Carol practices in the area of complex litigation, including defense of putative class action lawsuits, Class Action Fairness Act and other removals, insurance law and defense of toxic tort and environmental litigation. As a member of the firm's Financial Services team, she has defended these industry clients:
•Property and casualty insurance companies in putative class action lawsuits throughout the United States alleging a wide variety of improper insurance practices, including claims of antitrust violations relating to premium charges.
•Medical insurance companies in private party litigation in federal courts in matters involving allegedly improper denials of health insurance benefits.
Carol has presented in-house and outside Continuing Legal Education seminars on a variety of topics, including legal writing, legal ethics, expert depositions, insurance litigation, environmental and toxic tort litigation, product liability law, and computerized technology for litigation support.
Insurance Law Litigation
• Defense of property and casualty insurance companies in putative class action lawsuits pending throughout the United States alleging improper insurance practices, including alleged antitrust violations relating to auto premiums and the use of crash parts that were not original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts; alleged consumer fraud due to use of non-OEM crash parts to repair autos; failure to pay alleged “inherent diminished value” after a wrecked auto was properly repaired; alleged issues with homeowners' insurance premium charges; alleged auto medical payment (medpay) issues; alleged issues with workers' compensation insurance premium charges; alleged “silent PPO” medical bill reductions; alleged failure to pay interest on premium finance contracts.
•Defense of a putative statewide class action case in U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, alleging insurance “redlining” against multiple homeowners insurers in Missouri. Class certification was denied and the actions of the named plaintiffs dismissed without prejudice. The U.S. Appeals Court, Eighth Circuit, affirmed on appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari.
•Prosecution of claims for millions of dollars in past due insurance premiums under retrospectively rated workers' compensation policies; defense of related “bad faith” claims or counterclaims brought by the insured parties; defense of other insurance bad faith claims.
•Defense of insurance companies before state regulatory authorities and in private party litigation in U.S. District Court, Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri, in matters involving allegedly improper denials of health insurance benefits.
•Prosecution of claims by insurance company against former independent agent accused of defrauding policyholders and defense of related claims by policyholders against the insurance company (U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri).
Toxic Tort and Environmental Litigation
•Defense of corporate defendants in personal injury cases pending in St. Louis County and City alleging development of cancer because of alleged trace chemical exposure through the food chain.
•Represent corporate defendants in multiple related cases (in excess of 1,000 personal-injury claims made by past and present residents near an industrial area) currently pending in state court in St. Clair County, Ill.
•Defense of clients in an action involving more than 100 plaintiffs alleging property stigma damage because of alleged past and present industrial pollution of Escambia Bay in Pensacola, Fla. (case predates the BP oil disaster).
•Defense of corporate clients in three related cases removed to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, seeking certification of a property stigma damage and medical monitoring class and including more than 1,200 individual personal injury claims. All cases were ultimately dismissed without prejudice.
•Defense of corporate defendants in certified class action lawsuit in Montana state court alleging nuisance caused by paint chips thrown into a trout stream several decades after the sale of the product at issue.
•Defense of a corporate client in federal court in San Jose, Calif., in more than 250 related lawsuits, including several putative class actions, concerning alleged groundwater contamination arising from perchlorate use at a signal flare manufacturing facility. Many of the lawsuits were initially filed in state court and removed, notwithstanding fraudulent joinder and fraudulent misjoinder of resident defendant issues. Several of the lawsuits sought certification of a medical monitoring class and actual and punitive damages for alleged residential property devaluation. The class certification allegations were dismissed. The jury trial resulted in a defense verdict on four bellwether cases in 2005. All remaining cases resolved favorably for the client.
•Defense of corporate defendant in a case removed from Madison County, Ill., to U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois, alleging that the plaintiff developed multiple sclerosis because of exposure to percloroethylene dry-cleaning fluid. The federal court granted defense Daubert motions, concluding the litigation.
•Counsel for 14 chemical company defendants included among 35 alleged co-conspirators in a toxic tort death case originally filed in Madison County, Ill. Removed the case to federal court (notwithstanding the large number of co-defendants and fraudulent joinder issues), obtained transfer to the Central District of Illinois and secured dismissal of the conspiracy count from a 66-page, 150-paragraph complaint because of plaintiffs' repeated failures to plead conspiracy to defraud with the particularity required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
•Defense of corporate defendant in New York state court in a series of related cases involving the claims of approximately 200 individual plaintiffs against multiple defendant manufacturers of chemicals that allegedly caused birth defects in children and cancer in adults.
•Defense of a corporate client in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Ohio and other state courts in a series of related cases seeking actual and punitive damages from all past and present members of an industry trade group based on conspiracy allegations.
•Defense of a corporate defendant in a putative class action case in state court in Houston, Texas, seeking in excess of $225 million for diminution of property damage. Summary judgment obtained based on the statute of limitations and plaintiffs' appeal of the favorable ruling dismissed. The substance at issue was low-level radioactive phosphogypsum.
•Counseled corporate defendant in a putative state class action lawsuit alleging personal injury and property damage due to exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) pending in the Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis. The court denied class certification. Summary judgment obtained based on the statute of limitations in September 2001 against 15 individual plaintiffs who later filed a “copycat” lawsuit in the same court on a nonclass basis. (Client settled favorably just prior to oral argument on the summary judgment motion prepared by the firm, which was later granted in favor of the remaining co-defendant.)
•Defense of a Delaware corporation in a nonremovable complex action brought by another Delaware corporation in state court in a rural area of a Southern state seeking millions of dollars for environmental cleanup costs. The case settled favorably for the client prior to jury trial.
•Defense of a corporate client in a complex toxic tort brain cancer death case involving numerous fact and expert witnesses and tried for four weeks before a St. Louis jury. The jury verdict for the defendant was affirmed on appeal. After this defeat, plaintiffs' counsel obtained leave to withdraw from hundreds of related personal injury and death claims pending in St. Louis, resulting in dismissals for failure to prosecute.
•Represented a corporate defendant in a six-week jury trial in a complex multiple-plaintiff toxic tort case involving numerous expert witnesses in the Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis. The case settled just prior to closing arguments.