Hawxhurst Harris has a long track record of success defending proposed class actions. As lead defense counsel we have never lost a class certification motion. We have successfully defended and resolved on very favorable terms class actions in several areas, including antitrust, consumer protection, and employment. Our strategy is to be appropriately aggressive—we understand our client’s business and how it relates to class issues. We take the time to know the named plaintiffs—often better than their own lawyers. And we often engage expert consultants very early to assess potential liability and to help us develop a strategy to defeat certification.
We also have been retained by clients in cases after a class has been certified and have successfully resolved those cases through summary judgment and settlement on favorable terms short of trial. Our attorneys have experience representing plaintiffs and defendants in class actions, which gives us valuable insight into the other side’s strategies and objectives.
Some of our representative class action matters include:
- Defeating a proposed multi-state class action brought by 20 named plaintiffs, alleging 18 causes of action for violations of federal and various state laws. Plaintiffs sought over $3 billion in damages against the Firm’s client, the maker of the popular energy shot 5-hour ENERGY®, for allegedly misrepresenting the product’s benefits. Through motion practice, the Firm narrowed the number of plaintiffs and claims by about half, and by the time plaintiffs moved for class certification, they sought only certification of claims attacking the brand name, 5-hour ENERGY®. The Firm defeated class certification and plaintiffs’ subsequent Rule 23(f) application to the Ninth Circuit. Then Firm then obtained court permission to file a motion for summary judgment against the claims plaintiffs sought to certify and prevailed there as well. All that was left of the proposed $3 billion case were the negligible individual claims of a handful of plaintiffs.
- Defeating a proposed class action on behalf of a marketer of a product that helped allay hangover symptoms. The named plaintiff alleged that the product did not work as advertised and, she alleged, did not work at all. The Firm developed a strategy that included close scrutiny of the named plaintiff—including evidence suggesting that she was a “proficient partier”—and testimony from consumers showing that they were perfectly satisfied with the product and believed the advertisements at issue were not misleading. The district court denied class certification and also found that plaintiff lacked standing to pursue her individual claims. Plaintiff ultimately paid our client thousands of dollars in fees and dismissed her claims with prejudice, rather than going to trial.
- Resolving on extremely favorable terms a class action against a marketer of consumer health products after being hired to replace a law firm that had unsuccessfully opposed plaintiffs’ motion for certification of a California class. Because the product at issue was already being phased out as part of that line of products due to manufacturing costs—and because the company’s records indicated that consumers were happy with that line of products—the Firm developed a strategy to seek a nationwide settlement class on a “claims-made” basis that would resolve all claims by all consumers for the entire line of products, rather than seeking to decertify the class that had been certified. The strategy was successful. Ultimately, less than $500 in claims were made, whereas all potential claims by all consumers in the United States were dismissed with prejudice as part of the classwide settlement. It got better: plaintiffs’ counsel—a well-known Southern California class action firm—paid our client over $200,000 in fees and costs after an unsuccessful attempt to breach the class settlement because the trial court awarded a small fraction of the fees sought.