The sixth annual Plaintiffs’ Hot List is our unscientific survey of the litigation scene since the summer of 2006. Plaintiffs’ attorneys racked up impressive verdicts and settlements in the usual areas like securities fraud and products liability since last year, while exploring fresh ground against self-serving managers and controlling shareholders in corporate deal-making. We asked our readers to nominate exemplary firms that devote at least half of their resources to plaintiffs’ work, and which have achieved at least one significant win during that period. “Significant” means winning an awful lot of money through a bench or jury verdict, or otherwise defining industry practices or the progress of related litigation.

Editor’s note
Funny thing about the death of the class action: Someone forgot to send the memo to the plaintiffs’ bar. Judging from the dozens of nominations we received for this, our sixth, annual list of the country’s most prominent plaintiffs’ firms, the plaintiff’s bar is as aggressive as ever, maybe even more so.

The firms selected for this year’s honors are: Berger & Montague; Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz; Bernstein Litowitz; Coughlin Stoia; Grant & Eisenhofer; Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro; Korein Tillery; Labaton Sucharow; Lieff Cabraser; Phillips & Cohen; Schiffrin Barroway; Seeger Weiss; Whatley Drake & Kallas. Read on for the winning cases that earned these firms their place on the list.

Case put doctors back in the driver’s seat
Birmingham, Ala.-based Whatley Drake & Kallas took on the mighty HMOs and settled a string of lawsuits brought on behalf of physicians alleging that nearly all of the nation’s managed health care providers conspired to deny or reduce payments to doctors for covered medical services. And in the process they permanently changed the balance of power between the health plan providers and doctors.

Class action acquires a Dutch accent
Wilmington, Del.’s Grant & Eisenhofer invoked a new and fairly untried Dutch statute to bring a class action against oil giant Shell on behalf of 50 European investors. The result was a settlement totalling upward of $500 million for the plaintiffs � as well as a new model for resolving future class actions in Europe.

The law served to keep companies honest
Plaintiffs’ firms like Bernstein Litowitz touted victories this year in public stockholder and bondholder class actions that they say helped investors get fairer � and richer � treatment in financial transactions, better compensation for corporate fraud and higher dealmaking standards in general.

Overtime litigation rises from the grave
Attorneys have helped some plaintiffs score lucrative settlements in wage-and-hour suits claiming that big-name employers improperly denied overtime pay. Now California lawyers are suing repeat defendants, alleging that certain companies that settled overtime suits, like the Rite Aid pharmacy chain, have made few changes.