Practice Areas & Industries: Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP


Class Action Defense Practice Return to Practice Areas & Industries

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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Sutherland lawyers are experienced in handling would-be class actions successfully and efficiently.

The explosion of class actions is one of the most serious developments businesses have faced in the past 25 years. Sutherland has defended more than 200 putative class actions in the last five years alone. Our success lies in mastering the mechanics of class actions and related areas such as removal, arbitration and appeals. Often, pressing for an early decision on the merits, before a class is certified, proves to be the best strategy. Providing the court with a clear understanding of what a class action trial would entail can be critical to defeating class certification.

In defending class actions, our lawyers bring subject-matter experience in a variety of industries and businesses that regularly face class actions, including securities, construction, consumer finance, property, casualty and life insurance and professional services. Our experience also includes defending employment, FLSA and ERISA collective and class actions.

Under the Class Action Fairness Act, many cases are migrating to federal court, raising questions such as issue certification, the ongoing impact of Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the availability of arbitration, and new settlement requirements.

Why Sutherland
Industry understanding.
The intricacies of class action defense vary from one industry to another, and our attorneys have defended clients in numerous industries and areas of law. We have impressive records in defending class actions in securities, property and casualty and life insurance, employment, product liability and consumer finance among other area.

Track record. Our practice has defended more than 200 putative class actions in the past five years.

Venue experience. Sutherland's attorneys regularly appear in class action and MDL cases at the federal and state levels, and they know how to deal with arbitration proceedings as well as administrative hearings. As a result, they understand which venue is likely to be most advantageous in a given situation and have the requisite background to move cases there whenever possible.

Nuts and Bolts
Our class action defense practice engages in matters related to:

  • Securities
  • Consumer finance
  • Property and casualty insurance
  • Life, health and disability insurance
  • Professional liability
  • Franchise
  • Antitrust
  • ERISA and Employee Benefits
  • Employment
  • Environmental
  • FLSA collective actions

A sampling of our recent class action experience includes:

  • Bankruptcy discharge and other class actions
  • Consumer class actions
    • Unfair Deceptive Trade Practices
    • Truth-in-Lending Act
    • Fair Credit Reporting Act
    • Service Members Civil Relief Act
    • Common Law Fraud
    • Consumer Leasing Act
    • Equal Credit Opportunity Act
    • Uniform Commercial Code
    • Credit Repair Organizations Act
  • ERISA and employee benefits
    • Stock drop
    • Pension fund
    • Fiduciary duty
    • IRA plan
    • Revenue sharing
  • Franchise and antitrust
    • Robinson-Patman Act
    • Business disposition
    • Antitrust conspiracy
  • Insurance
    • Homeowners insurance coverage
    • Automobile insurance coverage
    • Flood insurance
    • Credit insurance
    • Commercial general liability (CGL) insurance
    • Commercial property
    • Gap coverage claims
    • Claims practices
    • Retained asset accounts
    • Sales Practices
  • Securities and professional liability
    • Financial restatement
    • Audit practices
    • Reliance
    • Misleading statements
    • Material misrepresentation
    • Fraud
    • Retirement trusts
    • Investor reliance
    • Public stock offering
    • Product liability
    • Ponzi-scheme claims
    • Channel stuffing
    • State attorney general enforcement

Take Action
Sutherland focuses on heading off putative class actions early, preventing certification and helping clients avoid protracted and expensive class litigation.

Selected Experience
Sutherland defeats motion for class certification in case alleging violations of California consumer lending laws.
In a putative class action alleging violations of California consumer lending laws by our client, a consumer finance company, we successfully argued against class certification. The court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, holding that plaintiffs failed to establish commonality, and the case could not proceed on a class basis.

Sutherland successfully represented an insurance company in Mississippi “wind pool” suit.
Sutherland won a directed verdict for a national property and casualty insurer in a case involving part of a state-mandated residual “wind pool” – a market of last resort for homeowners insurance on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Several smaller insurance companies filed a class action against the largest five companies with employees on the board of the wind pool, claiming the board should have purchased at least $450 million in reinsurance. Class certification was denied, and the case proceeded with four companies suing individually.

Sutherland defends auto lender in fair lending class actions.
Sutherland defended Ford Motor Credit Company in a series of putative class actions across the country under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act challenging the alleged disparate impact of originating dealer finance terms. The defense included the only trial of one such class action.