Inherent in the business of manufacturing are concerns ranging from high exposure to single-plaintiff and class action lawsuits – related to employment issues, products liability and personal injury, contracts and service agreements, false claims allegations, environmental claims, and shareholder, securities, and related disputes, to name just a few – to corporate transactions, equipment leases, intellectual property protection, real estate matters, and other day-to-day issues. Gibbons attorneys from a range of the firm’s practice areas work with manufacturers, including manufacturers of consumer products and electronics, to address these issues in ways designed to meet their various business objectives.
General Litigation and Investigations
Consumer Class Actions
Gibbons litigators handle broad business and commercial litigation for manufacturing, consumer products, and electronics companies, addressing such issues as breach of contract, breach of dealer agreements, non-compete agreements and trade secret violations, general business torts, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, antitrust violations, various shareholder claims, and violations of the anti-tying provisions. We also conduct internal investigations for these clients, and we defend them in government investigations.
By definition, consumer electronics companies manufacture, advertise, and sell their products to consumers, thus making them particularly vulnerable to consumer class action lawsuits. In addition, New Jersey happens to be one of the busiest jurisdictions in the country for such suits. Gibbons attorneys adeptly handle state and federal class actions asserting a wide array of common law and statutory claims involving consumer electronics ranging from computer printers to digital cameras. Our attorneys defend against New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) claims, other state consumer protection statutes, including those involving false advertising claims, and products liability and personal injury actions. We also have defeated class action lawsuits based on class action waivers in arbitration agreements. Of particular note, in a precedent-setting case, Gibbons persuaded a federal appellate court to affirm summary judgment for the firm’s electronics industry client in a New Jersey consumer class action, a major decision providing significant clarity for courts going forward in class action matters involving interstate parties.
Gibbons attorneys defend various manufacturers in products liability matters in both federal and state court proceedings throughout the Northeast. Claims against which we defend include defective manufacturing and other defect claims, latent disease claims, workplace accidents and other personal injury claims, wrongful death, and property damage. We are handling numerous ongoing asbestos litigations, and we also defend manufacturers in electrocution, fire, and explosion cases involving serious personal injury or substantial property damage. In many of these cases, Gibbons serves as regional counsel and/or as part of national trial teams.
Gibbons attorneys handle complex patent litigation, including multiple-defendant, multiple-technology patent litigation, for manufacturing, consumer product, and electronics companies in state and federal courts throughout the country, including in such key intellectual property jurisdictions as the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Other litigation matters involve trademarks, trade secrets, and unfair competition. In addition, the firm provides extensive intellectual property counseling, including in connection with licensing, and handles the IP aspects of corporate transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions, addressing IP representations and warranties, valuation of assets, expansion of scope of protection by acquisition of complementary companies or assets, identification of complementary IP or targets with IP, and acquisition of the target’s assets.
Mergers & Acquisitions
The firm has represented consumer product, electronics, and other manufacturing companies in a number of employment and employee benefits litigations in state and federal courts throughout the region and the country, as well as in agency matters, including cases before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. We have defended these clients against a wide range of claims, including race, age, religious, and disability discrimination; unlawful retaliation; improper classification; violation of employment agreements; wage and hour single-plaintiff and class action cases involving wrongfully denied compensation, failure to pay overtime, and other allegations; reductions in force; performance management and discipline, and miscalculation of benefits and other claims brought under ERISA. Our employment and labor attorneys also regularly provide general employment and traditional labor law counseling, advise on employment policy development and implementation, and address the critical employment aspects of corporate transactions like mergers and acquisitions, handling negotiated employment agreements, non-competition agreements, and other matters.
Real Property and Environmental
The Gibbons Corporate Department represents international leaders in consumer and office electronics in a wide array of corporate transactions, with a particular focus on mergers and acquisitions. Many of these M&A transactions require novel solutions to complex challenges. For example, one acquisition by a global company involved a complex array of holdbacks, retention escrows, working capital adjustments, and indemnification rights for different classes of shareholders. The target was privately but widely held. Gibbons attorneys guided the transaction to successful completion. The firm also represented an office equipment giant in a series of acquisitions that resulted in a vertical consolidation within its market segment, largely due to the regional scope of the several acquisition targets. Gibbons adeptly handled the corporate and M&A aspects of these transactions and addressed numerous intellectual property, employment, and real estate angles.
Gibbons represents consumer product, electronics, and other manufacturers in various real estate transactions in connection with their office, lab, and warehouse properties throughout the region, including property acquisitions, dispositions, and leases, plus all related development, redevelopment, zoning, permitting, and environmental matters. Environmental representation is particularly in demand for manufacturing clients, who rely on Gibbons in numerous complex environmental litigations and administrative proceedings involving the full range of environmental claims. In addition, Gibbons acts as outside litigation defense counsel to a number of manufacturing clients in complex multi-party environmental matters involving several major impacted sites. In these matters, the firm often serves as common counsel for joint defense groups of performing parties and, in such capacity, additionally tackles high-level administrative responsibilities on various key committees.
For many years, the firm has been representing manufacturers in connection with insolvency matters, primarily, but not exclusively, involving equipment manufacturers and equipment leases. Gibbons negotiates new leasing agreements with leasing partners, modifies leasing agreements based on economic realities, handles lease disputes, and prepares opinions concerning the status of our clients’ assignment of equipment leases to financiers as true sales. More broadly, Gibbons has long represented electronics companies that have been creditors in bankruptcy cases nationwide in many types of litigation, most commonly with respect to the defense of claims, assertion of reclamation claims, preferential transfers, and actions to avoid transfers of debtors’ property to the firm’s clients.