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Class Action Practice

The firm is oriented towards litigation of various sorts, including commercial, securities, products liability and insurance. We have handled class action litigation in all of these areas, including commercial litigation. We have tried cases in both State and Federal Courts in New Jersey and on a national level. The following is a summary of some of the class action experience that we have had:

We are currently acting as New Jersey counsel for Cendant Corp. in the well known class action, Cendant Corp. Securities Litigation, which is pending here in Federal Court before Judge Walls. The class plaintiffs alleged that Cendant Corp. misstated its earnings and that, when the error was identified and announced, the stock price dropped precipitously. A class has been certified in the case and there have been several appeals to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Most of the cases involving the class has been settled for over $3 billion, and there remains Cendant Corp.'s malpractice suit against its accountants, Ernst & Young, among other things.

We are engaged as defense counsel in numerous class actions throughout the United States involving gun-related litigation. The plaintiffs generally allege that gun manufacturers and distributors are liable in damages for injuries to various groups caused by acts of violence committed by third parties. The Firm was was one of the lead counsel in the first of these actions to be tried, Hamilton v. Acusport, et al. in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The Hamilton case was also noteworthy because it was a defendant class. In a similar case, NAACP v. Acusport, et al.,we were successful in persuading the Court to dismiss the class action allegations.

One of our noteworthy successes in connection with the representation of financial institutions was to obtain a dismissal at the pleading stage of a federal class action suit seeking in excess of $500 million in Rolo v. City Investing Company Liquidating Trust, et al. The case was filed on behalf of a class comprised of more than 6,000 plaintiffs who had purchased home sites from General Development Corp ("GDC"). The thirty 'five defendants included numerous national and international financial institutions, as well as major brokerage firms and insurance companies.

In their 170-page complaint, the plaintiffs alleged violations of the securities laws, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), and the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, as well as state law claims of fraud, negligence, misrepresentation and breach of the duty of good faith. We represented Fannie Mae in the litigation and were chosen as one of two lead counsel for the defendants. As lead counsel, we argued the summary judgment motion, developed the joint defense strategy, and served as liaison counsel on behalf of the defense group with the court and plaintiffs? counsel.

We represented the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. ("FDIC") as Receiver for the Howard Savings Bank ("Howard") in a case entitled In Re Howard Savings Bank Securities Litigation, in connection with eleven consolidated class actions brought by plaintiffs (as purchasers of the common stock of the Howard) against Howard and officers and directors of Howard. The class actions alleged that defendants violated Federal Securities Laws as well as common law duties relating to the issuance of numerous publicly disseminated statements regarding the businesses, finances, profits and future business prospects of the Howard. The cases have now been settled.

We represented The Travelers Insurance Company in defending a class action on behalf of four million insureds in New Jersey, alleging breach of contract, fraud, and RICO claims with respect to The Travelers' and other carriers' involvement in the automobile insurance market. The class was certified, but the case was dismissed as to all counts.

Budd Larner also defended Borg Warner Acceptance Corp. in a putative class action brought on behalf of purchasers of consumer credit. Plaintiffs alleged fraud and violations of the Truth in Lending Act. We successfully opposed plaintiffs' efforts to have the class certified, and the case was ultimately settled on favorable terms.

We represented one of the seven chemical company defendants in the Agent Orange class action litigation before Judge Jack Weinstein in the Eastern District of New York. As you may know, the class in that case included all service personnel exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, along with their families. We were designated as one of the lead trial attorneys.

The firm defended Gerber with respect to a purported class action brought by mothers on behalf of infants who suffered from Nursing Bottle Syndrome as a result of failure to place warning labels on baby bottles. Class action status was denied at the trial level, and then on appeal.

We represented Weichert Realtors in defense of a class action brought by homeowners who lived near the Buzby Landfill site in Voorhees, New Jersey. Class action status was denied at the trial level, but was granted by the Appellate Division in a very well known decision, Strawn v. Fox & Lazo.

We were also active participants in two class actions arising from the asbestos in buildings litigation. We represented a manufacturer of an asbestos ceiling in Asbestos School Litigation


For more information, please contact:

David J. Novack