Lite DePalma Greenberg, LLC Firm News Feedhttp://www.litedepalma.com/?t=39&format=xml&directive=0&stylesheet=rss&records=10en-us17 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0800firmwisehttp://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rssWrits of Replevin: It's Mine- Give It Backhttp://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=95351&format=xml&p=6944<u>N.J.S.A.</u> 2B:50-1 authorizes &ldquo;[a] person seeking recovery of goods wrongly held by another&rdquo; to &ldquo;bring an action for replevin in the Superior Court.&rdquo; &ldquo;If the person establishes the cause of action, the court shall enter an order granting possession.&rdquo; <u>Id.</u><br /> <br /> Under the plain language of <u>N.J.S.A.</u> 2B:50-1, a plaintiff establishes a cause of action for replevin by showing that the defendant is holding the subject goods wrongfully, or in other words, that the defendant is holding the goods contrary to the plaintiff&rsquo;s superior right to possession. The replevin action created by <u>N.J.S.A.</u> 2B:50-1 encompasses actions where goods are taken wrongfully or tortiously, and where goods were lawfully taken but are withheld contrary to a superior right of possession&mdash;also called detinue. <u>See</u> <u>Voellinger v. Dow</u>, 420 N.J. Super. 480, 483 n.2 (App. Div. 2011).<br /> <br /> Pursuant to <u>N.J.S.A.</u> 2B:50-2 and Rule 4:61-1, a party asserting a claim for replevin may obtain a writ of replevin, possession of the goods, and other relief by filing a motion on three days&rsquo; notice demonstrating a &ldquo;probability&rdquo; of final judgment. Specifically, <u>N.J.S.A.</u> 2B:50-2 states as follows:<br /> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div style="margin-left: 80px;">Temporary Relief; On Notice. If the court, after notice and</div> <div style="margin-left: 80px;">hearing, and based upon filed papers and testimony, if any, finds a</div> <div style="margin-left: 80px;">probability of final judgment for the plaintiff, it may, prior to final<br /> judgment:</div> <div style="margin-left: 120px;">a. grant possession of the goods to the plaintiff; or<br /> <br /> b. order other just relief.<br /> &nbsp;</div> Rule 4:61-1 is the mechanism through which a party obtains relief under <u>N.J.S.A.</u> 2B:50-2. Rule 4:61-1 echoes the standard set forth in <u>N.J.S.A.</u> 2B:50-2, that relief may be granted merely by showing &ldquo;a probability that final judgment will be rendered in favor of the movant.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> <div style="margin-left: 80px;">&ldquo;To maintain replevin, the plaintiff must have the right of exclusive possession to the goods in question. He must not only have property absolute or qualified, and the right of possession at the time of the commencement of the action, but he must have the exclusive right of possession.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> </div> <u>Hunt v. Chambers</u>, 21 N.J.L. 620, 623 (E. &amp; A. 1845). Notably, a replevin claim also requires unlawful detention after a demand for the property has been made. As the Supreme Court noted in <u>Baron v. Peoples Nat'l Bank</u>, 9 N.J. 249, 256 (1952):<br /> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div style="margin-left: 80px;">Under our statute there must be an unlawful detention and in that respect the action of replevin is put on the same footing as an action in trover or detinue. There must be an actual conversion or refusal to deliver on demand which is evidence of conversion, before the detention becomes unlawful. But to constitute such conversion there must be some repudiation by the defendant of the owner's right or some exercise of dominion over the chattels by him inconsistent with such right or some act done which has the effect of destroying or changing the quality of the chattels.<br /> &nbsp;</div> A claim for replevin also exists despite the fact that a defendant is no longer in possession of the property at issue. <u>See</u> <u>id.</u> at 257 (&ldquo;When one has wrongfully detained property and refused it on demand he is liable in an action in replevin even though it may not remain in his possession when the suit is brought&rdquo;).<br /> <br />Lite DePalma Greenberg Law Blog03 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0800http://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=95351&format=xml&p=6944A Rare Win For Consumershttp://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=95150&format=xml&p=6944Last week, the Ninth Circuit, en banc reinstated a class settlement in the Hyundai/Kia Fuel Economy Litigation. The Court upended sitting a ruling by a three-judge panel that had upheld objections to the proposed settlement. Several important concepts regarding settlement classes were reaffirmed in this ruling.<br /> <br /> This litigation dates back to 2012, when Hyundai and Kia both admitted overstating, on the required EPA stickers, the average miles per gallon that their cars might achieve in highway and city driving. Plaintiffs brought a nationwide class action alleging consumer fraud under various state statutes.<br /> <br /> In analyzing the propriety of the class settlement, the en banc court cited the 1997 Supreme Court of the United States&rsquo; ruling in <em>Amchem Products, Inc. v. Windsor </em>for the proposition that it is appropriate to consider a settlement in the context of deciding whether to certify a settlement class. They also found that consumer fraud cases are extremely appropriate in meeting the predominance requirement of Rule 23(b)(3) in that the class had allegedly been subjected to a series of uniform misrepresentations and damages that would have been in a fairly narrow range.