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Heyl Royster

 

Practices

CLASS ACTIONS/MASS TORT

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Heyl Royster has been and continues to be a national leader in the defense of class action and mass tort claims.

The firm was very well positioned to respond to the burgeoning class action filings in plaintiff-friendly Illinois venues in the 1990s and early 2000s. During that time, Illinois became a battleground where many class action attorneys sought to obtain certification of national classes in state court venues -- often seeking to apply Illinois law to class members who had no contacts whatsoever to the state. Heyl Royster has taken a leading role in advancing the law regarding issues such as improper venue, choice of law provisions, improper application of state consumer laws in class contexts and over-broad class certifications. The firm was at the epicenter of this litigation battle in Avery v. State Farm, 216 Ill.2d 100, 835 N.E.2d 801, 296 Ill.Dec. 448 (2005) -- a case which involved a trial to jury verdict of a nationwide consumer fraud and breach of contract class action -- and Gridley v. State Farm, 217 Ill.2d 158, 840 N.E.2d 269, 298 Ill.Dec. 499 (2005). In these cases, the Illinois Supreme Court ultimately issued more rigorous standards for class certification and proper venue, making Illinois trial courts far less appealing as venues where large classes would routinely be certified by a local state judge. These were cases with national implications which drew comment in the debates leading up to Congress' adoption of the Class Action Fairness Act in 2005. The firm's experience also includes an extensive jury trial arising out of the joinder of multiple patients alleging malpractice against a podiatrist.

By its very nature, class action litigation places the client at tremendous risk - risks that include extensive litigation costs and resources, dangerous legal precedents spurring copycat litigation in other jurisdictions and, most significantly, exorbitant liability exposure. Heyl Royster understands that class action and mass tort claims place enormous burdens on businesses which need to focus their resources on business -- rather than legal -- challenges. The firm relies on a tested team approach which enables its lawyers to learn the client's business and become impassioned advocates while at the same time employing efficient and cost-effective measures to manage the litigation. Using that model, our lawyers have successfully handled class action claims in the following areas:

  • Financial/Banking
  • Insurance
  • Securities/Mutual Funds
  • Consumer Retail Transactions
  • Tax Assessment
  • Health Care/ Hospitals
  • Transportation
  • Environmental
  • Medical Devices/ Products
  • Agriculture/Food Processing

Significant Cases

  • Land v. Montgomery Eight week medical malpractice class action lawsuit.
  • Gridley v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. 217 Ill. 2d 158, 840 N.E.2d 269 (2005) Application of forum non conveniens principles to consumer class action which ultimately resulted dismissal of Illinois (Madison County) class action in favor of State of Louisiana.
  • Rix v. Heartland Regional Medical Center No. 5-07-0006 (5th Dist. 2008) Affirmation of dismissal of class action claim brought pursuant to the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act regarding hospital pricing of services provided to uninsured patients.
  • Avery v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. 216 Ill. 2d 100, 835 N.E.2d 801 (2005) Replacement parts class action tried to verdict. Served as lead trial counsel and co-counsel, on appeal.

Publications

  • "Environmental Justice and the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill," New York University Environmental Law Journal (2013) - Download Article