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Class Action Defense Representative Cases

Consumer Fraud Act

Busse v. Motorola, State Court. Represented defendant in Nationwide Class Action on alleged breach of privacy ("intrusion upon seclusion”) for claimed release of customer information in national database of cell phone users used to study brain tumors. Summary judgment in favor of defendant affirmed by the First District (Illinois) appellate court. 813 N.E.2d 1013, 351 Ill. App. 3d 67, 286 Ill. Dec. 320.

Parks v. Windale, State Court. Settlement. Dispute related to bed bug infestation in 88-unit apartment complex.

Clemons v. Ferolito, State Court. DismissedDispute related to marketing and sale of iced tea beverages. Dismissal obtained from trial court with no subsequent appeal.

Heger v. Attorney Title Guaranty Fund, State Court. Class Settlement.  Dispute related to return of recording fees charged in real estate closings; favorable class settlement negotiated after contentious litigation.

Williams v. Lynch, State Court. Class SettlementDispute related to amendment of car payment rates subsequent to purchase agreement; favorable class settlement negotiated after contentious litigation.

Xydakis v. Target, Federal Court. Dismissed.  Dispute related to advertised price of product being honored at store. See Xydakis v. Target, Inc., 333 F. Supp. 2d 683 (N.D. Ill. 2004) Xydakis v. Target, Inc., 350 F. Supp. 2d 748 (N.D. Ill. 2004)

Pio v. Bodyonics, State Court. Dismissed.  Dispute related to efficacy of product advertised and sold by manufacturer. Dispute dismissed after five years of litigation when out-of-state counsel was alleged to be inadequate and local counsel withdrew.

Dunn v. Atkinson, Federal Court. Individual SettlementDispute related to advertised vacation packages. Dispute settled after Rule 68 offer of judgment was tendered prior to motion for class certification.

Sturman v. AABB was a class action filed against the American Association of Blood Banks (“AABB”) on behalf of a class of all individuals who received blood transfusions in Illinois. The lawsuit alleged negligence by AABB in failing to establish standards for its member hospitals, requiring them to notify the class of their increased risk for Hepatitis C virus (“HCV”) , breaching an alleged fiduciary duty owed to the class; and committing fraud by failing to inform class members about their increased risk for HCV. Working with National Counsel, John Parker Sweeney, we were successful in having the class claims dismissed on the basis that common questions of law and fact did not predominate. Affirmed, 343 Ill App 3d 1299.

Case was Chaney v. Cosco, Inc./Dorel Juvenile Products, Cook County. Settled. Represented a juvenile products manufacturer in the defense of a class action seeking damages on behalf of nationwide class of purchasers of a certain juvenile product alleged to have caused injury to several minors and the death of an infant.  Following discovery and class certification, negotiated a favorable settlement involving issuance of a merchandise coupon to consumers who made verifiable claims of purchase and a contribution to a charitable organization.

Statewide class Complaint filed in the N.D. Ill alleged defendant violated the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act Regulation X and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act, in connection with certain loan documentation.  Representing the defendant, we successfully opposed class certification, which resulted in an individual settlement with the class representative.

Statewide class Complaint filed in the Northern District of Illinois alleged defendant violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act and various state laws in connection with certain title insurance documentation.  Representing the defendant, we successfully opposed class certification on the numerosity requirement, which was granted, after which Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his claim.

Statewide class Complaint filed in Lake County, Illinois alleged defendant violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act and various state laws in connection with certain title insurance documentation. Representing the defendant, we successfully opposed class certification and moved to dismiss on procedural grounds, which was granted.

Statewide class Complaint filed in Cook County, Illinois seeking injunctive relief and alleging defendant violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act and various state laws in connection with certain business practices. Representing the defendant, we successfully opposed class certification and then moved to dismiss the remaining claims on substantive grounds, which was granted.

A lender, sued in the Northern District of Illinois in a purported class action for consumer fraud and violations of various federal banking regulations, brought a third-party claim against the firm’s client, a mortgage servicer, for contribution and indemnity for alleged complicity in the creation of certain mortgage documentation. Representing the defendant, we successfully moved to dismiss the class claims on 23 (a) “adequacy” and “typicality” grounds, which was granted.

