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Effective Defense of Class Action Litigation

Ohio class action case

With class action cases on the rise throughout the nation, there is an increasing likelihood that Ohio businesses may someday face a lawsuit attempting to certify a class. Class action spending has increased year over year for the last decade. Last year, legal spend in class action cases amounted to nearly $4 billion dollars and 14.6% of corporate legal spending.1 In 2023, 61.9% of all companies faced a class action lawsuit.2  

What Is a Class Action?  

A class action lawsuit can be filed in either state or federal court. It is a type of case in which one plaintiff seeks to join many other people in the lawsuit who the plaintiff claims are similarly situated. A class can be certified if the following factors are met:  

(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable,  

(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class,  

(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class,  

(4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.  

Civ.R. 23(A). A class action must also be a superior method of handling a case as opposed to the tradition method of each plaintiff bringing their own independent suit.   

What Should My Company Do If It Is Sued in a Class Action Case?

What Should My Company Do If it is Sued in a Class Action Case

If your company is sued in a class action case, it is important to have legal counsel experienced in defending class action matters. Some questions you may wish to ask your class action counsel include how many class action cases they have defended, how the judge who is assigned to the case generally handles class action certification procedure, and what is the likelihood that your case will be certified as a class. At Plakas Mannos, we have experience in defending class action matters and often co-counsel with corporate counsel to create the most effective litigation team for your case.   

What Are Some Strategies for Effectively Defending Class Action Cases?  

While every class action case is unique, there are several different strategies to consider to seek early success or resolution in the defense of a class action case:  

  • Early assessment of claims are important in class action matters. In some cases, early resolution and cost containment is the best strategy before a single party’s claims expand into a numerous class-wide group.  
  • Strategic handling of discovery is often a key to class action success. Effectively gathering evidence can supply the tools necessary to defeat unwarranted attempts to certify a class. Alternatively, the right strategy will seek to limit expensive and time-consuming class discovery to only that absolutely necessary to determine certification issues. The right class counsel will pursue protective orders when abusive discovery tactics get out of hand or may propose targeted discovery sampling so both sides can adequately assess strengths and weaknesses of their cases.  
  • Know the class action rules and hold the opposing party accountable for following the rules. Class action litigation is unique and has special rules and procedures which must be strictly followed. Experienced class action counsel know these rules in and out and will old the opposing party accountable for a failure to follow the rules.  

What Do Courts Say About the Appropriate Scope of Class Action Discovery?

What Do Courts Say About the Appropriate Scope of Class Action Discovery

Courts have considerable discretion over class action discovery,3 and it “is not unusual for a trial court to limit discovery with respect to class certification issues.4” Miller v. Painters Supply & Equipment Co., 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 95614, 2011-Ohio-3976, ¶ 41.   

When making decisions about pre-certification discovery, courts must balance “the need to promote effective case management, the need to prevent potential abuse, and the need to protect the rights of all parties.5” Courts have recognized the importance of curtailing abuse and expensive discovery when warranted: “Discovery is not to be used as a weapon, nor must discovery on the merits be completed precedent to class certification. Unnecessarily broad discovery will not benefit either party.6 

Utilizing these principles, Plakas Mannos has enjoyed success in convincing courts to narrowly tailor pre-certification discovery to only that information which is necessary and appropriate to each stage of the litigation and to curb early abusive discovery requests designed to be used as a “weapon.7

How Do We Hold the Opposing Party Accountable for Failing to Follow Class Action Rules?  

Because of the unique aspects of class action litigation, there are many rules and procedures that are particular to this area of the law. Experienced counsel can make sure your business does not inadvertently get tripped up by these unique rules and can hold the other side accountable when they fail to do so.  

By way of example, our class action law firm has had success in protecting its clients when deceptive and harassing communications and notices have been sent to prospective class members, and has even succeeding in decertifying class action cases for improper notice procedures8 and in disqualifying putative class counsel for repeated violations of Court orders during class action litigation.9 At Plakas Mannos, our team of class action lawyers can ensure not only that your business is in compliance with the court’s expectations for your case, but also aggressively challenge any frivolous or abusive conduct by the opposing party that seeks to go out-of-bounds.    

What is Plakas Mannos’ Experience in Ohio Class Action Litigation?

Our class action attorneys have had experience in both prosecuting and defending class action litigation, adding a unique perspective to approaching your case. When the future of your business is on the line, make sure to choose class action counsel who understands both the legitimate business needs of your company as well as its litigation goals and objectives. The right approach to class action litigation can lead to the most efficient and fair resolution of your case. Contact us today to get started.



About the Author

Kristen S. Moore - Plakas Mannos

Kristen Moore is a partner and attorney with a diverse range of litigation matters, from small businesses to multi-national corporations, as well as injured individuals and other practice areas.

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