So the small corner of the legal world that includes class action lawyers is up in arms this week because Jon King, formerly of Hausfeld LLP, has filed a wrongful termination complaint against his former employer, alleging that he was fired because he complained about ethical conflicts at the firm.

Hausfeld LLP is run by Michael Hausfeld, who has a larger than life reputation. And the complaint certainly contains its share of juicy allegations (Hausfeld LLP tried to spy on its landlord?), although, as Alison Frankel notes, portions of it read more as King’s attempt to … Continue Reading

 This month, we have an abundance of "other strategists." At the beginning of the month, I attended the 5th Annual Conference on the Globalization of Class Actions at the Hague. The conference was extremely informative, even though it focused more on mass litigation than class actions specifically. Fellow blogger (and extremely nice guy in-person) Paul Karlsgodt has been putting up excellent, comprehensive notes from the various panels, so I’m not going to try to duplicate his efforts. Instead, I’m going to just leave you with one idea from each panel; usually the one that got me thinking the most.… Continue Reading

For most class-action defense lawyers, dealing with the press is, while rare, a necessary evil. Plaintiffs’ firms have taken to issuing press releases whenever they file a complaint. However, for defendants, the media is usually a separate front, one that moves much faster than discovery, and one that offers more perils than payoffs. Moreover, outside of expensive PR firms, there are few sources of advice on how to deal with a case that attracts press attention.

Enter Kendall Coffey, a Florida lawyer who has been involved in some of the more high-profile cases of the last few decades, … Continue Reading

This month’s piece of "Classic Scholarship" constitutes a small exception. It’s not exactly scholarship (it was adapted from a speech), and it doesn’t focus exclusively on class-action practice. Nonetheless, Deborah Lilienthal’s Litigation Public Relations: The Provisional Remedy of the Communications World, 43 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 895 (2000), contains some important insights for class-action practitioners.

Lilienthal’s primary argument, that corporate defendants in litigation cannot afford to ignore public relations, is hardly controversial today. There is no question that plaintiffs’ counsel consider public relations to be an important weapon in their arsenal against corporate defendants.  Nor is there any real question … Continue Reading

Greg Mortenson turned a passion for mountain-climbing and an interest in helping the women of Central Asia into a multimillion dollar charitable foundation and a bestselling book. The book, Three Cups of Tea, tells the story of how his failed attempt to scale K2 (considered one of the hardest peaks in the world) led to his founding a charity to build schools in Central Asia.

But since the time that Mortenson’s book hit the bestseller list, a number of people (including former supporter John Krakauer) have raised serious questions about whether Mortenson was telling the truth in Three Cups Continue Reading

I’ve written before about the strange turns class-action strategy can take when public relations becomes a factor. But a PR campaign can also be a very effective defensive tool under certain circumstances. How effective? Just ask the folks at Taco Bell.

To recap the Taco Bell class action story: the plaintiffs, represented by class-action firms Blood Hurst & O’Reardon LLP and Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles PC, sued Taco Bell claiming that the fast food giant didn’t use real beef in its meals. Most class-action defendants, when faced with a high-profile case like this, tend to keep … Continue Reading

2011 has produced a number of class actions that have caught the attention of the news media. The class action against Taco Bell, for example, made headlines for the innovation involved in the defendant’s PR strategy. The class action against former President Carter capitalized on a novel theory and a famous defendant. Now, a plaintiffs’ firm has brought a lawsuit against the Dallas Cowboys on behalf of those ticketholders who didn’t get the seats they thought they would at the Superbowl. This appears to be a PR-based class action, much like the ones against Taco Bell and Jimmy Carter. … Continue Reading

Back in July, I wrote about the treasure-trove of documents released when public-relations firm The Rendon Group was compelled to respond to a subpoena from Katrina-related litigation involving State Farm. This upcoming Friday, I’ll be participating in a WLF-sponsored webinar on public-relations tactics in class actions. To provide some background for my remarks, I thought I’d go into a little more depth on the story of how the Rendon documents came to be produced. (For the full case, see 2010 U.S. DIST. LEXIS 60138)

The "complicated story" (the court’s words) began when sisters Kerry and Cori Rigsby (both of … Continue Reading

I’ve written before that plaintiffs’ lawyers consider public relations to be an important weapon in their arsenal. But how, exactly, do they use it when they’re involved in a case?

Recently, a collection of emails between the former Scruggs Katrina Group (the firm former lawyers Richard and Zach Scruggs put together to prosecute class-action and qui tam claims related to Hurricane Katrina) and PR firm The Rendon Group were made public, providing an inside look at how the relationship can work. (For the story on why these emails were made public, see Rendon Group, Inc. v. Rigsby, 2010 U.S. … Continue Reading