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Law360 Reports on Commercial Litigation Team’s Defense of a Class Action before the D.C. Circuit

August 14, 2015

A commercial litigation team from Wilson Elser’s Washington, DC, office joined with other defense counsel to defeat on appeal a $2 billion class action brought by 32 plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and an estimated 10,000 similarly situated defense-contractor employees or former employees injured while working in work-zone areas in Afghanistan and Iraq. Defendants included 17 defense contractors and four insurance companies. The Wilson Elser team was led by Robert B. Wallace (Partner-Washington, DC). They prevailed in a case reported in the August 6, 2015, issue of Law360, “DC Circuit Won't Rehear $2B Suit by Injured War-Zone Workers.” The U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit declined to reconsider its decision affirming the dismissal of the bulk of a $2 billion proposed class action accusing government contractors and insurance carriers of withholding health benefits from badly wounded workers. The decision, filed without further opinion, shut down the putative class’s contention in a July 2 motion for reconsideration that the court had wrongly looked through the lens of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and the Defense Base Act when deciding on claims that couldn’t be remedied by those laws and ruling the putative class members would have to seek administrative remedies before heading to court. In an effort to distinguish their action from a complaint that must be resolved through administrative channels, the workers said their employers' actions worsened their injuries and that they suffered trauma as a result of the claims process. The D.C. Circuit remanded the individual ADA claims back to the district court and ordered that they be reconsidered and that the decision to deny amendment be explained.

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