<br /> <br /> In rejecting the rationale for certain objections, the en banc court found that the inclusion in the class of used car purchasers with new car purchasers was appropriate given that the misrepresentations were not only placed on new car stickers but were also the subject of nationwide advertising campaigns. The court went on to say that, even were there to be different damage calculations for new and used car buyers, disparate damages should not outweigh the common questions of liability in assessing predominance.<br /> <br /> Most importantly, the Ninth Circuit recognized the ability of a District Court to treat a case such as this through the application of a single state&rsquo;s consumer protection laws rather than having to sift through variations that might exist on a state by state basis. In this case, that was California law, and the court said &ldquo;By default, California courts apply California law &lsquo;unless a party litigant timely invokes the law of a foreign state&rsquo; in which case it is &lsquo;the foreign law proponent&rsquo; who must &lsquo;shoulder the burden of demonstrating that foreign law, rather than California law, should apply to class claims.&rdquo; The court went on to set forth the test that an objector must meet to force a state by state law analysis rather than using a single state law: &ldquo;1) the law of the foreign state materially differs from the law of California; 2) a true conflict exists, meaning that each state has an interest in the application of its own law to the circumstances of the particular case; and 3) the foreign state&rsquo;s interest would be more impaired than California&rsquo;s interest if California law were applied.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The opinion then discussed, and reject objections to, the adequacy of plaintiffs and class counsel as well as the sufficiency of notice to the class and the burdensomeness of the claim form. The Court also found that there was absolutely no evidence that the settlement was the result of collusion between the counsel for the class and defendants. Finally, the court approved the attorneys&rsquo; fees awarded by the District Court to class counsel and rejected any award to objector counsel.<br /> <br /> In sum, the opinion is a ringing endorsement for the use of Rule 23 in dealing with consumer fraud litigation both in the settlement and litigation context. It rejects the efforts of certain courts and the professional objectors bar to write Rule 23 out of the arsenal of tools utilized to simplify and resolve litigation. <br />Lite DePalma Greenberg Law Blog20 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0800http://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=95150&format=xml&p=6944Mindee J. Reuben has been appointed to serve in the Leadership of the Antitrust Law Sectionhttp://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=92319&format=xml&p=6944<p><strong>Mindee J. Reuben</strong> has been appointed to serve in the Leadership of the Antitrust Law Section during 2019-2020 ABA year as a Member of the Competition/Consumer Protection Policy and North American Comments Task Force.</p>News & Events11 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0800http://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=92319&format=xml&p=6944Defending Against a Procedural Due Process Claim? Think Dismissal.http://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=92212&format=xml&p=6944A claim for violations of a person&rsquo;s procedural due process rights is a constitutional claim often misunderstood and improperly pleaded. Defense practitioners should be on alert when dealing with a due process claim and should be aware of common mistakes plaintiffs make when they assert this claim.<br /> <br /> Due process rights are protected by both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Although these two Constitutional Amendments safeguard this right, it is well established that the Fifth Amendment applies only to actions taken by the federal government. Plaintiffs often assert due process claims under the Fifth Amendment despite the lack of any allegation related to the federal government. Such claims are improper and should be dismissed.<br /> <br /> Furthermore, procedural due process claims should be dismissed at the beginning of a lawsuit when a complaint fails to allege facts that deal with the inadequacy of post-deprivation procedures. In order to successfully establish a prima facie case for a procedural due process violation, a plaintiff must show that: (1) there has been a deprivation of the plaintiff&rsquo;s liberty or property, and (2) the procedures used by the government to remedy the deprivation were constitutionally inadequate. &ldquo;At the core of procedural due process jurisprudence is the right to advance notice of significant deprivations of liberty or property and to a meaningful opportunity to be heard.