Illinois Statewide Class Settlement of dispute related to the allocation of recording fees charged in real estate closings. Class settlement negotiated after contentious litigation involving full class certification proceedings, discovery on the merits and petitions for attorneys’ fees.

Statewide putative class action filed in Lake County by a class representative purporting to represent groups of the defendant’s past customers who allegedly were charged either excessive or duplicative fees for the recording of documents with county officials pursuant to real estate transactions. We successfully opposed class certification and then moved to dismiss the remaining claims on substantive grounds, which was granted.

Consumer Fraud Act – Automotive Industry

Smith v. Volkswagen, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. Settlement. Claim of premature failure of front door electrical cables due to inadequate length of wire.  The case was recently filed and the parties are discussing settlement in lieu of taking issue with sufficiency of claims and pursuing extensive discovery.

Mildred Kasten v. Volkswagen, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. Putative Illinois class alleging engine defect in certain VW models allowed buildup of engine oil sludge that damaged engines. Case consolidated under provisions of MDL.

Perona v. Volkswagen, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Summary Judgment.  State class action pending for 25 years on unintended acceleration claims against the Audi 5000. J&B attorneys handled the case for the final 10 years. They succeeded in paring down the number of individual plaintiffs, the number of plaintiff subclasses, the number of defect allegations, and obtained an order paring the putative class from a national to an Illinois only class.  Finally, after six weeks of evidentiary hearings at which all experts retained by either party testified, the court struck all of the plaintiff’s experts and entered summary judgment for the defendants.  Ironically, at the same time, unintended acceleration claims were filed against Toyota in which the plaintiffs used many of the same experts as used in Perona.  While Audi was awaiting the ruling of the Illinois court, Toyota announced that it had reached a $2.5 billion settlement of the class claims made against its vehicles.  The appeal of the summary judgment is pending before the Illinois First District Appellate Court.

Hackett v. BMW NA, District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Class Settlement. Claim of a malfunctioning fuel pump over a six year range of BMW models.  After briefing motion to dismiss and obtaining dismissal order for client, plaintiff joined a national settlement class that was merged into a voluntary recall.

Smith v. Volkswagen, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Settlement. Dispute related to front bumper cover of 1998 Audi A6 vehicles. Favorable settlement in connection with simultaneous recall.

Deadwyler v. Volkswagen of America, Inc. U.S. District Court of North Carolina. Defense Verdict.  Nationwide class action tried to verdict in favor of defendant, acted as counsel for defendants in the briefing of Illinois law. U.S.D.C. No. Car. No CA-85-38, aff’d, 884 F.2d 779 (4th Cir. 1989); on remand and cross-motions for fees, plaintiff attorney sanctioned and fees awarded, 134 F.R.D. 128 (W.D.N.C. 1991), aff’d, 966 F.2d 1443 (4th Cir. 1992).

Porter v. Volkswagen, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Individual Settlement. Dispute related compatibility of Volkswagen vehicles with TDI engines with unique bio-diesel fuel sold in Illinois. Favorable settlement obtained with named plaintiff only.

Belsky v. BMW NA, District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Dismissal.  Dispute related to aluminum gasket cover head bolts and maintenance agreements covering those parts.  Obtained dismissal of BMW on the initial motion pleading.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

Acosta v. Target, Federal Court. Granted Summary Judgment, affirmed by Seventh Circuit.  Dispute related to substitution of store card for VISA card.

Muro v. Target, Federal Court. Dismissed. Dispute related to substitution of store card for VISA card. Summary judgment affirmed by Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. See Muro v. Target Corp., 580 F.3d 485 (7th Cir. Ill. 2009)

Todd v. Target, Federal Court. Dismissed. Dispute related to disclosure of customer information on sales receipt.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Janetos, et.al. v. Fulton Friedman & Gullace, LLP, et.al., Federal. Dispute against the debt collection law firm and agency for sending allegedly false, deceptive and misleading collection letters in violation of §§1692(e) and (g) under the FDCPA because they did not unambiguously identify the current holder of the plaintiffs’ debts.

