What We Do
 


Complex Litigation

Indiana Business & Complex Litigation Lawyers

"The cases we litigate generally involve technical and complex matters"

Our firm has litigated some of the most challenging and complex cases in Indiana history.  Our litigation work includes:

  • Class actions
  • Injunctions
  • Product liability claims
  • Construction defect claims
  • Personal injury cases
For example, we defended a landfill operator in a toxic tort lawsuit pressed by scores of plaintiffs seeking more than a billion dollars in damages and obtained judgment on all claims.  

We obtained a favorable settlement for shareholders in a securities fraud case we litigated in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. We represented the State of Indiana in its successful tobacco litigation, in which the state obtained more than $4 billion.

Some of our complex litigation matters bring us into conflict with government agencies. For example, where environmental regulators sought to require a foundry to install air emission containment equipment whose cost would have put it out of business, we defeated the Clean Air Act enforcement action.  

In another case we defeated the State’s efforts to retroactively enforce new exclusionary environmental legislation (Chemical Waste Management). And on behalf of one client we obtained a $16 million judgment against the state, though later reversed, for breach of its obligations under a consent decree.

In other matters, our Indiana business litigation lawyers work closely with government agencies. For example where environmental groups challenged the U.S. Army’s decision to transport the components of chemical weapons from Indiana to our client’s out-of-state location for destruction, we defeated the environmental groups’ efforts to obtain injunctive relief blocking the transport (Sierra Club).  

We worked together with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to defend the floodway construction permit the Department had issued to our client, a real estate developer. 

Our practice involves defending as well as prosecuting claims. This variety sharpens our capacity to assist clients well whether they are plaintiffs or defendants. The firm has defended and is defending a number of high profile products liability and toxic tort cases.  

We regularly handle complex litigation matters involving environmental and other technical topics. Our business litigators include attorneys with science backgrounds, including degrees in chemistry, biology and engineering.  

We routinely consult with experts on environmental remediation strategies, groundwater and air quality modeling, hydrogeology, toxicology, and a range of other areas. We file and defend challenges to expert witness testimony in Daubert and related hearings in state and federal court.

Our business litigation practice is often on the cutting edge nationally. We brought the first class actions in the early 1990's challenging bank overcharging in adjustable rate mortgages and in escrow accounts. This litigation took us to trial and appellate courts across the United States. This class action experience has been applied in Indiana as well.  

We have obtained multi-million dollar recoveries for classes of homeowners and business owners for damages from mold arising from different causes. We have successfully opposed class certification, for example in a case involving the alleged impact of solvent contaminated groundwater on a residential subdivision.

Our complex litigation cases frequently concern novel issues such as: 

  • Whether an asymptomatic plaintiff may recover damages for a toxic tort exposure
  • Whether liability for bodily injury or property damage may be imposed under common law environmental theories such as nuisance
  • Trespass and strict liability for ultra-hazardous activities
  • Which statutes of limitation apply to different types of common law and statutory claims
  • What circumstances allow a claimant to seek relief in court without exhaustion of administrative remedies  

We are well known for our appellate work. In addition to numerous landmark cases in the insurance coverage area, we have successfully argued appeals in both the state and federal appellate courts. One case established the proper standard for administrative review of agency decisions (United Refuse). Another extended pre-emption to prevent local “target zoning” to exclude unpopular businesses (Triple G). Another appeal established that violations of safety regulations can constitute negligence per se. (Town of Montezuma).  

In every appeal, whether the issue is novel or well settled, we present our arguments in a thorough, precise, helpful fashion. That hard work has earned praise from the bench and a reputation for effective appellate advocacy.

Alternative dispute resolution also is central to our complex litigation practice. Several of our Indiana business litigation lawyers are certified as civil mediators, and Chris Braun teaches alternative dispute resolution at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. All of our litigators participate regularly in mediations. We have resolved claims in scores of successful mediations, many with dozens of participants and complex issues. Throughout our representations of plaintiffs and defendants we strive to obtain settlements that serve our clients’ interests and curtail their litigation risks and costs.

