When the stakes are high and the issues complex
Class actions pose a significant threat to a company’s survival. Losing can mean millions in damages and injunctions that can cripple future business practices. McAfee & Taft is the go-to law firm for clients who want the best defense against these threats.
McAfee & Taft’s class action defense practice forms a cornerstone of the firm’s elite commercial litigation practice. Our litigators have successfully handled numerous complicated statewide and nationwide class actions in state and federal courts for clients in the manufacturing, oil and gas, mining, financial services, healthcare, pharmaceutical and medical device, automotive, telecommunications, retailing, distribution, transportation, and construction sectors.
Our class action practice is deep and broad
Our lawyers defend corporate and individual clients against class claims alleging violations of state and federal deceptive trade practices acts, unfair competition laws, the Fair Labor Standards Act, Oklahoma’s Minimum Wage Act, Title VII age and gender discrimination laws, Securities Act of 1933, Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and other state and federal consumer protection statutes.
We also have a long and successful history of handling class and multi-plaintiff product liability cases for automotive and other product manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and others.
We regularly defend major oil and gas exploration and production companies and independent oil and gas producers in a variety of class action litigation, including claims for underpayment of royalties, environmental contamination, and violations of the National Environmental Policy Act. Our lawyers have taken a lead role in dozens of lawsuits seeking certification of royalty owner classes in Oklahoma, Texas, North Dakota, and other oil and gas producing states, including cases in which class settlements were reached, class certification was denied, or the case was ultimately dismissed without any settlement payment.
We understand that in defending class actions, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Our lawyers work with our clients early on to understand the underlying issues and assess the case and determine the best strategies. McAfee & Taft has been extremely successful at having putative class claims dismissed on motions to dismiss and to strike class action allegations before discovery. We have also defeated motions to certify classes, effectively reducing the client’s potential exposure. At times, our early case evaluation and assessment leads our clients to explore settlement. We have been very successful in structuring creative settlements of complex class claims – settlements which received the required court approval while also minimizing the economic impact on our clients. Additionally, we have successfully defended the denial of class certifications on appeal in state and federal courts.
Civil and Human Rights
- Obtained a multimillion-dollar settlement on behalf of plaintiffs in a class action civil rights claim by 21 named former and current college students for themselves and 1,300 other students who alleged reverse discrimination in obtaining scholarships from Oklahoma’s four-year universities.
- Represented several faith-based or non-profit children’s homes as amicus curiae in a class action suit brought by a New York City-based children’s rights advocacy group on behalf of all children in the Oklahoma foster care system against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to reform state foster care system. The amici negotiated a favorable settlement with the State and plaintiff class.
- Obtained judgment on behalf of a regional bank in a proposed class action relating to overdrafts associated with alleged irregularities concerning the manner in which transactions were posted to online and mobile bank statements. Judgments on all claims affirmed on appeal to Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Successfully represented a large Oklahoma bank in a putative class action where plaintiff account holders alleged that multiple fees were inappropriately charged on a single. Secured dismissal of breach of good faith and fair dealing claims and obtained favorable settlemetn on breach of contract claims.
- Upon filing of motions to compel arbitration, obtained voluntary dismissal of statewide putative class action claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment filed in Oklahoma and Missouri against regional bank. Plaintiffs alleged checking accountholders were charged multiple overdraft and/or insufficient fund fees on a single item in violation of the account agreements.
- Successfully defended national retailer Stage Stores in a nationwide putative class action alleging marketing text messages sent to wireless numbers in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
- Successfully defended approximately 100 Oklahoma restaurants by obtaining dismissal of multiple putative class actions in which plaintiffs alleged they were over-taxed on their purchase of mixed beverages. Plaintiffs alleged breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, and consumer protection violations.
- Obtained dismissal of putative class action filed on behalf of all “disfavored” marketers alleging price discrimination by an international petroleum company in the sale of gasoline under the Uniform Commercial Code.
- Defeated class certification in a case brought against one of the world’s largest computer manufacturers by consumers alleging violations of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act in connection with the company’s tax collection practices.
- Obtained dismissal for mortgage company in class action lawsuit in Marshall County, Oklahoma, alleging improper payments from escrow funds.
- Successfully defended prepaid calling card provider in consumer’s nationwide putative class action alleging fraud, deceit and negligent misrepresentation.
- Successfully defended commercial forklift distributor in nationwide putative class action involving allegedly unsolicited facsimile transmissions in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
- Obtained early and favorable resolution of class action claims against a financial institution while a motion to dismiss attacking the legal merits of such claims was pending. Consumer action arose from the GPS tracking of collateral.
- Represented national car rental company defendant as local counsel in putative class action shareholder litigation in both state and federal courts alleging failure to disclose positive information in a scheme to sell / merge the company at an unfair price and pursuant to an unfair process. Claims were ultimately dismissed as a result of failure of merger.
