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In the class action world, the proliferation of “copycat” lawsuits has plagued courts and litigants for decades.  Until a class action is certified under Federal Rule 23, it has merely a “putative” status, meaning that the claims are asserted solely on behalf of the individual named plaintiff(s).  Since the claims at that point are “individual,” some attorneys, hoping to procure large fees with reduced effort, “piggy-back” on existing class actions by filing copycat suits.  This has become easier through modern technology, where routine internet searches can enable counsel to locate and sign-up at least one other “similarly situated” person to serve as a plaintiff in a new class action based upon the same product and controversy as the pending one.  The new action may be identical to the existing one, or it may involve “tweaking” of the pending allegations, legal claims, named defendants and/or class definitions in an effort to make it appear different.  It may be commenced in the same court as the pending action or in an entirely different jurisdiction.  It may be commenced for an improper purpose, such as to extort another attorney fee out of an already existing controversy, to ride the coattails of or interfere with a proposed settlement, or to expand the dispute to other courts and jurisdictions.  Regardless of the motive, such lawsuits impose substantial burdens upon courts, defendants and even the plaintiffs and their counsel.

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Michael Gallub

Michael B. Gallub is a member of Herzfeld & Rubin, P.C. in New York City. He represents domestic and foreign clients in all phases of class action, multi-district and individual litigation in the areas of commercial/business, products liability, environmental, consumer and employment law. He has served as national and local lead counsel in class actions and product litigation in New York and throughout the United States. Michael’s experience includes the defense of putative nationwide and statewide class actions involving claims of consumer fraud, deceptive trade, unfair competition, false advertising, misrepresentation, product defect, breach of contract, breach of warranty, and violations of federal and state statutes. He also represents leading manufacturers and distributors of motor vehicles and other products in class action, product liability and commercial litigation. His environmental practice involves both litigation defense and representation before the EPA and other governmental agencies. Michael has published extensively in the areas of litigation, products liability and tort law, and has lectured at seminars, law schools and to in-house counsel on class action law and litigation. You can find further information about Michael on the firm’s website at www.herzfeld-rubin.com. You can reach Michael by phone at (212) 471-8536 or by e-mail at mgallub@herzfeld-rubin.com.

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