John solves problems. He helps clients sort through the inevitable complexities that pervade big ticket litigation. Becoming ensnared in a class action, an MDL or a mass tort case can pose a financial—and even an existential—threat to a corporate defendant. Based on his decades of experience in complex litigation, John offers innovative strategic advice designed to chart a path to success.
John is mindful that success can come in many forms. It depends on the particularities of the case and the preferences of the client. On some occasions, success can be winning a dispositive motion or achieving a favorable class certification ruling or persuading a jury to rule in your favor. On other occasions, success can be an all-encompassing settlement which terminates the litigation, avoids litigation costs and gives the client peace of mind. John works with his clients to steer the litigation toward the most advantageous and economical outcome possible.
Over the course of his three-decades-long career, John has represented a wide array of clients in high-stakes litigation, including Union Pacific, Remington, Bayer Animal Health, Hallmark/Crayola, Bayer, Philip Morris, Lorillard Tobacco Company, DuPont, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Peabody Energy, Home Depot and General Motors, among others. These varied engagements have given John a depth of understanding about how to handle difficult and costly matters for large corporate clients.
While John has taken a hands-on approach to high-profile tasks, like authoring important briefs, preparing company executives for their testimony and arguing significant motions, he has also remained sensitive to client concerns. These include staying within budget, giving timely updates, overseeing company document collections, crafting alternative fee arrangements and continually assessing the client’s best options in an ever-changing litigation landscape. At the end of the day, the foremost objective is to prevail, but it is also important that the overall defense effort reflect favorably on the in-house team that is managing it.
Tobacco Industry—Over the course of two decades, represented Philip Morris, Lorillard Tobacco Company and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company in over 50 proposed class actions filed across the country. Responsible for scheduling, discovery, expert development, dispositive motions, class certification briefing and court hearings. These cases ran the gamut in terms of claims and theories. Defeated cases that claimed personal injury, consumer fraud, common law fraud, misrepresentation, medical monitoring, negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty and product liability.
Railroads—As lead counsel, defended Union Pacific in California and Arizona where proposed classes of landowners claimed rights to the subsurface of a railroad right of way. Argued class certification for Union Pacific in both cases. Class certification was denied in each.
Environmental—As lead class counsel for TVA, defended several proposed class actions which concerned a fly ash containment dike failure at a power plant in Kingston, Tennessee. Took the class representatives depositions, spearheaded the class briefing and made the primary argument for defendants at the class certification hearing. The court thereafter denied class certification in each case.
Automotive—As class counsel for General Motors, obtained the dismissal of a proposed nationwide class action involving allegedly defective windshield wipers. Successfully defended the dismissal before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Toxic Tort—As lead class counsel for Peabody Energy, was responsible for class discovery, briefing and expert development in a proposed class action arising out of historical lead mining activities in Pitcher, Oklahoma. After a hearing in which arguments were presented for the industry, the court denied class certification.
Consumer Products—In three proposed class actions alleging that CCA treated wood-leached toxins into the soil, causing property damage and the need for medical monitoring, represented the retailer Home Depot. After briefing and oral argument, class certification was denied in all three cases.
Contracts—As lead class counsel, represented Cingular Wireless in a proposed class action arising from cell phone contracts. After presenting the argument for Cingular, class certification was denied.
Class SettlementsFirearms—As lead counsel for Remington, the gun manufacturer, orchestrated a nationwide class settlement of multiple class actions claiming damages for allegedly defective hunting rifles. Successfully defended the District Courts approval of the settlement before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Additionally, along with Shook team, instituted a global recall of a different group of Remington firearms containing a particular trigger mechanism which required replacement. Consumer Products—As lead counsel for Crayola, crafted a preemptive, nationwide settlement of a class action arising from allegedly defective children’s painting products. Alcoholic Beverages—In a case alleging that imagery on beer packaging was misleading, with colleagues won the approval of a nationwide class settlement which extinguished the consumer-fraud-based claims.
Multi-District LitigationAnimal Health Products—As lead counsel for Bayer Animal Health, obtained dismissal of multiple cases joined in an MDL in Ohio arising from alleged consumer fraud in the sale of flea and tick products. The cases were dismissed following a unique summary judgement proceeding which focused on the science underlying the defendants’ marketing claims. Thereafter represented Bayer Animal Health at the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the dismissal. Pharmaceutical Devices—Served as class counsel in an MDL which contained both class actions and individual cases. Its focus was on pacemakers and other heart devices. These cases were settled on favorable terms.
Cookware—For DuPont, worked with multiple firms to defeat 28 proposed class actions which were joined in an MDL in Iowa. The cases were ultimately dismissed following an omnibus denial of class certification.
Louisiana State Bar Association Complex Litigation Symposium in New Orleans, presented on class action, complex litigation and ethics issues in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015.
Institute for Complex Litigation and Mass Claims Conference in Atlanta, panel discussions of class action issues and bellwether trials with judges and lawyers in 2017.
ABA Emerging Issues in Motor Vehicle Litigation National Conference in Phoenix, moderator of in-house counsel panel on best practices 2017.
Presentations about class actions and group actions to international counsel in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.