&rdquo; <em>Abbott v. Latshaw</em>, 164 F.3d 141, 146 (3d Cir.1998). The focus is on the remedial process, not the government&rsquo;s actions that allegedly deprived the plaintiff of his liberty or property interest. <br /> <br /> However, plaintiffs often fail to adequately assert facts that deak with the procedures used to remedy an alleged constitutional deprivation. Litigants fail to focus on issues such as a lack of notice or of a proper hearing, and instead focus claims on the underlying unconstitutional harm they suffered. If a complaint does not specify how remedial procedures were constitutionally inadequate, that complaint is deficient if it seeks relief for a procedural due process violation under the Fourteenth Amendment. Therefore, in such situations defense practitioners would be well-served by filing a dispositive motion at the initial stages of litigation to dismiss a procedural due process claim. <br /> <br /> Finally, litigants asserting a deprivation of a property interest often fail to properly assert a claim that can survive motion practice. Property interests &ldquo;are created and their dimensions are defined by existing rules or understandings that stem from an independent source such as state law-rules or understandings that secure certain benefits and that support claims of entitlement to those benefits.&rdquo; <em>Bd. of Regents of State Colls. v. Roth</em>, 408 U.S. 564, 577 (1972). &ldquo;To have a property interest in a benefit, a person clearly must have more than an abstract need or desire for it ... He must, instead, have a legitimate claim of entitlement to it.&rdquo; Id. Allegations of a deprivation of property must clearly set forth facts that support a claim of entitlement to the alleged property interest. Where such factual allegations are missing, the pleading is deficient.<br /> <br /> Procedural due process claims are rife with potential pitfalls for plaintiffs. Defense practitioners should ensure that they scrutinize these claims from the outset of litigation as doing so can result in dismissal of this claim.<br /> <br />Lite DePalma Greenberg Law Blog06 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0800http://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=92212&format=xml&p=6944New Jersey Extends the Statute of Limitations in Civil Actions for Sexual Abuse Claimshttp://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=91410&format=xml&p=6944It is crucial for litigants, attorneys, and the overall community to be aware of S477, which legally extends the statute of limitations in civil actions for sexual abuse claims. Governor Phil Murphy signed this legislation into law on May 13, 2019. The primary sponsors of the Bill included Senators Joseph Vitale and Nicholas Scutari; and Assembly members Annette Quijano, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Mila Jasey. See, <a href="https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp?BillNumber=S477" target="_blank">New Jersey Legislature, Bill Number S477</a>.<br /> <br /> This new increases the civil statute of limitations for sexual assault to seven years, up from the previous two-year cut-off. Concerning adult survivors of child sexual abuse, the Bill expands the statute of limitations to either seven years past the discovery of the trauma (i.e., when an individual who was assaulted links the trauma of that assault to the harm done to that specific individual), or until age 55, whichever is later.<br /> <br /> The Bill also creates a two-year window during which sexual assault victims, who were previously denied their day in court due to the prior two-year limitation period, can nevertheless now pursue their civil remedies.<br /> <br /> Lastly, the Bill creates a carve-out for the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, such that public entities (i.e., municipalities, schools, and other public bodies) would be stripped of immunity from lawsuits asserting claims of sexual abuse, and such entities could be held liable as if they were a private individual and/or organization.<br /> <br /> The Bill has been applauded, as the State has expanded sexual abuse victims&rsquo; potential legal remedies: &ldquo;Survivors of sexual abuse deserve opportunities to seek redress against their abusers,&rdquo; said Governor Phil Murphy. &ldquo;This legislation allows survivors who have faced tremendous trauma the ability to pursue justice through the court system. I thank the bill&rsquo;s sponsors for their commitment to tackling this issue, as well as the advocates for their activism and engagement.&rdquo; See, &ldquo;<a href="https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562019/approved/20190513c.shtml" target="_blank">Sexual abuse survivors often struggle for years to come to terms with their abuse, especially child victims</a>,&rdquo; said Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle. &ldquo;We must allow victims the time to realize the damage that has been done to them both physically and mentally. <a href="https://www.insidernj.com/press-release/now-law-quijano-vainieri-huttle-jasey-measure-expand-statute-limitations-certain-sexual-abuse-cases/" target="_blank">Survivors of sexual abuse deserve a fair opportunity to seek justice</a>.&rdquo; Id.<br /> <br /> New Jersey now follows a national trend of various states assessing their respective statutes of limitations for these types of cases. From a legal perspective, accused individuals and entities, along with potential plaintiffs, must be prepared to litigate these matters, where, for example, important witnesses have died, crucial discovery documents may no longer exist, and/or other evidence might not be available anymore due to the passage of time. The Bill will, undoubtedly, increase exposure of individuals, businesses, public entities, and other organizations in New Jersey, while affording plaintiffs expanded opportunities to pursue their respective claims. All parties should be prepared to litigate these matters, in light of this changed landscape. Entities potentially exposed to such claims should immediately check their historical insurance coverages, in the event a claim should arise. Simultaneously, plaintiffs should determine and seek as much corroborating evidence and proofs as possible, in order to demonstrate a legal basis for relief.