Class Action

Products Liability

1/19/2017

As trial lawyers, we meet people every day who have been injured by defective products, toxic chemicals, or careless and reckless acts of other people. We've recovered substantial amounts on behalf of personal injury and property damage victims and we've also successfully defended companies and professionals accused of causing injuries. We believe that Susman Godfrey gains a unique perspective and added expertise from representing both plaintiffs and defendants. As you can see below, our approach has paid off handsomely for our clients.

For the Plaintiff:

In Jorge Garza v. Amerada Hess Corporation, Susman Godfrey represented several thousand individual property owners living in Corpus Christi near several industrial facilities known as "refinery row." These facilities had polluted the property of our clients. Susman Godfrey obtained certification of a class of property owners and obtained settlements from seven of the eight defendant groups. Settlements with two defendants were obtained near the completion of a trial on the merits.

We have represented thousands of foreign banana workers who were exposed to a pesticide which causes sterility and cancer. We have obtained settlements for approximately 25,000 workers in 12 different countries. We continue to litigate claims against the remaining defendants in Texas and Louisiana courts.

  • Susman Godfrey (Neal Manne, Joseph Grinstein) represented a group of more than forty health plans (who between them comprise more than 70% of the U.S. market for private health insurance) asserting healthcare reimbursement liens against claimants to the $4.85 billion Vioxx compensation fund. In January 2009, the Firm's clients reached a groundbreaking settlement with the Vioxx Plaintiffs' Steering Committee, guaranteeing them certain payouts on their liens covering participating plaintiffs. The American Lawyer magazine featured this settlement in the "Big Suits" column of its April 2009 issue.
  • Susman Godfrey obtained a $9 million settlement for a group of over 20 health plans on whose behalf we objected to the subrogation provisions of the nationwide Fen-Phen class action settlement. Our efforts in the Fen-Phen case continued Susman Godfrey's long history of successfully representing subrogation interests in mass tort cases, a field which we pioneered in the breast implant litigation.

The firm represented numerous commercial property owners in pursuing claims against Louisiana-Pacific Corporation based on allegations that exterior siding supplied by the company was defectively designed and deteriorated when exposed to moisture. The firm successfully settled these claims before trial.

For the Defendant:

  • In 2001, 53 plaintiffs sued ConocoPhillips and Rio Grande Resources, among other defendants, alleging that the defendants' Karnes County uranium mining and milling operations caused each plaintiff to develop cancer or other medical ailments. The plaintiffs alleged damages in excess of $45 million. In February 2003, after nearly two years of litigation, Lee Godfrey was retained as lead trial counsel. Within a few short months, the defendants filed case dispositive Daubert and summary judgment motions. In 2004, the District Court of the Western District of Texas dismissed several plaintiffs' claims by granting some of the summary judgment motions. On March 30, 2005, the Court dismissed all remaining claims by granting the defendants' Daubert motion, striking plaintiffs' causation expert. Other Susman Godfrey attorneys representing ConocoPhillips and Rio Grande Resources along with Lee Godfrey were Vineet Bhatia and Brian Melton.
  • Susman Godfrey previously represented ASARCO Incorporated in defense of cases filed by about 3,000 plaintiffs alleging arsenic contamination in Commerce, Texas.
  • Susman Godfrey has defended Georgia-Pacific for 18 years against claims alleging injuries from exposure to formaldehyde fumes released by various wood products. Of the approximately 200 cases we have handled for Georgia-Pacific, two have proceeded to a jury verdict. In one case, the jury returned a verdict for our client and awarded no damages to the plaintiff. In the other case, the plaintiff was seeking $5 million and the jury returned a verdict of $12,500.
  • In Marshall Coleman v. ABB Lummus Crest, Inc., we represented a German chemical company and its subsidiaries in the defense of claims made by soldiers allegedly exposed to chemical and biological warfare agents in the Persian Gulf war. The case is one of the largest toxic tort cases ever filed. We were successful in getting our client dismissed from the case at an early stage of the litigation, thus saving our client thousands in litigation costs.
  • In Allen v. Port Drum Co., we obtained a summary judgment against putative class representatives who alleged contamination of their property and health problems resulting from chemicals allegedly originating on our client's barrel-cleaning facility. The summary judgment was sustained both in federal and state courts.
  • We represented Enron Corporation and San Juan Gas Company in more than 500 cases pending in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The cases, brought by more than 2,000 plaintiffs, arise from a 1996 building explosion. Susman Godfrey, as are lead counsel, coordinated the activities of the numerous law firms involved in the defense.
  • Susman Godfrey has represented NYLCare, a health maintenance organization, in a number of personal injury claims against NYLCare alleging direct and vicarious liability for medical malpractice by doctors. The plaintiffs in those claims have sued NYLCare alleging theories of negligent credentialing, negligent hiring, and negligent supervision. Susman Godfrey has also represented NYLCare in the defense of various class action lawsuits.