Class Actions & Mass Torts

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Megan Oliver Thompson

Hanson Bridgett has deep experience defending class actions, multi-plaintiff claims based on associational standing, representative actions, mass torts, and other types of impact litigation both in the private and public sector and in federal and state courts. Using a mix of skilled class action lawyers and substantive law specialists, Hanson Bridgett deploys efficiently staffed teams to achieve favorable results for our clients.

Our class action teams defend clients in every facet of class action proceedings, including federal removal and Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) considerations, arbitration provision review and motions to compel arbitration, multi-district litigation/coordination, motions to dismiss and strike, pre-certification Belaire notices, class certification, summary judgment, standing and notice issues, unfair trade practice act issues, remedial action issues, opt-out and objector issues, parallel administrative proceedings, derivative actions, publicly traded company reporting requirements, remedial phase and compliance disputes, drafting injunctions and consent decrees, and claims administration.

For matters that are best resolved by settlement, we are experienced in pursuing creative and enforceable class action settlement strategies that obtain judicial approval.

Our insurance coverage lawyers are on hand to explore and pursue coverage options when applicable.

Our Approach

We listen to our clients, and take pride in finding creative solutions to their problems. We regularly advise clients on class action avoidance strategies. In addition to serving as lead counsel, upon request, we also serve as local counsel, oversee and manage outside class counsel, assist in management of multi-district-litigation, or serve as special settlement counsel.

If a class action lawsuit is filed, at the outset, we work collaboratively with clients in order to comprehensively understand the specific factual issues raised, and to develop a thoughtful and meaningful response strategy. Our lawyers know the law, and begin preparing from day one to achieve the most favorable results consistent with our clients’ goals. We staff our cases leanly and cost-effectively, using the right lawyers with the right experience to get the job done. We do not crowd client meetings or the courtroom with lawyers. In sum, we represent our clients vigorously in an efficient and result-focused manner. We act with purpose. We understand the complexity of class action lawsuits. We do not make arguments for the sake of argument, and do not litigate for the sake of litigation.

With our experience, we bring strategic counseling on the general procedural and legal issues involved, coupled with a specialized knowledge in the affected industry. But we also know the value of alternative dispute resolution, and when appropriate will use those procedures effectively to achieve our clients' goals. And, due to the breadth of our experience, we are aware of the issues that surround class actions “outside the court room”  with which our clients deal as a result of the lawsuit. We regularly advise our clients on how to handle those issues.

Occasionally, a group defense makes the most sense. When business are similarly situated, or work in the same industry, we explore joint defense arrangements as a method to efficiently bundle client resources so that each client has the benefit of a strong defense but at a fraction of the cost. We also regularly explore insurance coverage for class claims, in addition to potential sources of defense and indemnity by way of contract or equitable indemnity theories.

In the end, we are trial lawyers too, and when appropriate we are not afraid to take a case through trial and win.

Employment Class Action Cases

Hanson Bridgett has one of the premier employment law groups in Northern and Central California. Our class action employment and wage-and-hour teams regularly defend against and advise our clients regarding the growing number of class actions brought in the employment context in both federal and state courts. We have successfully litigated class claims in the following areas:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) collective actions both brought alone and brought jointly as hybrid class/collective actions that include California Labor Code claims involving, wage-and-hour, meal and rest break, employee expenses, misclassification, bonus programs, off the clock and other overtime, termination pay, suitable seating, and donning and doffing allegations
  • Age, gender and race discrimination claims, including pattern and practice claims
  • Department of Labor and Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) multi-party investigations/litigation
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) multi-party investigations/litigation

Because our class action teams are subject matter experts, our attorneys are able to advise clients regarding operational issues that arise when the clients are defending these lawsuits.

Business and Consumer Class Actions

Hanson Bridgett's commercial litigators understand their clients' businesses and handle their complex litigation matters. Our class action experience includes defending class claims involving the following areas of law:

  • Breach of contract/contract adhesion cases
  • Unfair business practices
  • Consumer Legal Remedies Act claims
  • Healthcare and medical records claims
  • Antitrust claims, including price-fixing and other trade restraints
  • Product liability and toxic torts
  • Food labeling claims
  • Consumer privacy claims

Civil Rights and Impact Litigation

Hanson Bridgett has unique experience defending businesses, the State of California, the Regents of the University of California, local leaders, and local municipalities in class actions that are framed as civil rights claims. We have helped clients, including at trial, during the remedial phase, and throughout the appellate process in the Ninth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court, in the following areas:

  • American with Disability Act disability-access claims (ADA Titles II and III) and disability claims
  • Rehabilitation Act Claims
  • Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) access claims
  • California Unruh Act claims
  • California Govt Code § 11135 and  Title VI (42 U.S.C. § 2000d) claims
  • 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims
  • Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution claims
  • Rights to privacy under the United States and State of California Constitutions

Employee Benefit Class and Associational Standing Cases

Hanson Bridgett has substantial experience successfully defending complex pension and retiree health cases. We have a strong employee benefits practice group that works closely with our benefits litigators to develop creative solutions to complex employee benefit cases. Our representative experience includes the following:

  • Successful trial of class action case claiming a constitutional entitlement to increased pension funding
  • Defense of cases brought by retiree groups claiming a vested contract right to retiree health benefits
  • Defense of pension class and multi-plaintiff actions seeking increased pension funding, pension credit or related benefits