Significant Cases

The Sierra Club v. Gates, 499 F. Supp. 2d 1101 (S.D. Ind. 2007) (successfully defended action which sought to enjoin continuing shipments of the product of the hydrolosis of the chemical warfare agent VX from a depot in Indiana to Veolia Environmental Service’s incineration facility in Texas)
 
Gerrard v. A.J. Gerrard & Co., 285 F.Supp.2d 1331 (S.D. Ga. 2003) (allowing claims that insiders engaged in securities fraud)
 
Ind. Port Comm'n v. Consolidated Grain & Barge Co., 701 N.E.2d 882 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998) (preliminary injunction regarding use of rail and port facilities)
 
Natural Gas Odorizing, Inc. v. Downs, 685 N.E.2d 155 (Ind. Ct. App. 1997) (duty to warn gas users)
 
Town of Montezuma v. Downs, 685 N.E.2d 108 (Ind. Ct. App. 1997) (negligence per se claims involving a gas explosion)

Lindsey v. DeGroot, 898 N.E.2d 1251 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009)(Determined Indiana's Right to Farm Act was constitutional and applied to bar the nuisance claim of a neighbor against DeGroot Dairy).

Examples

We are very experienced in high profile and controversial land use projects.  We successfully litigated an extremely complex zoning challenge to expansion of what was then the State's only hazardous waste deposit facility.  We also obtained a court reversal of an 8-1 decision denying a facility siting application.

Our firm has done extensive work in the area of class actions in the areas of finance, health care, construction defects, antitrust, and the environment.  Some examples:
We brought the first class actions in the nation attacking adjustable rate mortgage and escrow account errors by lenders.

Succeeded in extricating our client from a class action alleging damages arising from gasoline containing MTBE.

Obtained class certification for injuries arising from microbial contamination of a trailer park’s drinking water system.

Represented a class of homeowners who suffered damage from mold arising from a pattern of construction defects.

Obtained class certification for the residents of a town whose properties were damaged by air emissions from an industrial plant.

We have been involved in class actions and individual cases involving contaminated blood clotting factor concentrates.

Successfully defended an action which sought to enjoin shipments that would have impeded the destruction of Cold War era chemical weapons.  The action sought to block the transportation of the product of the hydrolosis of the chemical warfare agent VX from a depot in Indiana to an incineration facility in Texas.

We represent a number of Fortune 500 companies in their Indiana products liability and asbestos work.

We represented the State of Indiana as one of its special deputy counsels in the national tobacco litigation, which resulted in a $4 billion recovery for Indiana.  To our knowledge, we were the only law firm asked to represent the State that did not first solicit this representation.  We were selected for our scientific, technical and appellate experience in major cases.

We represented the State of Indiana as Deputy Attorney Generals to investigate and prosecute Medicaid fraud.  This representation involved using health-care accounting firms and computer analysis to detect fraudulent billing practices by health care providers.

We negotiated a multi-million dollar settlement in a securities fraud lawsuit against company insiders at a closely-held corporation.

Our firm successfully defended an action brought against our client by the Indiana Attorney General alleging the unlawful disclosure of private information.

We are national collections counsel for one of the largest distributors of aluminum and stainless steel in the country.  We hire counsel and direct litigation nationwide.

We represented a group of plaintiffs’ exposed to TCE from the state’s second largest groundwater contaminant plume.

Our firm obtained cleanup costs and expenses from a major oil company for pollution of a small Indiana town's water supplies by a branded station not owned by the oil major companies, a victory of first impression in the United States.

Defended client against allegations that di-isocyanate containing compounds had caused or contributed to alleged respiratory problems.

Obtained a series of summary judgments disposing of what is believed to be the largest toxic tort action ever brought in Indiana. The case originally had over 145 plaintiffs and sought over $1 billion in damages.

Represented an individual who suffered quadriplegic injuries as a result of the rollover of an SUV.

Defended national products manufacturer against a series of actions concerning allergic reactions allegedly sustained as a result of exposure to its products.  We were able to negotiate dismissals in most cases with no consideration.

