SAN FRANCISCO (January 31, 2013) – Morrison & Foerster secured a complete defense victory for client Monier Inc., a concrete roof tile manufacturer, defending against a 128,000-member class action jury trial alleging violations of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) and the Unfair Competition Law (UCL). Plaintiffs had asked the Placer County Superior Court jury to award more than $250 million in damages, plus punitive damages. Following an 8-week trial, the jury initially awarded just $7.41 million. Then three weeks later, the court on January 28 ruled that plaintiffs had not proven their case at all, wiping out the verdict.
Class certification, liability, and damages were all based on a novel statistical sampling methodology and expert opinion offered by the plaintiffs. The Morrison & Foerster defense team convinced the court that both the methodology and expert opinion were irrelevant and speculative, and therefore should be excluded.
"Without the sampling methodology or the expert, the court rightfully found there was no evidence to establish Monier's liability, or the amount of damages," Morrison & Foerster partner William Stern said. "As a result, the jury award was eliminated completely and Monier was released from liability."
The original complaint was filed in 2003 and alleged violations of the CLRA, which provides remedies for unfair or deceptive trade practices, and the UCL, which prohibits any unfair or fraudulent business practice and untrue or misleading advertising. In 2010, the California Court of Appeal determined class certification was appropriate. The most recent ruling follows Morrison & Foerster's motion for nonsuit as to the CLRA cause of action, motion for judgment on the UCL cause of action, and motion for decertification.
The class members in the case, McAdams v. Monier, alleged that Monier engaged in false advertising by marketing "50-year" and "lifetime" tiles without disclosing that weathering would cause its tiles to lose color sooner than the expected useful life of the tiles.