Hearing Loss Class-Action Lawsuit

Three years ago, four plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit in Minnesota federal court seeking to set aside approximately 7,000 hearing loss settlements. Our client, Burlington Northern Santa Fe negotiated each of these settlements through dozens of its claim agents in one-on-one negotiations with each of the absent class members, which negotiations were conducted between 1988 and 1995. In an early victory, we convinced the court that discovery should be limited to the four named plaintiffs' claims pending a decision on class certification. We completed that individual discovery, and then filed separate motions for summary judgment against each of the named plaintiffs. We also filed more than 100 pages of briefs opposing plaintiffs' motion for class certification.

Today, nearly seven months after oral argument, Judge Joan Ericksen granted each of our motions for summary judgment, denied the motion to certify, and dismissed the case. Our victory in this case is a classic F&P team effort that involved substantial coordination among many of our attorneys, paralegals and support staff. Attorneys involved included Wes Marsh, John Lee, Steve Cyranoski, Doug Albritton, Lisa Friedlander, David Becker, Jonathan Coppess, and Toni Helton. From time to time, many of our other attorneys have pitched in with research and other assistance.

None of this could have been accomplished without the hard work and tireless effort from our paralegals Jennifer Whittington, Wanda Vasquez and Maryjo Pope, whose work in so many respects, not the least of which included overseeing all of the case documents and deposition files, substantially contributed to this win.

Patty Ballantine and Toni Hartsell deserve special recognition for the countless hours they contributed to the briefing effort, among their other substantial inputs, including significant weekend time helping work through briefs, versions and edits.