All lawsuits are not born equal. The level of complexity in class action, mass action, and large-scale proceedings requires unique experience, knowledge, and capabilities.
The attorneys of Christian & Small have been employed in hundreds of class action cases and have represented clients in dozens of other complex lawsuits, including mass actions, multidistrict litigation, and multi-party, multi-jurisdictional state court actions. Our attorneys have successfully defeated class certification in cases based on claims ranging from product liability to securities actions in both state and federal courts.
We collaborate to understand our clients' legal and business objectives, while efficiently managing public exposure, multiple and often adverse parties, complicated legalities, and time-consuming discovery and preparation.
- The firm is currently defending a hospital and health care system in a putative Alabama state court class action resulting from a data breach.
- Successfully defended a large insurance carrier in a putative class action in the Western District of Arkansas, where plaintiffs alleged that the company breached the unfair claims practices statute in handling total loss automobile insurance claims. The federal court dismissed the claims and the issue is currently on appeal to the Eighth Circuit.
- The firm was on the Steering Committee for an MDL involving the 7.4M person data breach of Community Health Systems (CHS). The first case was filed in Alabama. Richard Smith successfully argued at the MDL hearing in Miami to locate the MDL in Birmingham and 16 class action cases were consolidated in that MDL. The presiding judge wrote a lengthy opinion granting much of our Motion to Dismiss.
- Our firm was lead counsel defending a regional hospital in a class action data breach claim in the Middle District of Alabama related to theft by a former hospital employee. The data breach allegedly affected 88,000 patients. The District Court conditionally granted the Plaintiff’s Motion for Class Certification, but the certified class only included 1,209 plaintiffs. The class was certified for liability only, leaving the plaintiffs in the position of conducting a series of mini-trials on damages, with no common fund from which to draw an attorneys' fee. That case settled for a few dollars per plaintiff, and only a small fraction of the fund was claimed by class members.
- The firm defended a large regional hospital as lead counsel in a class action data breach case related to data theft by an employee of an independent contractor vendor of the hospital. After discovery revealed that a very small number of individuals were affected, the plaintiff did not seek class certification. We won the individual case on summary judgment.
- Our firm is local counsel defending a national retail chain selling general goods, in a cyber-liability matter resulting from hackers gaining access to two of the retail chain's servers carrying its customers' payment information, potentially resulting in thousands of cases of identity theft. The plaintiffs, the financial institutions that issued the credit and debit cards the hackers stole, numbered about 2,500 banks. Following discovery and depositions on class certification issues, the plaintiff banks moved for the Court to certify them as a nationwide class. On March 13, 2019, the judge in the case issued an order denying the plaintiffs' motion for class certification based on the variations in state law involving individualized questions of law on the class’ negligence claims.
- The firm was local counsel for a market research firm in a TCPA class action case. After discovery, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed our client and the court certified a settlement class against the co-defendant bank. We have handled several additional TCPA putative class actions as lead counsel, obtaining early individual settlements or dismissals.
- The firm was sole defense counsel for a regional medical center in a class action case related to claims of improper billing, allocation of payment of other insurance, and improper hospital lien filings. Christian & Small filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted and appealed to the Eleventh Circuit. Most of the trial court's summary judgment was affirmed, and we ultimately prevailed on the one count that was remanded.
- Our firm was local counsel for a product manufacturer in a putative class action alleging that an infant product was defective. After extensive discovery, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama denied plaintiffs' motion for class certification and the class representative plaintiffs ultimately dismissed their claims.
- In a class action case filed by former students, the firm was lead counsel for a for-profit college that closed it doors. After discovery, a class settlement was reached and the Northern District of Alabama approved the settlement, which was administered.
- Nationwide representation, commencing in the Spring of 2008, of defendants in over 250 lawsuits filed throughout the US arising from injuries allegedly sustained by consumers of a nutritional supplement recalled by USFDA. Many of the lawsuits were the subject of proceedings pending before the Multidistrict Judicial Panel of the United States.
- Represented a major financial services provider in a series of litigation and regulatory matters relating to a state retirement plan. We successfully negotiated a class action settlement which the court approved, negotiated a settlement with the State (including 4 different state agencies, the Governor's office and the Attorney General), negotiated a settlement of all related civil litigation, and obtained dismissal of a related derivative suit and putative class action.
- Assisted national carrier in coordination of coverage of Alabama’s property and exposure claims to Chinese Drywall under commercial liability, contractor packages and homeowner policies including consistency coordination with other states’ counsel in claims drawn into multi-district litigation pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana. The cases are currently awaiting a fairness hearing and final approval of very favorable settlement for the carriers involved. The settlements have been conditionally approved. Damages at issue were in the hundreds of millions. Christian & Small was the lead Alabama Coverage Counsel for the carrier.
- Obtained summary judgment in a multi-party wrongful death case for silica company on issue of first impression in Alabama.
- Negotiated settlement in tortious interference/patent infringement case involving cases pending in Alabama state court and California federal court.
- Achieved a total victory for clients who were domestic affiliates of one of the world’s largest banks, in a nationwide class action certified in the only Multidistrict litigation case ever taken to trial in Alabama. Christian & Small lawyers tried the case, and won in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit while all other defendants in the financial lending business paid very large sums to settle the claims against them.
Environmental and toxic tort litigation is growing at a rapid pace. Corporate environmental practices and procedures have come under intense scrutiny due to increased use of potentially hazardous chemicals and complex government regulations. These changes present significant risks and costs to businesses.
To successfully litigate this complex and evolving body of law, your legal team must be on the forefront of developing environmental issues. Christian & Small attorneys are educated about advances in science and medicine and competent in defending their clients using innovative and practical strategies. They respond quickly, communicate frequently and offer relevant experience, and will be advocates while minimizing your exposure to crippling liability.
Christian & Small attorneys are active participants in the Business Council of Alabama’s Environmental and Energy Committee ensuring that our attorneys maintain an active voice in state environmental policy.
Christian & Small’s environmental and toxic tort lawyers represent clients in:
- Regulatory and permitting issues
- Insurance coverage issues
- Transactional work
- Client education matters
- Obtained summary judgment in large coverage case involving application of a pollution exclusion to claims of hundreds of landowner plaintiffs.
- Christian & Small represented two sets of corporate defendants in environmental litigation filed against 30-plus carpet manufacturers, in which the plaintiff claims the defendant’s manufacturing facilities discharged harmful chemicals polluting the town’s water supply. Christian & Small filed petitions for writs of mandamus to the Alabama Supreme Court with respect to personal jurisdiction issues. The writs were accepted, and the court held oral arguments. Christian & Small successfully argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of seven defendants as to whom the Supreme Court granted the writs of mandamus.
- Christian & Small served as Alabama counsel for a manufacturer in 11 federal and 13 state court cases with approximately 1700 plaintiffs, claiming property damage and personal injury allegedly arising from environmental contamination claimed to be caused by the manufacturing facility over a period of years. The defendant obtained favorable rulings on several dispositive motions, after which the parties reached a settlement of all outstanding cases, the courts held necessary pro ami and approval hearings, and the cases were dismissed.