- While serving as co-counsel for a multi-location bank, obtained voluntary dismissal of lawsuit alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment in a statewide putative class action in which the plaintiff alleged that checking account holders were assessed overdraft fees wrongfully on debit card transactions authorized on sufficient funds and settled on negative funds, as well as that multiple fees were charged wrongfully on single items.
Employment Class/Collective Actions
- Obtained dismissal of a putative class action involving Fair Labor Standards Act claims of home health care providers for disabled persons.
- Obtained summary judgment in collective action involving age discrimination claims.
- Obtained dismissal of putative class action involving allegations of gender discrimination and retaliation brought by employees working at the Quartzsite, Arizona, location of a national travel stop and convenience store chain.
- Defeated class certification in collective action alleging age discrimination resulting from a workplace reduction in force and subsequently obtained summary judgment against named plaintiffs.
- Obtained summary judgment on behalf of Oklahoma Goodwill Industries, Inc. in a class action lawsuit alleging violation of the Oklahoma Minimum Wage Act. This was the first case of its kind in Oklahoma to have a court determine the Oklahoma Minimum Wage Act took precedent over the FLSA in regards to payment of special minimum wages to disabled employees.
- Obtained favorable settlement of a national collective action against one of the world’s largest computer manufacturers for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- Negotiated nominal settlement for a drilling company in a Fair Labor Standards Act collective action brought by oilfield workers who claimed they were misclassified as independent contractors.
- Negotiated nominal settlement in a conditionally certified collective action filed by bakery employees alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Energy and Oil & Gas
- Obtained dismissal of claims asserted against two oil and gas producers in federal court putative class alleging disposal of produced water from oil and gas operations caused certain earthquakes.
- Obtained dismissal in federal court of putative bilateral class action in which plaintiff landowners sought monetary damages and the invalidation of all oil and gas leases held by energy companies in Osage County, Oklahoma. Judgment affirmed on appeal to the Tenth Circuit.
- Obtained dismissal for Oklahoma City-based independent oil company in class action lawsuit alleging underpayment of royalties to mineral owners.
- Obtained voluntary dismissal for Texas-based energy company in lawsuit seeking statewide royalty owner class on “gas flaring” royalty claims in North Dakota.
- Obtained dismissal of federal court putative class action involving alleged release of toxic substances from disposal facility by multiple oil and gas producers.
- Serving as Oklahoma counsel, obtained favorable settlement in putative class action case alleging environmental contamination as the result of inadequate remediation efforts following the closure of a zinc smelter operation more than 40 years prior by the client’s predecessor companies.
- Obtained dismissal in federal court of a putative class action where the plaintiff brought breach of contract and various tort claims against a major healthcare system relating to employee welfare benefit plans for alleged improper billing practices.
- Obtained dismissal of putative class action against health system client regarding data loss and potential release of protected health information.
Product Liability – Automotive
- Successfully defended automotive manufacturer in nationwide putative class action alleging claims of breach of express and implied warranties, violations of the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, and violations of state consumer protection acts.
- Successfully defended automotive manufacturer in nationwide putative class action alleging breach of express and implied warranties, product liability, and negligence causes of action.
- Obtained dismissal of a class action against an automobile dealer in a case involving allegations of fraud and deceptive advertising.
- Currently defending a nationwide class action in the Western District of Oklahoma for an automobile manufacturer involving diesel pickups. The complaint asserts tort, contract and statutory claims involving the diesel fuel conditioning module in certain light-duty pickups.
Product Liability – Pharmaceutical and Medical Device
- In 2004, Merck & Co. withdrew the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical Vioxx from the U.S. and world marketplaces. That same year, the national coordinating counsel for Merck & Co. selected McAfee & Taft to serve as its sole Oklahoma counsel in handling more than 350 cases, including several purported class actions. The firm was successful in getting all the cases removed, when filed in state court, and transferred to the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana pursuant to orders from the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. A settlement of most of these cases was reached in late 2007 before any of the Oklahoma cases went to trial.
- In late 2004, Wyeth tapped McAfee & Taft as Oklahoma counsel to assume the defense of approximately 1,000 cases pending in Oklahoma involving the combination diet drug Fen-Phen. The firm assembled a sizable litigation team of lawyers to begin the immediate tasks of forming a discovery plan and reviewing the medical records that had been assembled up to that point along with the limited questionnaires that plaintiffs had been required to prepare pursuant to orders from the Joint Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.
- Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corporation retained McAfee & Taft as Oklahoma counsel in connection with multiple class action lawsuits arising from the marketing and sale of cholesterol-lowering drugs Vytorin and Zetia. McAfee & Taft was successful in having Oklahoma cases transferred pursuant to orders from the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation for the District of New Jersey. The parties subsequently reached an agreement to settle the litigation.
- Retained by Merck & Co. as Oklahoma counsel in defending class action lawsuits filed arising from the manufacture, sale and distribution of the pharmaceutical Fosamax.