We represented a homeowners association in an action against the developer concerning the improper engineering and design of storm water retention ponds and flood control systems.

Our firm represented the family and estate of a person killed in a natural gas explosion.

Obtained a ruling under the Clean Air Act against the manufacturer of a product containing banned ozone-depleting substances.

Represented the promoter of an automobile racing event in an action for damages arising from the cancellation of an overseas race.  The action caused us to become involved in the Champ Car World Series bankruptcy.

Represented a group of more than 30 plaintiffs against a manufacturer arising from exposure to toxic substances in the workplace.

Defended client against allegations that multiple families living near client's service station had been exposed to petroleum fumes emanating from leaking underground storage tank.

We represented a group of plaintiffs with injuries from inhalation exposures to perchloroethylene arising from a commercial dry cleaning operation.

Our firm has extensive experience for plaintiffs and defendants in condemnation litigation.  One of our attorneys pulled the laboring oar in the condemnation work leading to the acquisition of much of the land that later became White River State Park.

Our bankruptcy litigation generally involves representing debtors, claimants and Chapter 7 trustees in bankruptcies in which environmental liabilities and insurance coverage for the those liabilities are significant.  For example, in one case we represent the debtor, and supervise and obtain payment from insurers for more than a hundred sites currently undergoing cleanup.

Client Alerts

October 3, 2017   Searching for Insurance Coverage for Auto Accidents? Check the Employer’s Auto Policy
By Ryan T. Leagre, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
 
June 9, 2017   EHR Vendor's False Certifications Focus of $155 Million DOJ Settlement
By Jennifer Girod, John Ketcham and Andrew Sylora, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
 
March 21, 2017   Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP tops 2017 Indiana Super Lawyers Magazine list with the most lawyers named in the Insurance and Environmental categories
By Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
 
February 23, 2017   Insurer's Failure to pay Policyholder's Claim Results in Loss of Company and $6.5 Million Recovery Against Insurer
By Christopher J. Braun, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
 
November 18, 2016   Fernando Diaz Joins PSRB as an Associate Attorney
By Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
 

Significant Cases

The Sierra Club v. Gates, 499 F. Supp. 2d 1101 (S.D. Ind. 2007) (successfully defended action which sought to enjoin continuing shipments of the product of the hydrolosis of the chemical warfare agent VX from a depot in Indiana to Veolia Environmental Service’s incineration facility in Texas)
 
Gerrard v. A.J. Gerrard & Co., 285 F.Supp.2d 1331 (S.D. Ga. 2003) (allowing claims that insiders engaged in securities fraud)
 
Ind. Port Comm'n v. Consolidated Grain & Barge Co., 701 N.E.2d 882 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998) (preliminary injunction regarding use of rail and port facilities)
 
Natural Gas Odorizing, Inc. v. Downs, 685 N.E.2d 155 (Ind. Ct. App. 1997) (duty to warn gas users)
 
Town of Montezuma v. Downs, 685 N.E.2d 108 (Ind. Ct. App. 1997) (negligence per se claims involving a gas explosion)

Lindsey v. DeGroot, 898 N.E.2d 1251 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009)(Determined Indiana's Right to Farm Act was constitutional and applied to bar the nuisance claim of a neighbor against DeGroot Dairy).


Examples

We are very experienced in high profile and controversial land use projects.  We successfully litigated an extremely complex zoning challenge to expansion of what was then the State's only hazardous waste deposit facility.  We also obtained a court reversal of an 8-1 decision denying a facility siting application.

Our firm has done extensive work in the area of class actions in the areas of finance, health care, construction defects, antitrust, and the environment.  Some examples:
We brought the first class actions in the nation attacking adjustable rate mortgage and escrow account errors by lenders.

Succeeded in extricating our client from a class action alleging damages arising from gasoline containing MTBE.

Obtained class certification for injuries arising from microbial contamination of a trailer park’s drinking water system.

Represented a class of homeowners who suffered damage from mold arising from a pattern of construction defects.

Obtained class certification for the residents of a town whose properties were damaged by air emissions from an industrial plant.

We have been involved in class actions and individual cases involving contaminated blood clotting factor concentrates.

