Defeated Motion for Class Certification in Class Action Suit

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Overview

This mass tort involved approximately 100 residences in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that sued our client, Veolia Water (the largest water company in the world).  The plaintiffs claimed that Veolia Water, the private operator of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), was negligent in both maintaining and operating MMSD’s sewer system during a storm in 2008, which negligence caused sewage to back up into the plaintiffs’ basements.  The SmithAmundsen (SA) mass tort/class action (MTCA) attorneys defeated the motion for class certification on grounds that individual fact questions related to causation and damages predominated over common ones.  In a separate but related lawsuit filed by Tom Reep and more than 140 other residences (Reep, et al, v. MMSD, et al, No. 09-CV-003483, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin), the trial court granted partial summary judgment to Veolia Water, rejecting all of the plaintiffs’ maintenance-based theories of liability and significantly limiting the scope of potential activities for which Veolia Water may be held liable to the plaintiffs.  In making this decision, the court relied on testimony secured by SA during the deposition of the plaintiffs’ liability expert.

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