<br /> <br /> Should such claims be filed, following the passage of S477, it is advisable for all parties to retain legal counsel in order to advise of these statute of limitations issues, proper pleading requirements, and other substantive dictates necessary to either the prosecution or defense of such claims.<br />Lite DePalma Greenberg Law Blog23 May 2019 00:00:00 -0800http://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=91410&format=xml&p=6944Lite DePalma Greenberg Successfully Challenges Recent Bar on the Sale of Raw Milk for Pet Consumptionhttp://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=91333&format=xml&p=6944<p>Lite DePalma Greenberg Successfully Challenges Recent Bar on the Sale of Raw Milk for Pet Consumption.&nbsp; To read more on this, click <a href="http://www.ngpfma.org/victory-raw-pet-milk-sales-re-open-in-new-jersey/" target="_blank">here</a>.</p>News & Events21 May 2019 00:00:00 -0800http://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=91333&format=xml&p=6944A Heavy Burden: Court Determines Obesity Alone is Not A Disability Under LADhttp://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=91133&format=xml&p=6944Obesity has become a serious health problem in the United States, with more than one-third of the population being obese. It has been labeled a national epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (&ldquo;CDC&rdquo;), and it is now considered a chronic disease by many reputable medical organizations, including the American Medical Association (&ldquo;AMA&rdquo;), the National Institutes of Health, and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, to name a few. According to the CDC, &ldquo;[o]besity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death.&rdquo; In the workplace, decreased productivity and increased absenteeism due to obesity is a huge economic burden on our society.<br /> <br /> In 2013, the AMA, the largest association of physicians and medical students in the United States, voted to designate obesity as a disease. As a result of the AMA&rsquo;s decision, many employment-law practitioners, employers, and employees alike started speculating as to whether employees who suffered adverse employment actions or harassment based on their obesity would be legally protected against discrimination in New Jersey. <br /> <br /> The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (&ldquo;LAD&rdquo;) has long prohibited employers from discriminating against employees based on the employees&rsquo; disabilities or perceived disabilities. In particular, the LAD defines disability to include any &ldquo;physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement which is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness including epilepsy and other seizure disorders.&rdquo; With these principles in mind, the following question is inevitably posed: should obesity, by itself, be considered a disability under the LAD?<br /> <br /> Last month, in <em>Dickson v. Community Bus Lines, Inc.</em>, the Appellate Division issued an opinion affirming the Law Division&rsquo;s determination that &ldquo;obesity alone is not protected under the LAD as a disability unless it has an underlying medical cause.&rdquo; In <em>Dickson</em>, the plaintiff weighed between 500 and 600 pounds during his tenure as a bus driver for Community Bus Lines, Inc. (&ldquo;Community&rdquo;). During his employment with Community, the other drivers and his supervisors regularly made rude comments to him about his weight. However, the plaintiff also made jokes with, and teased, the other employees, and he commonly referred to himself as &ldquo;fat boy.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> In order to maintain his employment as a bus driver, the Department of Transportation (&ldquo;DOT&rdquo;) required that the plaintiff pass a medical examination every two years and obtain a medical certification verifying that he was fit to drive. In 2015, two different doctors determined that additional testing was required before the plaintiff could be certified to drive a bus. As a result, Community notified him that he had been placed &ldquo;out of service&rdquo; until he was able to receive a medical certification card. <br /> <br /> Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff filed a Complaint in the Law Division alleging that Community discriminated against him based on his weight; failed to provide him with accommodations; retaliated against him; constructively discharged him from his job; and subjected him to hostile work environment under the LAD. The Law Division granted summary judgment to Community on all claims, and the plaintiff appealed, challenging only the Law Division&rsquo;s dismissal of his hostile work environment claims. <br /> <br /> On appeal, the Appellate Division explained that, in order to prove a prima facie hostile work environment claim under the LAD on the basis of disability, the plaintiff was first required to show that he had a disability or a perceived disability under the LAD. The Appellate Division rejected the plaintiff&rsquo;s contention that obesity alone is a disability under the LAD, explaining (as the Supreme Court held in <em>Viscik v. Fowler Equipment Co.