Consumer Protection

Joe Camel Advertising Campaign

Our firm played an important role in the California tobacco cases that ended the “Joe Camel” campaign. The defendant’s advertising campaign targeted teens and children. As a key player in the first case challenging the “Joe Camel” campaign as a violation of California’s unfair competition/consumer protection law, we helped
expose R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company’s’ “youth targeting” documents – perhaps the most significant set of tobacco documents ever to be made public. R.J. Reynolds admitted that the case was “an early, significant and unique driver” that led to the phase out of the Joe Camel campaign. In related litigation, we helped recover twelve billion dollars in settlement funds for cities and counties in California.

Congressman Henry Waxman described the members of the legal team, including Jonathan W. Cuneo, as “real American heroes.”

Buchwald v. Citibank, N.A.

Jonathan Cuneo and Matthew Miller recently represented the trustee of the estate of famed humorist Arthur Buchwald in a dispute with Citibank, N.A., Buchwald v. Citibank, N.A. (D.D.C. 2014),  in which the estate alleged that Citibank’s negligence permitted rogue financial advisor Kenneth Starr to embezzle funds from the estate through the establishment of an unauthorized line of credit.  The matter was resolved with a confidential settlement.

Guidant Heart Defibrillator

CGL’s Charles LaDuca served as class counsel in the Guidant Heart Defibrillator litigation which settled for over $205 million in 2008. On behalf of a nationwide class of patients implanted with the Guidant Ventak Prizm defibrillator, our suit alleged that Guidant Corporation misrepresented the safety of its defibrillators, which are subject to short circuiting and malfunctioning.

The plaintiff and the class sought and received a declaratory judgment that Guidant is liable for all medical care and corrective surgery caused by Guidant’s alleged misconduct, as well as the significant award for damages.

“Made in USA” Cases

In Benson v. Kwikset Corp, we led a legal team that won significant injunctive relief for false advertising as “Made in USA” in violation of California “Made in USA” requirements and unfair competition/consumer protection law. Kwikset Corp. moved its manufacturing from Anaheim, California to a facility in Mexico yet continued to market their products as “Made in USA” and “All American Made.” After a trial victory in 2001, the Court of Appeal set the decision aside twice. CGL appealed to the California Supreme Court, and in 2010, CGL partner Jonathan Cuneo argued and won a 5 to 2 decision. That landmark decision established the principle that “labels matter” under California’s Unfair Competition and False Advertising laws and is now a landmark of American law.

In Colgan v Leatherman Tool Group, the firm was co-lead counsel in a case that charged the Leatherman Tool Group with inaccurately labeling many of its tools as “Made in USA” when many components were actually made outside the United States. After a hard-fought trial in early 2004, the Superior Court entered a significant corrective advertising program and awarded over $12 million in restitution. Unfortunately, the California Court of Appeals reversed the restitution award in 2006 and remanded the case for modification of the injunctive order. The Superior Court modified the injunction and the case then settled.

Texas Prisons Privacy Case

We served as co-lead counsel in the trail-blazing consumer privacy case Dennis v. Metromail Corp. The complaint charged that Metromail, acting through subcontractors, processed personal information from shopping questionnaires by contracting to have maximum security Texas prisoners “key” the information.

As a result, the lead plaintiff received an extremely offensive, sexually explicit letter from a convicted sexual offender. The firm’s investigation found that the personal information of almost two million Americans was processed using maximum security prisoners. The landmark settlement made available $15 million and significant non-monetary relief.

Prudential Insurance

Our firm acted in the role of claimants’ representative as part of the massive settlement involving sales practices of life insurance policies sold by Prudential Insurance Company. Under the terms of the over $4 billion settlement, individual policyholders were accorded the right to have an individual determination of their remedies.

Our firm and one other were appointed as claimant representatives. We handled over 55,000 arbitration-like proceedings in an eighteen-month period and recovered hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of policyholders.

Honda Hybrid False Advertising

In John True v. American Honda Motor Co., Plaintiffs challenged claims of fuel efficiency in the Honda Civic Hybrid, as well as a software update that further degraded the advertised fuel efficiency performance of the vehicles.After several years of contentious litigation, the case settled for a package of settlement benefits that the reviewing Judge characterized as exceeding $85 million.

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