We have had the distinct pleasure of serving as Ford’s counsel on several of warranty and fraud cases, which has allowed us the opportunity to gain critical insight into Ford’s products, its people, and its processes. Although Ford may be familiar with some of our core group of attorneys, GT also has a national consumer products class action defense team with a proven track record of defending product manufacturers on a host of claims, including mass tort, product liability, unfair competition, false advertising, breach of warranty, and privacy claims.
With key team members in California, Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Northern Virginia, Florida, Georgia, and Colorado, our team is well positioned to handle multi-state consumer class actions and often serves as national coordinating counsel for companies facing multidistrict and overlapping class action proceedings.
GT has the rare combination of a team with knowledge of Ford’s business and products, a nationally recognized and highly accomplished consumer products class action team, and broad experience within the automotive industry at large.
What follows is a selection of representative experience to further illustrate the scope of GT’s practice and platform that we can lend to this valued client relationship with Ford. We look forward to the opportunity to expand our partnership and are at the ready to hit the ground running.
- Representation of Hyundai Motor America in a putative class action filed in Orange County Superior Court alleging false advertising and breach of warranty in connection with the all-electric IONIQ vehicle. The case is pending.
- Representation of Champion Petfoods USA in a consumer protection class action suit in a Wisconsin Federal Court wherein Plaintiffs alleged its dog food was tainted with dangerous levels of heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. These allegations included claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and alleged violations of state consumer protection, unfair competition and false advertising. On February 6, 2019 U.S. District Judge Joseph Peter Stadtmueller granted summary judgement on the basis that the small amounts of arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury were naturally occurring and safe, according to a veterinary toxicologist who testified on behalf of Champion, while consumer Plaintiff, Kellie Loeb failed to provide any expert opinions to the contrary. The claims were dismissed with prejudice on February 6 in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
- Representation of Loews Corporation, Loews Holding Corporation, MB Redevelopment, LLC, and Loews Miami Beach Hotel Operating Company, Inc. in a consumer class action suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Plaintiff claimed Loews violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act by automatically including an 18-20 percent gratuity/service charge for food and beverage charges without the statutorily required notice on the menu; presenting the notice of an automatic service charge on the menu in small, hard to read type; and allegedly hiding the notice on the last page of the menu. It also alleges defendants improperly charged sales taxes on top of the automatic gratuity. The putative class action implicated potentially tens of thousands of transactions at a dozen restaurants in the Loews Hotels in Florida over a four-year period, representing potentially substantial damages. After GT’s multiple motions to dismiss resulted in the court gutting plaintiff’s claims, the case settled in May 2018 with a confidential, individual (non-class) settlement.
- Representation of telecommunications company Global Tel*Link Corporation in multiple class actions consolidated in the Western District of Arkansas, challenging the company’s inmate telephone calling rates and fees as excessive and unfair. GTL was potentially exposed to several hundred million dollars in liability in these cases. After several years of litigation, the court denied certification in the case involving intrastate rates and fees, decertified the class in the case involving interstate rates and fees and granted summary judgment to our client.
- Representation of Sears Roebuck & Co. in a putative class action alleging that it violated California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and the False Advertising Law (FAL) by mislabeling, misrepresenting and falsely advertising that its line of Craftsman tools and products was made in the United States when in fact many Craftsman products are made outside the United States or contain significant foreign made components. In 2012, the trial court denied plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. Plaintiffs appealed the denial of their class certification motion. On April 26, 2016, the Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District, affirmed the trial court’s order. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court that the proposed class was overbroad, because it presumed that there was a class-wide injury in spite of the fact that the proposed class was not limited to Craftsman customers who were exposed to deceptive advertising or labeling. After Plaintiffs advised the Court that they intended to seek certification of a narrower class, Sears filed a motion to bar plaintiffs from doing so. On July 25, 2017 Judge Maren Nelson granted Sears’ motion, concluding that: “Plaintiffs’ intended pursuit of a successive class certification motion is barred by the ‘death knell’ rule . . . and is contrary to the law of the case established in these proceedings.”
