Spotlight Cases

Cuneo Gilbert and LaDuca, LLP (“CGL”), has a long history of successful advocacy in cases of national significance. These cases represent some of our best work both as lawyers and as advocates for others.

Protecting kids from “Joe Camel”

Our firm was among the first group of law firms to challenge tobacco industry advertising practices. In 1991, with two California firms, we brought the so-called “Joe Camel” case, which alleged that R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s “Joe Camel” Advertising Campaign illegally tricked children into smoking cigarettes.The settlement of the Joe Camel case, and a related case on behalf of fourteen California counties, provided for the public disclosure of documents showing that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company had studied teens with a view toward selling cigarettes. Our team turned these documents over to Congressman Henry Waxman, who released them at a press conference in January 1998 and called our team “real American heroes.” These were perhaps the most significant documents concerning tobacco industry practices ever released and led to the phase-out of the “Joe Camel” campaign.

Representing Enron Investors

CGL served as “Washington Counsel” on behalf of the defrauded shareholders in the Enron Securities Litigation. That litigation recovered over $7 billion on behalf of defrauded investors.

Much of the focus of the litigation was in Congress and in the Supreme Court. CGL attorneys assisted the lead counsel in the development of the theory of “scheme liability” in 2002. We also marshaled numerous amici to file briefs in the Supreme Court in support of that theory. The recovery in that case was the largest in the history of federal securities litigation.

Helping holocaust survivors

Our firm acted as co-lead counsel in a case on behalf of survivors of the Holocaust in Hungary and their heirs, whose personal property, found on the “Gold Train” in the final days of World War II, was looted by U.S. Army personnel and improperly appropriated by the U.S. government.

After four years of hard fought litigation, our firm won $25.5 million to be distributed worldwide to survivors through existing social welfare programs for survivors of the Holocaust in Hungary, as well as an unprecedented apology from the Bush administration for the conduct of the U.S. Army.

Arguing that “Labels matter”

CGL partner Jonathan Cuneo 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, Mr. 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.

Winning justice for homeowners

In one of the largest ever product defect recoveries for damaged property, Jonathan Cuneo and Charles LaDuca served as lead counsel in a bi-national settlement that provided $340 million to homeowners for the defective radiant heating hose known as Entran II.

Winning justice for more homeowners

In another large product defect settlement, Charles LaDuca served as co-lead counsel in the CertainTeed Roof Shingle litigation. In the fall of 2010, the late District Judge Louis H. Pollak of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania approved a settlement valued between $655 to $741 million on behalf of consumers.

The suit alleged that CertainTeed’s organic shingles failed to perform as marketed and that CertainTeed knowingly and intentionally concealed these defects. The suit also alleged that CertainTeed had no intention of providing the services set forth in their warranties for these roofing shingles. Information about the settlement, including how to submit a claim form, is available on the web at www.certainteedshinglesettlement.com

Protecting individuals privacy rights

The Metromail case commenced when Ohio grandmother Beverly Dennis contacted us because she had received a sexually suggestive letter from a maximum-security inmate in Texas. Ms. Dennis had filled out and returned a questionnaire in a supermarket. The company had subcontracted for Texas prisoners to “key” the information. Our firm brought a path-breaking class action –a one of a kind privacy case– in Texas state court. That case was settled in 2000 for significant injunctive relief, and created an available pool of cash of $15 million for victims.

Compensating Prudential investors

CGL represented individual claimants against Prudential Insurance Company in post-settlement proceedings after a class action charging that Prudential had abused policyholders through deceptive sales practices.

Over a period of eighteen months, our firm led a small army of lawyers who in turn conducted approximately 55,000 arbitration-like proceeding in this $4 billion settlement.

Advocating for Private Action Under PSLRA

On behalf of the National Association of Shareholder and Consumer Attorneys, Jonathan Cuneo led a coalition that successfully prevented the evisceration of private actions under the securities laws. This multi-pronged effort, including lobbying, grassroots organizing, media outreach and paid media, lasted a full year. As a result, since the PSLRA was enacted, investors have been able to make some of the biggest recoveries in history, including Enron, Worldcom and Tyco.

Protecting companies from government overreaching

IFF Data Solutions hired CGL’s Robert Cynkar at the last minute to defend it against bogus charges of defrauding the government of over $100 million in this “bet your company” case. In November 2009, after a three-week trial, Cynkar and his new legal team won a defense verdict.

Holding credit card companies accountable

The Attorney General of West Virginia appointed Jonathan Cuneo and Daniel Cohen to prosecute an action against Visa/MasterCard for alleged violations of West Virginia’s consumer and antitrust statutes. The case involved a policy maintained by Visa and MasterCard that required merchants to accept Visa/MasterCard debit cards if, as nearly all merchants do, they also accepted Visa/MasterCard credit cards.

The complaint alleges that this “honor all cards” policy resulted in the escalating use of the Visa and MasterCard debit cards by consumers, while forcing merchants to accept them and pay artificially inflated fees for their use that were passed along to consumers. The case settled in 2008 for over $16 million

representing California counties against gas companies

The counties of Los Angeles and San Bernardino retained CGL to pursue litigation against El Paso Natural Gas Co. and Sempra Natural Gas, suppliers of natural gas in Southern California. We alleged collusion to restrict supply of natural gas, creating subsequent dramatic price increases. Serving as co-counsel for both counties as well as several public and private entities in this major antitrust case, we achieved settlements for our clients in excess of $39 million.

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