At Romanucci & Blandin, we have the distinct privilege of representing clients in some of the largest and most devastating cases from around the world: the Boeing 737 MAX 8 crash in Ethiopia; mass shootings in Las Vegas and Orlando; and claims nationwide for cancer caused by products like Roundup and Zantac. These cases bring together individuals who have all been injured, sickened, or otherwise harmed or killed by a common cause. Our firm is proud to not only seek justice for those people, but lead groups of law firms in that pursuit in such other high-profile cases as:
- Sterigenics toxic exposure cases in the western suburbs of Chicago allege more than 700 victims of ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions have suffered cancers, miscarriages and other health problems caused by the airborne carcinogen. The cases are filed on behalf of people who lived and worked near the Sterigenics medical sterilization facility, which permanently closed in the fall of 2019. Defendants in the lawsuits include Sterigenics U.S., LLC, Sotera Health, Griffith Foods, private equity firm GTCR, LLC, and two employees.
- Commonwealth Edison recently agreed to a $200M payment to the federal government for efforts to bribe Illinois elected officials since 2011. A class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of consumers and businesses, alleging that Commonwealth Edison and Exelon violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and unjustly enriched themselves through its admitted scheme to secure passage of favorable legislation and lucrative subsidies, which were ultimately borne by its Illinois customers. It alleges that the agreement to pay the government following a federal bribery investigation does nothing to compensate the individuals and businesses who suffered damages resulting from their unlawful actions.
- COVID-19 Business Interruption cases advocate for hundreds of restaurants and businesses whose pandemic-related claims for financial losses were denied by their insurance companies. Restaurants, retail and service businesses, and others were ordered closed by governors and other officials when COVID-19 began in March of 2020. Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, along with co-counsel specializing in insurance policyholder’s litigation, together allege the claims should be covered and paid under the insurance contracts. Resolution of these claims is essential to the economic survival of these businesses and their entire supply chain. The lawsuits seek declaratory judgements from the court, meaning a decision that finds the insurance company owes the restaurant owners coverage and improperly issued a denial.
These types of cases show the widespread impact of certain events, products, and corporate decision-making on individuals around the world. They can be as infuriating as they are inspiring as we have the opportunity to bring justice to so many.
But cases like those above can seem overwhelming for clients and lawyers alike. The same can be said for the Courts and the judges overseeing them. With every client that brings a new case comes a law firm—maybe two. By the time the cases are consolidated* and proceed with their first hearing before the judge, hundreds of lawyers and law firms may be involved representing thousands of plaintiffs. So how does the judge ensure organization and coordination, that each individual’s claims are tended to, that their voices are heard, and that the cases do not drag on indefinitely?
Typically, the answer is through the judge appointing a leadership structure to manage all of the various claims and the law firms involved. At that first hearing or shortly after, the judge will evaluate applications for various positions and then hear any objections that other lawyers may have if they feel a certain lawyer is not qualified to take on the responsibility. Those positions are generally:
Plaintiffs’ Lead Counsel/Co-Lead Counsel: These are the lawyers the Court selects as being the voice for all of the plaintiffs throughout the litigation. They coordinate with the various law firms, appoint lawyers and law firms to specific tasks, and oversee all aspects of the case to ensure all clients are properly represented in trying to obtain a successful result.
Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee (PEC): The Court will appoint lawyers to the PEC to help the Lead Counsel oversee the litigation, consult with one another, appoint lawyers to critical assignments, and implement strategy to help resolve the cases efficiently and successfully.
Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel: This is a lawyer the Court will appoint to facilitate communications between the various plaintiffs’ law firms and the defense law firms, as well as the Court itself. Their role also typically includes ensuring that all law firms are aware of their obligations in the litigation and making sure deadlines are met.
Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC): The Court will typically allow the Lead Counsel(s) and the PEC to appoint lawyers to help “steer” certain aspects of the case. Some lawyers may be in charge of defending plaintiffs’ depositions while others may be in charge of reviewing the defendants’ corporate records or sending out subpoenas to vital witnesses for more information.
Litigation can move slowly even when it’s just one plaintiff versus one defendant. One could imagine the amount of time that might be expended by having hundreds or thousands of lawyers standing in line, one-by-one addressing any problems they see with their specific cases. Instead, individual case issues and larger disputes are funneled through the lawyers in the leadership structure and then brought to the Court all at once, if necessary. Collectively, leadership structures allow for expansive and complex litigation to move forward efficiently, without roadblocks, and towards final resolution for our clients.
The lawyers handling complex litigation at Romanucci & Blandin have been appointed to numerous positions in various cases over the past few years alone, including:
- Lead Counsel, Liaison Counsel, and Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee Members in the Willowbrook Ethylene Oxide Litigation;
- Lead Counsel in the Beach Park Chemical Spill Litigation;
- Lead Counsel in the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando, Florida;
- Lead Counsel in the Stop and Frisk Class Litigation against the Chicago Police Department;
- Co-Lead Counsel on the Chicago Red Light Ticket Class Litigation;
- Interim Co-Lead Counsel in the ComEd Consumer Fraud Class Litigation;
- Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee Members in the Boeing MAX-8 Litigation;
- Steering Committee Members in the Las Vegas Shooting Litigation;
Regardless of the complexity or size of your case, it pays to retain lawyers who have experience being appointed by the Court to leadership positions like those listed above. Think of it like a stamp of approval: appointment demonstrates not only having the knowledge to pursue your claim, but the organizational capacity and resources to do so effectively, and—most importantly—the respect of fellow lawyers and the Court in entrusting your lawyers with greater responsibility.
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