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Class Actions

Miles & Stockbridge has an extensive and substantial practice successfully defending business clients against class action claims in federal and state courts around the country. We are particularly adept at representing manufacturers and other business clients for alleged violations of consumer protection statutes, employers for alleged violations of wage and hour laws, publicly held companies against shareholder claims, manufacturers for product liability and toxic tort claims and real estate clients against toxic tort litigation. Our expertise in these areas is recognized throughout the legal community and, for the last several years, Miles & Stockbridge attorneys have authored the Maryland section of the American Bar Association's Class Action Survey.

Our objective in class actions, such as those described above, is to resolve the matter in the way that works best for our client. We are aggressive at each stage of the litigation. We assess the merits of the case quickly and accurately, emphasizing a thorough factual investigation and evaluation of the claims at the outset. We aggressively seek to have the court dismiss the suit, deny class certification, or restrict the plaintiffs' claims on legal grounds, before any class has been certified or discovery commenced. If the class is certified, we undertake full-scale discovery designed both to prepare the case for trial and to position it for a favorable resolution. Should the case move to the trial stage, our experience enables us to select the forum most favorable to our client, assess the best approach for the court, and present a knowledgeable, yet practical, defense that humanizes our client's position.

Among our key areas of focus in class action defense are:

Corporate Governance

Miles & Stockbridge securities lawyers and litigators collaborate to defend class action securities claims on behalf of corporations and their officers and directors. We handle the full range of matters typically addressed in class action shareholder and derivative suits, including allegations of securities fraud, financial misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary responsibility, regulatory violations and other corporate compliance issues.

Consumer Fraud

We defend class action lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions alleging unfair or deceptive trade practices, fraud, misrepresentation, and breach of warranty in connection with product packaging and sales practices. We have successfully obtained dismissals of class allegations prior to certification. In many cases, we have developed favorable precedents, fending off future claims in other jurisdictions. We defend similar claims for our financial services clients and are knowledgeable about Maryland's secondary mortgage loan laws and mortgage lender's laws. On the federal level, we handle lawsuits brought under the Truth-in-Lending Act, Home Ownership Equity Protection Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Debt Collections Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

Mass Torts and Product Liability

We manage class action lawsuits in a variety of product liability matters involving power tools, consumer appliances, medical devices, and industrial machinery. Our lawyers are particularly skilled at handling class actions relating to toxic torts. We have defended clients in class action lawsuits and personal injury mass torts alleging groundwater contamination, blood-borne diseases, injury due to excessive noise and vibration, and exposure to asbestos, PCBs, formaldehyde and other toxic substances. We have also developed successful defense strategies for large commercial and residential property owners and management companies against "sick building" class actions involving indoor air quality and toxic mold.

Employment Law

Our employment and labor practice defends employers against class action litigation claiming discrimination, violations of ERISA and other alleged fiduciary responsibilities, and civil rights violations. Handling wage and hour class action lawsuits under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (in which salaried employees sue for back overtime pay and damages) has become a particular focus of our employment litigation practice. We have the experience to mount a vigorous defense on behalf of our clients and are frequently successful at denying class certification for such suits.