For over thirty-five years, Susman Godfrey has been one of the preeminent firms in the country in class action cases. We have secured billions of dollars in victories for our clients across many fields, including antitrust and price-fixing cases, securities litigation, consumer class actions, and products liability cases. From the Corrugated Container antitrust class action, where Steve Susman’s team recovered $500 million for the plaintiffs, to 2015’s $37.5 million class action win ($23 million after fees and expenses) for a class of more than 7000 limited partners who invested in 12 oil and gas limited partnerships , the Firm has a tradition of winning results, against the fiercest adversaries, when the stakes are highest. Defendants have also recognized the expertise and prowess of the Firm in class action litigation and the Firm has been retained to represent Defendants in a number of high stakes class action cases.
Some of the other recent significant results in class action cases the Firm has handled include:
- In May 2017, Susman Godfrey, along with co-counsel, secured a $43.45 million cash fund and an agreement to pay future royalties to settle a class-action lawsuit with Spotify brought on behalf of music copyright owners. The suit alleged that Spotify made music available online without securing mechanical rights from the tracks’ composers. Under the agreement terms, Spotify will establish a $43.45 million settlement fund from which qualifying class members will receive compensation for past streaming or downloads of their compositions. Spotify also agreed to pay future royalties calculated at the statutory rate for songs streamed by the service, and make its track database available for claimants. In addition, Spotify is responsible for all costs associated with the administration and management of the settlement fund and notice, which adds an additional $1 million to $2 million in benefits alone.
- Susman Godfrey represents Flo & Eddie, members of the 1960’s rock group The Turtles, in addition to a class of copyright owners in a case against Sirius XM in the Central District of California. In this landmark case it was established under California law, that owners of sound recordings from before 1972 have the exclusive right to perform those recordings. This case confirmed that owners of “oldies” sound recordings cannot have their music performed for free/without their consent. Under a groundbreaking settlement, this class of owners will be compensated up to $40 million for their past performances and up to another $59 million in future royalties from Sirius XM through 2028 — the highest running royalty any direct licensor has obtained for pre 1972 sound recordings. The case is set to be tried in several other states and against other broadcasters.
- In a seminal insurance class action filed in the Southern District of New York, resolved in September 2015, Susman Godfrey served as lead counsel in a case that challenged Phoenix Life Insurance Company’s and PHL Variable Insurance Company’s decision to raise the cost of insurance (“COI”) nationwide on life insurance policy owners. After winning class certification and defeating two motions for class decertification and a motion for summary judgment, the case settled the day of the final Pretrial Conference — less than two months before trial. Settlement terms included: $48.5 million cash fund ($34 million after fees and expenses), COI freeze through 2020, and a covenant by Phoenix not to challenge the policies, worth $9 billion in face value, when the policies mature on the grounds of lack of insurable interest or misrepresentations in the application. At the final approval hearing, the Court concluded: “I want to say publicly that I think this is an excellent settlement. I think this is a superb – this may be the best settlement pound for pound for the class that I’ve ever seen.”
- A class of 800,000 Comcast cable subscribers represented in part by Susman Godfrey alleged that between Jan. 1, 2003 and Dec. 31, 2008, Comcast and other cable companies entered into subscriber swaps and acquisitions that deterred over-builder competition and enabled Comcast to raise prices to supracompetitive levels, in violation of sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act. The parties settled for $50 million after remand of the case from the U.S. Supreme Court. Final settlement (after fees and expenses) is to be determined later in 2015.
- In May 2014 Susman Godfrey secured a $19 million cash settlement for customers of two New York City tour bus companies (approximately $12 million after fees and expenses), Coach USA Inc. and City Sights LLC, and their joint venture, Twin America LLC. The settlement ends an antitrust class action against the joint venture, which plaintiffs said eliminated competition between the two bus companies and artificially raised prices for passengers.
- In December 2013 Susman Godfrey attorneys secured $86 million in settlements (approximately $62 million after fees and expenses) when serving as co-lead counsel in litigation involving more than 70 class action cases on behalf of airline passengers who alleged that between January 1, 2000 and August 1, 2007, Korean Air Lines and Asiana Airlines conspired to fix the price of air travel between the United States and the Republic of Korea. The lawsuit asserted that the two airlines, in violation of federal antitrust laws, participated in meetings, conversations and communications during which they agreed to establish artificially high prices for air passenger travel.
- In July 2013 Toyota Motor Corporation agreed to pay benefits worth up to $1.6 billion (approximately $1.4 billion after fees and expenses) to settle multi-district class action litigation pending in federal court in Santa Ana, California. In the litigation, plaintiffs, represented by Susman Godfrey, asserted claims for economic losses associated with recalls for unintended acceleration problems in Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles.
- In March 2013, Susman Godfrey secured a jury verdict in an antitrust price-fixing class action brought on behalf of direct purchasers of vitamin C against two Chinese vitamin C manufacturers. The $54.1 million verdict was tripled as required by law and after adjusting for $32.5 million in settlements with other defendants ($19.5 million net of fees and expenses), a final judgment of $147 million was entered against the defendants. The judgment is now on appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Susman Godfrey represented investors who were allegedly defrauded into purchasing securities issued by the parent of mortgage lender IndyMac Bank. The complaint alleged that IndyMac had misrepresented its financial health and the quality of its lending practices. In January 2013, after more than five years of intense, hard-fought litigation, the court granted final approval of a $6.5 million recovery for the class (approximately $4 million after fees and expenses).
- In White, et al. v. NCAA, Susman Godfrey served as co-lead counsel in an antitrust class action alleging that the NCAA violated the federal antitrust laws by restricting amounts of athletic based financial aid. The NCAA settled and paid, after fees and expenses, an additional $218 million for use by current student-athletes to cover the costs of attending college and paid $10 million to cover educational and professional development expenses for former student-athletes.
- Susman Godfrey has been appointed to serve as lead or co-lead counsel in over a dozen antitrust class actions since 1996. In appointing Susman Godfrey co-lead counsel in one such case, In re Crude Oil, Judge Pauley praised the firm’s long history of serving as “lead counsel in hundreds of class actions, including complex antitrust actions.” See In re Crude Oil Commodity Futures Litig., No. 11-CV-3600 (WHP), 2012 WL 569195, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 14, 2012).