Articles Posted in Berniard Law Firm news

The settlement in Orrill v. Louisiana Citizens Fair Plan demonstrates some of the hurdles faced by class action litigants and the benefits of having experienced class counsel. In that case, Katrina and Rita victims sought statutory penalties for their insurers’ failure to pay claims within the 30 days required by statute. The long history of the case dates to 2005, immediately after the storms first hit. The Berniard Law Firm vigorously pursued their claims past procedural roadblocks along the way to a final settlement this past January.

While class actions provide an obviously efficient way of adjudicating large controversies, the drawbacks associated with this device are equally apparent. Class actions allow courts to resolve all claims related to an occurrence in a single proceeding. This means, however, that even claims of those who do not participate must be decided. Otherwise, class members could “free ride” off the efforts of others, waiting to see whether a legal strategy or theory will succeed or fail without expending any efforts or resources. Courts have long resolved this dilemma by requiring class action plaintiffs to provide adequate notice to those who might have claims and by requiring that participants meet a series of requirements.

First, the class must consist of a sufficiently large number of claimants. Courts have not defined this “numerosity” requirement precisely; rather, a plaintiff satisfies this requirement by establishing that traditional methods of joining parties would be unreasonably difficult or expensive. Second, the claims of the class members must involve common issues. To meet this “commonality” requirement, it is not enough simply to have claims resulting from the same injury. Instead those claims must be capable of resolution in the same way. As the United States Supreme Court has stated, what is important is not the raising of common questions, but “capacity of a classwide proceeding to generate common answers.”

Licensed attorneys in New Orleans were asked which attorney they would recommend to residents in the New Orleans area. Attorney Jeffrey Berniard, of the New Orleans-based Berniard Law Firm, LLC, was named one of the best mass litigation and class action attorneys in New Orleans in the November 2012 issue of the magazine. Propelled into success by holding insurance companies accountable in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Berniard has built the Berniard Law Firm into one of the premiere personal injury law practices in not only New Orleans, but the entire state of Louisiana. Since Hurricane Katrina, Berniard Law Firm has focused on insurance disputes and class action litigation.

Jeffrey Berniard has been involved in several high-profile cases, solidifying his expertise in complex high risk litigation. He worked on the highly publicized Deep Water Horizon oil rig case in the Gulf Coast, representing a very large group of individuals affected by the sinking oil rig. In 2008, Berniard Law Firm secured a $35 million dollar settlement for a class of 70,000 members seeking bad faith penalties for tardy payments by a Louisiana insurance company in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. In 2009, the Berniard Law Firm participated in five class actions against insurance companies and corporations. In the process of these major claims, the firm also helped many residents of the Gulf Coast with their personal injury concerns, insurance claims and business disputes.

– What is Mass Tort Litigation? –

Louisiana’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act seeks to prevent businesses in the state from engaging in “unfair or deceptive acts and practices” or “unfair methods of competition” when doing business with customers. The law allows anyone who falls victim to such practices to file a civil action against the perpetrator and recover treble damages (three times the amount of the actual loss) and attorney’s fees. Many types of undesirable conduct on the part of businesses can fall under the Act, including misrepresenting the features of a product or service, suggesting that a good or service has been approved or endorsed by a third party when no such sponsorship exists, or passing off used or refurbished items as new. Price misrepresentation is another area where violations of the Act are common.

On September 22, 2011, Jeffrey P. Berniard of the Berniard Law Firm, on behalf of its client, Bayou Internet, filed a class-action lawsuit suit in federal court against the Royal St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. The suit alleges that the hotel routinely hid a $7.95-per-day “resort fee” from guests, which it failed to disclose until customers received their bills at the time of check-out. This practice of under-representing the true cost of a room at the Royal St. Charles makes it impossible for would-be customers to accurately compare prices when shopping for a place to stay in the French Quarter. Bayou Internet believes that it is among possibly thousands of customers who have paid for accommodations at the Royal St. Charles Hotel and fallen victim to the pricing misrepresentation. Bayou Internet has asked U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan to issue an injunction ordering the Royal St. Charles Hotel to immediately end their practice of omitting the resort fee in advertised room rates. The complaint seeks an award for the plaintiffs of treble damages as provided for in the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act, as well as interest, court costs, and attorney’s fees.

This type of claim under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act is representative of the wide variety of issues that the Berniard Law Firm stands at the ready to help consumers resolve. If you feel you have been a victim of fraud, misrepresentation, or other unfair business practice, don’t feel like you are powerless against “big business.”

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Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge David A. Katz issued an order calling for applications from attorneys interested in serving in leadership roles for the DePuy Orthopaedics hip recall case. On December 7, 2010, Jeff Berniard, the sole principal of Berniard Law Firm in New Orleans, Louisiana, answered Judge Katz’s call by submitting a letter seeking a spot on the integral Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for the DePuy case. A Plaintiff’s Steering Committee is responsible for making strategic decisions that affect the execution and administration of large scale class action lawsuits. Mr. Berniard will find out if he has been selected for this leadership post sometime soon.

Despite establishing his own law firm only five years ago, Berniard has quickly emerged as a foreperson in complex litigation. The Louisiana attorney, who already has extensive experience representing claimants in complex product liability litigation, has been recognized as an expert in the DePuy Hip Recall lawsuits. He has taught continuing legal education courses on the DePuy Hip Recall lawsuits for Thomson Reuters and he plans on continuing in his role as a lecturer on the topic for as long as the DePuy legal situation continues to unfold. Additionally, Berniard maintains this blog, a website devoted to regularly informing the general public of various issues surrounding the DePuy Hip Recall litigation.

In support of his application to the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee, Berniard pointed to his professional history as class counsel for lawsuits involving toxic torts, Sherman Antitrust, and first party insurance litigation in his letter to Judge Katz. Consistent with Berniard’s varied experience, at least one court overseeing some of his cases praised the Louisiana attorney saying, “This Court finds that Class Counsel are highly skilled attorneys with experience in class action litigation. The substantial settlement amount negotiated by Class Counsel further evidences their competence.” The court further noted that Berniard and his colleagues had devoted “an exorbinant [sic] amount of time [to the lawsuit while] assuming substantial risk that they might not be compensated for their efforts” during the case in question. Combined with his varied experiences in class action lawsuits similar to DePuy, these complimentary observations of Berniard’s past professional successes by the judiciary buttress his assertion that he is a suitable candidate for the DePuy Hip Litigation Plaintiff’s Steering Committee.

The Honorable David Katz has scheduled a status conference to be held January 20, 2011 at the Paul G. Rogers Federal Building in West Palm Beach, Florida. The purpose of this status conference is to allow applicants for the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee in the DePuy hip recall litigation an opportunity to speak for a few moments in support of their application. As this blog recently reported, New Orleans attorney, Jeffrey Berniard, recently submitted a request for one of these leadership positions.

Berniard says he plans on using the two minutes allocated to him for oral argument to remind the court of his past successes leading other complex litigation, including, but not limited to, suits filed against Cox Communications, Iovate Health Sciences, and Dow Chemical Company. Additionally, Berniard has established his expertise in the DePuy ASR Hip Implant recall matter by lecturing other attorneys in ongoing continuing legal education (CLE) classes held in the Greater New Orleans area, and he wishes to remind the court of this as well.

Since the nationwide recall of DePuy’s ASR hip implants was announced in August 2010, Berniard has continuously accepted new clients to represent in this matter. Moreover, he has maintained this blog, which has effectively informed the general public of the risks associated with the faulty manufacturing techniques of DePuy Orthopaedics. These actions showcase Berniard’s willingness to lead and share his skills with those most affected by the defective medical products.

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