- Purchasers of residential HVAC units manufactured by Rheem Manufacturing filed this putative class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, alleging that the copper evaporator coils in their Rheem units were defectively designed and manufactured in that they were unreasonably susceptible to formicary corrosion and premature failure. On GT’s motion to dismiss, the Court dismissed claims for fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation, violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, violation of the New York General Business Law § 349, violation of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, unjust enrichment, and declaratory relief. At this point, GT successfully paired down the case to claims for breach of express and implied warranty, claims GT intends to defeat on the merits and as not suitable for class treatment.
- Defending Twin Hill Acquisition, the corporate apparel subsidiary of The Men’s Wearhouse in class actions and product liability lawsuits involving hundreds of American Airlines and Alaska Airlines flight attendants as Plaintiffs. The flight attendants claim that Twin Hill provided uniform garments that contained various toxins, heavy metals and allergenic dyes, which caused an outbreak of skin, respiratory and endocrine illness. Prevailed at trial on general causation in Alaska Airlines matter; matters relating to American Airlines are ongoing.
- GT defended Amaya Inc. (renamed The Stars Group in 2017), an online gaming and gambling company, in a putative class action in the District of New Jersey against Amaya and various company officers, under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5. In the biggest securities fraud case in Canadian history, Amaya founder and former CEO David Baazov (not our client) was charged by Quebec’s Autorité des Marchés Financiers (Financial Markets Authority) with various securities violations in connection with trading in Amaya securities. When he was arrested, indicating that previous statements defendants made concerning his innocence might not have been accurate, the stock price plunged by more than 20%. Plaintiffs, all investors in Amaya, asserted that recoverable damages from the stock drop amounted to approximately US$26.2 million. The case settled favorably for US$5.8 million. Case settled in August 2018.
- Representing Activision Blizzard Inc. defending a putative class action suit, alleging violations of the California Consumer’s Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, and unjust enrichment. The Complaint alleged that Blizzard deceived gamers into making in-game purchases in certain videogames developed by the company. GT moved the Court to compel arbitration, and in January 2019, the Court granted the motion to compel arbitration and stayed the lawsuit.
- Represented Activision Publishing, Inc. in defending a putative class action suit, alleging that Activision’s discontinuance of streaming content on the video game Guitar Hero Live violated plaintiffs’ rights under the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1750 et seq., California False Advertising Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17500 et seq., California Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq., and Vermont Consumer Protection Act, Vt. Stat. Ann. 9 § 2451, et seq. On January 7, 2019, Greenberg Traurig moved to compel arbitration pursuant to the arbitration provision in Activision’s End User License Agreement that Plaintiff clicked assent to when playing the Guitar Hero video game. On January 22, 2019, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the case.
- Lead counsel in representing Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation in a putative class action pending in the Los Angeles Superior Court. The case was coordinated for pretrial purposes with similar cases pending against four other major motion picture studios. Plaintiffs claim that the studio defendants violated participation agreements for films released over the last three decades by not correctly reporting home video revenues. The Court approved a class settlement in 2018, and the settlement is currently being implemented.
- Representation of an American multinational retail corporationagainst a putative class action claiming it falsely advertised that its stores offer eye exams done by “independent” optometrists. Specifically, the Complaint alleges the corporation ran afoul of Sections 655 and 2556 of the California Business & Professions Code. As such, plaintiff sought relief under various California Consumers protection statutes. The lower court dismissed on lack of standing for failing to state a traceable injury. While the Ninth Circuit agreed, in part, it claimed said dismissal should have been without prejudice and therefore, reversed and vacated judgment offering claimant the opportunity to amend and re-file. We have filed another motion to dismiss, which is pending.