Successfully defended an action which sought to enjoin shipments that would have impeded the destruction of Cold War era chemical weapons.  The action sought to block the transportation of the product of the hydrolosis of the chemical warfare agent VX from a depot in Indiana to an incineration facility in Texas.

We represent a number of Fortune 500 companies in their Indiana products liability and asbestos work.

We represented the State of Indiana as one of its special deputy counsels in the national tobacco litigation, which resulted in a $4 billion recovery for Indiana.  To our knowledge, we were the only law firm asked to represent the State that did not first solicit this representation.  We were selected for our scientific, technical and appellate experience in major cases.

We represented the State of Indiana as Deputy Attorney Generals to investigate and prosecute Medicaid fraud.  This representation involved using health-care accounting firms and computer analysis to detect fraudulent billing practices by health care providers.

We negotiated a multi-million dollar settlement in a securities fraud lawsuit against company insiders at a closely-held corporation.

Our firm successfully defended an action brought against our client by the Indiana Attorney General alleging the unlawful disclosure of private information.

We are national collections counsel for one of the largest distributors of aluminum and stainless steel in the country.  We hire counsel and direct litigation nationwide.

We represented a group of plaintiffs’ exposed to TCE from the state’s second largest groundwater contaminant plume.

Our firm obtained cleanup costs and expenses from a major oil company for pollution of a small Indiana town's water supplies by a branded station not owned by the oil major companies, a victory of first impression in the United States.

Defended client against allegations that di-isocyanate containing compounds had caused or contributed to alleged respiratory problems.

Obtained a series of summary judgments disposing of what is believed to be the largest toxic tort action ever brought in Indiana. The case originally had over 145 plaintiffs and sought over $1 billion in damages.

Represented an individual who suffered quadriplegic injuries as a result of the rollover of an SUV.

Defended national products manufacturer against a series of actions concerning allergic reactions allegedly sustained as a result of exposure to its products.  We were able to negotiate dismissals in most cases with no consideration.

We represented a homeowners association in an action against the developer concerning the improper engineering and design of storm water retention ponds and flood control systems.

Our firm represented the family and estate of a person killed in a natural gas explosion.

Obtained a ruling under the Clean Air Act against the manufacturer of a product containing banned ozone-depleting substances.

Represented the promoter of an automobile racing event in an action for damages arising from the cancellation of an overseas race.  The action caused us to become involved in the Champ Car World Series bankruptcy.

Represented a group of more than 30 plaintiffs against a manufacturer arising from exposure to toxic substances in the workplace.

Defended client against allegations that multiple families living near client's service station had been exposed to petroleum fumes emanating from leaking underground storage tank.

We represented a group of plaintiffs with injuries from inhalation exposures to perchloroethylene arising from a commercial dry cleaning operation.

Our firm has extensive experience for plaintiffs and defendants in condemnation litigation.  One of our attorneys pulled the laboring oar in the condemnation work leading to the acquisition of much of the land that later became White River State Park.

Our bankruptcy litigation generally involves representing debtors, claimants and Chapter 7 trustees in bankruptcies in which environmental liabilities and insurance coverage for the those liabilities are significant.  For example, in one case we represent the debtor, and supervise and obtain payment from insurers for more than a hundred sites currently undergoing cleanup.

Client Alerts

October 3, 2017   Searching for Insurance Coverage for Auto Accidents? Check the Employer’s Auto Policy
By Ryan T. Leagre, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
 
June 9, 2017   EHR Vendor's False Certifications Focus of $155 Million DOJ Settlement
By Jennifer Girod, John Ketcham and Andrew Sylora, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
 
March 21, 2017   Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP tops 2017 Indiana Super Lawyers Magazine list with the most lawyers named in the Insurance and Environmental categories
By Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
 
February 23, 2017   Insurer's Failure to pay Policyholder's Claim Results in Loss of Company and $6.5 Million Recovery Against Insurer
By Christopher J. Braun, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
 
November 18, 2016   Fernando Diaz Joins PSRB as an Associate Attorney
By Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
 
 
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