Class Action/Mass Tort Litigation

Because of the intense pressure that class actions can place on defendants, the class action mechanism has been, and will likely continue to be, utilized frequently by plaintiffs.  We defend clients in state and federal class action litigation, both in Texas and in other jurisdictions.

For years, our lawyers have been at the Texas epicenter of some of the most significant, bet-the-company nationwide mass tort litigation.  That experience armed us with the particular skills required to navigate mass tort litigation, including the ability to develop a litigation strategy that focuses on the litigation as a whole rather than just the first cases set for trial, the ability to manage the inevitable publicity that will accompany substantial mass tort litigation, and the ability to simultaneously manage discovery, expert and fact witnesses, and motion practice in multiple cases at the same time.

Class Actions

As a practical matter, the battle in class action litigation is often won or lost at the class certification stage.  Copeland & Rice lawyers are experienced in evaluating class claims to identify potential weaknesses to best position the client for the class certification process. We have defeated class certification, and when class certification was successful, we have negotiated and implemented favorable class action settlements on behalf of our client.

Mass Tort Litigation

Mass tort litigation can, if not handled properly, quickly spiral out of control.  As veterans of mass tort wars, we at Copeland & Rice are well positioned to represent clients facing this dangerous type of litigation.

Representative Matters:

  • Served as co-lead trial counsel in successfully defending Colonial Pipeline Company in the first case to be tried arising from the rupture of four petroleum pipelines and the largest inland gasoline spill in U.S. history and a large fire. The plaintiffs claimed personal injuries and property damage, and sought millions in punitive damages.  Following a 12-week trial, a Jefferson County (Beaumont), Texas, jury rendered a unanimous verdict of no liability and causation on behalf of Colonial. These plaintiffs were part of a larger group of 17,000 persons who brought suit in more than 40 lawsuits filed in five counties, and the trial was selected by The National Law Journal as the nation’s top environmental/toxic tort defense victory in one of 15 cases in various categories receiving similar recognition.
  • Represented the owner of a large paper mill located on the Houston Ship Channel in six cases filed in three counties by approximately 500 workers who claimed exposure to asbestos and other toxic substances during the course of a construction project conducted on the site.
  • Represented a major international mining company in a class action and companion personal injury case arising from a smelter located near a small Oklahoma community that ceased operations 40 years ago.  The cases involved claims of air, soil and groundwater contamination and allegations of nuisance, trespass, and strict liability; the remedies sought included damages to real property and injunctive relief in the form of additional environmental remediation and a court established medical monitoring fund.
  • Served as lead counsel for a joint defense group of lending institutions in a class action brought on behalf of thousands of low income home purchasers who bought homes through a federally funded housing program and claimed that their homes were contaminated with lead due to alleged defective inspections; relief sought included monetary damages for diminution of fair market value, additional lead paint inspections, abatement, and medical monitoring.
  • In diet drug litigation arising from the use of prescription drugs, served as Texas trial counsel representing a major pharmaceutical manufacturer in defense of personal injury cases.
  • Represented Firestone in numerous wrongful death and personal injury suits filed in multiple counties in Texas relating to rollover accidents and product recall; also represented same client in suits filed in Texas by residents of Mexico and Venezuela concerning accidents occurring in foreign venues, which presented forum non conveniens and venue issues.

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.