- Defending E*Trade in a UCL class action brought by putative class of people with car/RV loans whose vehicles were repossessed; case alleges violation of California’s Rees-Levering Act (concerning required content of notices of repossession and deficiencies on auto loans) as a predicate for UCL claim.
- Representation of a multinational engineering company, WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff in its receipt of an award of a contract for the Hillsborough Transportation Project based upon variations in sales tax rates. The investigation was conducted by the Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Department at the request of the Hillsborough County Commission. The investigation focused on conduct of a consultant to WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff in her contacts with the county commission and members of the Go Hillsborough project. The investigation was completed with no finding of any wrongdoing by WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff.
- Representation of Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp. against challenges of Marriott’s launch of the Points-based program, asserting claims for breach of contract and violation of state consumer protection and timeshare statutes. In this class action filed in arbitration, GT secured the dismissal of almost every claim and allegation made by plaintiffs, leaving them with a liability theory based only on the deletion of two resorts. With plaintiffs’ damage claims eviscerated, MVWC then settled the case with nominal payment to the two individual plaintiffs.
- Representation of Lifeway Foods, Inc. in this putative class action. Plaintiffs Andrew Block and Joseph Cabrera alleged that they purchased Lifeway’s Low Fat Kefir—Plain (“Plain Kefir”). Plaintiffs alleged that Lifeway “has advertised, marketed, sold and/or distributed Plain Kefir with the false representation that Plain Kefir is ‘99% lactose free,’” when, according to Plaintiffs, Lifeway’s “Plain Kefir contains about as much lactose as that commonly found in ‘2% milk’ sold in the dairy aisle of grocery stores.” On September 6, 2017 Judge Matthew Kennelly dismissed a portion of Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint, concluding that Plaintiffs had not adequately alleged that Lifeway had actual knowledge of the alleged defect. On October 13, 2017, following a settlement of Plaintiffs’ individual claims, the parties stipulated that all claims of Plaintiffs against Defendant be dismissed in their entirety. On October 16, 2017, Judge Kennelly dismissed this action.
- Defended Albertsons Companies, Inc. and Supervalu Inc. in this action. Plaintiff alleges on behalf of a putative class that the defendants “systematically overcharged diabetic patients with excessive out-of-pocket fees for insulin pump supplies that would have otherwise been considered covered services by Medicare and subject to the Medicare reimbursement rates.” More specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendants submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) reimbursement claims for insulin pump supplies pursuant to Medicare Part D, as opposed to Medicare Part B. On September 21, 2017, Judge Der-Yeghiayan dismissed the action and entered judgment in favor of the defendants. The Court concluded that plaintiff’s claims are inextricably intertwined with a claim under the Medicare Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1395 seq. As a result, the Court held that plaintiff could not pursue judicial relief because he had not exhausted the administrative remedies available to him. Accordingly, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter.
- Representing Shein Fashion Group in a putative class action involving an alleged data breach. The case is pending in the United States District Court, Central District of California, Case No. 2:18-cv-10340 JFW (Filed Dec. 23, 2018). Plaintiff asserts breach of contract, negligence, and statutory claims, including for violations of California Civil Code § 1798.81.5 and California Business and Professions Code § 17200, on behalf of a putative class claimed to consist of up to 6.42 million members. The claims are premised upon an alleged failure to safeguard consumers’ confidential information from criminal hackers in accordance with FTC regulations. The case was resolved on an individual basis and dismissed.
- We represented Uber Technologies, Inc. in defending putative class action suits involving alleged violations of the Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2511 et seq., the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030 et seq. and Illinois law.
- We represented Combined Insurance Company in a putative class action asserting various claims in connection with an alleged “security breach” involving certain personally identifiable information. After the court dismissed many of the claims, the plaintiff filed an amended class action complaint. The plaintiff’s class certification motion was denied, and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals denied the plaintiff’s petition for leave to appeal the order denying class certification. In November of 2017, judgment was entered in favor of our client.