Grant-Hall, et.al. v. Cavalry Portfolio Services, LLC, et.al., Federal. Dismissed.  Dispute based on allegations against the debt collectors for filing collection lawsuits without having proper assignments and title to the debt accounts. See, Grant-Hall v. Cavalry Portfolio Servs., LLC, 856 F. Supp. 2d 929 (N.D. Ill. 2012) followed by granting of motion to dismiss 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30181 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 6, 2013).

Toxic Tort

Muniz v. Arrow Gear, Federal Court. Class Settlement.  Dispute related to diminution of property values due to contaminated drinking water. Class settlement negotiated with more than 10 other defendants.

Bendik v. Arrow Gear and Pote v. Arrow Gear, State Court. Class Settlement.  Personal injury disputes related to injuries incurred from contaminated drinking water.

Bogalusa Chemical Spill, State Court. Defense Verdict.  Dispute related to a railroad tank car explosion in Bogalusa, Louisiana. Favorable verdict for defendant client after a 3 ½ month jury trial.

In Re Miamisburg Train Derailment. Class action in Dayton Ohio.  Case involved chemical plume over residential and commercial area, resulting in shelter in place orders, personal injury, property damage and lost profit claims. Won directed verdict after six week trial. Directed verdict then reversed on appeal to Ohio Supreme Court.  Prevailed again at trial and on appeal by arguing co-defendant's post-trial settlement for $16 million fully satisfied class damages and plaintiffs were only entitled to one satisfaction.  Also recovered attorneys' fees for our client in an indemnity claim against another co-defendant.

Shepherd v. General Chemical, Union Tank Car et al., State Court. Voluntary Dismissal.  Defended owner of tank car manufacturing company in a class action involving a chemical plume over residential and commercial area, resulting in shelter in place orders, personal injury, property damage and lost profit claims. The Court approved a $180 million class settlement, but we were able to secure a voluntary dismissal for no payment.  This matter involved over 22,000 people seeking medical treatment, with an estimated class of 50,000, and was filed in state court in Contra Costa County, Cal.

Board of Education v. AC&S. Asbestos Property Damage Litigation-Chicago.  Represented a surface treatment defendant in the asbestos property damage litigation filed by the Chicago and Evanston Boards of Education here in Chicago and in one downstate jurisdiction.  We obtained a dismissal without any settlement payment of these suits since the plaintiffs could not provide product identification of the asbestos containing sprayed on ceiling coatings.

Insulation Material.  This class action filed in the mid-eighties purported to involve millions of nationwide homeowners and building owners.  Represented a chemical manufacturer who supplied components that were used in creating urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) which was installed in many homes built in the 1970’s and was retrofitted into many buildings to provide enhanced insulation during the energy crisis.  The plaintiffs complained of symptoms including headaches, runny noses, and birth defects.  The court allowed discovery on the issues related to class certification.  The firm assembled extensive scientific affidavits in opposition to the certification and our motion to dismiss was granted, certification was refused, and only eleven individual cases were eventually filed. 

David Dung Ngo, et al. vs. Amoco Corporation, et al. Better known as the Amoco Research Center cancer cluster cases, the claims ranged from eight to forty counts. Represented a chemical manufacturer charged with negligence and strict liability for failing to warn of the dangerous properties of its chemicals which resulted in brain cancer to lab workers in twelve cases. The class portion of the complaint sought damages for medical monitoring for all the facility’s workers. J&B’s client was successful in having all actions against it dismissed.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act

Pollack v. Fitness, State Court. Class Settlement. Class action settlement obtained for less than $150,000, in dispute with exposure of more than $3 million.

CE Design v. Kallman, State Court. Individual Settlement.  Individual settlement for less than $50,000 obtained after more than five years of litigation after development of convincing case against adequacy of class representative and class counsel in case with exposure of more than $10 million.