</em>, 173 N.J. 1 (2002)), that a plaintiff&rsquo;s obesity will constitute a disability under the LAD only if the plaintiff demonstrates that his condition is &ldquo;caused by bodily injury, birth defect, or illness.&rdquo; Essentially, the plaintiff in <em>Dickson </em>failed to show that his obesity was caused by an underlying medical condition. <br /> <br /> Despite this mostly unambiguous ruling, the Appellate Division did not provide any examples of underlying medical conditions that would satisfy the disability requirement under the LAD. Certainly, excessive weight gain can be caused by hypothyroidism, Cushing&rsquo;s syndrome, depression, and other medical causes. Perhaps these are the underlying medical conditions that would suffice, or perhaps not. Nonetheless, practitioners are left with the burden of deciding whether to proceed with similar cases in the future or, alternatively, how to defend such matters. <br /> <br />Lite DePalma Greenberg Law Blog09 May 2019 00:00:00 -0800http://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=91133&format=xml&p=6944LAW SCHOOL APPLICATIONS AND THE COMMITTEE ON CHARACTERhttp://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=90846&format=xml&p=6944Candidates for admission to the New Jersey Bar find that their lives are an open book to the Supreme Court of New Jersey Committee on Character. They can tell that from the Character and Fitness Questionnaire (&ldquo;CFQ&rdquo;) that all candidates must complete. The CFQ asks for detailed information about everything from addresses to education to employment to driving history, and much, much more.<br /> <br /> The CFQ has a question about law school applications that reads as follows: &ldquo;Have you <strong>EVER </strong>made a late disclosure, been accused of or been the subject of an inquiry for alteration, falsification, omission and/or misrepresentation of any document or copy thereof referring to your professional qualification to be a lawyer before or after law school, including but not limited to, online or late disclosures on your law school applications or applications to other bar jurisdictions, bar examination results letter, recommendation letter, report, etc.?&rdquo; That question obviously covers a candidate who (a) made a late disclosure on a law school application, or (b) was the subject of an inquiry about issues with his or her applications. <br /> <br /> But what the CFQ does not expressly state is that the Committee on Character obtains a copy of every candidate&rsquo;s law school application. And if there are inconsistencies, errors or (heaven forbid) falsehoods in the application, they will be a subject of inquiry by the Committee. Thus, even if a candidate&rsquo;s law school did not perceive an issue with an application and open an inquiry, and even if a candidate did not make a late disclosure, but opted simply to let any inaccuracy or inconsistency remain without action, the issue will arise before the Committee on Character and may affect Bar admission.<br /> <br /> As a result, it is most prudent for candidates to review their law school applications before the Committee on Character process even begins, and to amend anything that is not complete and accurate. Thus, Rutgers and Seton Hall Law Schools each have, as part of their orientation week for first-year students, a session with representatives of the Committee on Character, who urge students to review and, if necessary, correct their applications at that time, so as to avoid having the issue come up years later when the student applies for Bar admission. Some other law schools do that as well.<br /> <br /> But persons who are even more proactive can and should amend applications as early as during the law school admission process, as one of my own clients recently did after recognizing the need to do so. That candidate had been accepted at a law school, but realized belatedly that her application did not fully disclose certain information that the application called for. She contacted the school and amended her application before the date by which she would have to have accepted the school&rsquo;s offer of admission. The school accepted the amendment and it did not affect the offer of admission.<br /> <br /> Prospective law students doubtless recognize the importance of law school applications for purposes of admission to law school. But until a law student completes law school and applies for Bar admission, he or she may not realize that law school applications are also important in the context of Committee on Character review of a Bar application. The wise student will look back at his or her law school application carefully well before the Committee on Character process begins, and will amend anything in the application that requires amendment, in order to avoid or minimize issues down the road. <br />Lite DePalma Greenberg Law Blog25 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0800http://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=90846&format=xml&p=6944FAK Notable Decisionshttp://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=90643&format=xml&p=6944<p><em>Russo v. Friedrich,</em> No. A-0883-16T2, 2018 WL 4904555 