Strategy: Contain the damage.
What was initially seen as a minor issue involving a batch of drywall manufactured by a large German building materials manufacturer at its plants in China that had found its way into new home construction in the southeastern U.S. led to a four-year engagement with Don Hayden as lead counsel for the target defendant, in one of the largest multi-district class action product liability/ property damage litigations of recent times. With an estimated 100,000 homes involved, the engagement involved a multi-district consolidation of the hundreds of class action complaints before a results-oriented federal judge in New Orleans in addition to hundreds of other individual and state class action lawsuits contemporaneously pending throughout Florida, Louisiana and elsewhere. The engagement involved multiple bellwether trials within six months of the consolidation and even before foreign service had been obtained on the German and Chinese defendants and high level settlement negotiations with the major U.S. homebuilders, and discovery in Germany, China and elsewhere around the globe. Simultaneously, the engagement required the client’s cooperation in parallel investigations by multiple government agencies at both the state and federal levels including the Consumer Product Safety Commission as well as coordination of the client’s lobbying and public relations efforts. While defending the client in this fast-tracked high-profile litigation, Don also supervised a cadre of leading experts tasked with finding a cost-effective method for identifying the homes containing the client’s product and remediating them. These efforts ultimately led to an omnibus settlement involving a remediation program approved by the applicable courts.