Loncarevic v. Stanley Foam, State Court. Class Settlement.  Litigation ongoing in dispute involving exposure of more than $3 million.

Sather v. Cornerstorne, State Court. SettlementDispute involved monetary damages exposure of more than $45 million. Case was settled for $670,000.

Podiatry in Motion vs. Martin Avenue Pharmacy, Federal Court. Settlement. Defended a class action brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act on behalf of a medical device manufacturer accused of sending unsolicited facsimile solicitations to hundreds of physicians and health care providers.  The action sought statutory treble damages, attorneys’ fees and other associated monetary damages under the TCPA, the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act and also sought damages for common law counts of conversion.  Following written discovery, persuaded plaintiff’s counsel of the fact that they would be unable to mount sufficient evidence to support class certification and negotiated a nominal, nuisance value settlement.

Employment

Olivia Mendoza, et al., v. Zirkle Fruit Co., Federal Court. Settlement. Trial counsel for certified class of legal workers in Washington State apple orchard industry claiming that employers’ practice of hiring illegal immigrant workers caused them economic injury.

Jung v. Association of American Medical Colleges, Federal Court. Dismissed.  Dispute based on allegations that the use of the National Resident Matching Program and other requirements for completion of residency training was a restraint of trade that led to lower salaries and compensation for class of all medical residents in the United States.

Product Liability

Boos and Rasmussen v. Chicago Pneumatic Tool C., State Court. Trial, Verdict for Defendant on damages to class representatives. Settlement.  Auto glass workers claimed hand and wrist injuries from use of pneumatic tool used to remove windshields.  Jury verdict for the defense.  After trial verdict, favorable class settlement.

Blesy v. Kustom Signals. Plaintiffs purported to bring this action on behalf of a nationwide class of police officers who allegedly used traffic radar systems manufactured by four manufacturers.  The firm represented a radar gun manufacturer against a potential class of all police officers in the U.S. ever exposed to radar speed detection equipment.  The officers complained that their retinal, testicular, and other myelomas were a result of their exposure to the equipment.  We succeeded in having the class action dismissed prior to the certification stage, on the basis that the claim for medical monitoring for increased risk of future injuries to the police officers did not meet the "injury-in-fact" requirement under Illinois Law.  The plaintiffs appealed, but the appellate court affirmed the decision and refused to extend the standards for the manifestations of the injuries.

Welding Industry. Spent 20 years defending the welding industry against thousands of lawsuits countrywide that posed a threat to the very existence of the domestic welding industry. Tried to verdict over 12 cases in Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Madison County, Illinois. The claim was that exposure to welding fumes would cause manganesism, a neurological disease similar to but pathologically distinct from Parkinson’s Disease. The defense in these cases was based on the medicine and that the plaintiffs had Parkinson’s Disease which was unrelated to exposure to welding fumes. Eventually, the plaintiff’s attorneys gave up and settled all the cases for very little money.

Municipal

Cash v. City of Rockford, et al., Circuit Court for the 18th Judicial Circuit, Winnebago County, Illinois.  Dispute arising from 2007 flooding adjacent to Keith Creek in City of Rockford. Hundreds of claims were brought by landowners who lost personal property, their home, or both against municipal organizations alleging they did not plan for a 25 year or greater storm event resulting in repetitive flooding of Keith Creek throughout the Rockford area. 

Transportation

Gary, Indiana Train Collision. Two Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District commuter trains, occupied by passengers, collided on a single track in Gary, Indiana.  Johnson & Bell represented the commuter railroad in concert with its general counsel Michael Harris of Harris, Welsh and Lukmann in Chesterton, Indiana.  Defended seven wrongful death actions and numerous personal injury actions, including a class action certified in the state court of Indiana.  After successfully defending the constitutionality of the damage limitations contained in the Indiana Tort Claims Act in the trial, appellate and Indiana Supreme Courts, and after successfully arguing that the Boiler Inspection Act preempted product liability claims based on state law, all of the claims were resolved well within the damage limitations of the Indiana Tort Claims Act ($300,000 per claim and $5 million per occurrence.)


Johnson and Bell

Johnson and Bell