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Oct. 10, 2018)<br /> <em><br /> Porras v. HCA-HealthOne LLC, </em>No. 16CA1645, 2017 WL 4081795 (Colo. App. Sept. 14, 2017), reh'g denied (Oct. 19, 2017)<br /> <br /> <em>Falco v. Zimmer,</em> No. CV 13-1648, 2017 WL 4776605 (D.N.J. Oct. 20, 2017)<br /> <br /> <em>Harley v. City of New Jersey City,</em> No. CV 16-5135, 2017 WL 2779466 (D.N.J. June 27, 2017), reconsideration denied, No. CV 16-5135, 2017 WL 3641565 (D.N.J. Aug. 23, 2017)</p>Notable Decisions17 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0800http://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=90643&format=xml&p=6944Once Upon a PEX Line: A Class Action Happy Endinghttp://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=90543&format=xml&p=6944When I joined Lite DePalma Greenberg&rsquo;s consumer rights class action practice in April 2014, I did so with my eyes open. I knew the reputation class actions had in our broader culture. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s where everybody gets 17 cents and the lawyers get 10 million bucks.&rdquo; In fact, when I told the father of one of my childhood friends, a man I had known for 20 years, what I would be doing, his reaction was: &ldquo;class action lawyer &ndash; that&rsquo;s one step below ambulance chaser, right?&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Five years later, I can safely say that this reputation is not unearned, since there are unscrupulous lawyers and some for frivolous suits. I&rsquo;m at least willing to hear the argument, and I have witnessed (and sometimes worked with) lawyers who fit or even exceed the worst stereotypes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce could gin up about us. This is, however, only one side of the story, and an interstitial one at that, describing an exceedingly small part of the practice and an exceedingly small number of lawyers within it. Here is the other side:<br /> <br /> One of the first cases I worked on after joining Lite DePalma Greenberg was a class action against Nibco, Inc., a manufacturer of residential and commercial &ldquo;PEX&rdquo; (<em>i.e.</em>, plastic) plumbing systems that were failing across the country, consistently sprouting leaks and damaging homes. As an associate attorney, I was a grinder on that case. I reviewed tens of thousands of documents. I traveled from Indiana to Oklahoma to Texas to Toronto taking depositions and speaking with the plumbers who installed the products and the homeowners who had paid thousands of dollars of their own money to repair drywall, repaint, and replumb their broken lines. Two such clients, a retired couple in rural Texas, would shut off their main water line every time they traveled for fear of returning to a flooded home. Another had completely replumbed his home, out of his own pocket, after his sixth leak. Another couple in Tennessee had experienced over <em>30 such leaks</em>, causing mold to form and grow in the moist and unreachable recesses of their home.<br /> <br /> These were not people who bought a candy bar that said it had almonds when it really had hazelnuts, or got an 11.75&rdquo; sandwich from Subway instead of the full 12&rdquo; (the horror!). These were people who were suffering, in the truest sense of that word, from the fear that their homes could literally be destroyed by the defective infrastructure pulsing through them. This was a case where, presumably, even the staunchest opponents of class actions would have to recognize the merit and utility of the case. This was the <em>other </em>side of the story that you rarely read or hear about.<br /> <br /> This week, the court approved a settlement between the parties that compensates homeowners for their property damage, gives many of them the option to replumb their homes if they choose, and rewards the class representatives, like that couple in Texas, who spent the last five years making sure that other homeowners would not have to go through the anxiety, stress, and costs, not all of which were monetary, that they did to right this wrong. The relief for most homeowners will be thousands of dollars, money that will truly compensate them for their very real, and oftentimes very devastating, damage. <br /> <br /> <em>This is why</em> I do what I do, and this is why <em>most </em>class action lawyers do what they do. For me personally, it was a reaffirmation of the good consumer advocates can do, that &ldquo;greedy plaintiffs&rsquo; lawyers&rdquo; can truly serve as a ballast against the machinations of companies that market and sell a bad product, and need to be held accountable for that malfeasance (in fact, one could argue that class actions actually bolster the market system by reducing fraud, adhesion, and incomplete information that work to inhibit competition and free enterprise, but that&rsquo;s a discussion for another day). That&rsquo;s not spin and it&rsquo;s not smoke.<br /> <br /> My hope, then, would be that the next time you hear someone, in the mold of my friend&rsquo;s dad, ragging on class actions and the so-called &ldquo;robber-baron attorneys who use them to extort productive enterprises and create a blight on our judicial system,&rdquo; even if you are generally inclined to agree, you will be in a position to at the very least respond: &ldquo;Yes, but&hellip;.&rdquo; <br />Lite DePalma Greenberg Law Blog11 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0800http://www.litedepalma.com/?t=40&an=90543&format=xml&p=6944