Practice

Class Actions and Mass Torts

From Early Dismissals Through Precedent-Setting Victories at Trial

Munger, Tolles & Olson is known for delivering innovative legal strategies and extraordinary results in class action litigation. We routinely obtain dismissals of class actions at the pleading stage or denials of class certification, and if a matter should proceed to trial, we are equally adept at defending and trying certified class actions – often being substituted in as trial counsel following certification.

Clients

We represent a wide range of clients, including:

  • Abbott Laboratories
  • AbbVie, Inc.
  • American Standard 
  • Apple
  • Chevron
  • Halyard Health Inc.
  • HTC
  • Intel
  • Juul Labs, Inc.
  • Mattel
  • MGM Resorts International
  • Microsoft
  • Netflix
  • Philip Morris USA
  • Plains All American Pipeline
  • Quanex Corporation
  • Shea Homes 
  • Shell Oil 
  • Snap, Inc.
  • Solvay Pharmaceuticals
  • Southern California Edison (SCE)
  • Takeda Pharmaceuticals 
  • TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co.) 
  • The Trane Company 
  • Transocean 
  • Verizon
  • Vulcan Material
  • Wells Fargo

Related Practices

Team

Bethany W. Kristovich
Daniel B. Levin

 

Experience

Ours is not a commodity practice. Clients turn to our group when the case presents important, difficult issues. In addition to smarts and hard work, our team brings creativity and the ability to try a case, a rarity amongst the consumer class action bar.

Key Representations include:

  • Juul Labs, Inc. in state and federal courts. There are over a thousand suits, including consumer class actions, suits by public entity plaintiffs such as school boards and suits by individuals alleging personal injury. 
  • Plains All American Pipeline in multiple civil lawsuits arising from the release of crude oil from a pipeline near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County in May 2015, including two class action lawsuits in the Central District of California.
  • MGM Resorts International in obtaining a favorable settlement arising from the Oct. 1, 2017 mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. 
  • Wells Fargo in numerous cases that spring from the opening of unauthorized accounts by Wells Fargo personnel – one of the biggest and most high profile challenges the bank has faced. Recently, we negotiated a $142 million class action settlement resolving customers’ civil claims. 
  • Intel in obtaining a settlement in a certified class action brought on behalf of several million purchasers of computers containing the first version of the Pentium 4 processor alleging violations of the Unfair Competition Law.
  • Philip Morris USA in winning a trial victory in a massive class action spanning more than 16 years involving the marketing of Marlboro Lights cigarettes. The case was named by the Daily Journal as a “Top Defense Verdict.”

Case Studies

Detailed examples of how Munger, Tolles & Olson has guided its clients through complex matters follow:

  • Real Risk to a Flagship Product

Client: Juul Labs
What distinguishes Munger, Tolles & Olson from competitors is our deep, high-stakes trial experience. Our team has successfully tried myriad cases to verdict, and our attorneys have a national reputation for guiding clients through seemingly insurmountable crises. 

We currently represent Juul Labs in various pending matters to provide strategic and legal advice and, where appropriate, to enter appearances and actively litigate matters in connection with various civil actions alleging a variety of claims, including consumer protection. There are over a thousand suits, including consumer class actions, by public entity plaintiffs such as school boards and suits by individuals alleging personal injury. The class actions allege unfair competition, product defects and myriad other claims.  

Prior to our work with Juul, Philip Morris USA turned to our team to help shape California law on the measure of damages in unfair protection cases, and our lawyers delivered, securing a trial court win in an appellate case that is viewed as business-friendly—a rarity in the state. This victory was recognized by the Daily Journal as a Top Defense Verdict.

When clients choose Munger, Tolles & Olson to represent them, they send an unmistakable message: they are ready and willing to go to trial if necessary, and their case will be litigated aggressively at every step.

Press Coverage: Juul Is Fighting to Keep Its E-Cigarettes on the U.S. Market

  • Defense Against a Novel Class-Wide Effort

Client: Plains All American Pipeline

Plains All American Pipeline is the owner and operator of a pipeline in Santa Barbara County that failed and spilled oil into the Pacific Ocean near Refugio State Beach. 

Munger, Tolles & Olson was hired 2016 to take over defense of the civil cases, numbering over a dozen lawsuits in state and federal court. On the civil side, we are currently representing Plains in a certified class action lawsuit, brought by classes of property owners and fish industry plaintiffs, that is slated for trial. On the criminal side, we defended Plains in a four-month criminal trial in Santa Barbara state court on claims brought jointly by the state attorney general’s office and the Santa Barbara County district attorney’s office. Thirty counts were dismissed before trial, and we avoided conviction on the counts charging Plains with a “knowing” discharge of oil. Plains ultimately paid an approximately $3 million criminal fine. 

Counsel for the fish industry and property owner plaintiffs in the federal class action filed claims before the criminal court, as have counsel representing oil industry workers whose class action in the federal lawsuit was decertified. In a novel effort, these plaintiffs, with support from the State of California, have asked the criminal court to award restitution on a class-wide basis, in amounts totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. In a series of orders, the court has rejected the class-wide claims brought by the fish industry class members and the oil industry plaintiffs, granting only discrete awards to individual claimants.

Both the State and the plaintiffs have indicated they plan to appeal, and Munger, Tolles & Olson will be handling the appeal.

Press Coverage: Pipeline company to pay more than $60 million for 2015 oil spill near Santa Barbara

News

Federal Court Again Declines to Certify a Class in Pay-for-Delay MDL

Federal Court Again Declines to Certify a Class in Pay-for-Delay MDL

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania once again declined to certify a class in a suit alleging improper pay-for-delay settlements...
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Edison International Victorious in Two Class Action Lawsuits

Edison International Victorious in Two Class Action Lawsuits

Munger, Tolles & Olson represented Edison International and its executives in two key victories this April.
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See’s Candies Wins Class Decertification Victory in Meal Breaks Suit

See’s Candies Wins Class Decertification Victory in Meal Breaks Suit

Munger, Tolles & Olson secured a victory for its client, See’s Candies, when the California Court of Appeals rejected a proposed statewide employment...
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