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Practice Overview

Class Action Defense

Cravath is one of the preeminent law firms in class action defense, representing clients named in class actions in a wide variety of practice areas and jurisdictions across the country. We routinely handle class actions in areas such as antitrust, civil rights, constitutional law, ERISA, employment law, RICO and securities.

We successfully manage the litigation strategy for all stages of a class action—analysis of the complaint, forum and jurisdiction issues, class discovery and certification, fact and expert discovery, dispositive motion practice and trial. Though we often resolve class actions for our clients in advance of trial, Cravath offers some of the most experienced trial lawyers in the country. Notably, Cravath recently defended Vivendi, S.A. in a four‑month federal securities class action jury trial in the Southern District of New York. The trial team was led by Cravath partner Paul Saunders, one of several Cravath partners who have been inducted into the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers.

In addition, Cravath has a strong record of defeating class certification motions, either before the district court or on appeal. In one recent, high‑profile victory, Cravath, led by partner Richard Clary, defended Credit Suisse in a multibillion‑dollar federal class action litigation commenced by Enron shareholders in the wake of Enron’s bankruptcy. After the district court certified the plaintiff class, we filed a petition with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking interlocutory review of the class certification decision. The Fifth Circuit agreed to hear the appeal and reversed class certification, holding that because Credit Suisse and other defendant banks did not owe a duty of disclosure to Enron’s shareholders, plaintiffs were not entitled to a presumption of classwide reliance. This result, which eventually led to dismissal with prejudice of all claims against Credit Suisse, stands in sharp contrast to the multi‑billion settlements paid in the same case by a number of bank defendants that faced alleged class actions.

Where appropriate, Cravath is also experienced at handling settlement negotiations regarding class action litigation. We have the expertise and skill to assess possible risks and advise clients on unique issues relating to class action settlement. Because we often handle multifaceted litigation, we also regularly advise clients on the simultaneous settlement of multiple actions in order to achieve a global solution.

Because of our expertise in this area, Cravath lawyers are routinely called upon to speak on panels or publish articles relating to class action litigation.