented Nextel Communications in a representative Business and Professions Code section 17200 action in which the provider’s independent dealers challenged its commission payment practices.
- Represented Sprint/Nextel in numerous consumer class actions alleging violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200, the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, fraud, false advertising, breach of contract, improper imposition of taxes and fees, and other assorted tort theories.
Many of the class and representative actions handled by Sheppard Mullin attorneys have been reported in official legal reporters. A sampling of representative reported cases includes:
- Schnall v. Hertz, 78 Cal. App. 4th 1144 (2000) (partial affirmance of dismissal of claims upon demurrer)
- In re Convergent Technologies Securities Litigation, 948 F.2d 507 (9th Cir. 1991) (affirming summary judgment in Rule 10b-5 class action)
- In re Convergent Technologies Second Half 1984 Securities Litigation, [1991–92] Fed. Sec. L. Rep. (CCH) ¶ 96, 211 (9th Cir. 1991) (affirming summary judgment in Rule 10b-5 class action)
- Eagle, et al. v. Star-Kist Foods, Inc., et al., 812 F.2d 538 (9th Cir. 1987) (class denied and dismissed on appeal on standing grounds)
- Wambheim v. J.C. Penney Company, Inc., 705 F.2d 1492 (9th Cir. 1983) (summary judgment affirmed)
- In re Coordinated Pretrial Proceedings in Petroleum Products Antitrust Litigation, 691 F.2d 1335 (9th Cir. 1982) (affirming lower court’s dismissal of certain claims and denial of class)
- In re Quarterdeck Securities Litigation, CCH Fed. Sec. L. Rep. ¶¶ 97, 646 (granting motions to dismiss) and 98,092 (denying class certification), and 854 F. Supp. 1466 (C.D. Cal. 1994) (partial grant of motion for judgment on the pleadings)