For companies that serve consumers, class actions are no longer a matter of if but when. Marketing fraud, product defect, “made in USA” claims, privacy violations, improper recording of calls, deceptive pricing, and unlawful marketing via text, email, and voice mail—these are just a few of the kinds of consumer class actions that can send shock waves through a company. Not only has the volume of consumer class actions increased in recent years, but the magnitude, complexity, and interplay between consumer class actions and regulatory actions can cripple a company if not handled properly and efficiently.
Sidley’s Consumer Class Actions lawyers understand that class actions are far more than just a short-term financial threat; they are an attack on reputation, brand quality, and product identity in the marketplace. Our clients rely on our knowledge of their businesses, as well as our ability to identify vulnerabilities, to help them navigate the gauntlet of consumer protection statutes and regulations to avoid, prepare for and defend consumer class actions.
Although we represent companies in numerous industries, we have especially deep experience handling class actions on behalf of the following:
- Automotive. Sidley’s automotive class action team represents original equipment manufacturers and distributors in economic product defect class actions and multi-district litigation throughout the country.
- Consumer electronics. As technology products for the general public become more pervasive and sophisticated, so have class actions against their manufacturers. Our lawyers represent companies that produce consumer electronics hardware—computers, hard drives, etc.—as well as companies that provide goods and services through online platforms in class actions related to product defects, overstated or misrepresented product features, failure to provide promised warranty repair or replacement and improper collection of personal information.
- Consumer Financial Services. Sidley’s class action lawyers advise clients ranging from the largest financial institutions to smaller enterprises and Internet-based providers. Our litigators have handled class actions involving credit card services and transactions, gift-reward cards, payment processing, auto financing, banking, Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) and the Fair Debt Collections Processing Act (FDCPA).
- Food, beverages, and dietary supplements. We represent leading food, beverage, and dietary supplement manufacturers, distributors, and retailers in class actions involving organics, naturals, ingredient content, and efficacy substantiation.
- Household products and services. A centerpiece of our Consumer Class Actions practice is our representation of manufacturers of the everyday products and services—from soap and deodorant to pet food and air fresheners to lawn care and cleaning services—customers regularly purchase, in litigation covering labeling, product defects, misrepresentations, slack-fill and other concerns.
- Insurance. Sidley has defended the insurance industry in nearly all of the major class action claims brought in recent decades, including retained asset accounts; annuity interest crediting; annuity sales practices; premium GAP; annuity elder care; and ERISA benefit plans.
- Pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Our lawyers have defended class actions involving a wide range of pharmaceutical products, including blood products, anti-cholesterol agents, asthma medications, antipsychotics, diabetes medications, anesthetic agents, birth control drugs, anti-coagulants and weight loss medications, and medical devices, including silicone implants, spinal implants, latex gloves, and contraceptive devices.
- Retail and fashion. We defend retail and fashion clients in class actions involving products labeled “Made in USA,” state weights and measures actions, comparative pricing, “slack fill,” and the California Transparency in Supply Chain Act.
Members of our Consumer Class Actions practice also regularly defend companies in cases claiming violations of consumer privacy laws such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), CAN-SPAM, Do Not Call, the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), as well as class actions arising from data breaches.
Given the interdisciplinary nature of a comprehensive consumer class action defense, we coordinate with Sidley’s practitioners in complementary legal areas, including government affairs and white collar, to provide full service to our clients. We also regularly harness the knowledge and talent of our lawyers with experience working with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and state attorneys general throughout the country. Working with our colleagues, we provide our clients with risk assessment analyses, studying their operations, marketing programs, and customer service protocols to address vulnerabilities, organize and harness defensive data, and monitor market indicators to minimize exposure.
In the last two decades, California has been a favorite jurisdiction for the plaintiffs’ class action bar. With offices in Century City, downtown Los Angeles, Orange County, Palo Alto, and San Francisco, Sidley’s class action team is well represented in California. We regularly defend cases filed under California's unique consumer protection laws like the Unfair Competition Law, Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, Song Beverly Credit Card Act, Invasion of Privacy Act, and Made in USA law.
Recognition for the practice
Strong leadership in defending clients has earned us recognition in numerous industry publications, including the 2016 U.S. News—Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” Survey, which awarded Sidley a first-tier national ranking in the Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions—Defendants category. Members of our team have been ranked as leading practitioners in Law360, The Legal 500 United States, Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers in America, BTI Client Service All-Stars and The Daily Journal.