Cohen Milstein is recognized as a leader in automotive, product defect, and breach of warranty class actions in the United States, particularly in the areas of automotive engines, exhaust and emissions, transmissions, and safety systems, as well as home improvement products and cell phone technology. We bring a unique combination of jury trial experience and court-appointed class leadership insight to these challenging cases that often need to be addressed as multi state-by-state class actions where causes of action must be addressed under state law or are consolidated into multidistrict litigation, where pivotal bellwether trials can be determinative.
Our national footprint and co-counsel capabilities are also critical to successfully handling these cases in both state and federal courts.
We represent individuals and small businesses in state and federal product defect and warranty class actions, spanning all industries, including:
- Automotive, Trucking & Recreational Vehicles
- Airbags & Safety Systems
- Exhaust & Emissions Systems
- Home Improvement Products
- iPhones & Technology Devices
We are frequently court-appointed Lead or Co-Lead Class Action Counsel and/or hold leadership roles in Plaintiff Steering Committees.
Our Automotive & Product Defect Claims team leaders include:
Theodore J. Leopold: co-chair of our Consumer Protection and Complex Tort Litigation practice groups, Mr. Leopold is devoted solely to trial work with a focus on complex product liability and consumer safety-related class actions, particularly product defects, automobile safety, and other consumer claims. In 2010, he obtained a $131 million jury verdict against the Ford Motor Company in Cole v. Ford Motor Co. (1st D. MS), the ninth-largest verdict against an automobile company in U.S. history. In Mincey v. Takata (M.D. Fla.), his work laid the foundation for the U.S. Government to begin the largest airbag recall in U.S. automotive history. Mr. Leopold is currently sole Lead Counsel in General Motors Litigation (E.D. Mich.), a consolidated product defect class action spanning 30 states. Given his years of experience in automotive defect and product defect claims, Mr. Leopold is recognized for his deft ability to quickly analyze and discuss high-level product engineering, failure mode and defect analysis with juries.
Douglas N. McNamara: President of the American Association for Justice Class Action Litigation Group, Mr. McNamara was the architect of the successful opposition to the motion to dismiss in In re Caterpillar Engine Product Liability Litigation (D.N.J.), resulting in $60 million settlement. A highly-regarded thought leader in the Plaintiff-side Class Action Bar, Mr. McNamara frequently speaks and writes on novel approaches in litigation and emerging legal issues, including federal preemption, class certification, and damage models.
Relevant national rankings include:
- Law360 Practice Group of the Year – Class Action (2017, 2020)
- Legal 500 Top Ranked Practice – Product Liability, Mass Tort & Class Action – Plaintiff (2019, 2020)
- Law360 Practice Group of the Year – Consumer Protection (2018, 2019)
- The National Law Journal Winner – Elite Trial Lawyers – Consumer (2018)
In addition, we are frequently recognized by the court and co-counsel alike for our collaborative efforts in pre-litigation investigations, working with top industry experts, our ability to handle large-scale discovery, ensuring streamlined efficiencies, as well as our exemplary motions practice and damages modeling capabilities.
Automotive, Trucking & Recreational Vehicles
- In re General Motors Dex-Cool Product Liability Litigation (S.D. Ill.): Cohen Milstein represented consumers in a series of class action lawsuits filed across the country alleging that General Motors sold cars that contained a defective engine coolant. Plaintiffs alleged that Dex-Cool caused engine parts to corrode and gum up with a mud-like substance, resulting in engine overheating and failures of certain parts and systems. Classes were certified in Missouri and California and the cases were settled before trial with GM, making cash payment to up to $400 or $800 for covered repairs.
- Cohen Milstein was one of the principal counsel
- In re Caterpillar Engine Product Liability Litigation (D.N.J.): Cohen Milstein was Co-Lead Counsel in a class action against Caterpillar where 22 trucking and transportation companies in 18 states alleged that the MY2007 CAT engine, designed to meet the EPA’s tougher Clean Air Act emissions standards, was defective, causing power loss and shutdowns that prevented or impeded vehicles from transporting goods or passengers. In September 2016, the Court granted final approval of a $60 million settlement.
- Cole v. Ford (Cir. Crt., Jasper Cty., Miss.): Mr. Leopold was co-trial attorney for the family of former New York Mets infielder Brian Cole who was killed when the Ford Explorer he was driving rolled over, ejecting him from the vehicle. The lawsuit charged that the seat belt in the Explorer was defective in that it failed to keep Mr. Cole in his seat. Following two hung juries, eleven of the 12 jury members, in the third trial, agreed on the verdict and found for the Cole family in the amount of $131 million.
- Mincey v. Takata (Cir. Crt., Duval Cty., Fla.): Cohen Milstein was lead counsel in a lawsuit brought on behalf of Patricia Mincey and her family. Ms. Mincey sustained catastrophic injuries that rendered her a quadriplegic when the driver’s side Takata airbag in her Honda Civic deployed too aggressively during a collision due to a product defect. Evidence revealed that Takata concealed the defect for more than a decade, laying the foundation for the U.S. Government to begin the largest recall in U.S. automotive history.
- General Motors Litigation (E.D. Mich.): Cohen Milstein is sole Lead Counsel and Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in this consolidated automotive defect class action, representing thousands of GM vehicle owners across 30 states who allege that GM’s eight-speed automatic transmission in vehicles manufactured between 2015 and 2019 is defective.\
- Johnannessohn, et al. v. Polaris (D. Minn.): Cohen Milstein is representing a class of Polaris Sportsman four-wheel all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), who claim that Polaris violated state consumer protection and warranty laws related to a design defect of its exhaust system. The exhaust system gets so hot that it can burn riders and melt the ATV’s components.
- BK Trucking Co., et al. v. PACCAR, Inc. et al. (D.N.J.): Cohen Milstein is representing truck owners and lessees in a putative class action against PACCAR, the third-largest manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty trucks in the world, and its subsidiaries, Kenworth Truck Company and Peterbilt Motors for breach of warranty and other products liability and unfair business practices related to the manufacture and sale of its 2010 PACCAR MX-13 diesel engines, which include a specially designed and defective emissions control unit, which causes engine power loss and shut downs.
Home Improvement Products
- Lumber Liquidators Chinese-Manufactured Flooring Products Liability Litigation (E.D. Va.): Cohen Milstein was Co-Lead Counsel in this consumer class action lawsuit, alleging Lumber Liquidators sold Chinese-made laminate flooring containing hazardous levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde while falsely labeling their products as met or exceeded California emissions standards, a story that was profiled twice on 60 Minutes in 2015. In October 2018, the Court granted final approval of a $36 million settlement.
Technology Devices & Software
- In re Apple Inc. Device Performance Litigation (N.D. Cal.): Cohen Milstein was court-appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and Co-Chair of the Expert Committee in this putative nationwide class action against Apple Inc., where owners of Apple’s iPhone SE, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, and 7 Plus, charged Apple with unfair and deceptive business practices in violation of California Business & Professions Code § 17200 and making material misrepresentations and failing to disclose material information related to Apple’s iOS software operating system updates, which would suddenly shut down phones.