- Defended an UL, LLC, an American safety consulting and certification company in this putative class action. Plaintiffs alleged that the heaters in the HVAC units made by certain defendants did not comply with certain industry safety standards published by UL because the heaters did not employ non-self-resetting thermal cut-off devices. Defendants asserting claims for (1) breach of express warranty, (2) breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, (3) breach of the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, (4) violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), (5) unjust enrichment, (6) fraudulent concealment, and (7) declaratory relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201. On August 18, 2017, the judge dismissed Count 1 (Breach of Express Warranty), the only claim directed at UL, with prejudice because of Plaintiffs’ failure to provide pre-suit notice. Although Plaintiffs sought leave to amend to assert FDUTPA and unjust enrichment claims against UL, they failed to do so in a timely manner. Accordingly, on September 28, 2017 the judge entered judgment in favor of Defendants and instructed the Clerk to close the matter, bringing this matter to a successful conclusion.
- GT represents Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in hundreds consumer and employment class actions across the country. On the consumer front, of particular relevance here, GT represented Walmart in a putative class action involving claims under California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, and Consumer Legal Remedies Act, among others. The complaint alleged Walmart misled consumers into changing the oil in their cars more often than necessary, challenging the practice of placing a reminder sticker on the windshield of cars having their oil changed at a Walmart location stating that the customer should return within 3,000 miles for another oil change. The court granted GT’s motion for summary judgment in its entirety. Recent victories in the employment space include denial of “hybrid” class and collective certification in Pennsylvania in case involving claims by assistant store managers that they had been misclassified as exempt, denial of conditional certification in New Jersey in case involving allegations under the FLSA on behalf assistant store managers nationwide, denial of denial of class certification and dismissal of PAGA claims in case in California involving claims by pharmacists for the alleged denial of rest breaks, award if summary judgment in Walmart’s favor in class action in Florida alleging nationwide claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and decertification of security check claims in class action involving an eCommerce fulfillment center in California.
- We represent Samsung Electronics America, Inc. in multiple putative class actions in the Northern District of California, Central District of California, Eastern District of Wisconsin and District of New Jersey alleging defects in Galaxy smartphones. Courts have granted our motion to compel arbitration in two matters (Northern California and New Jersey) and the others remaining pending.
- We represented Benjamin Moore & Co. in a putative class action in the Northern District of California alleging that Natura paints contain more VOCs than identified on the labels and in advertising. The case has been dismissed based on individual resolution.
- Greenberg Traurig defended First Alert, Inc. in a class action alleging that ionization smoke alarm technology was defective and failed to adequately warn of certain types of fires. The court granted Greenberg Traurig’s motion to dismiss claims under the California Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
- A Greenberg Traurig team represented Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. in which the plaintiffs sued for violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2710, the Federal Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510 et seq., the state privacy acts of California and Massachusetts, the state video rental privacy acts of California, New York and Massachusetts, the unfair/deceptive trade practice laws of California, Florida, New York, Massachusetts and Washington, California’s Legal Remedies Act; and California’s False Advertising law. The plaintiffs also sued for common law claims of unjust enrichment/quasi-contract, intrusion upon seclusion, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. Greenberg Traurig convinced the plaintiffs to dismiss their claims against our client, which were asserted in several underlying cases, before the consolidated class action complaint was filed.
- A Greenberg Traurig team defended FRS, a dietary supplement manufacturer in a putative class action alleging that nutritional supplements were mislabeled based on endorsements by Lance Armstrong. Greenberg Traurig moved to dismiss all claims in the first amended complaint. In February of 2014, Greenberg Traurig’s motion to dismiss was granted, and the case was dismissed with prejudice. The case involved claims under California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
- A Greenberg Traurig team defended Jackson Hewitt in a class action alleging that a franchisee manipulated Plaintiff’s tax returns to obtain a larger refund and retained a portion of the ill-gotten refund. The court granted GT’s motion to dismiss, in part, with the case otherwise resolved on an individual basis.