Trinity Industries, Inc., a manufacturer of highway guardrail safety products, was sued by two Illinois counties that purchased their products, claiming that Trinity enriched itself through certain design changes to the products that made them unsafe, and failed to disclose those changes to the Federal Highway Administration, to the Illinois Department of Transportation, and to individual buyers. Plaintiffs alleged multiyear classes of all 102 Illinois counties and 2,731 Illinois cities and towns. Plaintiffs submitted an expert report proposing class-wide methodologies to quantify the alleged damages.
Compass Lexecon was retained by counsel for Trinity to evaluate these methodologies and their appropriateness for class certification purposes. Compass Lexecon Senior Managing Director Mark Israel filed an expert report demonstrating that the methodologies proposed by Plaintiffs’ expert failed in a variety of ways, including an inability to ascertain the relevant class members/purchases and a failure to account for intergovernmental reimbursements received by the putative class members. Dr. Israel’s report also showed that in many cases, members of the putative class suffered no injury at all, meaning that substantial individualized inquiry would be required and that class-wide methods were inappropriate.
Dr. Israel had previously submitted an expert report in a similar case against Trinity in Wisconsin, and in that case, Plaintiffs subsequently agreed in July 2016 to a full settlement of their claims in which Trinity paid nothing. In the Illinois case, again, prior to a hearing on the class issues, Plaintiffs stipulated on August 31, 2017 to a complete dismissal of all their claims with prejudice and without payment of any money by Trinity.
In both the Wisconsin and Illinois cases, Dr. Israel was supported by a team in Compass Lexecon’s Chicago and Washington DC offices led by Todd Kendall and Ian MacSwain and also included Chandni Raja and Jonathon McClure. Trinity was successfully represented in the proceedings by Adam Hoeflich of Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP, as well as attorneys from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, including Andrew B. Blumberg, Christine Demana, Bradley G. Hubbard, Andrew LeGrand, Brian E. Robison, and Benjamin D. Wilson, and attorneys from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, including Michelle A. Reed and Elizabeth Marie Dulong Scott.