Class Actions

Complex litigation increasingly takes the form of a class action or mass litigation. These cases can impose a heavy burden on companies, both in terms of time and exposure. For more than 25 years, Goodwin lawyers have defended our clients against national class and mass tort actions across industries, including financial services, securities, insurance, electronics, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, food and supplements, and other consumer goods and services. Goodwin trial lawyers have defended more than 500 nationwide or statewide class actions in the past five years alone, including many with potential exposure of billions of dollars.

In defending against class action claims and mass litigation, Goodwin litigators find novel approaches – in developing strategies to defeat class certification, in motion practice, in settlement negotiations and at trial – to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients. While we often achieve early and favorable resolution of complex, multibillion-dollar disputes, we are trial lawyers at heart, not afraid to take aggressive positions and win with a jury when our clients agree that is the best approach.

Class action defense requires an unusually broad range of expertise, not just in litigation but in the particular challenges and procedures attendant to class action cases. As part of our cross-disciplinary approach to defending clients, attorneys in a range of practice areas – including Products Litigation and Counseling, Consumer Financial Services Litigation, Insurance, FDA, Business Litigation, Securities Litigation & SEC Enforcement, ERISA Litigation, and Labor & Employment – work closely with our class action teams.

Goodwin is also a leader in defending companies in mass litigation. This includes defending clients in over 30 federal Multi-District Litigation (“MDL”) proceedings, including many in which the firm serves as lead counsel. Likewise, Goodwin’s litigators represent clients in over a dozen state litigation consolidations across the country in a range of subject matters, including products liability, insurance, pharmaceutical products, real property disputes, and mass property and casualty disputes. Goodwin also represents clients in over 50 disputes pending in multiple federal and state courts that have not been formally consolidated. This breadth of experience helps our litigators tackle the most complicated, wide-ranging disputes.

Defeating Class Certification

The need for strategic defense takes on special significance in the class action context. Courts have explicitly acknowledged what has been widely accepted in the corporate world: the certification of a class can coerce defendants into settling even meritless claims. Certifying a class can increase potential damage exposure to a level where a loss could cause irreparable damage to a company or even an industry. Even with a high probability of success, the catastrophic consequences of a loss often cause defendants to settle at costs much greater than originally projected.
Defeating class certification is one of the cornerstones of Goodwin’s Class Action Practice. We have helped some of the country’s leading manufacturers and service providers to defeat class certification in “bet-the-company” litigation. We have done this by disputing the existence or predominance of common questions of fact, questioning the “single course of conduct” and highlighting important distinctions between the factual and legal assertions by members of the putative class. We have played a major role in the development of case law challenging plaintiffs to show by evidence, rather than mere assertion, that class action treatment is warranted, and we have pioneered the use of expert testimony in opposing class certification in toxic tort and consumer class actions.

  • Our strategy for defending class action litigation reflects our clients’ goals:
  • Remove the action to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) or other appropriate grounds
  • Defeat class certification before the trial court, or seek an interlocutory appeal if necessary
  • Dispose of the action through motion practice
  • Achieve a favorable settlement
  • If the action proceeds to trial, win

Creativity and a real-world, business approach set us apart. As judges have taken a closer look at how cases are managed, we have earned a reputation in federal and state courts for being efficient, well-prepared and thorough. We have experience in every step of the process of defending class actions and mass litigation, and, because we understand the path that these types of cases typically take, we provide extraordinarily cost-effective representation.